Tagaytay Hotel: Taal Vista Hotel

Over the last half a decade or so, development over the Tagaytay ridge has been aggressive.  Sometimes, leaving behind the atmosphere and nostalgic experience that Tagaytay use to be. But there are things that has thankfully there are places that seem to have stood still in time that you can always go back to and relieve the Tagaytay that you or parents knew on their younger years, the Taal Vista Hotel

 

 sweet welcome confectionery  

Built during the 1930’s president Quezon ordered Manila Hotel Company to buy a parcel of land from to be developed as a destination for rest and relaxation. By the 1939 construction of the Taal Vista Lodge commence and was soon completed and inaugurated by the same year. Today the same establishment is now known as the Taal Vista Hotel has retained much of its old world charm, bringing you back to the pristine Tagaytay that people knew about.

As I entered the lobby, I was warmly greeted by everyone at their front desk. The lobby was classy yet not that intimidating giving that homey feel like how it was at grandma’s place.

After checking in, I was lead to my room passing through a corridor adorned with memories of the hotel’s colorful history. The secondary lobby opened up to a beautiful veranda, albeit filled with fog because of the weather.

Also Read Travel Guide: 1 Day Tagaytay Itinerary

 

The Food

My first night’s dinner was the Veranda restaurant. Their menu is collection of cuisines that are familiar from my travels around Southeast Asia and beyond. I asked about how much is a serving good for and was told that it was for one. However, I don’t eat much so I guess a couple can share the food that I ordered, hahaha! I indulged my self starting with the Chef’s salad which is a medley of crisp and fresh vegetables tossed in a special vinaigrette. I love the subtlety of the dressing allowing the fresh flavors of the salad become the dish’s feature.  My main dish was a Nasi Goreng. The Nasi’s flavor reminded me of the *insert Street Name* colorful food scene. The tenderly flavored beef seem to have just transported me back to Malaysia. It was everything I remember. Like they say always leave room for dessert. But no, I made room for dessert. The Brazo de Mercedes was just exquisite, it felt like they know how I wanted my food. The cake wasn’t too sweet just enough for you to appreciate heaven.

 Chef’s Salad

My last dinner was hosted by the hotel’s Taza restaurant. I was sat down in a table and was asked if wanted something to drink while waiting for my food. I asked if they have juices or tea (which they do) but I pushed a little further. See I rarely drink sodas and powdered drinks, so I asked i those were either house brewed ice tea or real fruit juices. Dinner started appropriately with some soup followed by some appetizers. The main star of the night’s dinner table was the Tomahawk Rib Eye. The meat was just heavenly to chew on and cooked to perfection. The juice from the steak was just so full of flavor.

After an entire full 8 course dinning experience, I spoke with the restaurant manager and learned that their meat are locally sourced to as far as Bukidnon for the best ingredients. Something that I feel needs to be commended in a world where everything is flooded by cheap imported goods.

The Room

 

The room booked for me was a premier room at the Lake View wing of the property. The sight of a gorgeous bed was a welcome site for me. Having traveled from the northern part of the metro all the way to the south was a challenge. But after all that hassle, the warm embrace of the comforter and the soft hugs of the bed made it all worth it.

The suite is well appointed with wood furnishing. But the true test for me in any good hotel is the bathroom, and I was not disappointed. The huge bathroom has separate showers and toilet and a good mirror between them. Water pressure was awesome, unlike some hotels where you just want to beg for more water to come out, Taal Vista’s water pressure was just right. The toilet is equipped with a bidet, that’s an extra point no need to touch you tushy.

 

I appreciate that the room smelled clean. I mean yes of course hotels should smell clean but do they most of the time? Though the Taal Vista Hotel was built in the 1930’s the management actually closed it down for a couple of years and had it renovated and restored to its original architecture during the early 2000’s. The furniture are all updated to a modern taste and yes it doesn’t smell mold like any other old hotels. The room also had a big TV that kept me entertained with cable programming. I don’t really watch TV but it helped a lot keep me updated since there was a storm that time and I couldn’t really walk outside of the property.

