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
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
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.
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.
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.
Apt 1B – A Boutique Dining Experience
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Below: Compare The Henry to other hotels in the area and save!
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.
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.
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.
2680 FB Harrison St.
Pasay City, Philippines, 1300
Tel: +63 32 807-8888