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Romance & Wine: Riverbend Inn in Niagara-On-The-Lake

From our first visit to Niagara-on-the-Lake, in Ontario, Canada, we understood why people claim this region as one of the best for a romantic getaway. The area offers incredible scenery of seemingly endless stretches of vineyards and natural beauty with wineries offering tours, views and festivals and hotels with luxury, character and history. Add to that a close proximity to the many attractions of Niagara Falls and you’ve got a pretty fantastic destination overall.

The Niagara Region wine festivals are a huge draw for us and we often find ourselves heading that way when we can. We love what the festivals mean: a series of wineries providing wine tastings, and often food and wine pairings, on given dates with passes that allow you to hop from winery to winery (with a designated driver of course) tasting the very best the area has to offer. It’s an amazing time, with some incredible flavours, and becomes a romantic outing for us each and every time as we explore the wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake and Niagara on the whole.

Driveway to Riverbend Inn & Vineyard Romantic Getaway in Ontario

What we’ve had difficulty doing however, is pinpointing which of the many accommodations would be perfect to turn our outing to a romantic getaway. That is until we discovered Riverbend Inn & Vineyard, one of the best hotels in Niagara-on-the-Lake for just that purpose, and combined it with one of the wine festivals of the region.

Riverbend Inn: The Perfect Setting For Romance & Wine

Riverbend Inn & Vineyard Niagara-On-The-Lake

Though it was winter, there was no decrease in the beauty of the Niagara wine country. We drove through frozen countryside, sunlight sparkling off the snow and ice that clung to the branches reaching up from the vineyards on either side of us. Our final turn had us following one of the most scenic roads, the Niagara River Parkway, with views of the Niagara River and more beautiful landscape. When we reached the sign for the Riverbend Inn & Vineyard we were greeted with a view of a Georgian mansion surrounded by acres of lawn, garden and vineyards.

Riverbend Inn & Vineyard Niagara-on-The-Lake

This was definitely a place to enjoy a weekend together, with privacy for acres surrounding the property, stunning views over the vineyard and a stay in an intimate historic hotel. In fact, the history of Riverbend Inn & Vineyard can be traced back to 1809 and has changed from farmhouse and farmland to schoolhouse to art gallery and, eventually, to the 21 room Georgian-style inn that it is today. With so much history, charm and character, it is no wonder we felt so enchanted with the place.

We found the location perfect for making our way to the wineries that often participate in the festivals and is only a short drive from Niagara Falls, a romance destination of the world. Even in winter, with the falls frozen over and the coloured lights creating a rainbow over the solid white mass of previously free-flowing water, Niagara Falls remains an awe-inspiring sight. We passed by to take a look and headed to a nearby restaurant with window seating that faced the Falls to enjoy a candlelight dinner before returning to the hotel for the night.

Find out more information about Riverbend Inn & Vineyard and their prices!

The Property: A Unique & Scenic Experience

view from Riverbend Inn over the vineyard

Though we realized the property was special when we first arrived, it only became more interesting as we explored. The stunning views were found from all directions and the history of the hotel was reflected from the front lobby to the original front entrance of the mansion. Photos, artwork and pieces of furniture and decor paid homage to its origins, while new additions and friendly service added to its luxury.

Riverbend Inn is also home to a restaurant serving meals in the elegant dining room. There is an antique bar where some of the vineyards own wine is served and offers a patio to enjoy both food and drink during the warmer months. Regardless of when you go though, we’re pretty sure that view never gets old.

gazebo for weddings at the Riverbend Inn Niagara-On-The-Lake

We noticed the gazebo and were told that weddings take place outside and that it is one of the only hotels in the Niagara region that has views of the vineyards for an extra special ceremonial backdrop. Though that’s not quite the romantic escape we had in mind when we went, we could definitely see it as being a perfect venue for a wedding in the Niagara region and having a bridal suite doesn’t hurt either!

The Room: Comfort & Luxury In A Historic Setting

Room at RIverbend Inn NIagara-on-the-Lake

It wouldn’t be one of the historic hotels in Niagara-on-the-Lake if the rooms didn’t live up to the promise of the exterior. Twenty-one uniquely decorated rooms provide a cozy and comfortable experience with some added luxuries. We absolutely loved the fireplace, especially in the winter, and snuggled up to enjoy the warmth as it permeated the spacious room.

fireplace in the room at RIverbend Inn Niagara-on-the-lake

When we weren’t out hopping from winery to winery for the festival, we spent a large amount of time in the comfort of the room. The flat screen TV offered entertainment, the in-room refreshments kept us going and we found ourselves lulled into a relaxed state over the course of the weekend.

Added to that was the incredible view from the balcony that overlooked the vineyard. It was a pleasure to wake up every morning, slide open the curtains and have such a stunning view waiting… especially after a solid sleep on a bed that was so comfortable it was difficult to pull ourselves from in the mornings.

Planning a Romantic Getaway in Niagara-On-The-Lake

While a wine festival may not be everyone’s cup of tea, a food and wine festival can be an altogether different matter. Food and wine paired right is a spectacular culinary experience and if you aren’t one for wine or alcohol, buying a designated driver pass enables you to enjoy the amazing food created by some of Niagara regions top restaurants and chefs with water instead of wine. Moving from winery to winery allows you to enjoy the scenery of the area and should you crave something more substantial, many wineries have world class restaurants for a romantic meal together.

If a wine, or food and wine, festival is still not something that interests you, the region boasts so many views, restaurants, and activities and with a short drive to Niagara Falls, you can partake in some popular tourism before heading back to Niagara-on-the-Lake for peaceful nights.

Though where we call home is a short 45 minute drive from Niagara-on-the-Lake, for us staying in the region and making an overnight or weekend vacation out of the visit is something we enjoy. It’s one of our favourite destinations for a weekend trip and now that we know there is accommodation like Riverbend Inn that adds to the romance and experience while being located right in the heart of it all, we’ll be planning many more of them in the near future!

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reverbend inn & vineyard Niagara-on-the-Lake

 

Loews Hotel Vogue – Where To ‘Strike A Pose’ In Montreal

It’s only about six hours by car, five and a half by train or one hour by plane. Though it’s a relatively short distance away from Toronto, and still within Canada, the culture and experience is quite different. While you’ll see all signs are bilingual in Toronto, when you cross that border between Ontario and Quebec, and then head into Montreal, the signs become more French, less English, and the streets look more like a small European city. The history, culture and language are different and after several conversations with locals, you’ll be left with the feeling that you’ve entered another country altogether. It’s a place we love to visit, perhaps for that very reason, yet we struggled for a long time to find the best place to stay in Montreal that would offer a great location with the comfort and luxury we look for while travelling. That is, until we found Loews Hotel Vogue.





We had driven through a late December snowstorm in order to spend a few days in Montreal. We wanted to see the city dressed in holiday spirit, attend a production of the Nutcracker Ballet by Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montreal, in which one of Carolann’s best friends would be dancing, and enjoy finding some more of the foodie treasures that are hidden among the many great restaurants in the city.

Though we had stayed at other, less-than-impressive hotels in the past and looked at many accommodation options in Montreal for this more recent trip, none really stood out as much as Loews Hotel Vogue Montreal. Though we hadn’t stayed at a Loews Hotel before, we knew of their reputation for incredible service and luxury. Their only location in Canada, in Montreal, was beckoning us to see if they could really live up to the hype. And with ‘Vogue’ in the name, we were expecting less of the kind sung in a Madonna song and more in the way of a high level of style and service. We were not disappointed!

Loews Hotel Vogue: Luxury in Downtown Montreal

Loews luxury hotels in Montreal

It wasn’t difficult to find and when we got there, the location of the hotel left us with a great first impression. Loews Hotel Vogue is located in an active area of shops and restaurants close to the city centre and in close proximity to the metro station.

It was a short walk, even in the bitter winter cold, to get to any number of restaurants and we found ourselves ducking into an amazing Vietnamese restaurant. We also enjoyed walking the streets as they came to life at night with people passing by and the lights lit against the dark night sky. With access to much of what the city has to offer, the hotel is a prime place to stay when visiting Montreal and the onsite parking is a huge plus though not necessary with the metro station being so close. Valet parking made it even easier to check-in and for us, it was a great way to escape the cold on our way from the car to the front lobby.

