Manila can wait
With a butler at beck and call and the skyline of the capital of The Philippines viewed through panoramic windows from our 10th-floor suite, this high-ceilinged abode feels pleasantly disconnected from the hectic streets below. There are concealing plantation shutters, polished hardwood floors, panelled walls and patterned rugs and, thanks to the identifiable Raffles branding, a pleasant sense that Singapore has quietly upped and moved to Manila.
In the heart of the Ayala Centre district, Raffles Makati is all about comfort and colonial-chic style. Less showy than its five-star competitors, and with impeccable service and attention to detail, you can rely on the Raffles reputation to deliver privacy, prime location and a luxurious sense of space.
With just 32 suites, the relatively small scale is a definite plus. Accommodation is on the ninth and 10th floors of the 30-storey Fairmont tower complex, which houses 237 private residences and sister hotel Fairmont Makati, with 280 guestrooms. You won’t, however, be bumping into other residents as Raffles Makati has a separate lobby and dedicated swimming pool. The cut-above suites feature a dining area complete with generously stocked coffee machine and minibar, bedroom with walk-in wardrobe and marbled bathroom. There’s little sense of traditional local design elements but, in keeping with its dedication to the arts, the hotel features more than 1000 commissioned artworks across the property, all by local artists and blending seamlessly into the understated decor.
Although my wife and I are right in the middle of the best shopping district in Manila, it’s just too tempting to stay put. After a good buffet breakfast at Fairmont Makati’s busy Spectrum all-day diner, surely it’s time to head to the malls? Not just yet. Willow Stream Spa is calling and a couples massage awaits. On the menu today is the traditional Filipino Hilot body and feet treatment, a combination of Swedish and shiatsu massage techniques using virgin coconut oil and aromatherapy. It’s 90 min- utes of coconut-perfumed heaven; then a spot of relaxation in the eucalyptus-scented steamroom followed by a dip in the ninth-floor pool, a snack and a snooze in a canopied lounger.
Shopping now, asks my wife? She points out there is a private underground walkway with access to nearby arcades. No, it’s time to freshen up and head down to the Writers Bar, a modern interpretation of the Singapore original. As much library as bar, this elegant space with resident pianist offers afternoon tea (sandwiches, warm scones and cakes), to be savoured while browsing a collection of classic novels.
With afternoon tea over, it’s almost dinner time, but complimentary canapes and cocktails await at the Long
Access to entire hotel with modified suite available.
The Writers Bar in the lobby includes a well-stocked library. The hotel also runs an “Authors in Residence” program, wherein well-known writers hold private readings for guests, and it hosted the 2014 Philippines Literary Festival, attended by Amy Tan.
The city’s best boutiques are minutes away at the Greenbelt Shopping Centre; also nearby is Ayala Museum, where the exhibition Philippine Gold: Treasures of Forgotten Kingdoms is on until January 3.
A lack of public transport options in this precinct means taxis are required for exploring further afield.
Afternoon tea at the Writers Bar is a must, as is a treatment at Willow Stream Spa, open to 11pm.
The main lobby, Raffles Makati, Manila, top; the hotel pool, above left; the Long Bar, above; and colonial-chic suite, left