2. My Manila Hotels
The processing through Philippine immigration was smooth. American citizens need no visa for visits to the Philippines for stays of 30 days or less.
Taxi drivers at Manila airport will try to get tourists to agree to a flat rate for transportation from the airport. These rates are always higher than the rates you can get by going to the taxi stand and having the cabbie use the meter. My first hotel for this trip was the Picasso Boutique Hotel in Makati. The taxi ride took about 35 minutes thanks to the ever-present Manila traffic jams but cost less than $10.
Picasso Boutique Hotel is located in the Salcedo Village portion of Makati.
As the name suggest, this hotel has a modern art theme, and plenty of artwork is sprinkled throughout.
This area is primarily middle-class residential mid-rise housing with a mixture of small businesses and restaurants ranging from fast food to fine dining. About 50 yards from the hotel on L.P. Leviste St. is a small burger joint (the name escapes me) with the best onion rings ever. A 10-minute walk takes you to Makati Avenue and the heart of the tourist entertainment area of Makati. Picasso has a spa, restaurant, 24-hour room service, and a well-equipped, two-level fitness center. There are no ice machines on the floors, but room service will bring a bucket of ice on request for no charge.
My room had plenty of space for one person and a kitchenette with a fridge and minibar in the entryway. The curtains hid a wall-to-wall window with access to a small balcony. The rate for this room was about $100/night.
The bathroom was really three small rooms: a vanity area, the commode and a shower with rain and handheld shower heads.
The hotel supplied two dental kits and shaving kits each night as well as shower gel, shampoo and conditioner.
Just down the street from the hotel was a small park. One evening as I was walking to the Blue Note Café, a dance venue, I saw that the park had been converted into an open air music and art festival. And of course, it seems that whenever there is an outdoor gathering in the Philippines, it must be accompanied by grilling Even though a light rain was falling periodically, the crowd was have a great time sampling the music, art and food.
The Picasso hotel was fantastic: however my budget for this trip dictated that I spend a few nights at a less expensive hotel, too. I selected the Best Western Antel hotel which is located just off Makati Ave. behind A Venue Mall. Shopping and a variety of restaurants, including Chihuahua Mexican Restaurant, were close at hand. The Antel was only about $50/night.
There are two Best western hotels in Makati. The other is the Best Western Oxford Suites, which is located on Burgos St. in the heart of the tourist entertainment (red light) district. I stayed there on my first trip to Manila. It is a good hotel for about the same price as the Antel, but the constant solicitations as you walk around from the clubs and the women saying “Massage sir?” becomes annoying. Everyone should try the massages, though. You can get a one-hour massage from some reputable spas for about $10.
The Antel is actually three hotels in one with two entrances and three check-in counters. The first check-in counter I came to was no the right one, but they directed me next door to the correct check-in facility for my reservation. I had a small suite (all rooms in this part of hotel are suites) with fridge/minibar, stove and microwave, a sitting area and a small bedroom.
The bathroom was also small. The shower had a dual shower heads but only a shower curtain separated it from the rest of the bathroom.
All in all it was a decent deal for the price.