Six of the best: Chic Indochine retreats

SOFITEL LEGEND METROPOLE HANOI

Steeped in history, the Metropole lives up to its status as a legend, combining French flair with Vietnamese tradition and exquisite details, from the lobby drowning in scented white lilies to the chocolate buffet each afternoon. Past guests include Graham Greene, who penned The Quiet American here, Charlie Chaplin and Somerset Maugham, all of whom have suites named in their honour. Rooms in the newer Opera Wing are equally luxurious but lack the creaky-floorboard authenticity of the original. The plethora of bars and restaurants cater for any cravings and the award-winning spa is spectacular. Doubles from $174.

See sofitel-legend.com.

NAM HAI

Set within expansive grounds dotted with coconut palms, Nam Hai is the ultimate lush, tropical resort. There's a Japanese aesthetic to the spacious villas, which feature net-canopied platform beds. Pool villas, grouped around a spacious pavilion and pool, are ideal for extended family groups. It would be easy to succumb to resortification here, lounging beside one of three pools and indulging in spa treatments. But that would be to ignore the delights of nearby Hoi An, the former capital, known as much for its historic temples and shop-houses as for the tailors who can reproduce anything in hours. Doubles from $712 including tax.

See mrandmrssmith.com/the-nam-hai.

SIX SENSES NINH VAN BAY

Accessible by water only, the opulently rustic Six Senses is a tropical island hideaway like no other. A string of thatched roofed villas built from timber and bamboo cling to the shoreline, some nestled among the rocks, others secluded behind flowering shrubs and trees. Your personal butler takes care of every need, whether that's lunch beside your private pool or booking treatments at the spa. The more energetic guests can borrow snorkelling gear, hike to a deserted beach or rise before dawn to lay nets with a local fisherman. Happy hour is actually three hours, with the prime spot a daybed suspended over the beach.

Doubles from $850 including tax.

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See mrandmrssmith.com/six-sensesninh-van-bay.

AMANOI

Sculpted into the undulating hillsides of an isolated national park, Aman's newest property overlooks the small village of Vinh Hy, where local fishermen paddle their distinctive round baskets in search of a catch. The temple-like Central Pavilion's bar and restaurant offer dramatic coastal views, but you might prefer dining in the privacy of your own elegantly minimal villa. Learn the fine art of rice paper rolls in a cooking class or indulge in a massage in the sublime spa, which comprises five treatment pavilions, a huge gym and state-of-the-art pilates studio. Doubles from $970.

See amanresorts.com/amanoi.

PRINCESS D'ANNAM

The great pleasure of Princess D'Annam is chillaxing on a beachfront lounge under a palm-frond umbrella, watching local fishermen in traditional conical hats cast nets in the tropical waters. Should hunger or thirst arise, a chilled 333 beer and a delicious Vietnamese salad is only a wave of the service flag away. Located about 150 kilometres east of Ho Chi Minh, on the South China Sea, Princess D'Annam is one of Vietnam's best-kept secrets. Several pools, a plethora of water activities, a stunning spa and superb food round out the resort offerings. Doubles from $307 including tax.

See mrandmrssmith.com/princess-dannam-resort-and-spa.

SOFITEL SAIGON PLAZA

Ho Chi Minh is a thriving metropolis and the Sofitel Saigon Plaza is the international hotel it needs. The tall tower is a hybrid of modern French design and Vietnamese touches, and while it lacks the historic charm of its Hanoi sibling, it is a sophisticated and welcoming oasis on a tree-lined boulevard that is spared the craziness of much of Ho Chi Minh's traffic. It's only a walk or a short taxi ride from the city's main sights, including the War Remnants Museum, Jade Emperor Pagoda and Ben Thanh Market. The renowned Oliviers restaurant is a bastion of French gastronomy worthy of its former colonial power. Doubles from $172.

See sofitel.com/Saigon.

The writer stayed courtesy of the featured hotels.

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