 

The View

This here deserves a separate insight. Probably the best thing about mornings in Taal Vista Hotel was waking up to an unbelievable view. You know that feeling when you watch movies where the character starts his or her day? They pour in their coffee and open up this huge glass panel door, walks right into their veranda and breathes in the cool crisp air while looking into that awesome view as they drink their coffee? That feeling! I couldn’t just get my self to close that window. My bed was near the huge glass doors and I just spent so much time lounging at the bed, working on my laptop and just giving that view a glimpse form time to time. It was all the motivation I needed to work that day.

The room has a veranda that could have been perfect to spend your afternoons at. If not for the strong winds and occasional rains I would have ordered my self a pot of brewed coffee and just admire that picturesque view.

 

 

The Taal Vista Hotel Property

If you have ever passed by Taal Vista Hotel’s area, you might have the notion that the property’s area is a bit small. Well that was my impression before, at least. However passed the main building and this hill (which was actually a wall) that separates areas of the property. I walked around and explored the property a bit further.

The Gym

I’m not a fitness freak, but I do try to get some exercise. I just don’t want to gain those pounds again (#paranoid) and it was a good thing that Taal Vista Hotel has gym with ample equipment that you can use to burn those extra fat. Though it was raining and foggy outside, I appreciate that they air conditioning was still on. See when you burn more fats when you work out in a cold environment. This is because your body uses more energy to heat up your self and perform its functions. Now that’s one good fitness tip for you 😉

The Pool

I’m not quite sure if the pool is heated or not, but i tried to take a dip on that gloomy day and the water was just perfect. I admit that I am quite squeamish with cold pools, but the water was just fine! It is also notable that the pool is hidden from plain sight from the public areas. Remember that hill looking wall? This is what was behind it. The pool also has an on duty life guard so kids are safe, still of course don’t leave minors unattended.

Sky Ranch

If you are staying in Taal Vista Hotel, you can also gain special access to the Sky Ranch theme park. The hotel has a special access to the theme park so there is no need to go out and walk on road side. This is also great since your room is easily accessible from the park. May also ask for a special rate for the park.

My Goodbyes

 

 

On my last day just before I check out of the property, I asked for a cup of coffee. It was a good cup. The bitterness just strikes my palate at the right spots with notes of rubbery goodness. Everything that I am looking for in cup of coffee while I gaze at the incredible view of the Taal Volcano one last time. The Taal Vista doesn’t just offer a room for everyone. It offers an opportunity to travel back in time and feel how it was back in the days when the ridge was uncrowded through its wide open spaces facing the lake.

If you have just one day and couldn’t stay, I’d say give the spot a few hours, buy a cup of coffee and just stare at the amazing view of the Taal Lake. Slow down a bit and feel the beauty of life at Taal Vista Hotel. 

Boracay Hostel: W Hostel Boracay

 

Boracay can be a lonesome place for a solo traveler, but thank God for Hostels. Hostels are a very good place to find travel buddies even for just a short while. That’s why I love staying in Boracay hostel. So on my uhmm…. fourth (not sure though) time in Boracay, I scouted for a cool hip place to stay where I can meet new people and I was not disappointed.

This Boracay Hostel is strategically located along Bulabog road. Just right between the kite surfing famous Bulabog Beach and the world famous White Beach of Boracay. The hostel occupies two floors of the building allowing them to offer dorm type, en-suite and private rooms for travelers of different kinds.

What I Love About This Boracay Hostel

The Hostel

As soon as I enter the reception of the hostel I was warmly greeted by the staff as if they know me (yeah you get the warmest hellos in hostel – not at all hostels though, unfortunately). Jen their lead front desk officer assisted me in checking in and helped me settle in the hostel. Really felt I was genuinely welcomed.

The hostel doesn’t have those super dorms putting in 12 or more people in one room making it bearable. I was assigned on a four bed dorm with fellow travelers from France and Germany . Each room has a corner table where you can work on. Every bed also has a certain level of privacy. Each one of them has curtains installed to cover, giving you a capsule like experience. And yes all rooms are air conditioned. I was also happy that they have multiple showers and toilets for each floors. available so using the bathroom was never an issue.