Luxury & Comfort From the Moment You Step Inside

Loews Hotel Vogue Room

Entering the lobby, the modern, art deco interior greeted us as we approached the front desk to check-in and we were struck by how the style lent itself to the boutique feel of the hotel. The restaurant in the hotel, La Societe Bistro, promised a relaxing atmosphere and quality food as we passed to head to the elevators and took a glance, and a sniff, from the restaurant’s lobby entrance.

Opening the door to our room only reaffirmed our initial impression that we may have just come across one of the best boutique hotels in Montreal and one of the comfortable, luxury hotels in the city. The room was incredibly spacious with a front entrance and a hallway, complete with a vanity and a large closet, that lead to the bedroom. A large bed drew our immediate attention with its accent pillows and, following the decor of the rest of the hotel, art deco artwork above.

loews hotel vogue best boutique hotels in Montreal

A couch at the end of the bed separated the space and made a comfortable seating area from which to watch the large screen TV situated atop the large desk. With multiple power outlets and ports, it was definitely created with the guest in mind providing for the electronic needs of frequent travellers, business travellers and tourists alike.

Loews hotel coffee station

Between the complimentary 24 hour coffee bar in the lobby and the a tea and coffee station on the desk in our room, we had more than what we required for refreshments. The coffee station also made the space a great area for us to relax in, and we definitely took full advantage of the amenities offered!

Pure Bliss Is A Bubble Bath

loews hotel vogue bathroom

There’s something rather divine about having a large bathtub with bubbles and jets to relax in. But there’s something extra special when that is offered in a gorgeous bathroom with a television for your entertainment. The marble tiles, the large stand-up shower with a rain-shower head and an abundance of toiletries available throughout the washroom was impressive. The bathtub experience was pure luxury. Between the bedroom with the beckoning bed promising comfort and a good night’s sleep, the seating area providing entertainment and relaxation and the bathroom offering pure bliss, we’re not too sure which part of the room was our favourite!

Want to check out Loews Hotel Vogue? See more details about the hotel & their rates.

Best Place to Stay in Montreal? It’s In The Details.

Loews Hotel Bose ipod dock

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, what really makes a hotel stand out to us is the attention to detail and it was this attention to detail that made Loews Hotel Vogue the best place to stay in Montreal. In the hotel you’ll find all you need for an amazing stay in Downtown Montreal. In fact, while access to the rest of the city is a piece of cake from its location, the services and amenities available in-house may have you thinking twice about leaving at all.

Why go out when you have a 24 hour fitness centre, the Lobby Bar to grab a cocktail by the hotel’s own mixologist, a coffee bar for a hot beverage at any time of the day or night, hotel wide, incredible fast Wi-Fi, in-room spa services, a fabulous restaurant and lounge in the lobby and room service for those who choose to keep on those plush bathrobes, as well as a whole list of services for those with kids, teens or pets!

toiletries loews hotel vogue montreal

These extensive services and amenities in addition to small touches in the rooms themselves like a radio-alarm-clock-docking-station, a large variety of toiletries available in the washroom, the TV above the bathtub as an added touch, the convenient coffee station in the room itself and the ultra-comfortable pillows and mattresses all add up to a memorable stay beyond the luxury and comfort of the rest of the hotel.

If you’re looking for the best place to stay in Montreal, whether you are driving in or relying on in-city transportation, there really is no better place to look for comfort and luxury, with a boutique feel, than Loews Hotel Vogue.

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Brody Apartments: The Best Hotel in Budapest Near the Danube

The flight was long, though not the longest we’ve had to endure. Still, between the first 8 hour flight, the layover and the last flight to land in Budapest, we were spent and our jet lag was starting to kick in.

Despite it all, it didn’t dim our excitement. We were anxious to explore Budapest and see the city so many others have raved to us about. Our excitement was only increased by the unique accommodations we knew were waiting for us. Weeks before, we had scoured the hundreds of options of where to stay in Budapest online and were frankly surprised at the huge number of options in the city where you can stay comfortably for a great price like the some of the most amazing hostels in Budapest.

We knew we wanted to choose a hotel near the Danube, as we were to board a boat docked along the river for a Viking River Cruise the following day. We also knew we wanted something different. Something beyond the typical chain hotels that kept popping up.

What we found was not only an incredibly unique accommodation in Budapest, it was also something we had not yet seen during our travels. And so, as we rolled our uncharacteristically large suitcases down the uneven sidewalks of Budapest, we felt a spark of excitement, despite being sleep-deprived, in anticipation of reaching our destination for the evening – Brody Apartments.

Brody Apartments – Boutique Style, Complete Comfort

brody apartments where to stay in budapest

Like much of the building fronts in Budapest, the inconspicuous outside of Brody Apartments opened to an incredible narrow building of fully furnished, serviced apartments. As the door to our apartment opened we realized just how deceptive the building was – the narrow structure and short hallways may have suggested a small building, but the size of the apartment proved that to be completely wrong. The two-bedroom apartment we were staying in was massive.

Entering the hallway, we had a glimpse of clean and modern decor before we got our thorough tour of the place. Two bedrooms and two baths, we first took a look at the “guest”, or second bedroom, near the front door before continuing down the hall to the kitchen area. Fully-functioning, the kitchen included a fridge, stove-top, oven, microwave and kettle. Dishes and cookware were provided which made it a completely usable and livable space.

brody apartment budapest Hotel in Budapest Near The Danube

The hallway opened up to the living room. Here was a place to relax and enjoy ourselves after a day of sightseeing in Budapest and walking around some of the many Christmas Markets in the city. The area was bright, modern and spacious with large, comfortable couches in front of a flat-screen TV and to the other end sat a large dining room table.  On the far wall there were tall windows to let in enough natural light to brighten the room during the day and in one corner stood a wood stove, if some added warmth or ambiance was needed.

bedroom in brody apartment budapest

As we brought our suitcases to the master bedroom, we were once again struck not only by the spacious rooms, but also the intriguing artwork that flowed throughout. The white of walls and linens in the room were contrasted beautifully with the dark of the furniture and accented by the colourful paintings that adorned the walls.  The en-suite bathroom was impressive, with a giant tub and multiple shower heads. As in the kitchen, every need was thought of, from toiletries and soaps to a hairdryer and plenty of towels.

As we mentioned, one of the things we absolutely loved was how complete the “full-service” part of the apartments really was. In addition to pretty much any necessity one would need to utilize the kitchen to the fullest, there was even a washer and dryer as well as an iron and ironing board. Then, the artwork too was a part of the full-service experience as some of the many pieces that decorated the large apartment were available for purchase.

To find more information about Brody Apartments, as well as current rates, click here

A Unique Hotel in Budapest Near The Danube

Brody Apartment Hotel in Budapest Near The Danube

While the style and attention to detail was definitely a draw for us to stay at Brody Apartments, the location too was a large part of our decision in where to stay in Budapest. With an upcoming Viking River Cruise we wanted to find the best hotel in Budapest near the Danube so that our trip to board would be as easy as possible. We looked at many different options throughout the city, on both the Buda and Pest side of the river, but when we came across Brody Apartment and saw all it had to offer, we knew we found something unique and special: exactly what we look for when booking our stays. We combined the benefits of the accommodation itself with the amazing location and decided there really wasn’t a better place to stay in Budapest.

And boy were we glad we did! Not only were we able to access the hotel easily from the metro system (and from the airport by taking the metro system), we were able to walk to the port and board our Viking boat in a short amount of time while taking in the city around us. In fact, we liked it so much we’ve already recommended as a great hotel near the Danube for others who are planning a river cruise departing from Budapest. Why not enjoy some luxury and comfort before making your way to do more of the same while cruising down the Danube?

