A couple of weeks ago, I had a work-sponsored assignment to write about schools affected by typhoon Yolanda around Kalibo and Capiz. It just so happened that one of the days in the scheduled trip fell on a local holiday with no schools open and the people I needed to interview not available. Aside from the direct flights to Caticlan, Kalibo is a known gateway to Boracay, the most popular island destination in the Philippines. Boracay is not a place I am really drawn to, but the free time was too good to pass up. So, without any concrete plans, I made my way there to see how much the place has changed since I had last been there.
The last time I was in Boracay was back in 2001 (can’t believe it’s been that long!), and it was a bit of a shock to see all the new establishments, experience traffic and navigate through the hordes of tourists. During my stay, I realized that Boracay is not really an ideal solo trip destination. I’d probably have enjoyed my stay more had I been with friends. Still, it was pleasant to walk barefoot on the beach from station 1 to 3 and back, listen to live music over beer at Treehouse, and have a choco banana peanut fruit shake and seafood taco at Jonah’s the next day before I headed back for fieldwork.
Since I was traveling solo on an unofficial sidetrip on my own money, my only option was to stay somewhere affordable. I got to stay in MNL Boutique Hotel in Makati last year and loved the hip vibe of the place. I heard that owners Maica, Selina and Gonz had opened their second branch in Boracay. Thankfully, despite the short notice, I got a reply that they had one space in a dorm room available that night.
MNL Beach Hostel Boracay is a backpacker’s place located just 5 minutes away from the main road and D’mall in Station 2, and 10 minutes away from the white beach. They’re also just a 2 minute-walk to the Bulabog beach front on the East side of the island, which is popular for kiteboarding and windsurfing. The hostel is located in a tall building along Road 1-A. They provide 24/7 security with key card access and no curfew.
They are currently the only boutique hostel in Boracay. You get a mix of luxury comforts and the backpacker experience. What makes the place unique is the artsy and colorful vibe and shared spaces where guests can interact with each other. There’s a really cool mural of the beach and waves in the common area, which has a couple of cozy couches and an HD TV. The hostel provides WiFi for those with smartphones and laptops, but there’s also a desktop computer for those who need to check e-mail.
There are also a bunch of games, magazines and a book exchange for guests. If you’re traveling alone, you can sign up for island hopping tours with other guests, to save on costs. MNL Boutique Hostel also arranges nightly activities and socials. Check out the bulletin board for the weather forecast and different activities you can do around the island. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t too great the day I left.
The sun deck on the top floor is another nice space to hang out since there are a lot of beanbags and throw pillows on the floor. You can get a good view of the kitesurfers on the beach from there. Right below the sun deck on the 3rd floor is a kitchen with a ref and an airy dining space. The hostel provides free continental breakfast and coffee.
MNL Beach Hostel has several private rooms available in double (one queen bed), twin (two single beds) and a deck suite (One Queen Bed, with direct access to the sun deck and views over Bulabog Beach). The private rooms have ensuite toilet and bath, heated rain showers, and are all air-conditioned. I wasn’t able to see the other rooms since the place was fully booked, but Two2Travel has a great review and photos of the place. The dorm rooms are available in 4, 6, 8-bed mixed, 6-bed female only with air-con and 8 and 10 bed fan.
I really liked the design of the dorm rooms. The beds are arranged pod-style, with walls in between the bed bunks, so you feel like you’re in your own private cocoon. Each pod has built-in facilities like a personal socket, lamp and ledge so you can charge all your gadgets during the night. There’s also a small locker underneath the bed space so you can stash your valuables.
Like the rooms in their hostel in Makati, all the beds here (including those in the dorm rooms) make use of very comfortable 8.5 inch spring mattress, hotel grade linen and pillows and comfy duvets. The people checked into dorm rooms have access to the common toilet and bath with heated rain showers. Bath towels and beach towels are provided (but you need to bring your own toiletries).
WHY YOU SHOULD CHECK IN
With bed spaces starting at P600/night (off-peak season), MNL Beach Hostel is an affordable option for solo travelers and backpackers heading to Boracay. The place seems very popular with international tourists and budget travelers. For full details and rates, check out their website.
ADDRESS & CONTACT INFO:
MNL Beach Hostel Boracay. Road 1-A, Bulabog, Boat Station 2, 5608 Boracay, Aklan, Philippines
- Tel. no: +639982205700, +639177022160
- Website: MNL Beach Hostel Boracay
- Facebook: MNL Beach Hostel Boracay
- Email: email@example.com
- Rates vary per room, peak/off-peak season, and if you choose to stay in a room with aircon or fan
- Private twin, double and deck suite rooms range from P750-P900/day
- 4, 6, 8 & 10 mixed shared/dorm rooms range from P600-P700/day
- For prices and availability of rooms, click here.