Being a home body and also being very pregnant with our third (hence I prefer to stay indoors), I chose to celebrate my 28th birthday at The Manila Hotel. Back in 2014, my husband and I joined the My Manila Hotel Tour and what struck us is the long history of the hotel and the grand halls and rooms. But more than those, the promise of an unforgettable experience from the moment you step into the hotel until you step out made us want to try to stay.
Three years later, we found ourselves in Manila Hotel for a three-day birthday staycation. I had high expectations–about the amenities, and even more about the experience that awaits our family.
Unfortunately, the 5-star hotel experience fell short of our expectations. Upon arrival, we drove to the drop-off to avail of their valet parking service. We stayed there for a good five minutes, waiting for someone to assist us, but no one did until I approached one of the staff and inquired about their valet service. Apparently, they thought we were just there for a meal at one of the restaurants. We were assisted when I informed them that we’re guests of the hotel.
We were then led to the Reception Area wherein I faced an unsmiling receptionist. From our past experiences, the jolliest and most approachable people we’ve met whenever we check into a hotel are the receptionists. They are the first people guests encounter, so they need to be welcoming and warm. They happily explain to us the accommodation we booked, the amenities available to us, and activities we can do within the hotel complex. However, we didn’t feel the same warmth when we checked into The Manila Hotel.
I shrugged it off–could be just the gloomy weather.
The experience went from bad to worse when my husband and I decided to take the kids out to have dinner outside the hotel. We went to the valet booth to ask for our car. They asked for our ticket, told us to wait, then they went back to talking to each other. I assumed someone else will be getting our car from the parking area so I let them be. But, when it took longer than usual, I told my husband to follow up. That’s when they told us that our car was parked at the farther area of their parking area so it will take a while. I would have appreciated it if they told us it’ll take a while and allowed us to wait in the lobby considering that I’m pregnant and waiting at the pick-up point with two little kids.
TIP: If you’re going to bring your car during your stay at The Manila Hotel and you decide to leave the hotel premises, it’s best to just book an Uber/Grab car to bring you to your destination. Although parking is waived for hotel guests, guests still need to pay Php100 every time they leave the hotel (if they’re using the valet service).
We went back to the hotel at around half past 6 in the evening. Since my husband didn’t want to pay a hundred bucks every time he takes the car out, he decided to drop my daughter and I off at the main entrance so he and our son can look for a parking slot themselves.
The men at the drop-off are more courteous at this point. One immediately opened the car door for me the moment our car reached the drop-off, and happily greeted my 6-year old who also replied to his greeting with her sweetest, “Good evening, Sir!” complete with a curtsy as the Manila Hotel was giving her a fancy feel.
Little did I know that while my daughter and I were already relaxing in our hotel room, my husband was having the worst time at the parking area. After dropping us off, he drove towards the parking area. He was told that parking was full and was directed to the outdoor parking area. Upon arrival at the outdoor area, he was told that the area is only for valet parking. When he asked what his other options are, the man told him to just use the valet service and rudely said: “Kung may complaint kayo, meron kaming complaints desk sa loob.” WOW.
For someone so patient as my husband, they managed to piss him off. That was huge because it takes our kids a whole day of chaotic behavior to piss him off! We just laughed it off afterward and hoped for a better experience the following days.
Thankfully, the sun showed up on our second day and the whole experience turned around. We went down to Cafe Ilang Ilang for our complementary buffet breakfast and were welcomed by the courteous restaurant staff. We love that there are so many options! But, since my pregnancy cravings are currently on high gear towards Filipino food, I went ahead and tried their Filipino breakfast spread.
For your reference, here are the opening hours and rates of Cafe Ilang Ilang:
Daily 6:00 AM to 10:30 AM
Daily 11:30 AM to 2:30 PM
Daily 6:00 PM to 10:30 PM
Breakfast Buffet (Mondays to Sundays):
PhP 1,450.00 NET per person
Brunch (Sundays only):
PhP 2,400.00 NET per person with bottomless chilled juices
Lunch (Mondays to Saturdays):
PhP 2,150.00 NET per person
Dinner (Themed Nights):
Mondays – International Buffet: PhP 2,450.00 NET per person
Tuesdays – Mediterranean Night: PhP 2,450.00 NET per person
Wednesdays – Asian Night: PhP 2,450.00 NET per person
Thursdays – Surf And Turf Night: PhP 2,995.00 NET per person
Fridays – Seafood Night: PhP 2,995.00 NET per person
Saturdays – American Night: PhP 2,995.00 NET per person
Sundays – International Buffet: PhP 2,450.00 NET per person
After breakfast, we took the minis to the Pool Area to enjoy the sun. There are three interconnected pools with different depths. We stayed in the kids’ pool where our minis played with other kids. While watching them, we had a couple of drinks prepared by the pool bar to keep us cool.
Unfortunately, it started to drizzle an hour into the minis’ swimming time so we had to pack up and go back to the room. Good thing the rooms have a bath tub so they continued their dip in our room’s tub!
Breakfast was really filling so we opted for late lunch/early dinner instead. I was craving for seafood so we booked an Uber car to bring us to Seaside Dampa in Macapagal Boulevard. We initially planned to take the minis to a tour around Intramuros after our meal, but since the weather wasn’t cooperating, we just went back to the hotel room.
With a comfy king-sized bed, a big television, and bed weather, we found ourselves sleeping in the rest of the day. We only went out for tea and pastries at the hotel lobby later in the evening to have an early celebration of my birthday since my husband was set to report for deployment early the next day.
You guys, if you want to relax while soft music plays in the background, The Manila Hotel’s lobby area is a nice place to hang out in. Order some pastries from the Delicatessen and pair ’em with Irish Coffee or Chamomile Tea and you’re all set for a great evening!
We called it a night when the waitress approached us and informed us that they’re taking last orders already.
The following day was spent with a hearty birthday breakfast at Cafe Ilang Ilang and a relaxing dip in the tub again. By check out time, we just called for assistance then they brought our things to the lobby. Check out was quick and the receptionist that handled our account was very friendly.
The valet staff changed shifts already and the Sunday staff were more courteous. They asked for our payment, informed us that the car is on the way and that we can stay in the lobby while we wait. When the car arrived, they called our attention and helped us load up our things.
The Manila Hotel promise is Experience Treasure, Treasure the Experience. The not-so-good events on the first day aside, I can say that we had a wonderful three-day stay at the hotel. The hotel is family-friendly and offers a lot of amenities we can explore. It’s very accessible as well since it’s located near malls, parks, and museums. If not for the comfy room and the rainy weather, we would have taken the minis out for a field trip during our say. But, who wants to leave The Manila Hotel?!