Review: VATC Sleep Pods Hanoi Airport (HAN)

Review: VATC Sleep Pods Hanoi Airport (HAN)

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NAME: VATC Sleep Pods Hanoi Airport
LOCATION: Hanoi, Vietnam
DATE: January 2023
REVIEW RATING:
BEN SAYS: VATC Sleep Pods have a convenient location in Hanoi Airport. However, the experience leaves a lot to be desired, between the lack of bathrooms, and the credit card machine being broken.
37

During my whirlwind Aeroplan adventure, I had a quick overnight at Hanoi Airport. Rather than trekking into the city, I decided to spend the night in the VATC Sleep Pods inside the terminal, as that seemed most convenient.

I’m usually a huge fan of the sleep pod concepts, and I love the Yotel brand. Well, let me tell you, the VATC Sleep Pods are no Yotel…

My tricky overnight layover in Hanoi

I went back and forth as to what I should do for my overnight in Hanoi, Vietnam. I was arriving from Ho Chi Minh City at 12:20AM, and was due to depart for Frankfurt at 9:40AM in the morning, so I had a roughly nine hour layover.

Initially I was going to head into the city and stay at the Hyatt Regency, which could be booked for just 5,000 points per night (a real bargain). However, when I started doing the math on how much time I had, I ultimately decided against it:

  • I figured I would get to the hotel roughly one hour after landing, around 1:30AM
  • Since I’m reviewing flights, I always try to get to airports early so I can check out the lounges before they get crowded, etc., so I wanted to be at the airport by 6AM; as a result, I figured I had to leave by 5:30AM or so
  • Going all the way into town for just four hours in a hotel didn’t seem worth it; not just from a cost perspective, but from an inconvenience perspective, in terms of how much time I’d spend in a car

There were no name brand hotels near the airport, so at that point I decided to settle on the VATC Sleep Pods, which are sleep pods in the Hanoi Airport terminal. That would allow me to maximize my rest, and hopefully at least get several hours of sleep.

Booking the VATC Sleep Pods Hanoi Airport

There are VATC Sleep Pods in both Terminal 1 (the domestic terminal) and Terminal 2 (the international terminal). You can’t easily walk between the terminals, and the shuttle only runs between 6AM and 12AM, so I decided to book the VATC Sleep Pods in Terminal 1, where I was arriving (since my flight landed after midnight).

Oddly, the VATC Sleep Pods don’t have their own website, meaning you have to book through an online travel agency (which is surprising, given the massive commissions that online travel agencies tend to get). So I booked through Agoda, and the rate for the night was 1.4 million VND (~$60). That’s pricey, though in fairness, I booked the rate with the greatest flexibility, and there were other rates for a bit under $50.

Furthermore, that booking was for a check-in at 2PM and check-out at 12PM, as I couldn’t find a way to book a shorter stay than that online.

VATC Sleep Pods Hanoi Airport location

The VATC Sleep Pods Hanoi Airport Terminal 1 are located landside. In other words, they’re before security, so you could stay here without actually having a flight ticket (not that you’d want to).

After exiting the sterile part of the terminal, I turned left, and saw a few elevators. The VATC Sleep Pods are on the third floor, so I took the elevator up there.

Elevator to VATC Sleep Pods
Hanoi Airport Terminal 1 signage

Once out of the elevator, it was easy to spot the VATC Sleep Pods straight ahead.

VATC Sleep Pods Hanoi Airport exterior

VATC Sleep Pods Hanoi Airport check-in

The VATC Sleep Pods have a staffed reception desk.

VATC Sleep Pods Hanoi Airport reception

I presented my passport and credit card, and after photocopies were taken, I was informed that the credit card machine wasn’t working. Hmmm. I was advised to go get cash from an ATM. There was a language barrier, and it took about 10 minutes for me to actually find an ATM.

Then when I returned, the agent informed me that she had no change, so I had to overpay by ~$5, based on the bills that I had.

Obviously none of this is a huge deal, but it rubbed me the wrong way on principle. If you’re catering to international guests and my reservation is secured with a credit card, I should also be able to pay with a credit card. And if you can’t accept credit cards due to a system being out, you should at least have change. Just to be clear, I recognize that this probably wasn’t the the fault of the person working, and I was nice to her.

I don’t want to be a conspiracy theorist, but I also can’t help but wonder if the machine was actually broken, or if this is a scheme to instead get foreigners to pay in cash, and possibly overpay, by not having change.

