The Manila Hotel
The undisputed grande dame of Filipino hospitality, the Manila Hotel has so many tales to tell, even Hemingway was impressed. “If the story’s any good,” he’s reported to have said, “it’s like Manila Hotel.” The Nobel laureate was but one in a series of visiting dignitaries, from military brass (General MacArthur took up residence in 1935 and left shortly before Japanese troops occupied the property in the ’40s) to Hollywood A-Listers (including Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. and Sammy Davis, Jr.) to rock stars (when the Beatles notoriously snubbed Imelda Marcos by accident in 1966, they stayed here). Of course, like many a society matron, the hotel has had plenty of cosmetic work done, including a dramatic renovation for the 2012 centennial festivities. So, while you can still stay in, say, MacArthur’s quarters (known as the MacArthur Suite), the bathrooms now come with Bulgari toiletries and the bedrooms with HDTV. Granted, there was little the hotel could do to improve upon the already amazing bay views, as you’ll see from the suite’s dining room windows.
By Abbie Kozolchyk, AFAR Local Expert
The Manila Hotel
My family and some friends were priviledged to spend a night in the General's Suite at the historic Manila Hotel on Manila Bay. This suite served as the official residence of General MacArthur both before and after the war when he returned as he promised the Filipinos he would. Steeped in the history of the World War II era, this magnificent 8-room suite still houses some of General MacArthur's memorabilia. It was like turning the pages of history to sit on the General's chair at his desk and to have dinner in the elegant dining room where the General frequently entertained his guests. Everything in the suite remains as it was back in the 1940s but the bathrooms and the kitchen were updated to modern standards. A 24-hour butler provides the kind of service the General would have expected. And don't miss the spectacular sunset view of Manila Bay from the balcony.