FOR THE LOVE OF HOTELSFriday, March 11, 2016
|Solaire Hotel and Casino|
When I was little my dream is to sleep in a hotel, I don't know why, but it gave me a perception that being in that place equals to comfort. And yes! it is!
My first experience in a hotel is not so well, given that it is one of the best hotels in the Philippines. My dad had an operation in a clinic and they prefer that he should stay in a hotel near the clinic so we checked in. I was so excited that it ended up very disappointing for me. First, I don't smoke, the fact that my parents too have no idea what to do when checking in, because maybe its still their first time. The reception gave them a smoking room with twin beds, hence I could not stay inside the hotel for a long time. So from then on, I did not get a smoking room after that one.
So why is a girl like me living in a third world country have the affinity to hotels? If other people prefer signature hand bags, expensive watch and high end phones, me, I like hotels. What are the hotels I've tried? Here are the list.
1. The Manila Hotel
2. Dusit Thani
3. Edsa Shangri La
4. Sofitel Philippine Plaza
5. The Peninsula Hotel
6. Marriot Hotel
7. Solaire Hotel and Casino
8. Traders Hotel (Hotel Jen)
9. Hyatt Hotel (New World)
10. Manila Pavilion
11. Manila Grand Opera Hotel
12. Microtel at MOA
13. The Fersal Inn Chains
14. Midas Hotel
15. Tune Hotels (Red)
1. Microtel Chains
1. Marina Bay Sands Singapore
Well actually in the provinces and other countries, I don't go for luxury because of limited resources but when in Manila and I try to relax, I picked at the 5 stars that I can find. You may ask, what's the difference? what do I get from this? Let me dissect the Pros and Cons.
5 star hotels aside from the grandeur and high quality linens (hehehe!) have perks!
When Solaire opened, I was welcomed with free drinks at the bar, buffet breakfast, fruits and chocolates in my room and an ice bucket with ice! sounds weird? well a lot of hotels have ice buckets but no ice. In Marriot, I was given 2 types of tea in an elegant tin can with box :D Well others have fruits and newspapers.
In a 5 star hotel there are options, for a person like me who wants comfort, I usually get the Executive suites, its not like a Presidential suite, you will also have a regular room like the others but you have access to Executive lounge. ooohhhh sounds fancy eh?! well yes it is. And can you tell me what that is? you may ask?
Because you paid extra for comfort and luxury, the hotel will give you something extra too. Like when you check in or out, you will not queue like the others do in the lobby. You will go to the lounge and sit in a nice sofa with cable TV and drinks while you wait. Upon check in, you will be given any drinks or food that they have in there (you can take any food at your hearts content, no one will judge you). There are also hors d'oeuvre from 5pm-7pm with your choice of wine (again you can take as much as you want) but be prepared because dress code is strictly implemented (no shorts allowed). You can take food and drinks during your stay, provided you will finish it there (baka daw kasi mag uwi ka). You can also use a board room complete with amenities if you need it and free press of 1 pair of clothes. Not enough for you? You can also have your breakfast there away from many people in the buffet breakfast below, you can enjoy your breakfast with peace and quiet that you usually have at home (because who will want to pay for extra right?).
|Executive Lounge at Marriott Manila|
So, who has this Executive lounges? Pretty much every 5 star hotel has one, I tried the lounges in Marriot, Dusit, Hyatt and Traders. They live up to their standards of comfort and pleasure but the best food among them is in Marriot. Well I love their cold desserts and pretty much all the cookies and french macaroons! yum!
So for beds, only one has a My Bed, you will feel you are lying on top of a marshmallow and that is Sofitel. Aside from the bed, they put another layer on top that makes it more soft and you will have a good night sleep. Sofitel also have a lagoon type of pool so you will feel you are in a resort rather than in a city type hotel.
Food, pretty much everyone has a good standard so I will not say who's the best because I like food, even if its bad I'd still like it especially when I'm hungry. I order food mostly from room service, I don't try their restaurants because I don't want to mingle and dress up when I'm in a mood to relax. So let's just say what expensive foods I've tried in a hotel. This is ala carte not buffet, I spent almost 3000 pesos for a steak in Solaire, the only steak resto in there, Strip Steakhouse. The fact that I'm wearing an old shirt and faded pants didn't stop me from eating there. The staffs are nice, the steak is awesome although I need to order separate rice and side dish for that which makes it even more expensive gives me a satisfaction. Plus, they even gave me 2 pcs of chocolate bonbons to finish my meal, it made me full and happy. I also tried Sea bass in a resto in Sofitel, when it came it looked beautiful and its worth 1500, you know just to try what sea bass is, I really didn't know what to expect, I just have the idea that it taste like fish, well after eating it i want to shout Patis please :)
|Strip Steakhouse at Solaire|
Room service is not tricky, you just open the hard bound books of the hotel and choose a meal. They even have order cards that you leave outside your door before you sleep at night, so that when you wake up you can have your breakfast beside the bed hahaha! not in bed? because they will convert their food carts into a table when they come in to your room. So what to order! I have a hack for you, don't choose filipino food, for god sake, you have all the filipino food you want outside the hotel, please spare me. If you like asian food such as korean and japanese and if its available kindly order that, especially when it comes in bento. Why? Because those food have side dishes, in japanese you'll have miso soup and others, in korean, kimchi and others, so you can get your money's worth.
