When the weather is fine, the Hoianian bar is one of the best spots in town to sit outside and watch the world go by. It is a lovely little place with two floors, a balcony terrace upstairs overlooking the street, and tables outside lining the side street along the length of the building. It is right in the centre of old town and next to the river, so it gets a lot of people passing by in the daytime and the evening. If you are a people-watcher, like me, then there aren’t many places better. This is what you might call prime-people-watching real estate.
Outside is where I like to sit when it is sunny, but if the weather is not so good, or you are in a larger group then you can sit inside. Downstairs is a cool place to relax, with a bit of a bohemian feel, with sofas and chairs, but also some tables to eat at. There are more tables upstairs, which can also cater for larger groups, although I would suggest booking if you want a group table in the evening as it gets quite busy.
This is a wine bar as well as a restaurant, and drinking outside in the sun is the reason I mostly go here. Another reason, which goes together well with the first reason, is happy hour. The happy hour at the Hoianian is a rather generous seven hours, from 12:00 pm to 7pm. Most bars and restaurants in Old Town offer happy hours like buy one get one free, but most bars and restaurants seem to limit their offers to cocktails. Since I am not much of a cocktail drinker, they don’t hold much appeal to me, but the Hoianian sits much more comfortably within my wheelhouse–with a happy hour also featuring wine and local beer. Now, that’s a happy hour I can get behind, and one which does the name proud. The good thing is, the prices aren’t overly expensive anyway. A bottle of Larue at full price is 39,000 VND, so the buy-one-get-one-free offer is a no-brainer. Glasses of wine at full price range from around 140,000 VND for several South American options, so with buy-one-get-one-free, you are looking at around 70,000 VND, which is not too bad at all. I haven’t tried the white yet, but the reds that I have tasted were surprisingly good for happy hour fare.
A tiny downside to sitting outside the Hoianian is the service. It can be a little hit and miss. When it is very busy, it is usually ok, with staff coming outside to check on customers fairly regularly, but on days when it is not so busy, it can sometimes be a while before staff venture outside, and so you might have to go indoors to place your next order. This is certainly not a deal-breaker for me, though, and is a small price to pay for an outside table.
A couple of other minor things that irk me a little, but not enough to stop me going, are the WIFI, which tends to be a little hit and miss and not always very fast, the backs of the outside chairs are a little uncomfortable, and they don’t always open the outside seating area until later in the evening. I suspect this is due to staff limitations when it is not busy, but it can be rather disappointing when you want a mid-week al fresco beer before it gets dark.
If the weather is nice, then, and I can get a table outside during happy hour, The Hoianian becomes one of my favourite bars in Hoi An. It is just a great spot to sit and soak up the sun and the Hoi An atmosphere, and with the great happy hour prices, there is just nothing not to like. Well maybe the service and the WIFI.
As of yet, I haven’t managed to eat at the Hoianian. It is on my list of restaurants to visit, but for now I can only comment on the Hoianian as a winebar. I will update this section as soon as I can.