Making my way to Makati on a Friday afternoon terrified me.
I was dreading the bumper-to-bumper traffic, but miraculously arrived in the heart of Salcedo Village in less than an hour from the north. Spotting The Picasso Boutique Serviced Residences, I half-expected the hotel’s facade to be painted in abstract forms and vibrant hues because of its namesake (Spanish artist Pablo Picasso), but instead, I was greeted by a pristine white, cubic-shaped frontage with hints of color peeking from the guest room balconies. The sight relaxed me and gave me a prelude of what’s to come for the rest of the weekend.
Stepping inside, I found the primarily white and brown lobby intriguing with its unconventional use of lines and shapes, no doubt setting the stage for arresting works of art displayed in strategic spots. Before heading up to my suite, I smiled at an unusual-looking lady in a wide-brim hat and multicolored striped dress who seemed to enjoy welcoming me and other visitors from her spot against the striking red wall.
Lively instrumental music softly played as I walked through the long, brightly-lit hallway which was covered in white paint. In a way, it reminded me of a blank canvas waiting to be transformed by Picasso. Entering the Barcelona Suite, I instantly imagined kids running around the spacious area, playing hide-and-seek from the colorful slats that divided the bedroom and living room, and reading a story on the comfortable couch with their parents. I could also picture a group of twenty-somethings in fluffy robes, eating snacks and chit-chatting about their romantic pursuits on the inviting king-sized bed.
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The expansive room made use of creatively shaped furnishings, hanging lamps that switch on or off with just a touch, richly textured mats, and dark brown furniture to achieve the perfect balance. Bathed in muted hints of blue, yellow, and purple, the room was decorated with Picasso-inspired pieces (even in places that I didn’t expect such as the fuse box cover!). Gazing at the painting hanging over the work desk, I did a quick Google search and discovered that it was reminiscent of one of Picasso’s most famous paintings, “Les Demoiselles D’ Avignon.”
Decked with modern amenities, the open bathroom has a bathtub and rain shower head that make bathing a more indulgent experience. From the outside, the frosted walls cast soft silhouettes that can play with people’s imagination. Next to the bathroom, a life-sized mirror and two roomy closets can be filled to the brim with clothing essentials. Finishing off with a kitchenette, a coffee and tea setup, and medium-sized refrigerator, it’s no surprise that patrons of The Picasso actually opt to stay here for longer periods of time.
A dose of inspiration
A quick tour led me to exciting discoveries within the nine-story building. Aside from the Qiwellness spa on the fourth floor (more on this later) and the loft-type gym on the fifth and sixth floor, I wandered into the art gallery on the third level, which was a rare gem to find in a hotel. Curated by Altro Mondo Arte Contemporanea, the 80-square-meter space regularly displays thought-provoking creations by local and international artists, making it the ideal place to visit if you want to expand your mind through art. I came across the “Nothing Matters” exhibition and marveled at the use of different media to convey nothingness. An X-ray of a chest with a hand-embroidered heart literally took my breath away.
Food for the soul
Many popular restaurants are just a few minutes’ walk away from The Picasso (Mendokoro Ramenba, Wildflour Café + Bakery, and Apartment 1B are some prime examples of what to check out when you’re in the vicinity), but if you’re starving, you won’t need to go far since The Picasso houses Cartel Deli and Pablo Bistro at its ground level. You can enjoy organic salads, delightful tapas, freshly baked pastries, and third-wave coffee from the epicerie, or go for continental fusion dishes from the next door fine dining restaurant. Both establishments also serve wines and spirits that can be enjoyed al fresco.
I ended the busy work week with a well-deserved massage from Qiwellness Massage + Reflexology. Adorned with dragon door handles, the red doors opened up to reveal three cozy rooms that allowed for centuries-old healing techniques to take place. The sound of a mini chau gong signified the start of my 90-minute Qitranquility massage which focused on deep, repeated strokes to facilitate blood and lymphatic circulation. A cup of freshly steeped rose oolong tea in a dimly-lit, traditional-looking Chinese tearoom concluded the relaxing experience.
One last stop
Another highlight of my stay was a food trip at the nearby Salcedo Community Market. It’s been years since I last visited it, so I woke up bright and early to discover its newest offerings at the Jaime Velasquez Park. The Picasso urges guests to drop by the Saturday bazaar, going so far as providing free eco bags that can hold delicious finds and raw produce. The outdoor market is still as diverse as ever, featuring cuisine from all over the world (Filipino, Chinese, French, Indian, and more), classic street food fare (taho, dirty ice cream, or fish balls, anyone?) and a selection of nonedible goods for the home. My new favorites include the Coco Mama Coconut Ice Cream, Tita Lea’s Caramel Black Kutsinta, and the Monster Burger.
No matter what kind of weekend you imagine having, you can turn your staycation dreams into vivid reality at The Picasso. As Pablo Picasso once said, “Everything you can imagine is real.”
The Picasso Boutique Serviced Residences
119 L.P. Leviste Street
Salcedo Village, Makati
(02) 828 4774
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