Manila Hotel Guide

Even though i have already traveled extensively throughout southeast Asia, the Philippines remains one of the places i have the least experience with. I've been to Cebu already, and had a wonderful time at the Shangri-La Mactan resort, but other than that i still have so many places that i haven't been to yet. One of these is Manila, the nation's capital, and a must stop for anyone who's planning on a vacation in the country.

This is why i asked my friends at to help us out by writing a quick guide that'll serve as an overview of the hotel scene in Manila. These guys are expats who have been living in the Philippines for years now, and recently decided to open a boutique travel agency. They did it to help out people who prioritize luxury and comfort, since tourism in the country is underdeveloped, information isn't easy to find, and most hotels are bonafide tourist traps. You can check out their detailed reviews of Philippines hotels here, or read below to get a quick overview of accommodation in Manila alone.

Best locations to stay at

Manila is a huge city and so there are quite a few areas which are recommended for tourists, but the best one is without a doubt Makati City. This is the business district and one of the better developed places in the whole country, as well as the most popular tourist zone in the city. Aside from having a large selection of shops, restaurants and bars, Makati's main appeal is how safe it is. Tourists go there since it's a place where you can pass through a dark alley in the middle of the night without having to worry too much.

The main downside of staying in Makati is how busy the city is. There are a ton of people living and working there, so it's noisy and traffic is horrible. If you like staying at the center then Makati is a great choice, but for those who seek a quieter experience, staying at the Manila bay area is a good alternative. Manila bay is home to some of the most luxurious hotels in the city, and the views are stunning, especially during sunset. The problem is, aside from the huge Mall of Asia, there isn't a whole lot of things to do in that area, especially during the day.

Pasay is a good choice for those who only have a single night in Manila and wish to stay as close as possible to the airport. Most hotels there are budget oriented, but there's also the Shangri-La Edsa and Marriott, both of which are 5 star establishments. Backpackers and budget travellers go to Pasay or Malate usually. While Malate isn't the safest or most pleasant place to be at, especially at night, the night life is great and you are close to everything.

Luxury hotels in Manila

As mentioned, most high end hotels are concentrated at either Manila Bay or Makati. Since these can all be quite costly, It is important to do your research well first. Many of the popular 5 stars hotels in the Philippines aren't really what they claim to be, and don't meet international standards. If you are well travelled and used to staying at such hotels, good chance the ones in Manila won't meet your expectations.

If you prefer the bay area, a safe bet would be to stay at one of the casinos. City of dreams has 3 different hotels at its compound: Hyatt, Nobu and Nüwa. They are all fantastic, but the Solaire casino and resort is even better – it's quite possibly the best hotel in the Philippines. Solaire is one of only a few hotels in the country to recive a 5 star luxury award from Forbes magazine. In Makati, the list of 5 star hotels is virtually endless. Be careful though, since many of these have seen better days and in dire need of renovation. Such is the case with the Peninsula, one of the most overrated hotels in the country. It must have been a wonderful place to stay at 20 years ago, and there are still a lot of fantastic features there, such as the service and grandiose lobby area, but nowadays there are simply better options available.

Out of which, the most recommended Makati 5 star hotel are the Fairmont and Discovery Primea. Both offer excellent return for your money, and are located close to everything. There's also a Shangri-La there, which is always a safe bet. If you want to travel in style, but also looking for a good deal, check out the I'M Hotel. Since it was only recently opened, they are offering very competitive rates – it's the only 5 star hotel where you can stay at for 100$ a night or even less.

Mid range accommodation

If you want to stay at a 4 or 3 stars hotel, the best place to do so is also in Makati. The reason is this is where you will find the best deals, while also staying at the most convenient spot for tourists. Average nightly price should be around 70$ and 40$ for 4 and 3 stars respectively.

Out of the many available options, the ones which stand out in our opinion are City Garden and St.Giles. They are both centrally located and extremely affordable, albeit they might be too close to the nightlife area for your liking. If you like a more quiet place that's still in Makati, try looking for hotels close to the Greenbelt mall instead. Over there most accommodation is serviced apartments, which can also be a nice solution for those who want to have a very pleasant stay without spending too much.

Lastly, the Red Planet chain of hotels is always a safe bet. It's by no means a luxury hotel, just your standard 3 stars establishment, but the prices they offer are always very competitive. Moreover, you can always be assured you will get more than what you paid for. The good thing about Red Planet is they have branches in virtually every area of Manila, so if you prefer to stay outside of Makati this is where you should go.

Best budget options

While there are many hostels and guesthouses in Makati, they are usually either not good or too expensive considering what you get in return. The few good ones, like Z hostel for example, are more of a boutique style accommodation with a cool vibe to it. While this is a great option for young people and solo travellers who want to mingle, it's not the best choice for those who have a strict budget.

For those, the best choice would be to stay in Malate. There are plenty of cheap hotels there, and standards are quite good. It's also very close to Rizal park, the old city and the Manila bay – the city's most popular attractions during the day. At night, Malate offers some of the best nightlife in the city. Just make sure you stick to the more crowded, well lit streets and don't go by yourself.

The best thing about Malate is you can stay at even a 3 star hotel and only pay 25$ a night. Such places include the aforementioned Red Planet, and also the Hop inn hotel. For less, there's an endless list of hostels and guesthouses you can look at, most of them are clean and decent. Our top pick out would be the Tambayan Capsule hostel, thanks to its stellar reputation and excellent location.