For what it’s worth, below is the pricing list at check-in for the VATC Sleep Pods. As you can see, you can rent pods for as little as an hour, though there doesn’t seem to be an easy way to book that online in advance.

VATC Sleep Pods Hanoi Airport pricing

VATC Sleep Pods Hanoi Airport bed & features

There are a total of about a dozen VATC Sleep Pods at the facility, and they’re fairly spacious for pods, especially vertically.

VATC Sleep Pods exterior
VATC Sleep Pods exterior
VATC Sleep Pods exterior

I was assigned pod 209, very close to reception.

VATC Sleep Pods exterior

The pod was reasonably comfortable, and the bedding felt clean. There were actually bunk beds in the pod (they seemed to be twin beds), so this space could accommodate two guests.

VATC Sleep Pods interior
VATC Sleep Pods interior

There was a television along the wall, next to the stairs leading up to the top bunk.

VATC Sleep Pods interior
VATC Sleep Pods interior

There was a table with two bottles of water and two packaged custard desserts, which were complimentary. There was also an alarm clock, outlets, as well as remotes for the TV and air conditioning.

VATC Sleep Pods interior
VATC Sleep Pods outlets
VATC Sleep Pods water & snacks

The pod had blackout shades, so it could get totally dark. I was only in the pod overnight from around 12:30AM until 6AM, so it was nice and quiet, though I’ve heard that it can be really noisy in these pods during the day, when the terminal is bustling.

VATC Sleep Pods interior

The pod had its own air conditioning, though I found that it couldn’t actually get that cold. It wasn’t terribly hot, but it also didn’t work as well as I would have hoped.

For the most part, the pod as such was fine. I should mention that there was nowhere to sit aside from the bed — I do appreciate how Yotels usually have a seat or somewhere to sit, despite such a small space.

As a selective germaphobe, I was grossed out by there being carpet in the room, as it smelled kind of bad, and was also discolored. I wish they would have gone with a different surface that could more easily be cleaned.

There was Wi-Fi in the pod, which was semi-functional, but certainly not fast.

VATC Sleep Pods Hanoi Airport bathrooms

The biggest negative of the VATC Sleep Pods is that they don’t have bathrooms. I don’t just mean that you have to share bathrooms, but the facility doesn’t have any bathrooms. Rather you have to go quite a ways down the hall to the public restroom.

The hallway to the bathrooms felt like something out of “The Shining,” and it was dimly lit with flickering lights.

VATC Sleep Pods bathrooms
VATC Sleep Pods bathrooms
VATC Sleep Pods bathrooms

The bathrooms were in awful condition, and there weren’t even paper towels. So if you want to brush your teeth or wash your face, too bad.

VATC Sleep Pods bathrooms
VATC Sleep Pods bathrooms

Ugh. Not even having access to relatively clean bathrooms is probably the biggest downside of this place to me.

VATC Sleep Pods Hanoi Airport dining

While everything in the terminal was closed during my visit, there are some dining options if you have a longer layover here. For one, there are some coffee shops and convenience stores on the ground floor, near the arrivals area.

Hanoi Airport Terminal 1 dining

On top of that, the fourth floor has plenty of dining. However, I can’t speak to the quality of the options, since I didn’t have anything.

Hanoi Airport Terminal 1 dining
Hanoi Airport Terminal 1 dining

Bottom line

I’m a big fan of airport sleeping pods, so VATC Sleep Pods Hanoi Airport are the most convenient option if you have a quick overnight. However, this was probably the least pleasant sleeping pod experience I’ve had at any airport.

Most significantly, the lack of decent bathrooms really detracted from the experience, and on top of that the pod didn’t feel quite as clean as some of the other ones I’ve stayed in. Lastly, the whole credit card machine being broken, while there also not being any change, left a bad taste in my mouth.

So while I didn’t have a great stay, I’m not sure I would have necessarily done anything differently in retrospect? I got around four hours of solid sleep, which is more sleep than I would have gotten if I stayed at a hotel in town.

What do you make of the VATC Sleep Pods Hanoi?

Conversations (37)
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  1. Carol Guest

    We have booked a pod in Terminal 2 and can't seem to find out if we actually need a Vietnam visa for the stay. We have an onward flight to Tokyo. Anyone know?

