MARK HARADA forgoes the regular tourist route to stay at a Manila institution.
Hotel: Pan Pacific Manila
Address: Malvar Street, Malate, Manila, Philippines
Dot Manila’s most popular tourist attractions on a map, mark the centre, and you’ll likely land in one of the cool neighbourhoods of Malate. But luxury hotels in the area, considered the centre of nightlife in the city, are few and far between.
Enter the Pan Pacific Manila. This popular, five-star hotel is somewhat of an institution, for decades opening its doors to business and leisure travellers, and everyone in between (including this hot, tired and very well-received writer).
The spot Arguably located in the most exciting part of Manila, also called the Spanish Quarter, the Pan Pacific is within walking distance of countless bars, restaurants and cafes, and a short drive from attractions like Manila Baywalk, The Philippine National Museum, and the historic walled city of Intramuros. There’s even the excellent Robinson’s Place Manila Mall just a block from the property. Manila Airport is a little far, but still within 30-40 minutes of the hotel, depending on traffic. The Pan Pacific also offers very affordable luxury car transfers to the hub starting from just 1,000 pesos (around $25-$30) one way.
The room From Deluxe Rooms to its Executive and Presidential Suites, the Pan Pacific offers a wide variety of accommodation. My room, a Superior room, is spacious, with two comfy double beds (and pillow menu), nice timber furniture, large tv, free wifi, generous workspace, and views over the pool and Manila Bay in the distance. Decked out in beige and black marble, the oversized bathroom is also elegant, albeit a little dated. And I like the addition of a tv above the bath!
The service In the Philippines, you come to expect great service, and the hospitality at the Pan Pacific is no different, from the fast yet courteous bellboys, to the front desk staff that come to know me during my short stay, and even housekeeping, who will always greet you with a warm smile (despite the mess I may have left in my room). One staff member, Dennis, is particularly helpful, offering great advice on things to see and do in the area. But what makes this hotel really special is the 24-hour butler service, which gives the service an even more personal touch.
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What to eat? Dining at the hotel is lead by flagship eatery, Pacific Lounge, which offers all-day buffet dining on level 21. As well as standard Filipino and western dishes like adobo chicken and roasted Australian lamb, the restaurant has themed menus starring Japanese and Arabic cuisine. With its amazing views, especially of nearby Manila Bay, it’s a great place to enjoy pre-dinner drinks. Elsewhere, there’s the laid-back Lobby Lounge, where you can enjoy a cold beer or just an ice cream, the Poolside Bar or nearby Sunset Lounge. Adjacent to the lobby, and accessible through a glass door, is Adriatico Square, which is full of authentic-looking Japanese restaurants and even a Gloria Jeans coffee shop (to make Aussies feel at home).
What to do? With a nice outdoor pool and jacuzzi, gym with views, large business centre, meeting spaces and other corporate touches, the hotel is great for both working and working out. Otherwise, there’s no shortage of sights and activities on the doorstep of the hotel.
Verdict? If you’re after a taste of old Manila, you’ll love this hotel. It may not shimmer quite as much as some of the city’s newer properties, but its character, and characters, will ensure a happy stay in a very, very special location.
The writer was a guest of the Pan Pacific Manila.
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