Next are the pools, the best one for me (for me! not you or any other person) is Sofitel. Why? because its like a resort and then its near the bay. Word of advice, if you are going to relax in a hotel please bring swimwear, whether you feel like you are not going to swim, just bring one, you'll never know the water might invite you in. My other experience is at the famous pool in Singapore, that's right you guessed it, The Marina Bay Sands. When I went there to swim others just took pics and bring their DSLRs in the pool and snap away. Too bad for me, I have no companion so no one took my photos :( but its a great experience, before I'm just looking at it through photos then suddenly I was there.
|Sofitel Lagoon Pool|
|Marina Bay Sands Pool|
There is also spa! yes! if you plan to have a massage that night call the spa right away so that you can book yourself early and you will not be out of slot. Most massage in a 5 star hotel cost around 2000-3000 pesos, yes its expensive, but the thing is they will not put a cheap oil on you. Their oils can make you relax, and some masseuse are so good you wont have a choice but to fall asleep. In Dusit hotel their masseuse has a technique of pressing hot towel on your back and immediately give a pressure so that the heat will get in your body to relieve all the stress.
|Dusit Thani Deverana Spa|
Heads Up! Checking-In at a 5 star hotel isn't just your room charge, you will pay first and then there's what you call a security deposit, in any case you made damages to the hotel. It costs around 2500-6000 pesos depending on a hotel, I will not specify which hotels because of competitive reasons. So be prepared to bring extra cash, or if you have credit card you will need to swipe that and they will keep the receipt, they can tear it if you didn't use any or if you prefer to pay cash. Another hack, let's say your budget in a mini vacation is 10 thousand pesos, that means you paid for the hotel and the deposit. You can use that deposit to pay for your meals during your stay, spa services or even what you take in your mini bar. If you want to refund, just pay the services in cash when you use it.
Speaking of which... THE MINI BAR, hahaha I have a story for you, one time I was at a provincial hotel and we checked in as a group but I got a separate room, I was the last to check out, when I'm at the reception, I was charged with 2000 pesos for a bunch of sodas! I paid for it 'cause I can't leave unless I do so. So after that I called my friend and told her that her friends drunk the sodas at the hotel fridge. And her answer was, they drunk the sodas because it will be a waste if they do not drink that, they thought its free. So there you go, every food in that bar worth 10 times, like you drank a water filled with diamonds because for 500 ml of Evian, you will have to pay 1000 pesos. If you can't pay for the food in the mini bar, please just leave it alone and buy at the nearest 7 eleven stores :D The mini bar at Marina Bay Sands is cool, I hope they have one like that here. The fridge is locked when you have no more extra money left in your deposit. There are electric tray sensor in the fridge they have holes for specific drinks so when you take it, you can't put it back again, because it will be charge to you, might as well drink it.
One or two things I like in hotels are their variety of bath products and things you can use during your stay like slippers, laundry bags, papers, ball pens, soaps, dental kits, coffees and teas! Before I check out it seems like i went shopping in a grocery. Sorry hotel peeps and owners, if I have to pay that expensive room at least i get to keep the ball pens right? Sometimes I ask receptionists if I can keep their pen when I'm signing something which they usually agrees. In Manila Hotel the bathrooms have their own built it TV at the walls, so you get to enjoy your favorite program while having a relaxing time at the bathtub. In 5 star hotels they partner with brands like L'occitane Asprey and Lanvin for the bath needs, some have Aromatherapy, which you don't use because they are expensive. At least I tried some of them, even the teas, some are Twinings others have TWG, you might guess I have a lot of tea bags in the house by now right? Well the answer is in my cabinet full of hotel stuff.
To continue, what do I look for in a hotel? It depends on what business I have during my stay. If I have to do something in the city, I don't go to 5 star hotels because I will not stay there the whole day. I choose Fersal Hotel chains, they have several hotel within the city and they are affordable. Unlike other hotels that have specific check in time, at Fersal they don't. If you check in at 7am today your check out will be 7am tomorrow, same goes if you check in at 5pm today you check out at 5pm the next day. They also have masseuse that will be in your room when you asked for it. The food in Fersal Hotel is good, I like their food choices, it has a large serving with affordable price.
|Fersal in Makati|
Next is location, especially when I'm going out of the country since I live in the province. I always book at Microtel at MOA and Tune Hotels (Red Hotel now) in Aseana because of their proximity at the airport and SM Mall of Asia. Usually I'll be in Manila a day before my flight, so I often check in at Microtel. The night before I'll be roaming around the mall or catch a movie before sleeping, so that the vacation starts there.They have a pool if you need a dip with the view of the mall and the bay. Microtel is good due to its functionality, it may not be a 5 star hotel but everything you need during your stay is available. They even have ice maker in between floors so you know where to get your water and ice. They have wake up calls and they even pack a breakfast for me before going to the airport, since I can't eat my breakfast there if my flight is at 5am. I also check in if my arrival in Manila is 11pm, this time in Red Hotel. Red Hotel retain the functionality of Tune Hotel, what you need for a quick night stay, you can get it there. It's clean, modern and near places you need for a quick bite.
|View at the Pool Deck in Microtel MOA|
But when it comes to comfort and relaxation I often stay at 5 star hotels, because I'm the girl who dreams at sleeping at hotels and I make sure to try the top hotels on my list. But for hotel novices I hope you take this tips before choosing hotels. Learn what the hotel has to offer and enjoy using the services. Last life hack, I often book my hotel at Agoda.com, sometimes I compare it to the hotels official website and assess where I can save for the same type of room. In Agoda, I get points for every booking and I even redeemed a free hotel because I saved a lot of points. Some time in your life you have to do these things, but at least I gave you what the best hotels can offer and I hope you learned a lot from me.
CTTO: for the owners of used pics :D
CTTO: for the owners of used pics :D