  2. Patricia Guest

    So if you had 2, 20+ year old daughters arriving in Hanoi international airport with a 18 hours layover before their return flight to Sydney Australia would you recommend they stay in a Hotel or use the Sleep Pods. Either way they will have to get visa whilst still travelling in Italy

  3. Josh Guest

    Say it with me: the credit card machine is never broken.

    But in Asia you often have to play the game, even if it’s a silly amount of face to be lost over a currency conversion. The extra $5-10 is a coffee to you, or it can be a Vietnamese family’s meals for a week. I have paid $5 cash deposits in Vietnamese hotels to ensure I didn’t leave with the towels and key.

    ...

    Say it with me: the credit card machine is never broken.

    But in Asia you often have to play the game, even if it’s a silly amount of face to be lost over a currency conversion. The extra $5-10 is a coffee to you, or it can be a Vietnamese family’s meals for a week. I have paid $5 cash deposits in Vietnamese hotels to ensure I didn’t leave with the towels and key.

    The constant small upcharging that is done to westerners in Vietnam is absolutely annoying and usually bizarre. But it’s simply not enough money to bother arguing the principle.

  4. Jamie Guest

    Ben. I love the constant variety of your reviews. From a Rolls Royce transfer, Klug and a Butler to a bunk bed, stained carpet and no toilet. Keep up
    The good work !

  5. AJB Guest

    No conspiracy theory at all. The credit card machine not working trick is very common throughout Southeast Asia as they don’t want to pay the merchant fee.
    I always tell them that credit card is all I have and start to walk away, then magically they find a way to accept my card. Works like a charm! You’ll also often see merchants charge an extra
    3-5% to your bill if you choose to pay by credit card.

  6. Peter Guest

    This could be Marriott’s 31st brand! No food, no bathrooms = great for owners.

  7. XPL Diamond

    I can't speak to Southeast Asia but in Central America this is a common trick to give the corrupt tax collectors a taste of their own medicine. Credit card payments are visible to the tax man, but cash payments (particularly for services rather than countable goods) are easy to under-report. Offering to pay "the credit card commission" often brings the point of sale terminal magically to life.

  8. RichM Diamond

    Am I the only one disappointed that we didn't get a review of "Lucky Fastfood"?

  9. Jimmy’s Travel Report Diamond

    No bathroom, toilet or shower - no bid.

  10. JDee Diamond

    Did you see these pods, Ben? According to the website, they're on Level 2 of the International Terminal
    http://sleepzone.sasco.com.vn/en/main.html

    1. Fnmdnr Guest

      This is at Ho Chi Minh City Airport for anyone wondering, Hanoi is some 1,500 km away.

  11. Hong Konger Guest

    Overall this is a classic example of how tourism is taken in Vietnam, they are still busy with petty scams and undeserving good paying guests.
    Can still get brushed like this in Indo too btw.

    Still a long way to go to catch up with Thailand.

  12. MeanMeosh Member

    "I don’t want to be a conspiracy theorist, but I also can’t help but wonder if the machine was actually broken, or if this is a scheme to instead get foreigners to pay in cash, and possibly overpay, by not having change."

    You fell for a common scam throughout India and SE Asia. The credit card machines are always "not working" because the merchant a) doesn't want to pay the CC fee, and b) wants...

    "I don’t want to be a conspiracy theorist, but I also can’t help but wonder if the machine was actually broken, or if this is a scheme to instead get foreigners to pay in cash, and possibly overpay, by not having change."

    You fell for a common scam throughout India and SE Asia. The credit card machines are always "not working" because the merchant a) doesn't want to pay the CC fee, and b) wants cash so he can evade taxes by not reporting it. Then when you get the cash from the ATM, they claim "no change, sir" and pocket the difference. Threaten to walk away, and the CC machine magically starts working and/or they magically find change in the register.

  13. Kenny S Guest

    For what's it worth, the credit card machines in Vietnam are always "not working".

    The reality is that the merchants in Vietnam have to pay 2.5% transaction fees to the banks, and many smaller merchants are unwilling to swallow those fees. If you were to offer to pay that difference, they would probably accept it.

    In any case, it's probably due to language barrier that it's easier for her to say "credit card machine broken, cash only. ATM there"

  14. docntx Guest

    My experiences at HAN have been always, to put it politely, way below international standards.
    Hospitality is definitely not part of the culture of the former North Vietnam.

  15. Roundtree Member

    No bathroom seals the deal for me. Ben, I’m often jealous of your trips. Not this time.

