Before you read this, you should know that I was not (and don’t hope to be) paid to blog about my experience in this new discovery. Whether you are Filipino or a foreign tourist visiting Manila, this might be of help.
After our week-long vacay in Northern Mindanao, we opted to stay for one night in the country’s capital, Manila. Of all the hotels available, we chose Kabayan Hotel. Not because we’re OFWs (Overseas Filipino Workers) but for its location (15mins to the airport and Mall of Asia).
True to its claim, the hotel is indeed a haven of overseas Pinoys. Many of the guests are either overseas workers who have just landed in Manila or those waiting for their flight abroad. Cliched it may be, the hotel is ‘home away from home’. Its facade didn’t look so appealing but once you’re inside, I instantly felt the ‘at home’ atmosphere. That’s at least what my entire family thought after we had been guided to the lobby. Everyone were so welcoming, a trade mark of Filipino hospitality. A hotel staff in long-sleeved barong (Filipino shirt) had met us at the airport and led us to their van which zoomed its way to Kabayan Hotel Pasay in just 10minutes-YES, on broad daylight!
At the lobby, we saw two pleasant Filipiniana-clad front desk officers who helped us with the registration. My wife had made the reservation online so we were expecting smoother check in, which was indeed realized.The frontliners were so pleasant and soft-spoken; they spoke Tagalog and English fluently. After a few seconds, the bell boy approached us and led us to our room on the fourth floor. From the lobby to the hallways and to our rooms, the interior design would really take you back to the Spanish era- walls, ceilings and furnishings were made of hard wood like Narra or tugas. Paintings and sculptures were also genuinely Filipino, depicting picturesque beauty of the countryside.
Our room was adequately spacious, well-sanitized (having worked for various food chains when I was in uni, I should know) and well-equipped. Apart from the usual amenities of a de luxe room- hot & cold shower, TV, wardrobe, clean beds and sheets, we were delighted that we had a huge window facing the MRT station although this may not be a good thing to other people. Also, the room didn’t smell like cigar (unlike many hotels we’ve been to in Vietnam, Singapore, Thailand or even the Philippines) and there was a mini bar! While in the room our kids were immediately glued on the cable TV and we parents, tired from the trip, took the liberty of dozing off on the comfy bed.
Apart from the very good accommodation, they had a coffee-resto called ‘Pinoy Star Sala’ ‘and a canteen ‘Pinoy Star Cafe’. Included in our stay were freebies: complimentary breakfast and lunch for two. The canteen offers genuine Filipino meals and specialties from different provinces at an affordable price- a lunch set of a viand, drinks, vegetable and unlimited rice was only at P110.00 ($2.75). The coffee-resto which was just right next to it was a more spacious and more relaxed area for intimate conversations. It has bigger and more comfortable furnitures and couches where guests could enjoy a cup of barako (Filipino coffee) and merienda (snacks) like cassava cake, mais con yelo, leche flan, etc. while watching through the glass window the busy EDSA and MRT station nearby or sports on flat screen TV mounted on a wall. The most striking features of these amenities were the decor (even the AC was painted to look wooden-like), the ambiance and the affordability of their food and drinks.
How secured was Kabayan?Well, just picture this: when you go out, the security guard calls the taxi for you. He tells the driver where you want to go and reminds him to use the meter. He then records the taxi number as the cab leaves. I don’t think this is the standard procedure everywhere but it certainly is in this hotel. For a family traveller like myself, this is among top priorities.
Lost and Found
We stayed for only one night and checked out the following day. The Hotel had a concierge which facilitated in keeping our luggage as our flight would be in the evening and the transport to the airport. While strolling on SM MOA, the biggest mall of the country, I realized that I had left my trousers in the wardrobe! I immediately phoned the hotel and the guy who received my call just calmly told me I could check it with the Concierge, assuring me that their housekeeping staff would endorse lost and found items to the in-charge. After a few hours of window shopping at the massive mall, we went back to the hotel to pick up our luggage and alas, my trousers, now wrapped in a clear plastic, were waiting at the Concierge! Apparently the cleaners did what they were used to doing and this gave me more reasons to tell my friends about this hotel. I mean, I had left and lost some stuff at a hotel in Vietnam and not retrieved them, and had to write to the Tourism board in Singapore in order to claim the chargers I had left at a hotel there. This could just be isolated incidents but God knows how thankful I am for my fellow’s honesty!
Family and friend were here too
Right when we were ready to take the van to the airport, a cousin spotted us at the lobby. Manong Louie,a technical senior at a telecommunication company in Cagayan de Oro, had just arrived from his work-related trip to Singapore and was checking in when he saw me and my family. ‘Small world’, we thought! Not just him, a friend back in uni days, was surprised to see us there too. Ambo, an international sailor, was on his way to the canteen when he spotted us. He’s billeted in the hotel while completing a training course in the capital. So you see, not only my wife and I know this hotel, our family and friend and maybe more of them do,too.
We left the hotel a bit late but as I mentioned earlier, it’s pretty close to Ninoy Aquino International Airport so we didn’t worry much. We checked in 2 hours. Before our flight and our last memory before flying was of Kabayan’s excellence.
If I were to describe Kabayan in three adjectives, I’d say:
Good value for money!