The busy city of Manila is usually the start and end point for most trips to the Philippines and it’s definitely worth spending a few days here to get to know a little bit more about Filipino culture and history. From the historic buildings of Intramuros to the modern shopping malls of Makati, there is plenty to explore in Manila.
After spending my birthday on the island of Boracay in the Philippines I flew back to Manila for 2 nights to end my trip, where I stayed at the Makati Shangri-La, which is in the heart of the business, shopping and entertainment district; only a stone’s throw from all the malls and trendy bars.
The hotel is gorgeous and the ideal place to stay if you want a little bit of luxury and pampering while staying in Manila.
The lobby at the Makati Shangri La Hotel is one of the most impressive lobbies I have ever seen, boasting a beautiful chandelier and impressive staircase. The Lobby Lounge overlooks the lush hotel gardens and in the afternoons you can enjoy afternoon tea here while listening to a 14-piece orchestra.
As a Horizon Club guest I was greeted at the entrance by a member of staff and whisked straight to my room, where I was able to enjoy private check-in. This is a nice touch as it is much faster and means you don’t have to stand in line at reception for check-in! I was staying in one of the Deluxe rooms; a spacious and comfortable room, with plush carpets and 300-thread count bed linens. The room features an LCD TV, complimentary Wi-Fi access, writing desk, international direct dial telephone, safety deposit box and sofa. I loved the colourful mini-bar displaying Absolut Vodka bottles and other miniature spirits!
One of the first things I do when I get to a hotel room is open the curtains…and this was the view that greeted me. Not bad at all!
The bathroom featured a separate bath and shower, plus a range of toiletries including shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, tooth brush, cotton buds, hair tie and glycerin soap.
Horizon Club Lounge
I had access to the Horizon Club Lounge; a quiet sanctuary where you can enjoy refreshments throughout the day, as well as afternoon tea and pre-dinner cocktails. The lounge has great views over Makati plus free Wi-Fi so you can take your laptop up there and do some work if you wish.
The complimentary afternoon tea is served between 2pm and 4pm and features a range of Dilmah teas as well as a variety of miniature sandwiches, cakes, macarons, gourmet chocolates and other delicious items that you would usually find in a traditional afternoon tea. The food is help-yourself, but you can tell the staff which tea you would like and they will bring it out for you. While the tea isn’t served on a silver stand like in the lobby lounge, I liked being able to pick and choose what I wanted!
In the evening you can also cocktails and pre-dinner canapés such as cheeses, dips and crudités.
I had the option to eat breakfast in the Horizon Club Lounge or head down to the buffet at Circles Event Café on the ground floor, and since I had already enjoyed afternoon tea and pre-dinner cocktails in the Horizon Lounge, I decided to see what was offer in the hotel’s main breakfast buffet.
I’ve dined at lots of hotel buffets, including the extravagant ones in Las Vegas, but I have to say Circles Event Café has the best breakfast buffet I have ever seen. The Circles buffet has a variety of different open-theatre kitchens and there is so much choice! In addition to the usual Western breakfast foods such as eggs, bacon, pastries, fruit and cereals, you can find Indian curries, noodles, dumplings and even sushi and sashimi!
The hotel really does cater to the tastes of all its international guests, so whatever you want for breakfast, they have it! I particularly loved the breakfast shots of beetroot, celery or cucumber juice, and the Bloody Mary station where you can make your own Bloody Mary cocktails!
Shortly after my arrival at the Makati Shangri-La I paid a visit to the Spa for a Hilot massage. Flying can be exhausting and this traditional Filipino massage helps to relax the body, mind and spirit with the use of banana leaf, virgin coconut oil and other essential oils.
If you are too tired to leave the luxury of your hotel room the massage therapist can come to you; or you can head down to the sanctuary of the spa and one of the private treatment rooms.
To begin my spa session the therapist sat me down in a chair and bathed my feet in warm coconut milk, before moving me to the massage table for my massage. She spread a warm sticky substance on my skin and then dragged strips of bamboo leaf across my body; the sensation felt quite strange but it was really relaxing! I asked for a ‘medium’ strength massage which was quite firm, but the therapist managed to work out quite a few knots. At the end of my full-body massage I was given a plate of fruit and some tea to enjoy.
When I’m in a big city I love staying at hotels that have an outdoor pool. On a hot day in Manila you can retreat to one of the air-conditioned shopping malls, or you can enjoy the sunshine by the pool at the Makati Shangri-La. The lounge chairs are incredibly comfy and the pool staff even moved my chair into the sun for me so I could work on my tan! If you’re feeling thirsty the pool bar has complimentary jugs of ice water, or you can order a refreshing cocktail and a snack from the menu.
The hotel has various different restaurants including Inagiku, Red, Sinfully Circles and Shang Palace, which serves Cantonese cuisine. Shang Palace is a large venue and popular for family celebrations, with 11 private dining rooms dining rooms, a spacious dining area and intimate booths. I had the opportunity to try a variety of different dishes including a delicious soup, cereal-covered prawns, Peking duck, sauteed scallops and fragrant fried rice with diced pork and shrimps. The food was fantastic, particularly the cereal prawns, but I think I ended up in a food coma!
If you visit Shang Palace during the day you can stop for lunch and unlimited dim sum from their Dim Sum Plus menu. I would definitely go back there with friends and order a bunch of things to share!
To book a room at the Makati Shangri-La, Manila, visit www.shangri-la.com
My stay at the Makati Shangri-La, Manila was complimentary, but all opinions are my own.