  16. Azamaraal Guest

    Once they did not have a credit card reader but posted shorter stays for cash - wouldn't it have been a great time to say you had $20 and wanted what they had? No cc - no pay?

  17. Kirby Guest

    My wife and I stayed in one of these back in 2017 waiting for the JAL desk to open for a late night departure out of the International terminal. I think the stay was included on Priority Pass at the time good up to 4 hours or something like that. I thought our stay was fine, although the terminal was very new at the time.

  18. Luis Guest

    I would have gone into the city for the night just to eat some street food. Hanoi's street food scene is fire.

  19. Sam Guest

    Can be booked direct. IIRC there's a link on the HAN airport website. Did it last summer but (thankfully) cancelled after a rerouted itinerary.

  20. Max Guest

    "You will live in ze pod!"

    Klaus Schwab, founder of the World Economic Forum (WEF)

  21. S Gold

    You're not being a conspiracy theorist, you were almost certainly scammed.

    1. JasonB Gold

      She certainly kept the extra $5, and if she was good, she booked him at some kind of lower rate and pocketed the difference.

  22. Never In Doubt Guest

    The elusive 2 star rating!

    While I don’t wish it upon you Ben, I’m now awaiting the first 1 star rating!

  23. JS Guest

    Once again Lucky, you took one for the team on this one. I know you're a big fan of sleep pods but man, for some reason they just gross me out and being claustrophobic doesn't help matters either. However, this one looks better to me than the previous one that you stayed in.

  24. Maryland Guest

    Um, bad smell carpet, no adjacent bathroom, broken credit card/no change cash scam. You are so brave. I would have run

  25. James S Guest

    Those bathrooms do not look to be in awful shape

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ James S -- Perhaps pictures don't do it justice, but one sink was broken, the floor was wet (and I suspect largely not with water), only one of the stalls had toilet paper, and there were no paper towels, just to name some of the issues.

    2. Azamaraal Guest

      Hi Ben
      Having lived in SE Asia in the 80's, the bathrooms were probably top of the cleanliness line for domestic terminals after midnight compared with what used to be standard.

  26. Steve Guest

    Staying in a Hanoi hotel in two weeks, via an OTA. Got an email directly from the property stating I must pay in cash. Not a word about it on the OTA's website. Thankful for Charles Schwab. {Did the property charge you an exact cash equivalent per the international exchange rate or was 'no change' a money grab also?}

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Steve -- The rate on Agoda was listed in VND, so I was asked for that amount (it wasn't a conversion from USD).

    2. AdamH Diamond

      I wonder if this is also sort of a way to get out of paying the commission. They can claim a no show but pocket the cash.

  27. Ethan Guest

    $50 price vaporized the value, especially considering 5000 Hyatt points (Plus Q1 promotion) is almost the same price. Usually I expect around $30 for Southeast Asian airports sleeping pods.
    I probably would book the Hyatt at the spot after hearing the CC machine situation.

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Ethan -- Fair, but in terms of value, there's also the cost of getting to the Hyatt Regency, which would likely be close to $50 roundtrip.

    2. Bernardo Guest

      Using Grab, the local Uber equivalent, would have been much cheaper than $50 round trip. And even less if you were prepared to perch on the back of a scooter. My last Grab trip in Hanoi was about a 30 minute ride for under $10.

  28. Alvin | YTHK Diamond

    So takeaway – VATC sleep pods feel like flying China Southern's A380 in first class?

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Alvin | YTHK -- LOL. In fairness, the retail cost is a bit lower.

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

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MeanMeosh Member

"I don’t want to be a conspiracy theorist, but I also can’t help but wonder if the machine was actually broken, or if this is a scheme to instead get foreigners to pay in cash, and possibly overpay, by not having change." You fell for a common scam throughout India and SE Asia. The credit card machines are always "not working" because the merchant a) doesn't want to pay the CC fee, and b) wants cash so he can evade taxes by not reporting it. Then when you get the cash from the ATM, they claim "no change, sir" and pocket the difference. Threaten to walk away, and the CC machine magically starts working and/or they magically find change in the register.

3
Ben Schlappig OMAAT

@ James S -- Perhaps pictures don't do it justice, but one sink was broken, the floor was wet (and I suspect largely not with water), only one of the stalls had toilet paper, and there were no paper towels, just to name some of the issues.

2
Ben Schlappig OMAAT

@ Ethan -- Fair, but in terms of value, there's also the cost of getting to the Hyatt Regency, which would likely be close to $50 roundtrip.

2
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