Backpacker Haven in Manila: MNL Boutique Hostel

With its comfortable rooms, convenient location and hip vibe, MNL Boutique Hostel is an ideal place for backpackers to spend a night or two in Manila. The hostel is centrally located near Makati’s tourist center, right behind a mall, with banks, convenience stores, embassies and easy modes of transportation just around the corner. But what sets it apart is its fun vibe that just oozes with character and its mission to let travelers experience local Pinoy culture and hospitality at its best.

The colorful boutique hostel is owned and managed by travel buddies Maica and Celina. After backpacking together and on their own to numerous countries abroad (including Greece, India, Taiwan, Scotland & Ireland to name a few), they got inspired to set up their own place in Manila for backpackers to stay. “Even though we love traveling abroad to different places, at the end of the day, we still want to come and home and stay in the Philippines,” shared Maica. “Setting up this kind of hostel is also our way of helping tourism in the country.”

Maica shares that during their trips abroad, they got to stay in a range of accommodations including 10-bed dorm rooms where they got to interact with fellow backpackers. They realized that there was a gap for travelers looking for this kind of accommodation in Manila, so after some brainstorming and musing, they decided to set up the hostel. They scouted for a place, found an existing structure in a good location in Makati and went to work on renovating the place. With the help of investors and friends, they said “everything just quickly fell into place.”

The main structure’s facade is painted in a vibrant banig-inspired pattern reminiscent of the Department of Tourism’s “It’s More Fun in the Philippines” logo. Unfinished concrete and clean white walls inside are a canvas for splashes of color from the artwork and original paintings made by Gonz, a friend of Maica’s and Selina’s. The multi-colored stairway leading up to more  rooms on the second floor is just a piece of art in itself. There are also a couple of quotes on travel and Tagalog phrases painted on some of the walls.

MNL Boutique Hostel has 12 rooms (40 beds total), ranging from double rooms with queen sized and twin beds and dorm rooms with 4, 6 and 8 bed set-ups. While the double room I stayed in was basic, with just a bed, small counter and mirror in the room, I found the bed and linens comfortable and of hotel-grade quality. All of the rooms are air-conditioned and are decorated with colorful paintings that showcase Pinoy culture, which I found really cool.

There are no windows in the rooms, so it can get pretty stuffy if you don’t adjust the aircon to the right temperature (be sure to borrow the remote control for this from the counter). If you have an early flight or trip the next day, I suggest you set an alarm, because the rooms are just great for sleeping in. In fact, the next morning, I thought it was only about 3:00 am when I checked the time and couldn’t believe it was already 10:15 am.

Typical of backpacker’s hostels, all the bathrooms are common except for the 6-bed dorm which has an ensuite bathroom. For those who are finicky about having private bathrooms in their rooms, I have to say that the restrooms are really clean. The bathing areas have heated power rain showers, while the counter has several sinks and offers ample space.

Daily continental breakfast (bread, jam, coffee) is served from 8am to 10am in the self-catering kitchen area and pantry, where guests are expected to clean up as they go. There’s a common refrigerator and a water dispenser, so guests can save on buying bottled water. There’s also a common room with a couple of cozy couches, an HD TV, some travel magazines, a book exchange and a desktop with internet for guests to use. Of course, the place comes with free wifi.

Usually Manila is treated just a jump-off point for backpackers going on longer stays around the country, so most guests stay only 1-2 nights. The hostel also offers luggage service (P100/day) for those who just want to leave their huge bags while doing certain legs of the trip around the country (ex. spending a few days in Cebu or Palawan). Despite this, the owners still manage to make the visitors stay more memorable by letting guests experience what the city has to offer. Their COOL-Cierge and Tour Desk can hook up guests with different tour groups and guides, so visitors who want to take city tours, walking tours, day trips and PubCrawls near Manila can join easily.

They even plan events at night, such as lambanog tasting, street food sampling and board games and Pinoy card games to keep guests entertained. BYOB (Bring your own beer) nights is now commonly held and self-initiated by guests by the sidewalk. Though the hostel is currently still on its soft-opening phase (it opened just last January 15, 2013), the place has already attracted a lot of guests, and is quickly becoming a popular go-to place for backpackers in Manila. For the first half-month of Feb, they were offering a 50% off promo on all the rooms. Rooms are still being offered at 30% off until Feb 28. Aside from providing a clean and fun place to stay, they also offer 24/7 security and have no curfew. MNL Boutique Hostel will be launching formally with a fiesta street party on March 9, 2013. If you have foreigner friends looking for a place to stay in Manila for a couple of days, be sure to let them know about the place! [More photos here]

MNL Boutique Hostel. Valdez corner Santiago St., Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines (behind A. Venue Mall)

RATES:

  • Double. Private, queen bed good for 2 – P1,780.00
  • Twin. Private, 2 single beds good for 2 – P1,780.00
  • 2 Bed mixed, dorm – P860.00
  • 4 Bed mixed, dorm – P840.00
  • 4 Bed female, dorm – P840.00
  • 4 Bed male, dorm – P840.00
  • 6 Bed mixed, dorm, ensuite bathroom – P800.00
  • 8 Bed mixed, dorm – P650.00

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