WHEN the unpredictable weather this monsoon season gives you second thoughts on your travel plans, the tendency is to look inwards to the proverbial urban sanctuaries which can mimic an out of town weekend experience.
While there is a plethora of popular hotels in the
metropolis, even jaded travelers look for a departure from the predictable
niceties and amenities offered by the luxury brands. Many families want to
explore the below-the-radar intimate and cozy places which may offer unexpected
finds at a friendly budget.
Here are some of the urban hideaways you can check
out this monsoon, while waiting for the year’s second travel season to kick
U Hotels Makati
Standing quietly in the buzz of the city’s Población
district is this nine-story edifice which prides itself as “The First Art Hotel
in Metro Manila” for incorporating artworks in its overall design. The lobby
exudes an Old World charm and a garden feel, punctuated with welcome greetings
in various foreign and Philippine languages.
Each floor acts as mini-galleries by featuring the
works of a popular Filipino painter, with each room made up of modern
minimalist interiors, industrial fixtures, five-star hotel quality bed and a
hand-painted mural that is unique to each wall.
During its first anniversary, the hotel spearheaded
a mural painting activity at the Población neighborhood to jazz up the area
with street art and add soul to it, being the heart of the pre-gentrified old
Makati. It also eyes doing culturally engaging initiatives in the area,
starting with occasional art lessons with the hotel guests.
It may not look like it, but U Hotels Makati boasts
of a wide selection of American, Chinese, Japanese and Filipino cuisine, most
of which consist of the owner’s heirloom dishes.
As a proof of its culinary prowess, it hosted the
country’s first Bourdain Day a few months back which recreated the dishes
associated with the late TV celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain. Curated by
youthful chefs Sharwin Tee and Karla Reyes, the five-course dinner is a
fund-raiser for a public school library which organizers aims to put up next
Just over a year into operation, the hotel has
already earned the nod of the market with the Guest Review Award 2019 of 9/10
rating by the popular Booking.com site.
Citadines Bay City Manila
Those dreaming of a seaside interlude can find a worthy
alternative in this spanking new serviced residence by the bay known for its
most beautiful sunset. While located in a commercial zone, this apartment hotel
evokes a laid-back feel with tree-lined and master-planned environs.
Managed by a Singapore-based group, the apartment
property has 212 fully furnished units with modern amenities, including
kitchens which are designed for long-staying guests.
The country’s largest chain in its category, which
also carries the prestigious Ascott and Somerset brands, Citadines Apart’hotels
which gives the best of both worlds with the luxury of a hotel and the comforts
of home, with services, such as laundry, dry cleaning and grocery shopping.
A modern fitness center, outdoor jogging path, and
group exercise area will keep you fit while binging on a staycation. Adjacent
is a 25-meter swimming pool, a kids’ wading pool, a pool bar, and a sun deck,
which lend a tropical resort touch in the midst of the concrete jungle.
Completing the “Inspired Lifestyle” experience,
Citadines’s is peddling delectable cuisine, which covers all-time favorites to
seasonal promos and surprise offerings.
Selah Pods Hotel
Coined from the Hebrew word for “rest,” this 11-floor
urban oasis is tucked in Pasay City’s old genteel area overlooking the
postcard-pretty Roxas Boulevard and Manila Bay. A masterful handiwork of
youthful architect and designer Jefferson Tomas, it has an assortment of stylish
lodging for millennials, couples, families and groups tailor fit for hip
lifestyles. It also has hanging pods suspended on cables where you can swing 30
feet above the ground.
Rated as three-stars, this 108-room boutique
hotel’s banquet hall has a mesmerizing view of the kaleidoscopic dusk by the
bay, as well as the night lights of the Makati skyline by the pool deck bar and
Guests are welcomed with the modern chic foyer
adorned with native-themed but exquisite furnishings which are reflective of
Filipino character and artistry. The whole facility exudes understated elegance
to take away the trappings of luxury accommodation and make the staycation feel
closer to home.
Pods is a fitting sequel to its sister property, Selah Garden Suites, a
three-story green getaway known for its canopy of centenarian hardwood trees,
hydrophonic hanging gardens, and native furnishings. Its piece de resistance is
recreational facilities like outdoor wall for rappeling and wall climbing, a
mini zipline and hanging bridge which even children can try.
Schumacher’s “small is beautiful” maxim must have
been the guiding principle behind these hotels, as they don’t feel cramped
because of the open spaces and greeneries, despite the constraints in the land
area. Take a gustatory tour through their menu which is a remarkable crossover
of homestyle comfort food and fancy hotel cooking.
As raindrops keep falling
on our heads, this is an opportunity to rediscover the urban soul through the
metro’s not-so hidden retreats this monsoon season and beyond.