It was raining my entire stay in the island and you know what my saving grace was? This Boracay hostel! Since the weather was bad most of the time with the sun peeping every now and then, it was awesome that they have this roof top where I can hang out. the rooftop has a small pool where you can hang out while looking out to Bulabog Beach. They also have some weights that you can use to keep your self fit while lounge chairs  are enough for people to catch some of that Sun.

 

Location

The hostel is also located between the two most popular beaches in Boracay giving you easy access to both of them. Food selection, grocery and night life is also not a problem. WHostel Boracay is just a several meters away from good Filipino eateries, water refilling station, D’Mall, grocery store, spa and restaurants around station 2.

Price

I got my bed for a little over $6 a night. The price includes breakfast that usually are bread, jams, congee, flowing brewed coffee and each guest gets one egg for free which the staff can cook for you. I choose to cook my own to a fluffy consistency ^_^ .  Do I need to say anything more? I mean the price was just amazing having those amenities and inclusion at your disposal. I say it was a good deal.

 

Verdict

This boracay hostel is a great choice if you are looking for value. Yes, it may not be a beach front property but access to both Bulabog and White beach is good. It also provides you a more decent accommodation in the Island. At around that price considering their facilities and that free breakfast just cuts the deal. Cleanliness is also exceptional and their wifi connection is excellent. Imagine having your own router in your room so that you don’t have to compete with others in connecting to the internet. With that I’d say that I’d highly recommend this Boracay Hostel

 

 

If you like this hostel, you can book them through  5_logo_booking-435x712x-435x712x  or   agoda-logo

 

 

Sinagpa Backpackers Your True Escape In Boracay

Known to be one of the best islands in the world, Boracay can be a bit tiring after all the partying all night. But getting good accommodation in Boracay’s Station 1 area  at an affordable price is next to impossible. After extensively searching the entire Boracay inventory of Agoda.com one property stood out among them, it was Sinagpa backpackers.

Tucked at the northern end of Boracay’s Station 1, Sinagpa Backpackers joins other high end accommodations such as Punta Rosa, Boracay Terrace Resort and The Strand. The property’s beach access seem to be a semi private part of white beach’s stretch as it curves into a little cove like  area giving you a bit more privacy in you own little stretch of the beach.

What I Like Most About Sinagpa Backpackers

Being a backpacker at heart, my attention was quickly taken by Sinagpa Backpackers’ rating and price range. Being so near the high-end resorts around I was surprised with the price range that it was showing. I thought that it was too good to be true, so I checked the reviews and it was a real value for an accommodation having a 7.9 rating in Agoda.

Sinagpa Backpackers offer rooms that has a well equipped kitchenette. The utensils and kitchenware were all clean with the counter top sparkling clean. Since it is located on a non-commercial residential area of Boracay, I was able to buy food and other things from the store at normal non-bloated prices! Like how they would sell you things at your local sari-sari store. I bought 5 eggs at 8 pesos each and some oil so I can cook my scrambled eggs.

Digital nomads also do not have to worry about internet connection as the rooms has access to a decent WiFi connection. I was able to finish a lot of social media tasks and upload photos for the day to update people who follow me on social media.

I also enjoyed the soft bed and pillows that smelled really clean! It really made my sleep comfortable and I always wake up well rested. See it is important for me to get good sleep while I travel not only because it feels good waking up, but that also means that even if I sleep short I will feel energized and enjoy more hours of exploration in my destination.

Location

Sinagpa Backpacker’s location is pretty good for those people who would like to experience a quieter Boracay without straying away from the vibrant scene of white beach. You may feel that the location is a bit far flung as you take Boracay’s road network. However, once you are settled station 1 and station 2 is just a good 10 minute walk via the soft powdery sands of white beach.

Boracay Hostel

Verdict

I’d say that Sinagpa Backpackers offers something that only the high end market can afford most of the time. Sinagpa Backpackers offers the accessibility to Boracay’s finest sand at station 1 while locating you on a community that offers affordable commodities. That alone gives you a bang for your buck at Sinagpa Backpackers. But what most appeals to me is that the accommodation is located far enough from the crazy scene of white beach but still is accessible enough to reach the usual areas of activities. Because of its unique location you can enjoy some peace and quite moments by beach letting you commune with the sea, the sun and the wind.

