MNL Boutique Hostel

Fresh out of the box, MNL Boutique Hostel is part of the new wave of hostels hitting Metro Manila. It just opened last January 15, but it is already getting rave reviews over tripadvisor. Founded by two Filipina backpackers and their friends, the place has everything you will need for budget traveling. The shared bathrooms and showers are clean and there are a lot of them. They have a nice kitchenette. Socializing is the norm, in fact they even have a BYOB night where you can enjoy evening drinking Pinoy kanto style (Filipino street style). This is the second hostel that I’ve been to that is right beside the A. Venue on Makati Ave., which simply proves that this area is by default becoming the second Malate type backpacker area. And now I’m on the hunt for the third hostel in the same area.

Anyway, I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves…

le front

le front

le kitchenette

le kitchenette

le bed

le bed

le sinks

le sinks

MNL Boutique Hostel
Valdez corner Santiago St.
(behind A. Venue Mall)
Makati City
Metro Manila

Hostel: 1 River Central

There are mixed dorms, too.

I always thought that that triangle bordered by EDSA, the Pasig river, and Rockwell, would be an ideal place for a hostel.  Not only is the area cheap, but it is near Power Plant Mall (my favorite), and near the Guadalupe MRT station, too.

Well it looks like I was not the only one who thought so.  By the edge of the river is now 1 River Central, a new hostel that is another good addition to our growing backpacker scene.  Walking distance from Power Plant and the MRT (I tried it), it is a great cheap and alternative place to stay from the traditional haunts of Malate and Makati Ave.

And at the price of 450 pesos, you get clean rooms, bathrooms, an open kitchen and rooftop eating area.  Being along the Pasig, might not have seemed ideal before, but with recent clean-up efforts, it is actually becoming a pleasant place to stroll along.  And it even has fish now.  (What kind, I’m not so sure, they’re just big, black, and kind of scary-looking ;) )

One drawback of its location along a main road is that it can be a bit noisy.  But the staff have earplugs on hand to sell you at cost.

One added bonus, is the hostel is also walking distance from the Nuestra Senora de Gracia church which was built in 1629!

1 River Central

1169 JP Rizal, Guadalupe Viejo, Makati, tel. (63 927) 368 200

450 pesos (9 US$) a dorm bed (boy/girl/mixed)

free safe in room, free wi-fi, includes breakfast

Where2Next Manila Hostel

beside Bedrock

The newest kid on the block (or blog) is the Where2Next Manila Hostel.  One can not get more central than this in the Malate backpacker area.  Founded by two Italian-Filipina sisters who grew up in Australia, the hostel has a real Australian backpacker vibe.  Spacious dorm rooms, big communal area, and huge lockers, it’s not surprising that this place has become a contender since it opened in September of this year.

spacious dorm rooms

big communal area

large lockers

 Where2Next Manila Hostel

1776 Adriatico St., Malate, Manila, Philippines, 1004 (It’s right beside Bedrock Bar.)  tel. (632)354-3533

700 pesos (14 US$) for a dorm; 1750 pesos (35 US$) for a private room for 2

150 pesos (3 US$) for bag storage; free wi-fi and open kitchen

Our Melting Pot Hostel

There is a new wave of backpacker hostels hitting Metro Manila.  The first is the first hostel I ever reviewed for this site, Our Melting Pot Hostel.  OMP  is now more centrally located.  It is right in front of the A. Venue Mall, on Makati Ave., with it’s slew of bars, shops and brand new grocery store. 

view of A. Venue Mall from Our Melting Pot's rooftop bar (still under construction)

OMP now boasts of two floors of private rooms and dorm rooms, an open kitchen, communal area, lockers and two roofdecks.

Ronald, one of the ever gracious owners of the place, has a menu of suggestions to offer you like how to take a boat to Intramuros or where to volunteer for different NGO activities throughout the city.  OMP also hosts Philippine cultural nights, gives free travel advisories to different parts of the country, and can even get you into the shoots of Philippine TV variety shows and watch it live!

