21 February 2013

Discovering Chinese New Year at Ramada Hotel - Chinatown, Binondo

Chinatown in Manila will always be a curious place. It's a good adventure to walk along Ongpin and find bargain food, bargain feng shui, bargain fruits, etc. You name it, they have it.

 Amazing chaos and photobomb in Chinatown haha

One thing that holds me back from going is the hassle of traffic and the thought of not having a comfy pitstop to rest tired feet. One week before Chinese New Year, my partner announced that we're staying in Binondo - and beside Binondo Church.

The hotel is called Ramada, I googled it quickly and could not imagine something fancy like this can be had in Chinatown. Indeed it was a stone's throw away from the iconic Church, in fact- the Church's medieval dome was beside our window.

We stayed in the 9th floor, an executive room with a king sized bed. The room exceeded my expectations from all levels. Everything looked spick and span, the bed looked very fancy with the turtle-shaped towel arrangements and with little surprises for guests.

There were some tikoys and peanut bars for us to enjoy while we acquiant ourselves with the room.

A little work corner was available, and like many of the furniture - it was ergonomically placed in a quiet corner.

The TV looked shiny and new, flat screen and mounted on the wall. I don't like huge TV sets encased in old furniture. They take a lot of space in small hotel rooms. Ramada knows better.

The bathroom was immaculate, roomy and functional. My eyes feasted on the generous toiletries, and look - a bidet! Both a bath tub and a shower room were available separately. The most interesting things would definitely be the glass window between the bedroom and the bath room.

This made the room look even more spacious and provided some comic moments to me and my partner. Of course, there's a blind you can turn to conceal one side and to enjoy your privacy.

From our room, I can easily look down at Ongpin St. There were dragons, lions, and fire breathers. I feel like Wendy in Peter Pan.

But more important to me than Chinese New Year is the flea market. My target was 168 mall where wholesale stuff are available and retail are at a big fraction of a price from malls.This shopping mecca is just a 5 minute walk from the hotel. As with other places, be careful when walking the streets of Binondo. Best to have someone with you at all times.

If you want something more posh to match your Ramada stay, there's the newly opened Lucky China Town Mall. No flea market here, just luxurious brands and diners that can easily spoil your desires.

After all the walking and shopping, it always felt like heaven to retreat to our bed. It was five star quality and everytime, we hesitate to get up from it. I had a good night sleep and woke up at 9AM. Almost late for the breakfast buffet.

Breakfast was simple and straight forward. Choices are limited but maybe this is how it is in Chinatown. There's dumplings, pancit, and siopao for breakfast. If you want pancakes, bacon, and eggs - those are available too. If you want to have brunch, there's rice and some viands like adobo and century egg. It was an interesting buffet after all.

The dining area was cozy, it felt more like a private restaurant without the ruckus of breakfast buffets. TLC was on cable TV which was mounted strategically on a wall. I felt both at home but with the luxury busy people will appreciate.

Not to forget, the staff are warm, friendly and looked smart. As if they are waiting for you to ask something, and when you do - they immediately get it done. They also took us around to discover Binondo.

Ramada Hotel provides a welcome contrast to Chinatown. Outside it's all busy and can get chaotic but at Ramada, you can expect privacy, comfort, and reasonable luxury. Something I will recommend for everyone to experience and discover. There's no better way to explore Chinatown than with Ramada.

05 February 2013

2013 at EDSA Shangri-la Hotel

The tradition I've started carried on and we spent another auspicious New Year at EDSA Shangri-la Hotel. Our stay here is always fantastic, hence we can't help but always return.


We checked in early on 31st December. I make it a point to be early and organized when checking-in. You can expect chaos at around 2pm when everyone is rushing to be settled in their bookings. Since I was early (and nice), our room was ready around 12.30pm so we had plenty of time to rest.

My family and relatives are celebrating with us so we booked a total of 3 rooms, two of them connecting. Perfect for a small in-room NY party.


After resting, we got to enjoy the resort right away. Again thanks for the early check-in. It was my first time to swim here and it was so much fun! The pool is well-kept, lots of lifeguards and guards to ensure everyone is safe and properly dressed.

Kids are given life vests which is a super plus. My niece enjoyed swimming without the fear of sinking! The pool was as still pristine the next day, even after the New Year celebration. My partner and I also dined at the pool side before checking out the next day.

We ordered some ravioli and char kway teow. Bar service took a while, food arrived like after 45 minutes but it was okay. It is the new year after all.

Back to day one, we just had dinner at Shangri-la mall. Hotels that are walking distance from malls are a major plus. We'd love to dine at HEAT but when you're with a toddler, it's hard to make the most out of your buffet.

Come midnight, we could see a fantastic view of fireworks from our room. Really enjoyed all of them minus the smoke. We actually saved a lot of money by having our mini-party here instead of the hotel's ballroom.

My sister Joni bought this New Year cake which was a perfect mood setter and my sister in law, Michelle brought some bubbly. Perfect!

We all had the best celebration but wait, there's more. And I'm talking about the buffet the morning after!

As usual, choices were impressive and almost paralyzing. We also got to dine in their private area because of our head count. I managed to eat Lechon for breakfast too :)

Lunch time was room service, a bit expensive for the taste and delayed arrival of the food. Although the malls are closed so we didn't have a choice. 

We requested for a late checkout at 2pm which was granted and in time for the car service. All cars had wi-fi and a fancy looking driver.

All in all, it was another well-spent stay at The Shangri-la and we all can't wait to come back again. Maybe next time we'll remind ourselves to bring more food! :)

See you again next year!