Brody: Where Art Meets Budapest

brody house budapest

What we found at Brody Apartments was much more than serviced accommodation. We found an entire community based around hospitality and art. What started out as a private arts club in a neoclassical townhouse in Budapest, has turned into much more.  The initial meeting space of the arts club was transformed into a boutique hotel as well, called Brody House, allowing members a place to stay after attending arts events and gatherings. Brody House now boasts 11 uniquely designed and decorated rooms, each named and styled after one of the original artists of the club.

brody house boutique hotel budapest

With unique pieces of furniture, refurbished or created from unexpected items, and walls decorated with paintings, photos or unusual items, each room provides guests with a sensory-rich, technology-absent experience. The artwork is the entertainment.  We were fortunate to be able to enjoy breakfast at Brody House one morning and were pleasantly surprised at the spread laid out before us. Granola and yogurt, fruits and breads, cheese, meats, and cereals were part of the breakfast buffet, while hot dishes could be ordered off the available menu.
Brody House Boutique Hotel Budapest

While Brody House is ideal for shorter stays, Brody Apartments is perfect for longer ones, as is Brody Villa, a newly opened restored nineteenth-century villa that can accommodate larger groups of people or for hosting events. Though we’ve not had the opportunity to visit, we’d love to do so and see how the combination of history & art, present in both Brody House and Apartments, is brought together in this heritage listed building. With three accommodations, as well as Brody House Studios which serves as a venue for many of the clubs events, the brand is growing rapidly while leaving a strong impression on both the arts and hospitality communities in Budapest.

What started as a stay in a unique hotel in Budapest near the Danube quickly turned into a foray into the arts scene of the city. When deciding where to stay in Budapest, we know our decision will always include the name ‘Brody’.

 

Villa Caemilla: A Boutique Beachfront Hotel in Boracay

We walk at length through the mayhem that is Boracay beach on our way through station 2 and into station 3, moving through the crowds and activity while surrounded by noise and music. As we get deeper into station 3 however, the crowds start to dwindle. The music becomes a distant beat of bass and the sound of the waves softly rolling against the shore becomes distinguishable. We stop to take in the quiet and look up to the night sky before turning and making our way into our accommodations for the night. Yes, on this chaotic strip of beach we found our peaceful paradise, a beachfront hotel in Boracay,  from which to indulge in the best of both worlds: the excitement of the island and the tranquility promised by the sun, surf and sand.

Excitement & Tranquility Combine At the Best Beachfront Hotel in Boracay

boracay beach view

With an entire 4km long strip of beachfront property, on the longest white beach in Asia, you’re going to find quite the selection when looking for a beachfront hotel in Boracay. Nope, finding a hotel by the beach isn’t the tricky part of looking for accommodation on the island. Finding one of the best hotels in Boracay might be however, as you weigh the options between a louder area on the beach or a more secluded hotel off the strip.

During the day, the beach is quiet but active with kitesurfing, sunbathers and those out for a stroll along the strip of beach, or higher by the many restaurants that line it. Touts are persistent in their offers of goods and services and unless you are on the beach by the water, chances are you encounter someone with almost every step you take. By night, the beach turns into a frenzy of music and dancing, fire shows and entertainment. While foot traffic flows regularly during the day, it becomes a thick crowd at night.

boat on boracay beach in front of villa caemilla

Depending on what you travelled to Boracay for, and what your expectations are, the relentless onslaught can either be a welcome distraction, or an unpleasant overload. We found an incredible compromise when we stayed at Villa Caemilla Beach Boutique Hotel (Click here for the latest prices and more information about Villa Caemilla.. Villa Caemilla offers the best of both worlds on the island: a beachfront hotel on Boracay beach with easy access to activity that comes alive at night while also providing a tranquil escape from the chaos with its quiet location and peaceful surroundings.

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A Great Space to Relax or Dine by the Beach

Front desk at the Villa Caemilla - beachfront hotel boracay

When we first arrived at the hotel we were warmly welcomed and as we were being checked in, we were brought welcome shell necklaces and cold scented towels to refresh ourselves after our walk in the sun along the beach to get there. We were also given welcome drink tickets which could be used anytime that day. This was something that immediately caught our attention as most places bring you the drink directly, often before you are ready or while you are still trying to check in and get comfortable. By giving us the tickets, we were able to check-in, put our things away and change before coming back to the bar, grabbing our drink and sitting down to relax and enjoy it… and we did exactly that.

After using our tickets for fruit shakes, we settled at one of the tables where we could look out onto the beach. The restaurant and bar area being so easily accessible and open to the front offered an amazing area to sit, eat, and relax. We chose a few appetizers from their menu and soon found out they not only have an amazing location, but great service and delicious food.

beachfront hotel in Boracay loungers

Just beyond the front of the hotel is the section of beach where they put out beach loungers for their guests from 6am to 6pm to sit in the sun, or the shade under the palm tree, and still receive bar and food service. It didn’t take us long to realize that’s exactly where we wanted to go next!

The Hotel Room at The Villa Caemilla

bed at villa caemilla boutique beach hotel

The hotel itself is stylish but comfortable and this flows from the front lobby and dining area all the way to the rooms that line the back of the property. As we stepped into the room it was pretty clear why they were the winning newcomer boutique hotel in the 2015 World Hotel Awards as well as the winner of the 2015 World Luxury Hotel Awards for best luxury new hotel. The room was spacious and inviting with colours that made you feel like you were in a tropical getaway. Two towel swans greeted us on the bed accompanied by toiletry bags. We would later find out that the large bed was also incredibly comfortable and offered an amazing night’s sleep.

The washroom was clean and luxurious, with luxury fixtures, a rain shower and large, fuzzy bathrobes, which we were quick to use. The attention to detail was noticeable especially when it came to the toiletries. Not only were there a good range of products, the quality was impressive.

What a Great Beachfront Hotel in Boracay is All About: Location, Location, Location

beachfront hotel in Boracay villa caemilla loungers

As we said, Villa Caemilla offers the best of both worlds as a beachfront hotel in Boracay: the raucous nightlife and the quiet beauty of the island. Of the hotels in Station 3, it is situated in a quieter part of the strip where the loud bass of neighbouring hotels and restaurants doesn’t seem to quite reach the hotel but are also only a short walk away. In fact, walking only a few minutes will have you in the middle of utter chaos and excitement.

At night, this is where we would go. We’d walk from our hotel in station 3 all the way to the end of station 1. Sometimes, we’d stop at a coffee shop and sip our drinks while listening to some live music. Other times we’d walk closer to the shore, taking in the activity from a distance, sinking our toes in the sand and watching the water as it rolled onto the shore. The best part however, was that when we tired of the noise and crowds, we knew we had a quiet place to return to. If we came back early enough, we could even enjoy some live music in the comfort of our own hotel lobby.

sandcastles in Boracay beach

During the day, we parked ourselves on a lounger out front and enjoyed all that Boracay beach has to offer for those that want a vacation in the sun. We ordered our food and drinks to our seat in the sand and ate while watching the palm trees sway in the breeze.

Yes, the location of Villa Caemilla and the quiet luxury of the hotel and its rooms make it a perfect beachfront hotel in Boracay. It was a place where we could enjoy all the beach has to offer in luxury and comfort.

Click here for the latest prices and more information about Villa Caemilla.

Villa Caemilla Beach Boutique Hotel Logo

Villa Caemilla Beach Boutique Hotel

Station 3, Angol,

Barangay Manoc-Manoc, Boracay Island

Philippines, 5608

 

Looking for a different kind of vacation on Boracay? Mandala Spa & Resort Villas offers an alternate island getaway a short distance from the beach!

 

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The Henry Hotel Manila

The black wrought-iron gates of the nondescript entrance opened to reveal the long driveway and lush green interior of the grounds. Our Uber car slowly made it’s way past dark-paneled colonial style buildings with white-trimmed windows towards the main building of the property. As we exited and grabbed our luggage, the trickling of the fountain and the serene, secluded grounds had us relaxing before we even stepped foot into the unexpectedly modern interior and walked up to the reception desk. We were met with three smiling faces donning quirky thick black rimmed glasses and black bow ties over crisp white linen shirts. In just a matter of minutes it became clear to us that The Henry Hotel Manila wasn’t going to be just another typical hotel experience.

A Boutique Hotel “Like No Other” – The Henry Hotel Manila

henry hotel manila sign at front

When we visited Cebu in the Philippines, we had the chance to experience a truly unique boutique hotel – The Henry Hotel Cebu. After such a memorable time, we were excited to see their Manila location which we knew was quite different, yet incredibly interesting in its own way. What ended up surprising us the most was how easy it was to forget where you were when you were staying there. Hidden away from the busy streets and surrounded by trees, we found the hotel to be a place to relax and an escape from the chaos of Manila.

