First impression. As I walked into the lobby of Sofitel Philippine Plaza, what struck me most was not just the feeling of space, but more the welcoming scent of lemongrass, fresh indoor plants and flowers, and female guest attendants dressed beautifully in the Philippines' traditional national costume.
Check-in. I'm whisked off to the 10th floor, the club floor, for express check-in. Needless to say, it was quick, as expected.
Room. I'm booked in a luxury club room, furnished in contemporary style. Its star attraction is a private balcony with an enviable view of Manila Bay.
The room, decorated in bright earthen tones, is furnished with a kingsize bed with comfy feather pillows and white bed linen, and a toilet and bath with separate shower. I like the fact that there are ample wooden hangers, large-sized disposable slippers, and Lanvin toiletries.
Club floor guests have access to Club Millesime's library of DVDs and books and the club lounge for unlimited coffee, tea, premium bottled water and local beers; and strong WiFi from 6am to 10pm. You can have breakfast at the lounge (6am to 10am) and cocktails from 5pm to 7pm.
Activities. I enjoyed visits at Le Spa, where I had a great bespoke massage called Filipino Pride, and Nail Artisan, which offered some really relaxing hand and foot treatments. I strongly recommend Nail Artisan's Luxurious Manicure and Luxurious Pedicure. Sofitel has also partnered with aestheric center Vietura, a wellness and skin clinic, which offers all sorts of treatment to take years off your face.
And don't miss a swim at the hotel's lagoon-shaped swimming pool that overlooks Manila Bay. This is also the best place to watch the sunset.
Food. I often find myself going back to Spiral. The restaurants has 21 dining ataliers, each section manned by chefs. If you're a cheese person, start with a stop at the temperature-controlled cheese room for the widest array of cheeses in the country plus an assortment of cold cuts and pates. Then a stop at the bread station, while mulling over the overwhelming list for main courses, from seafood, to roast beef, to sushi and sashimis, and foie gras. Dessert and coffee are part of what you pay for.
Breakfast at Spiral is also a treat, with local food specialties such as ensaymada pastry and the street food taho (homemade warm soy, sweetener and tapioca snack) served by staff dressed in taho peddler's costume. You can also have good homemade yoghurt.
Service. Prompt, professional, warm.
I like. The glorious food, strong WiFi in almost any part of the hotel, the one-of-a-kind swimming pool and its Manila Bay view made extra special at sunset, well-maintained clean room, service, everything!
Not so keen. Few but no biggies. The lack of a Smart TV in the room; the guest room's door from outside showing signs of wear.
Verdict. The ultimate for staycation. Highly recommended.
Published room rates start from P8,843.76 (about US$197) for a superior room. Published rate for the Luxury Club Room, which includes access to Club Millesime and breakfast for two, P15,221.
Book your room at Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila.
Originally published in InFlight Traveller Volume 3 Issue 12. Updated September 2016