Manila Hotel - October 2013

I'll admit it, I adore grand old hotels. The feeling of history, wondering who spoke with who, what whispers were uttered in the lobby and rooms - these buildings seem to breathe.

My intention was to combine these photos into a blog post about Manila Bay, but after learning the history of the Philippines first luxury hotel, I knew it must stand alone.  

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Celebrating its centenary last year, the Manila Hotel has been the host of war rooms, grand parties, a century's worth of international celebrities and was the location of key political turning points in Filipino history; the Japanese occupation, the seizure of the site during the Marcos' dictatorship, and of course the home of American General Douglas MacArthur for six years.

During his time as Military Adviser to the Philippine Commonwealth, MacArthur occupied the penthouse of the hotel. This has since been recreated with his original furnishings on the fifth floor. Not only is this floor a museum, but it's also a fully operational hotel room, complete with 24 hour butler service. 

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The details in this building were captivating - to the massive Doric columns in the main entrance to the palm leaf motif going through the stairwells... and the boardroom in the Presidential Suite was bigger than some apartments I've lived in.  

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The hotel has it's own "trophy room" if you like, filled with photographs and memorabilia collected over the decades. The Beatles, Ernest Hemingway and JFK were all guests, as well as HRH Prince Charles - there's proof! 

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During the Marocs Regime, First Lady Imelda Marcos was often seen dining in the Hotel's restaurants. Red carpets, garlands of flowers and perfumed air made the hotel an international destination for celebrities and politicians.  

Speaking of restaurants, the hotel has recently opened Cafe Ilang Ilang, complete with 8 cooking stations offering an international smorgasbord. You really can't fault a buffet where servers shuck oysters as soon as you order them, and even peel your prawns if you don't want to chip a nail.  

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Of course, even though the worst of rainy season is thankfully past, it poured just as i was beginning lunch. So... fingers crossed next time i can share with you the spectacular sunset over Manila Bay.  

JB x