I THINK staycations are a great way for us urban folks to enjoy a quick and easy vacation within the city. They allow you to still be within reach while they at the same time put you in a totally different environment that gives you a fresh perspective for the duration of your stay. So you are able to relax and shoo your stresses away.
I always look forward to a staycation with my husband Raff every now and then, and we made it more often recently because this summer season was exceptionally hot and the scorching summer heat is lasting way too long. Our latest staycation or weekend getaway was at Diamond Hotel Philippines, a lovely hotel along Roxas Blvd. Cor. Dr. J. Quintos St. in the City of Manila. It overlooks the Manila Bay, so if you’re lucky and you happen to be in your room at sunset, you’d get a beautiful view of Manila’s famous golden sunset. Well, our room wasn’t exactly fronting picturesque Manila Bay. It looked out to the formidable Ramon Magsaysay Center building that stands right next to the hotel, but the window of the room had a slant that gave us a little view of Roxas Blvd. and Manila Bay beyond it. There was no foreground for a photograph, though, so I dropped the idea of taking pictures.
I liked the room a lot, though, because it had just the right touch of color and prints against neutral white and earth tones to give it vibrancy and a ‘happy’ feel. The colors and ‘happy glow’ of the glass-framed floral paintings on the wall complemented the colors and patterns on the bed runner, the throwpillows on the couch and on the bed, and the drape curtains.
One other thing that I really liked about the room was that the hotel didn’t scrimp on the pillows. There were four full-sized pillows and three throwpillows on our kind-sized bed, and there were extra throwpillows on the couch. The work area was also cozy and conducive to work. I sank right onto the chair and worked on some articles on my laptop, and it felt as if it had been my work table for ages!
Take note, too, that while most hotels usually just provide two complimentary bottles of water to guests per room, Daimond Hotel provides two bottles of water plus two bottles of local iced tea and a three-piece pack of Oreo Cookies – free of charge. Quite generous. There was also an apple and an orange on the glass table by the couch.
After staying in the room for most of the afternoon, me working on some articles and Raff watching TV, we went out for a walk and got to Robinsons Place Manila, which was within easy walking distance – except that we took a wrong turn going there, so the route became longer, but going back to the hotel afterwards was a cinch.
As I mentioned in a previous post, one of the things that my husband Raff and I really look forward to when we’re on a staycation is the buffet breakfast that comes the morning after. At Diamond Hotel, buffet breakfast is at the Corniche on the ground floor. Raff and I went down for breakfast at around 8:30 a.m. and were surprised to see the restaurant packed. There was a line by the entrance, so we queued up, but it didn’t take the receptionists long to find us a table for two. The line didn’t let up even when we were already eating, so I could imagine how high the hotel’s occupancy was that weekend.
As we’ve gotten used to doing at home, Raff and I went for fresh fruits first. Then he had salad. Since I wasn’t in the mood for salad that morning, I went and made myself two small bowls of soups – one was a Cold Soba Soup, whose noodles were already placed in small bowls and all you had to do was ladle the cold soup into it; and the other one was Hot Miso Soup, which, again, already had its toppings in the bowl which was great for a full ladle of hot miso soup. I had wanted to have a noodle soup assembled for me at the Noodle Soup area of the Asian Station, but what was available that morning was Beef Noodle Soup and I’m not exactly crazy about beef.
Next, we went for hot dishes. I got garlic rice, scrambled eggs, fried danggit, a few pieces of sushi from the Japanese corner and vegetable dumplings from the dimsum station, where there was also pork siomai and siopao available. I was craving for daing na bangus and salmon sashimi that morning, but, well, maybe next time. As for Raff, he had Spanish sardines with his rice, plus a few pieces of sushi and spicy tofu from the Japanese corner. He also got a mini bibingka (rice cake).
There were also a lot of other hot dish selections, including breakfast staples like bacon and longganisa, and Corniche had a section for non-meat choices as well.
Breads were a-plenty, and so were pastries. Healthy breakfast selections, such as plain yogurt and flavored yogurt (orange yogurt and strawberry yogurt were available), muesli, parfait, cereals and milk, were available. There was also Orange Juice and Four Seasons Juice in carafes on ice, and what amazed me was that Corniche also offered vegetable juices – Carrot Juice, Tomato Juice and Celery Juice – something not usually offered in the breakfast beverage spreads of other hotels. Of course I went for Carrot Juice, which is my favorite.
And, oh, there’s strong WiFi in public places around the hotel, such as Corniche and the lobby, and it’s free. In the room, though, you’d have to budget for Internet connection if you don’t have a Pocket WiFi, WiFi Stick or Broadband Modem of your own. But you can always go down to the lobby to get connected.
(Diamond Hotel Philippines is located at Roxas Blvd. cor. Dr. J. Quintos St., Manila. For inquiries or reservations, call 528-3000 or 305-3000.)