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In pre- and postwar Metro Manila, the seaside districts between Pasay, Malate, and Ermita were the abodes of the genteel and well-heeled. Hidden behind high gates are period houses, some of which have been mercifully rescued and converted into lodging places and hotels. Pension Natividad (M.H. del Pilar St., Malate, map) is one such house, an art deco mansion that has been converted by the grandchildren of its original owners. The place has been popular for 20-odd years with USAID volunteers and backpacker types for its reasonable rates (Php 400 for a dorm bed with shared bathroom; Php 1,500 for a private room for two), airy lounges, and excellent pizza.
A more upscale gem is The Henry Hotel Manila (F.B. Harrison St., Pasay City, map). The Henry exudes postwar nostalgia and vintage charm in rooms that go for Php 6,000 and up per night, for two. It is as unconventional as it is contemporary, a highly attractive option for travelers who are tired of cookie-cutter hotel rooms. Further north is The Manila Hotel (One Rizal Park, Bonifacio Drive, Manila, map). Here is the grand dame of all hotels in the sprawling metro, with vantage points over Luneta Park and Manila Bay’s famed sunsets. Rooms start at Php 9,000 and up, with elegant, old-world interiors featuring Philippine heritage-style furniture. The hotel itself has welcomed dignitaries, celebrities, and countless VIPs since it first opened its doors in 1912.
Don’t be misled by all this history and old charm, however—contemporary hotels and well-known chains definitely abound here as well. Five-star star luxury awaits you at Raffles Hotel Makati (1 Raffles Dr., Makati Ave. at Arnaiz Ave., map), right in the CBD (Central Business District) in Makati City. Sprawling suites start at Php 13,000 per night; highlights include the Raffles group’s legendary butler service and an exclusive underground passageway that takes you to more of Manila’s edible delights in the nearby shopping malls. More wallet-friendly is the new City Garden Grand Hotel (Makati Ave. at Kalayaan Ave., map), with rooms starting at Php 4,200 per night. Standard rooms feature two double beds and, if you’re lucky, a commanding view of the Makati skyline.
Budget options are also available, with many hostels popping up to cater to world travelers who have started to discover Manila’s many hidden gems, culinary and otherwise. If you’re trying to meet up with other backpackers, try Our Melting Pot Hostel (Makati Ave. at Guerrero St., map). Dorm rooms start at Php 600 with breakfast, clean facilities, and staff with a can-do attitude. It also offers karaoke nights, tours, pub crawls, and rooftop parties for guests.
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