The Rooms: Historical Flare & Local Flavour

the bed at the henry hotel in manila

Our room was in the main building of the complex and offered a colonial historical feel with some local flavour added in through the decor. This ever-present connection to culture and history is one of the most fascinating aspects of The Henry Manila.  Each room at features furniture made by local, and resident, creator Eric Paras and each piece of his is available for purchase. The rooms themselves retain as much of the original design and materials as possible, with restored wood flooring and armoires that were trademarks of the bourgeoisie of the colonial period in the Philippines.

standard room at the henry hotel manila

One of the staff mentioned how significant the large, hardwood antique armoires are to Filippino culture “it’s a piece of our history”, he said, “only the wealthy and politically powerful could afford these so it is a piece of luxury and history”. He said that the style and materials used back then are no longer employed so those pieces that remain are generally passed on through generations.

refreshments in the room at the henry hotel manila

In addition to maintaining as much of the original aesthetics, the incorporation of current local artists and products also brings in that quirky and original flare we came to recognize at the Hotel Henry Cebu. We quickly spotted the unique tissue boxes and garbage bins and were told that they were made by a local NGO – Kamay Krafts – which employ battered and widowed wives to make handmade products using materials native to the Philippines. The local links within the room seem to be endless and almost everything in the room has a story. From the artwork to the furniture, to the snack basket of local treats and coffee, there’s a connection to culture or a link to history and we absolutely loved being immersed in it.

Interested in staying at The Henry Hotel Manila? Just click here for hotel details and information.

Apt 1B – A Boutique Dining Experience

quesadilla at apt 1b at the henry hotel manila

We were pretty hungry when we first arrived at The Henry Hotel Manila and so, after checking in, we made our way back downstairs and through the “hidden” door between the front reception and the hotel’s restaurant – Apt 1B – in search for something to satisfy our now growing appetite. The interior of the restaurant was in keeping with the rest of the property – boutique and trendy in style and decor.

Sitting down in the intimate dining room, we were quickly presented with the menu of gourmet food options. We decided on a soup and salad despite the choices of pastas and breakfast, burgers and sandwiches that sounded equally appetizing and tempting!

We were served quickly and attentively and really enjoyed our meal thoroughly. As we ate, we watched the rest of the customers’ orders flow around us as delicious meal after delicious meal was brought out.

breakfast at the henry hotel manila

The following morning we were excited to head down for breakfast and we definitely weren’t disappointed. Buffet servings of coffee and tea, juice and fruits were available as we ordered our main breakfast: one order of eggs, toast, sausage and homefries and one order of pancakes.

Again, the food was delicious and filling and after several cups of coffee, we were ready to start the day!

The Grounds – A Retreat Outside Busy Manila

the pool at the henry hotel manila

If you’ve been to Manila, you know what a chaotic, hectic place it can be. The cars and the honking, the people and the poverty, the intensity of the city may be tempered by the incredible people you meet and the wonderful Filipino culture, but it is still present in large doses. For us, The Henry Hotel Manila provides the perfect combination of city location and secluded retreat grounds.

front gate to the henry hotel manila

In fact, it does such a great job of being a private refuge from the craziness of the city beyond that it’s easy to forget you are still in the core of Manila until you step outside those wrought-iron gates and reemerge onto the fast-paced, intense city streets.

The property is surrounded by wrought-iron gates and walls, bordered by green foliage and trees, and peppered with interesting features like the art gallery, furniture store, fountain, pool and of course, the main buildings which hold the rooms and suites of the hotel.

pool area at the henry hotel manila

The pool area is peaceful and serene, the trickling water of the nearby fountain still distinguishable and the surrounding trees providing privacy and shade. We took some time to relax by the water, soak in some sun and enjoy the peace and tranquility.

The property is a great place to walk through, along stone paths, past the colonial buildings housing guests and the swimming pool, through the compound and to the other end where the art gallery and houses holding furniture displays are located.

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The Furniture Showroom – Local Talent and Design

 

As mentioned, all of the furniture in each of the rooms is made by a local artist and available for purchase. Eric Paras, the resident artist and furniture maker also displays his work in three houses – collectively A-11 –  at one end of the property. As with the furniture in the rooms, the furniture on display in the houses, as well as the artwork and accessories by various other artists and designers, are also for sale making these houses part showroom, part gallery, and part store and entirely unique in concept.

eric paras furniture manila

Each room is designed with various pieces designed by Eric Paras and brought together with added touches like framed work by artist Wataru Sakuma. We were amazed at the talent and variety of pieces by Paras and completely in awe over the artwork by Sakuma like the incredible intricate 3D maps that are created out of paper.

furniture showroom henry hotel manila

From first floor to top floor, from the first house to the third house, the furniture and artwork combine for a wonderful aesthetic appeal and a great showcase of the talent of these artists.

 

Our stay at the Henry Hotel Manila was a wonderful and tranquil escape from the chaos of the city and one memorable experience. From boutique accommodations to tasty cuisine to local artwork, The Henry Hotel showcases the best of history and culture of the Philippines.

Click here to check out prices and more information on The Henry Hotel Manila.

the-henry-like-no-other logo

The Henry Hotel Manila

2680 FB Harrison St.

Pasay City, Philippines, 1300

Tel: +63 32 807-8888

Email: reservations.manila@thehenryhotel.com

 

Best Couples Spa & Resort in the Philippines – Mandala Spa & Resort Villas

As the doors opened, the smell of incense, the sound of gentle music and the sight of colourful flower petals elegantly strewn were the first to reach our senses. Stepping into the villa was like entering a tropical paradise with the beautiful canopy bed with artfully placed petals atop the white linens, the warm wood decor and the trail of flowers leading into the modern and spacious bathroom. This hideaway off the streets of Boracay was a welcome oasis away from the busy, tourist filled beaches and was surrounded by trees and tranquility and saturated in luxury and relaxation. We had found a luxury oasis and one of the best couples spa and resorts in the Philippines.

Finding A Luxury Oasis at the Best Couples Spa & Resort in Boracay

mandala spa and resort villas couples spa

Boracay is a beautiful island in the Philippines with many hotels, resorts, spas and activities. It is also a popular tourist destination and as such, the main strip of the beach can get pretty crowded and, in some areas, fairly noisy. Our first night on the island had us staying right on the beach in Station 3 (the strip of the beach is divided into three stations though the borders between each are arbitrary rather than actual physical divisions). Unfortunately, our hotel was right beside a late night bar pumping out high-level bass music into the wee hours of the night, leaving us worried about the rest of our time on Boracay. Though we didn’t know it, we’d have very little to worry about.

After the first night, we made our way off the beach and headed to what would be our accommodation for the next several nights – the award winning Mandala Spa and Resort Villas and what we came to see as the best couples spa and resort in Boracay, Philippines. Situated a short walk away from the beach, nestled away from the streets of Boracay, we found the main entrance to the resort and started down a path covered by an archway of foliage. Pulling our wheeled carry-on sized backpacks down the path, we stopped as the dark green, leafy cover opened up to reveal the resort.

The lush vegetation gave the feel of a secluded tropical paradise as we navigated the path past the spa, to the reception area. Welcomed with warm smiles and an offering of ginger tea and water, we sat and relaxed out of the sun while the check-in process began. We quickly found ourselves being led to our villa along the winding path, with the greenery surrounding us and the occasional butterfly fluttering past.

A Luxury Villa Off The Beach in Boracay

best couples spa and resort philippines mandala spa and resort villas

Tucked off the side of the path, we took in the greenery of the Mandala Spa and Villas and walked up to our own, private getaway. As the doors opened and we took our first look inside, we knew we had found a special resort in the Philippines. The soft sounds of music drifting from the private iPod docking station was the first thing we noticed. Calm and peaceful, it beckoned us further into the villa where we were struck by the gentle smell of incense burning. Olfactory and auditory senses now stimulated, we surveyed our surroundings: warm wood floors and furniture, white flowing curtains on large floor-to-ceiling windows, and accents of red and purple combined to create a room that seemed to radiate luxury and tranquility.

mandala spa and resort villas flowers

The flowers and petals were amazing touches as well and as we followed the trail from the door of the bathroom, across stone tiles, we found ourselves in another haven of comfort. A large tub with petals already floating in the water, plush bathrobes and towels, and an outdoor private rain shower were just some of the amazing features in this spacious en-suite.

couples spa and resort philippines villa bathroom

We were quite surprised with what we found in the room – a kettle with all the fixings for tea and coffee, a private modem for WiFi, a great basket of toiletries, and a large TV that managed to only add to the luxury of the room without taking away from the tropical paradise vibe that had infiltrated our minds from the moment we stepped into what was shaping up to be one of the best resort in Boracay, Philippines.

mandala spa and resort villas philippines

We quickly got ourselves settled, making coffee and tea with our in-room amenities, and headed to the patio outside to enjoy the beautiful weather and the peaceful privacy of our own oasis.