If you like this hostel, you can book them through  5_logo_booking-435x712x-435x712x  or   agoda-logo

Liwliwa Hostel: Limbonis Hideout

The newest and possibly the most backpacker friendly the Limbonis Hideout is a a hostel found and built by a traveler himself. This Liwliwa hostel offers private and dorm accommodation.

What I Like About Limbonis Hideout

Aside from the fact that it was built by a backpacker for backpackers, here are a few more things that makes this place stand out.

The property is located on a corner lot bordered by a river backdrop with lush greenery. Each morning will just be just so calming with the birds chirping. Because this Liwliwa Hostel is located on a corer lot that means there are way lesser noisy neighbors g

Liwliwa Hostel

Being a widely traveled person the hostel truly exudes a travelers ambiance. The owner of this liwliwa hostel recreated some of the architecture that he has seen throughout his travels in Southeast Asia. Some of the structures resonate the vibes from Bali while some comes familiar as houses on stilts.

Liwliwa Hostel

Liwliwa Hostel

 

Liwliwa Hostel

 

liwliwa hostel

Liwliwa can be a tough cookie to break when it comes to getting cheap prices specially if you are a solo traveler. However, at the Hideout Liwliwa Hostel you will feel that you are very much welcome as a solo traveler. I have tried to search for a good price for Liwliwa Hostels before but the best one that I could get before was about Php 550 for a freaking hammock!

I also love Hideout Liwliwa Hostel’s coffee bar where you can ask for coffee made from different parts of southeast asia and the Philippines! While the beach is just five minute walk from the property, the two main stores are just about two minutes away by foot! For the adventurous type, if you are into surfing they have surfboards that you can rent. For novices, you can also ask for an instructor to help you take that first stance on the board!

If you like this liwliwa hostel or would like to know more details you can check them out through  5_logo_booking-435x712x-435x712x  or   agoda-logo

Liwliwa Hostel: La Zerena Beach Resort

Searching for a private room in Liwliwa, San Felipe Zambales can be difficult on a weekend when everything is almost fully booked. Good thing we wandered a bit more and found La Zerena just across Circle Hostel.

We took one of their nipa huts that is good for two to three persons. The comfort rooms are communal located near the huts are reasonably clean and water is good.

The resort is about two to three minutes walk to the beach.

la zerena resort

 la zerena resort

 

 la zerena resort

 

 la zerena resort

Priced at 1,200 La Zerena nipa huts are quite affordable specially if there’s going to be three of you splitting the cost. I also like the resort’s location since it is just right beside Fely’s Canteen and store where we bought most of our necessities.

Airconditioned rooms though are priced at 3,000 pesos good for two.

Boracay Hostel: Hostel Avenue

It was almost a no-thinking-required decision when we booked Hostel Avenue. We were trying to escape the rains in Cebu so we find our selves up north in the province of Aklan. With no plans at all, we pushed all the way to Boracay with no reservations for the night. So we turned to our phones and searched through our apps for one. Agoda.com was the one that gave us the best options, sorting the results from cheapest to the highest priced accommodation Hostel Avenue quickly got my attention as it showed to be located on a beach front property. It was also strategically located in Station 2 near D’Mall and Epic Club so everything is right at your reach!

Boracay Hostel: Hostel Avenue

The hostel has two rooms (at least that I know of) that has dorm facilities. The dorm that we were assigned to stay in has two showers and two toilets. It also has two sinks outside the toilets so bathroom traffic was pretty much manageable.

You are given clean linens and pillow cases as soon as you check in. You also don’t have to worry about towels as they will also give you fresh ones. I was specifically impressed with their bunk beds, Usually, bunk beds tend to move and wobble every time the one who stays in the upper bunk moves or gets off. But for Hostel Avenue, the beds doesn’t move an inch. You also get to have a socket assigned to your bed and even the upper bunks have one!

Boracay Hostel: Hostel Avenue

The only thing that kinda let me down, is that we can’t leave our electronics charging. This means that I had to stay in the hostel whenever I have to charge one of my gadgets because they will plug it out if they see it unattended. To be fair though, I didn’t ask if I can leave my gadgets charging in the reception area.