Ronald’s mission is to show to backpackers, that Manila isn’t just a place to pass through, it’s a place to stay in for awhile. 

His staff (or even he!) will bring you personally on private tours of the Intramuros, Quiapo, and Binondo areas or bar nights at B-Side and Blackbird in Makati.  They can also teach you how to eat balut or prepare a proper adobo.  Ronald actually copyrighted the catchphrase “friendship included” and they mean it.

With Ronald, you can see, it’s not just a business, it’s a vision.  They plan to open branches in Tagaytay, Boracay, and Cebu by 2012 bringing the Our Melting Pot goodness to different parts of the country.

Our Melting Pot

4th floor, Mavenue Bldg., Guererro St. corner Makati Ave., Makati City.  It is right in front of A. Venue Mall.   Tel. (63)932-950-0255 or (632)659-5443

600-750 pesos (12-15 US$) for a dorm bed, 1000 pesos (20 US$) for a single private room, 1700 pesos (34 US$) for a double private room

50 pesos (1 US$) for bag storage, 30 pesos (50 US cents) per kilo for laundry, free wi-fi, breakfast included

Hostel: Bagasbas Lighthouse, Daet, Camarines Norte, Bicol

The well-run Bagasbas Lighthouse

You know you are going to come across a good hostel, when someone from that destination recommends it. And such instincts were not wrong when it came to Bagasbas Lighthouse in Daet, Camarines Norte.

Trailer rooms, an interesting place to stay :)

The first thing grabs your attention when you walk in, is the really awesome trailer rooms. BL is the first place I’ve seen in the Philippines that has rooms like these. And they come at a really cheap price, too. 1750 pesos per room. A bit more expensive if they are fronting the beach. Each room is airconditioned, has a flat screen TV, refrigerator, cheap minibar, and bathroom with soap, shampoo, toothbrush, toothpaste, and disposable slippers! They even have a programmable safe. They eventually plan to put dorm rooms, too, but these rooms are awesome for now.

Beside BL, they have Catherine’s, the hotel restaurant, which has really good Bicolano food. We noticed that not only do the guests eat there, but also the people from Daet, which is always good sign. This also guarantees that all the things on the menu are normally available. There is also free wi-fi here.

But the big thing in Daet is also the surfing, which BL can provide for you, too. 150 pesos per hour for the surfboard, 200 pesos per hour for the instructor, just make sure you book with the concierge ahead of time, because surfer dudes can be pretty laid back.

Anyway, they have a website at They accept online bookings, which can be very important especially during the high seasons of Philippine summer in April and May, and the Christmas season in December.

They also have islands tours. BL can organize them for you, and there is also this guy,, who has gotten good recommendations. Next time we’ll try to go to Calaguas island.

Just Daet!

Hostel: Casa Vallejo, Baguio

Baguio 1909

Actually not a hostel, but a hotel, the oldest hotel in Baguio, in fact.  Casa Vallejo would be the perfect waypoint on your way to or from Sagada.  Located at the top of Baguio’s Session Road area, Casa Vallejo is central to almost everything with many key commercial areas within walking distance yet at the same time it still feels secluded.

the most beautiful totem pole in the world, imho, lol ;)

And to make it even better, inside the building is located also the fabulous Hill Station restaurant and awesome Mt. Cloud Bookstore.

And the prices aren’t too bad, too.  They average around 2000 pesos a night for two.  And even as low as 1500 pesos a night during the low season.

Casa Vallejo website

Update: As if Casa Vallejo wasn’t awesome enough, they just added the first Cinematheque in the Philippines.  They screen Filipino (and hopefully foreign films) for free.