A Focus on Feeding The Body, Mind & Soul

the garden cafe mandala spa and resort villas philippines

The Garden Cafe, an outdoor restaurant pretty much central to all the villas, was a perfect place to enjoy the beautiful weather and the tropical seclusion of this luxury spa resort while grabbing a meal. With the Mandala Spa and Villas’ focus on health and wellness, it was no surprise that the food offered had a variety of healthy choices and ingredients.

breakfast at mandala spa and resort villas best couples spa philippines

On our first morning, we woke up in a haze of contentment, tucked in our comfortable bed with the canopy curtains let down around us. After taking our time to get ready, we headed to the Garden Cafe to grab some food. Sitting at a table overlooking the resort, the birds entertained us with their morning calls as we browsed the menu and made our selections. This was to be the pattern set for the rest of our mornings at the Mandala as we went through their all-day breakfast menu, one dish at a time, trying things like their incredible oatmeal and quinoa pancakes, fresh muesli with homemade organic yogurt and fresh fruit, and perfectly cooked eggs Benedict.

mandala spa and resort villas food

After our first breakfast, we knew we needed to try more of the menu and returned for many meals. We were particularly fond of their roasted pumpkin soup, the surprisingly delicious quinoa burger and their Moroccan chicken wrap, though everything we tried had our taste buds and stomachs feeling satisfied.

the vessel mandala spa and resort villas best couples spa and resort

We had quickly realized that the Mandala Spa and Resort Villas was one of the best couples spa and resorts in the Philippines but what took it to the next level for us was its focus on nourishing the body, mind and soul. The food provided us with healthy, nutritional and amazing tasting food (many ingredients grown in their own greenhouse garden) and their fitness centre, The Vessel, offered classes in the morning and afternoon, like yoga, jazz dance and pole dancing. Add the spa to the mix and it isn’t difficult to see how we could feel completely content and relaxed for our entire stay – our mind, body and soul having been pampered completely.

Enjoying an Award Winning Spa in Boracay

award winning spa philippines mandala spa

Staying at the Mandala meant we were also staying at a luxury spa resort that has won awards for their spa treatments and is easily one of the best couples spas in the Philippines.  Recently winning the Leading Spa Resort in the Philippines for 2015, we knew we couldn’t leave without indulging in their spa services. It didn’t take us long into our first treatment to understand why they were award winners and to decide a second treatment was an absolute must.

We booked a Romantic Mandala Spa Journey for one of our last days at the resort and after months without any successful efforts to ease our tense, travel-weary muscles we were excited for not only the romantic experience but the hopefully healing benefits of the treatment!

mandala best couples spa philippines

Our Romantic Spa Journey was divided into three different treatments starting with a “Royal Footbath” which was the perfect way to begin to completely relax. After the footbath and some tea, we were taken to massage tables, side-by-side. Here we were given their full-body “Asian Signature Massage”. Sinking into pure bliss as our knots and tense muscles were kneaded and released, we let all sense of time or stress melt away. The final treatment was their “Cleopatra Milk Bath” where we both luxuriated in the warm, petal-filled water enjoying fruit shakes and chocolates as the last of our stress evaporated and any remaining muscle tension faded.

After the first treatment we booked our second for the following day, this time going with one of their award winning spa treatment: Mandala Spa’s Hilot Trilogy. We were intrigued to experience an ancient Filipino therapeutic form of massage and traditional healing.

mandala spa experience romantic journey

We first experienced Hihilaan, where banana leaves covered in coconut oil were dragged along our backs in order to determine areas of imbalance. Next, a traditional form of vacuum cupping, Bentosa, followed by a Hilot massage of deep strokes. Finally, there was the foot massage, Dagdagay, where two bamboo sticks are used to massage the soles of the feet. We found each one incredibly interesting to experience, although Macrae got a bit ticklish with the Dagdagay technique!

Again, complete relaxation took over us both and we were left in a state of loose muscles and calm moods. What we noticed most about both spa experiences was the attention to detail. From the flower arrangement underneath our massage tables so we’d have something to look at, other than the floor, if we opened our eyes, to the soft linens and choice of oils, there was great thought and care put into every aspect of the treatments.

Escaping the Chaos & Enjoying Some Tranquility

mandala spa and resort villas boracay

While we always enjoy staying on the beach, finding some tranquility and peace away from busy areas (like many strips along the beach in Boracay) is a respite we also look for often. With free towel rentals from Mandala Spa and Resort Villas and a path that leads out to a shortcut to the beach, the sand and water was only a short walk away and allowed us to enjoy the quiet and relaxing vibe of the spa resort, while still getting as much beach time in as we wanted.

Between the villa, the food, the spa and the overall focus on relaxation and wellness, we knew we had found one of the best couples spa and resort destinations in the Philippines and by the end of our stay, we were dragging our feet, wishing the experience didn’t have to end.

 

 

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mandala spa and resort villas philippines

Nobu Manila: A View From Inside The Golden Towers

The Nobu Manila… Golden window-panel covered buildings stood like gleaming mirages reflecting the busy city beyond, withholding the secrets within. A city within a city. We knew there was something special about it when we first passed by, one of the most identifiable of the hotels in Manila, Philippines, though we hadn’t yet had the chance to peek behind the gilded curtain of the gleaming towers. When we finally had the opportunity to venture within the buildings that had beckoned us since our arrival, we learned that it lived up to the promise of its name… we had found a City of Dreams.

The Nobu Manila – Decadence, Luxury and Elegance Within A City of Dreams

City of Dreams and Nobu Manila

Entrance to the City Of Dreams and Nobu Manila

It’s hard to miss. The City of Dreams Manila, a large golden complex and its 6 shimmering towers can often be seen while driving the busy and chaotic streets of Manila, Philippines. The gold-tinted windows of the elegant towers immediately draw the eye and awaken the imagination.

Of the 5 star hotels in Manila, this integrated casino resort hosts three, as well as a casino, a range of dining options and a shopping complex, just to name a few of the many features to be found within. But it wasn’t until we entered the doors of the Nobu Manila, after we had stepped out of the car and handed over our bags to the patiently waiting bellman, that we realized the extent of the grandeur and elegance to be found in one of the most luxurious hotels in Manila.

The dining room at the Nobu Restaurant Manila

The Nobu Manila is inspired by renowned Japanese chef Nobu Matsuhisa and his array of world-famous restaurants. The accommodation arm of Nobu is now reaching ranks with some of the most modern and most luxurious hotels in the world, and we were excited to be able to experience the decadence, luxury and elegance the brand is known for.

One thing we always look for in accommodation, along with the comforts and luxury, modern decor and aesthetics, is that unique feel. We like experiencing something different, something that makes a place stand out for us and helps make our time in that place more memorable. It’s that certain “je ne c’est quoi” that the best luxury hotels in the world have, and it was that same “I don’t know what” that we found at the Nobu Manila.




That ‘Je Ne C’est Quoi’ of the Nobu Manila

Sure, “je ne c’est quoi” suggests an unidentifiable “something”, but often times it’s not one intangible element but instead, a host of well-crafted, well-executed ideas and an attention to detail that make an accommodation standout, make it superior.

the view from the hallway at the Nobu Manila

From the front lobby of the Nobu Manila, where staff greet you wearing beautiful outfits and warm smiles, the Japanese-influenced design begins its flawless integration into the modern and elegant decor and the incredible combination of great service and impeccable style resonates from every inch of the property.

After our incredibly quick check-in, we were lead through the lobby of earth tones and subtle cherry blossoms, to the south tower and made our way to our room.

A Room of Added Touches

We stayed in the twin room of the Nobu Manila, it has a great view

We were immediately impressed with the room which exuded all the charm of a boutique style room and none of the, often soulless, feel of a hotel chain. The crisp white linens, the continuation of the cherry blossom and Japanese-inspired motif, and the neutral colours with modern lines and touches made the room elegant while the attention to detail, like the welcome bowl of fruits, the specialty tea, the variety of toiletries and the personalized message on the television added a whole extra level of welcome and comfort.

