It’s easy to spot MNL Boutique Hostel. Amidst the grayness of that side of Makati, the hostel’s lower facade is painted fuschia and green, bright, garish and glaring. This front wall, in sync with their theme of fiesta neon colors, is hard to miss. Before it are tables and chairs set on the adjacent pavement, where some guests choose to gather and share conversations about their trips, before and after this stop. One night in January, I was one of those guests.
WHAT'S COVERED IN THIS GUIDE?
Filling a Void
It was not the first time I had received an invitation from a company in Metro Manila that wishes that I try their accommodations. But it was the first time that I accepted. The reason I turned down everyone else was simple — I’m not really a hotel person. I have lived here in the capital for over a decade and I just could not see the point of a staycation even if it’s free.
When I was backpacking across Southeast Asia last year, I stayed at hostels most of the time. One thing that I realized was that we don’t have a backpacking culture in many destinations in the Philippines that is as strong as those in the cities I visited. Not even in Manila. Sure, there are a number of hostels scattered throughout the vastness of the metro but it’s not quite there yet. Whenever foreign friends who are coming over ask me for a hostel recommendation, I always find myself struggling to find an answer. MNL Boutique Hotel changed that.
The Common Areas
The place was packed when I arrived. Gonz, one of the business partners, shared with me that they had 100% occupancy that night. Pretty impressive for an establishment that was yet to throw a housewarming party. The couches at the living area were all occupied by backpackers killing time by watching Star Movies. A few were at the kitchen and someone was using the computer. Everyone was busy with something.
One could say that these spaces might be small but that’s what makes them more conducive to communication. It’s the kind of environment where players would be compelled to talk and be friendlier to one another, hence building a sense of community. It’s not easy to start a conversation with a stranger especially if you’re as shy as I am but I learned from experience that the design of the place helps immensely in facilitating the process. If you’re still too chicken to introduce yourself, well, there’s always free wi-fi.
Tucked in the far end of the room are the rest rooms. I loved the big mirrors, the sink, the pebbly floor, and just how squeaky clean and well-maintained they were.
After Gonz toured me around, he showed me the room where I would be staying. It was an air-conditioned four-bed dorm and I was assigned a bottom bunk (yay!). Each guest gets a locker and towel. It was not very spacious but good enough. The bed was very comfortable, the pillows huggy soft, and the sheets crisp.
MNL houses 12 rooms — male, female and mixed dorms, and double and twin rooms. I wasn’t able to check out the other rooms, though, because all of them were occupied.
MNL is situated behind A. Venue Mall. The area is littered with dining and entertainment establishments, and they’re not just many, they’re incredibly varied, too. In one corner is a Korean restaurant, a Pinoy bar in another, and an American fast food on the far end. There are also convenience stores everywhere.
Outside, on the pavement in front of the hostel, were another group chatting the night away. It wasn’t long until we finally joined them but not before we bought our own booze from a nearby 7-Eleven store. With a bottle of beer on one hand, we gathered around the table and got friendly with other guests, most of which were foreigners. We talked about Makati, Manila, and the other destinations in the country.
A backpacker told us that what he loves most about the Philippines is the local’s friendly and positive attitude. It is something that I think the hostel is able to capture and exhibit on their walls and though the owners’ gestures. The owners themselves checked on the guests and joined their conversations whenever they could. The hostel also holds Pinoy-style parties every now and then, showcasing the festive atmosphere that has always set the Philippines apart, and consequently makes the vibrant MNL Boutique Hostel stand out. That and the brightly colored facade.
MNL Boutique Hostel
Valdez St. cor. Santiago St., Poblacion, 1210 Makati
(02) 511 7514
Photos from the official website of MNL Boutique Hostel. There were so many people during my visit that I wasn’t able to take my pics. And I was having a blast chatting with guests I kind of forgot. LOL. And right, I was drunk, too.