Ho­tel High­lights

The new breed of hos­tels cleans up their act and gets rid of the dirty stereo­type once and for all

F&B World - - TABLE OF CONTENTS - Text by JANICA BALASOLLA Photos by RG MEDESTOMAS

Is it pos­si­ble to en­joy on a bud­get with­out com­pro­mis­ing on com­fort and safety? Hos­tels at­tempt to bridge gap be­tween cost and com­pro­mise

For­get ev­ery­thing you think you know about hos­tels. They’re grow­ing up, get­ting cre­ative, and even ca­ter­ing to other guests aside from back­pack­ers th­ese days. Some took cues from ho­tels and es­tab­lished a hy­brid of class and ca­sual, oth­ers show­case de­signed in­te­ri­ors and ameni­ties, while some stick to the tried and tested hos­tel ser­vice, all with the same cheap price com­pared to other kinds of ac­com­mo­da­tions. With more scru­ti­niz­ing guests and the pres­ence of on­line feed­back, com­pe­ti­tion among hos­tels have got­ten stronger, mak­ing them solid con­tenders in the hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try ver­sus other ac­com­mo­da­tions.

POSH SPACE

Trav­el­ers to­day have be­come more bud­get-con­scious yet dis­cern­ing in choos­ing their travel ac­com­mo­da­tions, par­tic­u­larly in hos­tels. They ex­pect some­thing more than just a bunk bed in­side a room full of snor­ing strangers; they want af­ford­able yet stylish places to stay, and in re­sponse, nu­mer­ous hos­tels have been com­bin­ing the look and lux­ury of a ho­tel with the rate and sen­si­bil­ity of a hos­tel. This gave rise to “posh­tels”, and they have been spread­ing through­out Europe and Amer­ica to cater to the back­pack­ers and busi­ness trav­el­ers since 2012. In Jan­uary 2015, Z Hos­tel was es­tab­lished in the bustling neigh­bor­hood of Pobla­cion. Iron­i­cally, the hos­tel stands where the in­fa­mous brothel Pala­cio ni Don Pe­dro used to op­er­ate, and while the man­ager ad­mits that they would still get in­quiries from guests who used to fre­quent the brothel, Z earned a rep­u­ta­tion as the first and only lux­ury hos­tel in the coun­try. Although it is pricier com­pared to the other hos­tels, guests are will­ing to pay ex­tra to en­joy the mod­ern ameni­ties like the so­phis­ti­cated lobby area, cash­less café/func­tion room, air-con­di­tioned rooms with en-suite bath­rooms, and a roof deck night bar which is a fa­vorite purlieu of party-go­ing lo­cals and for­eign­ers stay­ing in the neigh­bor­hood.

COM­MU­NAL CON­CEPT

What hos­tels lack in pri­vacy (like com­mu­nal bath­rooms), they make up for aes­thet­ics and chem­istry, which are op­por­tu­ni­ties that arise for so­cial­iz­ing with fel­low trav­el­ers in com­mon rooms and lounges. Af­ter all, this is what hos­tels sell apart from all the other ac­com­mo­da­tions out there. A few steps

out­side Z Hos­tel, Junc­tion Hos­tel is hip, artsy, and so­cial. Es­tab­lished in Fe­bru­ary 2015, this three-story build­ing is a vis­ual feast of quirky de­signs and fur­ni­ture, in­dus­trial-in­spired in­te­ri­ors, and hang­out spots for com­mon in­ter­ac­tion. Con­tem­po­rary rooms are avail­able to a mix of solo trav­el­ers, cou­ples, small and large groups of trav­el­ers, and even fam­i­lies. The young owner and staff run­ning the hos­tel keeps the place as it is. Trav­el­ers re­peat­edly check-in as they could just chat up the staff in­stead of book­ing on­line for a reser­va­tion af­ter es­tab­lish­ing good rap­port with them. The laid back am­biance in the hos­tel makes so­cial­iz­ing easy and less awk­ward, and Junc­tion Hos­tel’s vi­brant com­mon space tends to be a cre­ative co-work­ing en­vi­ron­ment which a ho­tel lounge is not. The mul­tipur­pose lobby serves as a café/co-work­ing space for guests, with a re­vamped food truck of­fer­ing drinks and quick bites for solo or shar­ing.

DRAWN TO LO­CAL

MNL Bou­tique has been in busi­ness two years ear­lier than the pre­vi­ous hos­tels men­tioned, and is one of the first that popped up in the metro in 2013. The team be­hind the hos­tel re­fur­bished an old two-story house and painted it col­or­fully on the in­side, while vi­brant pink and vi­o­let lines are painted out­side that catches one's at­ten­tion amidst the malls, restau­rants, and high-rise con­do­mini­ums sur­round­ing the place. Want­ing to let trav­el­ers ex­pe­ri­ence sim­ple lodg­ing that comes with no so­phis­ti­cated lob­bies or mul­tipur­pose cafés, MNL makes up for the au­then­tic back­packer ex­pe­ri­ence with a lo­cal spin; a true tam­bay ses­sion that hap­pens ev­ery so of­ten be­tween groups of friends. The own­ers of the hos­tel uti­lize ba­lut ven­dors and make for­eign­ers try the pop­u­lar street­food, with ev­ery­one gath­er­ing around a wooden ta­ble, hold­ing beers in hand; card games and lam­banog tast­ing nights pave way for lo­cals and for­eign­ers to con­verse and bond to­gether; the hall­way and rooms are de­signed with con­tem­po­rary Filipino art­works, and re­cep­tion staff are open to rec­om­mend tours that pro­mote the coun­try’s cul­ture.

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