The tv in the rome at Nobu Manila hs a personalized greeting

We also loved the added touches we just kept finding. Opening the drawers of the nightstand we found tea and coffee, wine glasses and a bottle opener, and a whole snack bar with some extras, like an intimacy kit, for purchase.

The sake and wine selection in your room at the Nobu Manila is fantactic!

There were outlets aplenty and even a master light switch near the bed eliminating the inevitable fumbling around in the dark that always happens as you search for a light switch in a new place. Luckily, the room was spacious enough, it wouldn’t have been a problem even if there wasn’t a master switch close by. The bluetooth/docking station was also a great addition and was probably the first feature we used, streaming out music while we sat to enjoy our welcome tea and fruit.

Welcome fruit, tea and sake from the Nobu Hotel Manila, Philippines

The large bathroom too was fitted for comfort. Many plush towels, the essential toiletries (plus some), a spacious shower with a rain-shower head and two of the most comfortable, soft-lined bathrobes we’ve had the pleasure of donning.

This is the view of the pool we had from our room at the Nobu Manila

After seeing the room and the bathroom, you would think it couldn’t get much better, right? That’s what we thought until we opened the curtains and looked out at the view. Facing inwards towards the pool, the view was fantastic and when the sun set and the lights of the ‘Fortune Egg’ and the rest of the City of Dreams were illuminated, it made for a fantastic, and romantic, evening scene.

Nobu Restaurant – An Experience In Itself

The dining room at the Nobu Restaurant Manila

Nobu Restaurant. Our stomachs are still singing its praises. Since our accommodation package included breakfast (guests of the City of Dreams and visitors can also purchase breakfast here separately), we had the pleasure of dining here and enjoying some of the style of food Chef Nobu Matsuhisa is so famous for. The restaurant is set up buffet style for breakfast with a range of options from traditional Filipino food to American fare to Japanese-inspired dishes and everything in between. Salads, vegetables, noodle dishes, pastries, breads, okonomiyaki, and a pancake station with some incredible toppings, like their pecan butter. There was something for everyone and, being the passionate food lovers we are, everything was for someone like us.

The selection of food for breakfast at the Nobu restaurant in manila is extensive

Nobu Restaurant steps it up a game though with their ‘Breakfast Minis’, a menu with additional small plates. While it is included in the breakfast buffet, these are ordered individually. Each item we tried brought together wonderful, often unique flavours and several of them were so memorable we are still talking about them.

The Nobu Restaurant in the Nobu Manila has an amazing breakfast that noone shoud miss

The Eggs Matsuhisa, a poached egg with spinach and bonito egg sauce on a toasted bao, looked simply stunning and, with a perfect poach on the egg, didn’t disappoint. The Nobu Style Cheeksilog, a miso braised Wagyu cheek with garlic rice, popeye relish and a fried egg did justice to the traditional Philippine dish while fusing Japanese flavours perfectly. Our favourite of them all however, was the french toast. Thick and fluffy with a light yuzu custard, whipped cream and tomato jam. This dish had us fighting over each bite.

The Nobu Restaurant in Manila has a special french toast, one of the best french toasts in the world

From the clean and modern Japanese decor to the good-to-the-last-bite food, the breakfast at the Nobu Restaurant was exactly like the rest of our experience at the Nobu Hotel Manila: decadent, wonderful, comfortable and truly memorable.

Relaxation & Refreshments Under The Golden Towers

the golden towers from the deck of the Nobu Manila hotel

Stepping outside as we headed to the pool area, the glimmering of the golden towers once again cast their spell but this time, the sound of the trickling water from the fountains and the pool, the warm breeze on our skin and the smell of something delicious being cooked at the nearby poolside restaurant, Wave, had us fully engulfed in the moment and appreciating the experience those buildings of gold contained.

While each hotel has their own pool, the Nobu is at the centre of the property with a decent sized swimming area, a lifeguard on duty and many deck chairs and couch-style seating for guests to enjoy.

We ate caesar salad, burger and fries at Wave restaurant in the Nobu Manila

We sat for a bit by the pool, enjoying the view, the breeze and the peace of the area before our stomachs got the better of us and we moved to the restaurant, Wave, for some poolside-meets-patio dining. Since we’re always on the hunt for a good burger, we decided to try one out, along with a caesar salad and boy are we glad we did! One of the best burgers we had during our time in the Philippines, the burger at Wave came perfectly cooked, topped with flavourful caramelized onions, tomato, lettuce, pickle and onion rings and some pretty great tasting fries. The Caesar salad was also well prepared and we loved the crispy, real pieces of bacon.




Gold-Plated, Luxury-Filled Experience of a Lifetime

There is more to the Nobu Manila however, above and beyond being a gorgeous luxury accommodation with a restaurant that makes stomachs grumble in memory by its mere mention. There are other things aside from the fact that it features a fitness centre and a spa allowing you to get a bit of pampering in during your stay.

What elevates the experience at the Nobu Manila to the next level is the fact that it is a full-service hotel located in the City of Dreams and, as we touched on, that means access to a whole world of activities and experiences beyond the doors of the Nobu Hotel itself: an impressive casino floor, a variety of excellent restaurants, shops, clubs, and Dreamplay, a Dreamworks-inspired interactive play space. Whether you are there for business or leisure, a stay-cation or vacation, the Nobu Manila has everything you need and want.

We were wecomed with this tea set from the Nobu Manila hotel

As a couple exploring the city of Manila, we ended up experiencing a side to this busy capital we weren’t expecting. The city within a city, where one needn’t wander further than the lobby of their hotel, though the city beyond is only a free shuttle ride away; where you can escape the intensity of Manila and head to one place where comfort, food, culture and entertainment come together.

The entire complex containing the Nobu Manila is a gold-plated, luxury-filled, experience of a lifetime and on that first night, when we finally slipped between the crisp sheets of the extra-comfortable bed and laid our heads on our pillows, we did so with a sigh of contentment and a smile in appreciation for the day and anticipation for what else we would be experiencing in this City of Dreams.

Want to stay at the Nobu Hotel Manila? Or dine at Nobu Restaurant?

Find information about the Nobu Hotel Manila, the City of Dreams and the Nobu Restaurant:

Nobu Hotel Manila  &  Nobu Restaurant

Asean Avenue corner Roxas Boulevard, Entertainment City,

Parañaque 1701, Manila, Philippines

Phone: +632 800 8080

A Unique, Boutique Stay At The Henry Hotel Cebu

Located in the heart of Cebu City, tucked away off the busy streets, sits a boutique hotel where art and style meets comfort and hospitality; where quirky signage, unique decor and friendly smiles greet you upon entering.

Truly a Hotel “Like No Other”

henry hotel cebu front

We landed in Cebu City, unsure of what to expect after spending several days in the beautiful chaos that is Manila. What we found was a mini-sized version of the capital: busy and with a rich history. It also held several surprises that had us leaving the island feeling like we’d found something truly special. The Henry Hotel Cebu was one of those unique places we discovered that made our experience in Cebu a memorable one and is a place we couldn’t wait to talk about.

henry hotel cebu reception

Entering through the front doors we knew, true to its slogan, this was an accommodation unlike any other on the island.  The lobby and reception area was decorated in a combination of modern meets vintage with a hint of some rustic for added personality!

red statue henry hotel

In fact, we were first greeted by the smiling red statue of a man bowing as we walked in – a fitting intro to the quirky, mix-matched furnishings of the rest of the lobby. Uncoordinated and random as it may seem, the quirkiness fits and flows well within the hotel.

henry hotel cebu red statue face

After our brief encounter with the red man, we were greeted by the friendly staff and given our welcome drinks while we checked in and in no time we were being shown to our room.

The Large Room

large room henry hotel

We stayed in the Large Room, which was incredibly spacious and, much like the rest of the property, decorated in a unique and compelling way. Minimalist without being austere, we loved how a feeling of coziness was achieved even with the bold contrasts in colour and the industrial flare to the decor.

henry hotel cebu bedroom

With a large, comfortable bed dividing the space, a desk for us to do work and a table to sit and relax, we found it to be absolutely perfect for us!

henry hotel room cebu

The bathroom was also incredibly large with a separate vanity area to the shower and toilet which, if you’ve ever travelled for longer periods of time with someone you know is a huge bonus! The provided toiletries were great as well and we loved that the soaps and lotions were locally made.

