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Classic Elegance for the Modern Age: Reasons to Revisit The Manila Hotel

by Ceej Tantengco

The best places in the world have roots.

They belong to history—the history of their surroundings as well as their own. Lose that history and a place becomes nothing more than a building, a set of walls.

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“It’s a good story if it’s The Manila Hotel,” novelist and journalist Ernest Hemingway once said, and it’s not hard to see why. Without taking away anything from hotel chains—because replicating luxury experiences around the globe is no small feat—The Manila Hotel is truly one-of-a-kind. From the moment you walk inside and are greeted by hotel staff wearing delicately embroidered Filipiniana dresses, to the decorative linen and rattan baskets, capiz chandeliers, and Philippine mahogany furniture; to the lobby cafe’s famous halo-halo, you can be sure that a stay at The Manila Hotel is a chance to be part of a story of Philippine excellence.

One of the most glorious things about staying at The Manila Hotel is the unparalleled view of the famous Manila Bay Sunset. With their huge windows, the Grand Deluxe and Superior Deluxe rooms bring you closer to that perfect sunset view. The view of the interiors is not too shabby, either: the warm earthy tones, ornate carved wooden headboards, and capiz shell-inlaid walls are a treat in themselves.

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For special occasions, The Manila Hotel’s suites are second to none. Celebrate a milestone at the Sunrise or Sunset Suite, and choose between either a view of the serene Manila Bay or the historic walled city of Intramuros. The spacious but homey Intramuros Suite is a favorite among brides-to-be who want Pinterest-worthy wedding prep photos, while the Honeymoon Suite—the only two-storey suite in the hotel—features a spiral staircase leading to an intimate parlor on the second level to infuse your stay with a hefty dose of romance.

You can also choose to keep it simple with The Veranda Suite and its terrace that lets you bask under the sun, or live large at The Heritage Suites. The traditional woven furniture and paintings by famous Filipino artists add a nice touch.

Did you know that The Heritage Suites was named after three heroes of the Philippine Revolution (Gabriela Silang, Andres Bonifacio, and Jose Rizal)?

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The suites also take pride in The Manila Hotel’s history as the destination of choice for diplomats and high-ranking government officials. The Presidential Suite has a full-service kitchen and dining area for dinner parties, plus access to a private elevator and helipad. The MacArthur Suite, meanwhile, takes its name from General Douglas MacArthur, who made it his home during his tenure as Military Advisor to the Commonwealth Government of the Philippines for 1935-1941.

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MacArthur’s penthouse suite was designed by architect Pedro Luna, the son of National Artist Juan Luna. The penthouse was large enough to house MacArthur’s family and serve as an office, with a master bedroom, a guest room with twin beds, a study, a formal dining room and kitchen, two bathrooms, and a powder room. Ivory-paneled walls and antique furniture complete the elegance of the historic suite.

When it comes to dining, The Manila Hotel continues to serve up excellence. Café Ilang-Ilang has themed dinner buffets and live cooking stations helmed by chefs from around the world. The more intimate Champagne Room, decorated with crystal palm trees, ensconces diners in lavish booths and has hosted its fair share of wedding proposals. Meanwhile, Red Jade is the hotel’s luxurious Chinese restaurant, serving dim sum and live seafood prepared just how you like it (deep-fried with salted egg, please).

RELATED: Around the World in Manila: Touring Café Ilang-Ilang with Executive Chef Konrad Walter

Whether you’re surprising your partner with a romantic weekend or treating the whole family to a spontaneous staycation; whether you’re tucking into Cafe Ilang-Ilang’s scrumptious international fare or enjoying a classic, no-frills bowl of halo-halo: The Manila Hotel belongs to its place in history and, if you stay a while, it just might feel like you belong there, too.

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About Ceej
Ceej Tantengco is an award-winning essayist turned reporter. Her work takes her around the country, which is the best bonus she could ask for. She recently created and co-hosts her own sports podcast called 12 Minutes With.

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