First impression. The Country Place Baguio, a former ancestral house, was built in the 60s and later on converted into three two-level country-style residences built on a sloping hill along Dominican Hill Road. We are booked in Residence 3, built adjacent to the street. It's light, bright and airy, making me feel right at home. Flooring and walls are pinewood, the living room sofa and chairs are all in refreshing white. The windows reveal a stunning view of foggy, pine tree-dotted Baguio City. Sunlight streams in during the day and at night you have a great seat in the house to view the city lights come to life. Living room doors open out into a balcony.
The living room has comfortable couches surrounding a working fireplace. There is a flat-screen cable TV with a USB port for attaching your hard drive to watch movies.
My favorite spot in the house is the sitting room with its all-glass walls, and high-back chair, perfect for snuggling in and reading a book, or enjoying a cup of coffee while looking at the lush garden and city views. The kitchen is fully equipped with cookware, cutlery and flatware for 10 people and leads to the dining area.
Room. The master’s bedroom has a comfortable king-size bed with six pillows, a dressing table and bureau, closets and a panoramic view of the hillside and distant houses. It has a bathroom shared with the adjacent guest room. The third guest room has an ensuite bathroom. All bathrooms have hot and cold running water. There’s no airconditioning, but who needs one when you’re in Baguio with an average temperature of 20 degrees celsius. There are electric fans and the windows are screened to keep insects out.
Food. The Country Place owner’s cook, an energetic 70-year-old lady called Virgiña, can go to the local market and cook two meals a day for you for a fee of P500 (US$11). She cooks Filipino dishes like beef steak, lomi noodle dish, stuffed fish, champorado (chocolate rice porridge) with tuyo (dried fish). When you book the house, you'll get an email with a menu so you can choose your meals in advance. On our first morning, breakfast was the usual heavy Filipino fry-up, garlicky longganisa (sausage) and sunny side up eggs. You can also cook your own meals and put the kitchen to good use. There's a market at the foot of Dominican Hill, a five-minute drive.
Activities. At the back of the house there are tables and chairs and a grill for barbecues. On a clear night, the staff can set up a bonfire for you. Roam around the compound planted to different trees and flowers and visit the greenhouse. A short walk leads to Lourdes Grotto where affordable souvenir and food items are sold. You can also walk a little further to check Baguio’s haunted Diplomat Hotel.
Service. Guards are on patrol 24/7. Staff members are ready to help you with any concerns, even during odd hours.
I like. The homey feel, the plants and flowers, the distinct layout and individual access door of the residences, the little essential details, from emergency lights, fire extinguishers, dehumidifiers, mosquito repelling contraptions, to night lights and the strong Wi-Fi throughout the house. I also like that it’s sizeable enough for a family or groups to comfortably hang out, and that there’s a transient house within the compound where the house help or driver can stay.
Not so keen. The street level house can be noisy because of all the traffic. You are better off staying at Residence 2 or the basement level Residence 1.
Verdict. Makes for a comfortable basecamp in Baguio, a nice quiet place for a staycation, far from downtown Baguio’s hustle and bustle. Recommended for families and small groups.
Each residence can accommodate a maximum of 10 guests (adults and children) and has a two-car park garage. Rates from P12,500.00++ per night.
Originally published in InFlight Traveller September to November 2016. Updated December 2016