Room for In­spi­ra­tion

This new hos­tel in San Juan, La Union is sleek, chic, and ut­terly cool

Real Living (Philippines) - - Real Living - pho­tog­ra­phy MICHAEL AN­GELO CHUA styling DAGNY MADAMBA & KAMILA GAR­CIA words SUN­SHINE SELGA FUNA

VES­SEL HOS­TEL: TROP­I­CAL MIN­I­MAL­IST. This mod­ern hos­tel in La Union is made pri­mar­ily of re­pur­posed con­tainer vans and up­cy­cled wood pal­lets.

Not all hos­tels are cre­ated equal. While most of­fer the very ba­sic of ac­com­mo­da­tions, some, like Ves­sel Hos­tel, pro­vide a few ex­tras that spell a lot of dif­fer­ence.

Cou­ple Buji and Nikki, both ar­chi­tects and pro­fes­sional surfers, thought of es­tab­lish­ing Ves­sel Hos­tel when they no­ticed the lack of lodg­ing in the boom­ing surf town. Hav­ing their house on the same lot (see their home on p. 30) made it easy for Buji and Nikki to pur­sue their plans. The chal­leng­ing part, though, was haul­ing the ma­te­ri­als over from Metro Manila and mak­ing sure ev­ery­thing went ac­cord­ing to plan.

Ves­sel, a four-storey struc­ture, is made pri­mar­ily of re­pur­posed con­tainer vans and up­cy­cled wood pal­lets. A friend supplied the con­tainer vans, which were stacked on top of each other by a crane the cou­ple hired from Manila. Buji and Nikki had to shuf­fle back and forth from Metro Manila to La Union, some­times lug­ging wood pal­lets in their car.

Buji’s love of the min­i­mal­ist Ja­panese design in­spired him to dress the hos­tel in the same clean but prac­ti­cal style. The lodg­ing’s no-fuss in­te­ri­ors are lined with light-col­ored wood, punc­tu­ated with in­dus­trial lights and a few pops of col­ors: a printed sofa by the stairs land­ing on the third floor, a hand­ful of vin­tage prints from Uvla (in Cubao X), and some pot­ted greens. “It’s very sim­ple but time­less. Walang clut­ter, very calm­ing and

peace­ful,” ex­plains Buji, to which nikki adds, “Ev­ery­thing is func­tional.”

Buji ad­mits to be­ing very metic­u­lous, and his at­ten­tion to de­tail is clearly ev­i­dent when you see the rooms. In­stead of the usual steel bunk beds that are a dime a dozen in most hos­tels, Buji and nikki went for wooden bunks, adding a few more ex­tras for con­ve­nience: each bed has its own makeshift desk for when guests need a work­ing space. Elec­tric sock­ets are ev­ery­where—even by the head­board—so you can recharge your gad­gets within reach. At the bot­tom of each bed are pull-out stor­age

draw­ers that can be pad­locked for se­cu­rity. “Si nikki kasi, ang hilig niya mag-travel. Lagi din siyang nagse-stay sa hos­tels abroad... Nag­tatanong ako sa kanya kung ano bang

hi­na­hanap ng mga back­pack­ers at saka mga guests sa hos­tels,” Buji says.

Aside from be­ing a tem­po­rary home to tourists, Ves­sel Hos­tel also serves as a per­fect ex­am­ple of what proper space plan­ning can do. “I re­ally wanted to share with peo­ple na kahit maliit lang—it’s a small box—but it’s how you design the area to make it feel big pa rin,” re­lates Buji.

The airy din­ing area on the top floor faces the roof deck. Here, you get a view of the moun­tains that sur­round the hos­tel and the sea across the street. It’s no sur­prise the cou­ple picked this as one of their fa­vorite spots.

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