After excavating more than two meters of earth and reinforced concrete and then jack-hammering through a 278 -millimeter ceiling, the hotel opened the hatch on a warren of flooded corridors, chambers and stairways.
They found an old wine bottle, still-intact light bulbs, air ducts, graffiti and eerie echoes of a war that ended almost four decades ago.
“In the hotel’s history, we have a story of the American folk singer, Joan Baez, who sought shelter in this bunker during the Christmas Bombings in 1972, and who sang some songs beside a Vietnamese guitarist,” said Speth.
“We don’t know of any other hotels, in Vietnam or anywhere else for that matter, that maintained a shelter for guests and staff,” he added.
Nguyen Duc Hoa, deputy director of Hanoi’s Department of Culture, Sports, and Tourism, told Tuoi Tre that they have yet to receive any information from the hotel about the shelter. However, an air-raid shelter of this kind may not merit to be considered a national heritage, he said.
“The shelter seems like other shelters built around Hanoi lakes during the Vietnam War against America. It is possible that the hotel owner built the shelter as a safe haven for tourists and staff,” Hoa said.
He added the department will carry out a thorough research on the shelter before issuing any advice on the use or preservation of it.