Friday, July 7, 2017

Hotel Review: Manila Hotel (Why It's A Good Idea to Stay and Dine)

The lobby
Back to regular programming.

I’ll always have fond memories of Manila Hotel. When we started dating, my husband would take me there either Saturday or Sunday afternoons to enjoy the merienda buffet at Café Ilang Ilang. We stopped going when traffic became so bad and new favorites took its place.

Our recent stay there was unintended. I already made a booking at Hotel Jen but cancelled at the last minute when I received an email informing of a whole-day aircon shutdown during our scheduled stay. Since our booking was mainly for the purpose of being near the US Embassy for my husband’s visa renewal and my daughter’s visa application, I had to look for another hotel within the area. I decided on Manila Hotel for a change since we’ve been to Sofitel several times and it was one of the best options for our embassy appointment.

I made sure to book one of the newly renovated rooms. Online booking sites don’t have this info so I decided to do the reservations over the phone.

I love the lobby. The gigantic capiz chandeliers make quite an impression.

After we checked in, we went back to Cafe Ilang Ilang for merienda but learned that their mid-afternoon buffet has been scrapped to make room for an expanded lunch and dinner buffet offerings. We sought our snacks at the lobby.

An amiable waiter suggested their eat-all-you-can bar bites consisting of Filipino street food such as Ilocos empanada, ukoy, and pork barbecue. At only Php500 per person, it was a no-brainer.

We were stuffed after merienda. I wanted Jia to experience riding in a calesa so I told our helper to hail one for us at Rizal Park.

The calesa took us past the US Embassy and through the length of the Baywalk but halfway through, Jia dozed off. When we got to Luneta, the kutsero (coachman) asked if we wanted to proceed to Intramuros. I would have wanted to but my kuya and family were waiting at the hotel and Jia was asleep so we decided to save that for another time.

Instead, we went for the dinner buffet of Cafe Ilang Ilang. I was so pleasantly surprised by the spread! I think this is one of the best buffet offerings in Manila in terms of food quality, variety, and value for money. I urge you to try it.

The buffet is Php2,450 per person but BDO debit and credit card holders get a 50% discount. Luckily, my husband is a BDO depositor.

Thanks to our perfect location, we were able to enjoy the buffet breakfast and made it to our 8:30 a.m. appointment right on time and was in and out of the US Embassy in 30 minutes. Advice to those who are coming for an interview, leave your mobile phones at home or hand it over to someone (someone you know!) who can wait for you at the gate.

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