They also clean the room and toilets on a daily basis which is a +++ for me! The water pressure though is quite disappointing. But it could be because of the water heater just like in most cases. You can’t have both – heated water or pressure – you choose!

I really find the hostel strategically located, I will stay here over and over if I am traveling alone. One thing though that I would like to point out is that, it would be a loooooot more awesome if they have free drinking water. I mean really. Honestly, I was quite disappointed with that, but then they served FREE Cocktails on my last night so no biggie! Hahaha! I really had a fun stay at Hostel Avenue, I’m sure you will too.

If you like this hostel, you can book them through     agoda-logo   for the best rates

P.S. They have this awesome roof deck over looking the beach bar performers. You can just buy your own beer and chill there while listening to live music… totally awesome!

Boracay hostel

Boracay hostel\

Note: Photos lifted from agoda.com. This post is the sole opinion of the writer of whom was not solicited by the establishment. 

Cebu Hostel: Bugoy Biker’s Bed And Breakfast

Hostels aren’t that popular for Filipinos but I think one must try staying at this hostel called Bugoy’s Biker Bed and breakfast. Hotels tend to provide canned customer service of some sort like they smile all the time and everything but experiencing real personal customer service is something that one can only experience when the people who own the accommodation actually attend to your need.

I booked Bugoy’s Bed and Breakfast six months ahead of the festival, honestly I had hesitations with it because the location doesn’t seem to be at the center of Cebu and the place looked like it was an old house. Though admittedly, the owners does say it is thus prohibiting smoking inside the accommodation.

Cebu Hostel
But I guess, I was wrong, Bugoy’s Biker’s Bed and Breakfast is just a 15 minute ride away from where the Sinulog action is. It is also conveniently located near JY mall where I was able to find a travel agency that helped me book a ferry to escape the rain in Cebu to Boracay. It is also walking distance to the market, supermarket, fastfood and cheap eateries where I often eat.

The best thing I like about Bugoy’s Bikers Bed and Breakfast is the owner’s personal touch of service. They are really honest and would make sure that you are comfortable. Jens with his wife who owns the B&B will attend and tour you around the property informing you of everything that you need to know.

 Cebu Hostel: Bugoy Biker’s Bed And Breakfast

I also admire their honesty. I really appreciate the fact that they are very transparent and fair with their prices. I booked through a certain website that gave me a different price which was 25% more of what other guests are paying for. I gaveRenz the amount stated on the website as I checked then she pulled at the back of the property and insisted on giving me back the excess of the price that I was suppose to pay. If that is not enough honesty and integrity, what more can I say? I mean that is money for them already and that is not even cheating or anything since that is the price that I signed up for but she gave it back to me because it was not right. I am really impressed.

They also provide free water and brewed coffee which is awesome, specially for digital nomads like me who need s caffeine to keep our bloods running ^_^. They also serve continental breakfast which is awesome and helpful when it was terribly raining because we didn’t have to go out and find food.

 Cebu Hostel: Bugoy Biker’s Bed And Breakfast

Most of the people who stay there are westerners and I was able to speak with one of the owners who quite sad about locals (people from the country) who book at their hostels and just don’t show up, mostly because they are expecting of some sort of hotel like accommodation. I just hope that Filipinos could open up and actually try staying in hostels and get to know more people.

Bugoy’s Biker’s Bed and Breakfast definitely delivers exceptional service. It has nothing like the luxurious amenities of a hotel but it has more than what you can experience more than a hotel.

It is also worth mentioning that Bugoy’s Biker’s Bed and breakfast can be one of the few accomodations that does hostels right. Some accommodations would label them selves as hostels only because they offer dorms of accomodation below the standards of a hotel, but that is not what hostels are all about. Hostels are about meeting new people and keeping accomodations low.

In general, I would highly recommend Bugoy’s Biker’s Bed and Breakfast because of their excellent personal service and hospitality.

If you like this hostel, you can book them through  5_logo_booking-435x712x-435x712x  or   agoda-logo

Note: this post is the sole opinion of the author who is not associated with the hostel in anyway. If you are booking for Sinulog make sure that you book at least 6 months ahead.