The Lucky Hotel in Hanoi sits on a quiet street a few hundred meters from Hoan Kiem Lake (the only lake in Hanoi that matters). It’s a short walk from the hotel to the Old Quarter, the Hang Da Market, the Water Puppet Theatre and basically all the best things the city has to offer. At US$20-25 per night, it’s not really a bargain by Hanoi standards, but the staff is very friendly, and that’s basically what kept me there for the four nights I was in Hanoi.
The Grassland Hotel (aka Khách S?n Th?o Nguyên) in Hoi An is a new, and therefore very clean, establishment located about halfway between the town center and An Bang Beach. Hoi An is a small town, though, so it’s a good location – especially since the price (US$12 per night) includes unlimited bicycle rentals. The family that runs the place were very sweet and invited me to join them for tea and fruit each day I was there. Hoi An is a really lovely town. I highly recommend it, and the Grassland Hotel. If you go, however, ask for a room that’s as far away from the street as possible – this goes for all of Vietnam.
Also in Hoi An, have a meal or two at a restaurant called Sao Mai. It’s right on the river, at the edge of the main market. It’s a family-run joint, managed by a young guy named Son. His mom is the head cook, and although her Cao Lau (a dish of thick noodles – the local specialty) is not the best in town, her other dishes are very good. Mainly, though, I enjoyed chatting with Son and his family. He hooked me up with a great motorbike and guide for a day, and he’s also a badass Karaoke master.