When Art Meets Hospitality

front lobby cebu henry hotel

After settling in, we explored the grounds a bit more taking time to really investigate the lobby and the various displays. Vintage American artwork, rustic accessories and some modern touches made the entire space feel welcoming like a home while at the same time made it as intriguing as an art gallery.

henry hotel decor

The furniture, knick-knacks, paintings and other added elements of the space lead your eyes on a bit of a merry chase as you roam around taking it all in and finding more hidden treasures as you do.

henry hotel lobby art

Heading to the second floor we found more artwork on display, much of it contemporary, and found that several artists were represented here, as well as throughout the hotel. We learned that these were local artists who were being showcased.

henry hotel cebu beetle

henry hotel cebu second floor

We particularly liked the collage style artwork of famous faces by Geovanni Abing.

geovanni anbing

Whether you are a lover of art or just appreciate it from afar, the aesthetics of both the room and the property will have you looking around every corner and searching for the next surprise.

A Boutique Dining Experience

rica's restaurant henry hotel cebu

While the decor provides the quirky, less-than-coordinated feel, the food at Rica’s, the restaurant at The Henry Hotel, was well-composed in concept and execution. Maintaining the flow of vintage decor, Rica’s also has a selection of well-placed, fun artwork but the food is really what stands out here.

henry hotel cebu superhero chairs

We were impressed with their breakfast buffet spread that was included with our rooms. Each morning there was something slightly different in the options of hot dishes and consistently really quite good with impeccable service.

henry hotel breakfast buffet

henry hotel breakfast

We also ate our lunches at Rica’s finding a great variety of options but settling on some lighter dishes, as we both were a bit under the weather.

ricas soup henry hotel

Their soups were flavoured well and perfect for rainy days or when we were looking for a light meal to satisfy our hunger.

Dessert was something special for us as well as we rarely indulge ourselves but their Brazo Mantecado was just begging to be ordered and boy were we glad we did! Layer upon delicious layer, it is a truly decadent treat!

Brazo Mantecado henry hotel cebu

There are also a variety of great restaurants that are easily accessible from The Henry Hotel should you want to venture out and doormen who will help you hail a taxi if you’re looking to go beyond walking distance.

Henry Hotel Amenities Galore

henry hotel cebu lounge

While we did head out in the evenings for dinner, The Henry Hotel pretty much provided anything we would need. The pool and patio was a fantastic place to enjoy the sunny days and felt peaceful and tranquil.

patio at henry hotel

pool at henry hotel cebu

henry hotel cebu library

Their second floor lounge with books, computer access and board games was perfect to get some work done, do some reading or escape the heat (and sometimes the brief periods of rain as we went during rainy season).

henry hotel fire exit

We also had a good laugh at some of the cute, stylish or witty signage. This fire exit sign is just one example!

Boutique Rooms, Unique Style

henry hotel x large mural

Since each one of the 30+ rooms are unique, we wanted to check out what some of the other rooms look like and got a chance to see an XL and XXL room and since our Large room seemed pretty spacious, we were curious just how much bigger the rooms could get!

henry hotel x large room

The XL room we saw was, just as it is called, EXTRA large and a uniquely decorated room in keeping with the uniqueness of the hotel. The mural on the wall happens to be a copy of one of Carolann’s favourite paintings, so she was extra excited when we saw it!

Henry Hotel Cebu XXL room

The XX Large room is two times the size as it has two rooms for up to four people and with the minimalist style continuing even here, is a very spacious suite.

The Henry Hotel – A Must-Stay in Cebu

lobby simpsons henry hotel cebu

True to boutique hotel form the property is unique yet makes you also feel at home. As you enter the lobby however, the added quirkiness makes you wonder if you’ve ventured through the rabbit hole and found yourself in an artist’s version of Wonderland. It’s a place where you can escape the city and relax in your room, enjoy some tranquility by the pool, indulge in some delicious food and take in some interesting artwork along the way.

We had a fantastic time at The Henry Hotel in Cebu and were excited to check out their Manila location and see a completely different style of boutique hotel of the same name.

 

the-henry-like-no-other logo

                 The Henry Hotel Cebu

One Paseo Compound, Ma Luisa Entrance Road,

Banilad, Cebu City 5000

Tel: +63 32 520 8877

Email: reservations.cebu@thehenryhotel.com

 

How We Slice It – A Guide to Pai. Part One: Where to Stay

 

We stayed in Pai for about 5 days. After the drive up (you can read about our drive to Pai here and our tips on getting to Pai here), we didn’t want to leave right away but we also didn’t want to stay too long as we had plans to meet, for the first time, our now friends the Wagoner’s, a travel blog family, and go on a Scorpion Tail River Cruise. Our time, while seemingly short, was pretty perfect. We hadn’t read too much about Pai and all we knew by way of others was that we had to go, so we kept our plans open.

walking street pai, where to stay in pai, drive to pai, getting to pai, pai thailand, where to stay in pai, accommodations in pai, best hotel in pai, best hostel in pai

The centre of town is a pretty small area of grid-like roads with shops, restaurants and accommodations almost completely directed towards tourists. And there were lots of tourists. We didn’t notice them so much during the day. The center of town really picks up at night when the walking street begins and the bars and night-time restaurants open. During the day, we presume everyone was out exploring the various sites around Pai. When the walking street does open, which is nightly around 5:30-6pm, the main stretch of road and several offshoots are brimming with street vendors selling what any good walking street in Thailand sells: food, souvenirs, clothes, handmade products, and more food. We found that, while every night seemed to be the same vendors in the same spot, we always noticed and found something different.

 

While the walking street is probably one of the more well-known aspects of Pai, we found there were quite a few things that made Pai a fun and interesting place to visit. We’ve put together our list of what we enjoyed in Pai including where to stay, where to eat, and what to do and will be releasing our suggestions in a 3 part series. Our list is based on our visit of only 5 days and while we had some pretty great experiences, we’re sure there is much more about Pai that would have made it on our list had we had the time.

 

Where to Stay in Pai

In all honesty, we only stayed at two places ourselves and both were right on the walking street. But we also heard some great reviews of a few other places from friends we made. We’ve provided a different suggestion depending on budget, preference in location and preference in style of accommodation.

On a Budget

If you are a backpacking couple or travelling on a budget we would recommend Walking Street Guesthouse. If you’ve been backpacking, this place is pretty typical of what you’d find in a hostel or backpacker’s guesthouse. We were able to book one night in a private room with a king-size bed and private bathroom for 200THB ($7.40CDN/$6.67USD). Now we’re talking barebones here. It was a concrete room, with a fan, a king-sized bed and that’s it. But it was clean, a good price and right in the middle of the walking street. Reception was also incredibly friendly and helpful and they have a restaurant which we did not try but was later told was amazing but another traveler we met in Chiang Mai.

Click here for more information and the latest prices.

Want A Full Guide To Pai And How To Get There? 

Affordable Luxury

SOi One Bedrooms, Soi One Gold Room, Pai Boutique Hotel, Best Pai Accommodations

Click here for more information on Soi One and their latest prices.

We stayed our last night at Soi One Bedrooms. We would highly recommend this boutique hotel should you have the opportunity. As there are only 4 rooms, it books up fast, it is a little pricier than a budget hotel or accommodations off the walking street. However, if they have room available the walk-in price is half. Either way, they are located on the corner of one end of the walking street and one of the main stretches of bars, have gorgeous rooms and still comes at an affordable price for the comfort, cleanliness and luxury of the property. Check out our post on Soi One Bedrooms – Best Place To Stay In Pai, you’ll get a more in depth look at why this is one of the best accommodations in Pai.

 

Outside of the Centre of Pai

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We did not stay at the Pai Vintage Garden Resort, however our friend’s the Wagoners did (photo above courtesy of them). About a kilometer out of central Pai, Pai Vintage Garden Resort is a peaceful and quiet getaway. If you are looking for accommodations in Pai that is a little off the main area, quieter and with an amazing view, this might just be the place for you.

Click here for more information on Pai Vintage Garden Resort and the latest prices.

