The bomb shelter beneath Bamboo Bar of the Metropole
It’s not often that the general manager of an upscale hotel is pre-occupied with a bomb shelter on his property. But then, there aren’t many hotels in the world that survive wars and endure as the Metropole has. I don’t know how this story about our bomb shelter is going to end. It may turn out to be as devoid of surprise as Al Capone’s famous bank vault. But right now, it has the makings of a good story. And so…
Here’s what’s happening in our courtyard. We’re revamping our Bamboo Bar as the last step of a landmark refurbishment. For the new structure, we’ve had to sink pillars for the foundation. As we went down through the existing floor, and through dirt, we hit concrete. Turns out that concrete is the roof of a bomb shelter that served guests of the Metropole during Vietnam’s war with the United States.
One of those guests, reportedly, was the American folk singer Joan Baez. During one air raid, while guests waited out a B-52 strike, ‘Joan Baez asked a man who had brought his guitar to the bunker to play something and, with her intense, pure soprano, started to sing. Suddenly everybody was quiet; a solemn atmosphere came over this place of fear and despair.’
That bit about Joan Baez is from The Most Famous Hotels in the World’s history of the Metropole. And that bunker is the bunker we believe we’ve encountered under the Bamboo Bar. Read more
The hotel’s general manager talks about one of the most alluring suites in all Vietnam. The British novelist Graham Greene and, later, Australia’s first embassy in modern Vietnam occupied the same space in the hotel’s old wing.
In the lead photo: Kai Speth, Metropole GM; Quentin Bryce AC, Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia; Allaster Cox, Australian Ambassador to Vietnam