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A modern take on a classic: Hotel review of the Fairmont Makati

MARK HARADA checks in to one of Manila's new luxury hotels, and likes what he finds.

Shimmering in a corner of the most prestigious shopping and business district in Manila, The Philippines, is one of the city’s newest five-star hotels, which opened just a couple of years ago.  


From the outside, the all-glass Fairmont Makati looks more like a high-rise office block than part of a luxury chain synonymous with historic properties like the Plaza in New York, the Savoy Hotel in London and the Peace Hotel in Shanghai. It’s an austere, albeit impressive, structure.


But once you’ve stepped inside its doors, there’s no mistaking this property for anything but a luxury hotel – done very well.



Location, location

Situated just steps from Makati’s famous Greenbelt and Glorietta shopping precincts, the Fairmont is perfectly positioned for anyone who comes to Manila to shop - and there are plenty of those. One of the best places to buy Filipino souvenirs, Balikbayan Handicrafts, lies literally seconds from the hotel as well.


With the Philippines’ commercial centre on its doorstep, the Fairmont is a great option for corporate travellers, whilst for the tourist, the hotel makes for an excellent base from which to explore the city’s myriad attractions, such as the nearby Ayala Museum.


The hotel is easy to find – just head to Raffles Drive, named for the Fairmont’s sister property, or more accurately, conjoined twin, The Raffles Makati.



First impressions last

The lobby area of the Fairmont is a cool yet unpretentious space, boasting a mostly contemporary design. Particularly chic is the modern marbled, reception desk, which is flanked by huge chrome ornaments and backlit by frosted glass windows.


Mixing a good dose of natural light with dark woods, a nice assortment of comfortable armchairs – and a great little bar – the lobby’s Fairmont Lounge is perfect for doing just that, lounging. And on a quiet day like today, it’s a fine place for a spot of casual business too.



Room to rest in a city rushed

Affording pleasant city views through its (high) ceiling to floor windows, the hotel’s Fairmont Room (standard) measures a generous 40 square metres. Among its highlights are a super comfortable bed (which sits opposite a huge LED television), a cozy armchair and footstool (that rest on still new looking carpet) and a huge, well-connected workspace.


A card left on the turned down bed, which offers the weather forecast and some local trivia, is a nice, personal touch. Tomorrow will be sunny and 33 degrees Celsius. (Yesterday was sunny and 32 degrees.)


Boasting a marble spa bath, the ensuite includes a separate rain shower and Le Labo amenities. Well-lit and packed full of mirrors, the beige bathroom is thoughtfully finished with a few white flowers and local “Capiz” shell decorations.



The most important meal of the day

Breakfast. Let’s face it; it’s what many a good hotel stay hinges upon. And it seems the Fairmont’s Spectrum Restaurant knows it.


Alongside the wide assortment of hot and cold western foods (that includes Vegemite!) are the more relevant (and tastier) Asian and Filipino breakfast staples such as garlic rice, fried fish and whole coconuts. For the health conscious, there are wheatgrass shots on tap, while there’s even fresh honey supplied by an active beehive. Seriously.


Besides all-day dining at the Spectrum, hotel guests can feast on freshly baked goodies at Café Macaron, and at the Pool Bar, enjoy gourmet snacks as well as fresh juices and cocktails. 



Unwind in the Willows

Most luxury hotels these days have them. The Fairmont Makati has a great one.


The Willow Stream Spa comprises five fully equipped treatment rooms along with spacious wet relaxation areas – the highlight of which is the eucalyptus steam room – a mineral pool and next door, an oversized fitness centre with views overlooking Makati.


Offering as much shade as sunshine (which for Filipinos is an advantage), the palm tree-lined swimming pool even affords city views from its perch on the fourth floor. Based on today’s turnout, it’s the place to be for families.


Are you being served? Yes

No aspect of a new hotel is tested more than its service. And at the Fairmont, the service is hard to fault. At check-in, check-out, and each moment in between, staff are courteous, professional, and well-dressed to boot. And they don’t even expect a tip. But I’ll offer this tip to you: visit this city, and try this hotel.


The writer was a guest of the Fairmont Makati. For more information on the hotel, visit


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Written by: Mark Harada
Published: 21 January 2015

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