Hostel: Chill-Out Guesthouse, Malate, Manila

You know a backpacker as soon as you meet them, right away Olivier made us feel at home. He also had two philosophies about his place, “cheap rooms and clean bathrooms”, and so they were. Everything about the place was catered to the backpacker. Free wi-fi, being one of the most important, of course, but there were other things. One of the things I saw that was innovative was the “open kitchen” policy. There were lockers for food, where each guest could keep their stash, and they could cook and wash whenever they want. He also had a washing machine for laundry that you could pay per load. There was a free landline that you could use for food deliveries and other non-long distance calls. And there were maps everywhere, maps in the room, maps on the walls, and a whole drawer full of brochures that even I’ve never seen before. Plus Olivier had links to the French network all over the Philippines, so he could hook you up with trips to Bohol and Palawan, had a self-made map for trips to Sagada, and was particularly proud of the cheap dive packages he also had in Bohol. There were also big closets where you could deposit your backpacks for 20 pesos a day, if you didn’t want to lug them all around the country. And the rooms had lockers and there were even lockers in the hallways. Catered to the backpacker, Chillout Guesthouse can’t help but continue to be the sure hit that it is. In fact, they are planning to open a branch in Bohol itself. The invasion of the backpacker is imminent if not already here.

the food lockers

ze phone

a room

For their prices I will just direct you to their website at: or

Chill-Out Guesthouse

4th Floor, Lucky 888 Building, 1288 Marcelo H. Del Pilar Street, Ermita, Manila, Philippines | Phone Number: +63 (2) 450 8023

Hostel: Madrigal Dormtel, Intramuros!

I have a mini-scoop here. I found a dorm right in Intramuros across Fort Santiago. It’s called the Madrigal Dormtel. You’ve got to admit, Malate is a bit dodgy. So why stay there when you can stay right within the walls of the Walled City? Most backpackers will probably pop into Manila and pop out anyway so might as well stay where it is most convenient and near all the sites.

Located on Cabildo Street, Fort Santiago is just around the corner. This dormtel was just finished last June or July of 2010. It has dorm style rooms, four to a room. Common bathrooms and a common TV area. Girls are separated from boys which only makes sense because the rest of the building is for students. There are fast food stores also just around the corner to catch a quick brekkie. Water and wi-fi are provided daily for a nominal fee. And you can also have your laundry done (half-dollar a kilo).

What makes this place most awesome is that it cost only 300 pesos (6 US dollars a night). I know there are other places that are this cheap but none are this clean, tourist centrally located, safe with a friendly atmosphere.

Madrigal Dormtel
Cabildo Street, Intramuros, Manila
(near Manila Cathedral)
632 523 3629 / 632 523 0973
cellphone 63 917 582 1751

Look for Ms. Jenny or Mel

300 pesos (around 6 US dollars) for an a/c dormbed

Hostels: Malate, Manila backpacker area

So I finally went to the ground zero of the “backpacker” scene here in Metro Manila, Malate. We decided to cover three of the more famous hostels of the area, two said yes, the other one we are still trying to get in touch with.

The first hostel we covered was Malate Pensionne. Ranked number one in Lonely Planet, it wasn’t surprising that all the rooms were booked so we couldn’t really check it out. But from the lobby alone, we knew that it would be a great place. Made out like an old “bahay na bato” or a stone house, the pension has all the making of a classic Filipino house. The manager received us graciously, and the check-in area was nice and airy. There’s a Starbucks right outside the door, too.

If Malate Pensionne is filled up, I would like to recommend the Pension Natividad. We were greeted warmly by the manager, Jo, and she said, of course we can take pictures. It was a big hostel with lots of space and garden area. In fact this place is used as headquarters for all Peace Corps people visiting the Philippines. If I was a backpacker in the Philippines I would probably stay here. Great atmosphere, plenty rooms, and like I said, great manager.

space, lots of space

lockers, I love lockers

Malate Pensionne
1771 M. Adriatico St.,
Malate, Manila, Philippines

dorm bed w/ no aircon = 350 pesos (around 7 US dollars)
room w/ aircon for two = 1,400 pesos (around 28 dollars)

Pension Natividad
1690 M.H. del Pilar St.,
Malate, Manila, Philippines
5210524 / 5260992 / 5240811

dorm bed = 400 pesos (around 8 dollars)
room w/ aircon for two = 1,500 pesos (around 30 dollars)

Pension Natividad

Pension Natividad