Private Bungalows, Close to the Walking Street

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We attempted to get a bungalow at Pai Chan but they were sold out by the time we found out about this place. Friends we made managed to snag the last room, for a discounted walk-in price, and were not disappointed. Private, traditional bungalows made of teak wood, a large swimming pool and a restaurant that overlooks the rice fields and mountains are what we were told were some of the amazing features of Pai Chan. Since they are not too far of a walk from the walking street, this gives a great alternative to being right in the middle of the action. It’s good to note that since these are traditional style, your stay will be a little more rustic, with concrete bathrooms, open windows (wood shutters when you want to close them), mosquito nets and no air conditioning.

Click here for more information about Pai Chan and their latest prices.

Stay tuned for part two of our How We Slice It – A Guide To Pai when we list some of our top picks for where to eat in Pai.

Have you been to Pai? If so, comment below and tell us where you would recommend as a great place to stay. If you haven’t, comment and let us know which of these you would choose.

 

 

Swiss-Lanna Lodge – A Relaxing Retreat In The Middle of Chiang Mai

Pulling up through the gate to the Swiss-Lanna Lodge in Chiang Mai, we parked our bike and had just started to take off our helmets when we heard, from somewhere through the doorway of the dark wood house, “Sawadee Kah!” (hello in Thai). When we first saw Miss Toto, our host, she smiled and welcomed us warmly. Actually, every time we saw Miss Toto she was smiling and making us feel welcome and invited.

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She quickly ushered us through the doorway where we set down our bags and were seated on their patio outside for some iced Thai tea that had been freshly made and was wonderfully refreshing. It was nice to take a minute and relax, unburdened by the weight of our backpacks. Miss Toto took some time to tell us about their breakfast menu for the following day, and waited until we were done before showing us around the property. We noticed that they made a point of putting a welcome to their guests on the chalkboard by the patio dining area. It made us feel special and it was a nice welcoming touch.

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The Property – Traditional Lanna and Chiang Mai Style

 

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Walking around with Miss Toto we learned that the Swiss-Lanna Lodge, which opened in November 2013, has a total of 7 rooms decorated and furnished with Chiang Mai handcrafts and hand carvings. The house itself is traditional Lanna style and, while over 80 years old, is immaculately clean and organized.

Click here for latest prices and more information.

We were shown the three rooms that were vacant at the time. All three were on the upper level and had a shared toilet and shower. The upstairs also connected at a common area where people were able to sit and socialize if they wanted and the common area opened onto a rooftop patio with lounging mats and a meditation area. Peaceful and serene the dark wood and beautiful decorations made the whole space stylish yet warm and traditional.

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The first two rooms we saw were the Buddha’s room and the Artistic room.  Two of the four standard rooms, both have two single beds and are decorated with the same type of handcrafted and handmade decorations and artwork as the rest of the property. The Buddha room keeps the theme of it’s name and showcases Buddha-image artwork. The third room we were shown was the Elephant room, with one queen-sized bed and, of course, elephant inspired artwork. These three rooms share a toilet and shower down the hallway and are an affordable choice for two travelers or a couple looking for something unique with a rustic, but comfortable, style.

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Buddha Room

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Artistic Room

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Elephant Room

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Elephant Room

The remaining standard room, the Lanna room, has it’s own washroom and air-conditioning unit with a bunk bed and has easy access to the upstairs common room and patio.

We stayed in the Deluxe Pasha room, very much for couples, but the two other deluxe rooms offer options for those who are travelling alone or as a family. The Deluxe Majestic Tree room is more for single travelers with its single bed and the Deluxe Lotus room for families, as it has one king and one single. Both offer a private terrace, washroom and air-conditioning.

We especially liked the fact that there were common areas where guests could mingle or relax if they wanted and the patio by the kitchen was a great place to sit and enjoy a hot or cold beverage while reading or doing work. The front reception is also super helpful if you have any questions about the area or about any tours and will help in arranging them for you.

 Our Room – A Thai Sanctuary

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For years Carolann has been on the hunt for a hotel swan towel. Every photo you see, resort or hotel, shows a perfectly created swan towel perched on the bed. It seemed as though swan towels were just some piece of fiction only found in promotional photos…until Swiss-Lanna Lodge. Opening up the doors to our room we saw them. Two large white towel swans with a beautiful flower in between. You can see for yourself in the photo, but Carolann was more than ecstatic to have finally found her swan towels. It was one amazing start to one great stay.

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The Deluxe Pasha Room where we stayed was beautifully decorated, clean and fully equipped with everything we could need. A minibar, snack bar, safe, closet, robes, mosquito lamp, air conditioning and satellite flat-screen T.V. Stepping outside to our own terrace and lawn, we could access a private Jacuzzi and washroom “under the stars” which, although it was intimidating at first to do one’s business outside, we got accustomed to it quickly since  the bamboo fence provided more than sufficient privacy. The shower was also outside by the toilet and was hot with amazing pressure.

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The first of our two nights there, we honestly didn’t want to leave the room. It was way too nice and relaxing. We could’ve been anywhere in the world in this sanctuary of ours. We did end up going out the first night, sleeping in the next morning because the bed was so comfortable, and ended up missing our chance to order breakfast as it ends at 11am.

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The Kitchen – Delicious and Homemade

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That first morning, we slept in and stayed in our room enjoying the amenities for so long that we missed breakfast. The kitchen opens from 8-11am to serve a reasonably priced selection of breakfast items, homemade by Madame Lose, one of the ladies who help make the place feel like a home away from home, and Miss Toto. They had freshly made croissants when we got there and although we had just eaten and didn’t end up buying one, they looked and smelled amazing.

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We did end up having some breakfast the second morning and our meals were a great start to the day. We weren’t aware of it during our stay but talking to Miss Toto on our last day we learned that guests will sometimes purchase groceries at the local markets or stores and bring them to the kitchen where Madame Lose and Miss Toto are more than happy to cook with them and show them how to make Thai dishes. If we are ever back in Chiang Mai we will definitely be heading over to the Swiss-Lanna Lodge and taking them up on this great opportunity.

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The Patios – Open and Inviting

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Like we had mentioned the patios and common areas gave the space an open feel and were an especially great idea for those guests wanting to be social as well as those wanting a peaceful place to relax, meditate, read or work. We thought it was great that there were several areas to use for different purposes and it really made use of the entire property.

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Our own private lawn and terrace was wonderful. We sat on the terrace for a bit, drinking our iced coffee and tea we bought from the front and enjoyed the moment away from everything.  The hotel’s tagline is “A quiet and peaceful place of quality” and that is exactly what is achieved throughout all of Swiss-Lanna Lodge, but we especially felt it while sitting on our terrace and again while out on the patio enjoying breakfast.

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The Location – Decent and Accessible

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Swiss-Lanna Lodge is in a fairly decent location. It would be most beneficial to have your own mode of transportation, but they rent out bicycles and motorbikes if you don’t already have one. It is not too far from the Night Bazaar and there are several restaurants and a 7/11 within walking distance. We would recommend making use of a motorbike rental, either from Swiss-Lanna Lodge, or elsewhere in order to really explore the area and have the freedom to come and go as you please. The Lodge itself is tucked away in a quiet and fairly residential area. It was in a different part of town than we had stayed so we loved the fact that we could see a new area and try new restaurants.

The Service – All the Comforts of Home

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In talking to Miss Toto, who owns the Swiss-Lanna Lodge, she said that her and the staff strive to make it feel like a home, like a family, and that they always strive to make their patrons feel welcomed and happy and do better for them.  Swiss & Lanna, she said, are both known for good service and cleanliness, always trying to improve upon what is already there and that is the inspiration for the Swiss-Lanna Lodge. You can tell that they take this to heart. Always smiling and helpful, the staff go out of their way to make you feel at home. It’s obvious that cleanliness is of utmost importance and keeping it that way seems to be a constant endeavor. Not only do they help with tours and finding your way around the city, they also offer bicycle and motorbike rentals as well as laundry service.

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Whether you are eating their homemade breakfast or cooking meals with them, relaxing on their patio or rooftop deck, or renting a bike to tour around the city, the Swiss-Lanna Lodge offers all the comforts of home and the staff goes out of their way to make you feel like that’s exactly where you are.

 

Heading to Chiang Mai? Find your own peaceful oasis in Swiss-Lanna Lodge!

Click here for latest prices and more information.

Swiss-Lanna Lodge

Wat Ket, Mueang Chiang Mai District

Chiang Mai, Thailand

053-246-126