Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Staycation Chronicles: Hotel Benilde Maison De La Salle

With Manila being enveloped by grey clouds and drowned by the bustling sound of impatient cars stuck in traffic, one cannot deny the fact that summer's over. Just the mere difficulty of getting out of bed is enough proof. But there is one way to get me off my bed... that is to indulge in a staycation

Hello, Hotel Benilde Maison De La Salle.
If you frequent Malate or study at College of St. Benilde, De La Salle University, St. Scholastica's College or Arellano University School of Law, you must have noticed this tall white building at the corner of Arellano and Estrada streets. Formerly known as a convention center, this building has been renovated, redesigned and renamed as Hotel Benilde Maison De La Salle in 2014. 
The short drive way of Hotel Benilde does not have any shade so it could be challenging to go down when it's raining. But another option would be to proceed to the hotel parking lot on the 3rd floor and take the lift down to the lobby. If you opt to take the main entrance, take note that there is a short flight of stairs to the lobby from the drive way. Fret not as attendants are quick on their toes in assisting guests. 
We got to the hotel 15 minutes past 3 but we only got to check-in past 4 p.m.. It was the longest check-in we've experienced. Though we were told that they usually offer complimentary drink while waiting, they offered it to us after waiting for 40 minutes. 
When we finally got to our floor, it turned out that both of our room cards do not work. Thankfully, one of the staff was around and offered to have it changed for us. I took this as an opportunity to check out the gym which was right across our room. 
The gym is small but ample enough to have a quick workout. There's also a water dispenser on the side to keep guests hydrated. One thing that confused me though was the bathroom/shower area that seems to be for both men and women. I suggest that you just head back to your room if you want to shower. 

Our Deluxe Twin Room (PHP3,300, inclusive of breakfast for two at Cafe Romancon) is basic but complete with all necessities to keep your stay a relaxing one. Equipped with soft twin size beds, sofa, 40-inch LED Smart TV, work station and coffee nook, this room is spacious enough for two (or even three) guests. It also has generous number of power outlets to charge your gadgets. 
The bathroom is also spacious enough to put in your own toiletries. But if you forgot to bring your own, fret not as Hotel Benilde provides basic toiletries such as shampoo, conditioner, soap, lotion, toothbrush and vanity kit. 

I read somewhere that the mini bar's complimentary at Hotel Benilde. However, I think they removed that perk when we visited as the mini fridge was empty and there's a mini bar menu on the desk.
A friend of ours was also at the hotel and invited us over to try Vatel, the fine dining restaurant of Hotel Benilde. 
Situated at the roof deck, its al fresco area offers a nice view of the city. 
We were able to try its Grilled Chicken Salad (PHP350), Warm Brie with Fine Herb Dressing (PHP350), Braised "Diavolo" Baby Back Ribs (PHP385) and Salmon with Rice
All were pretty good and reasonably priced. In fact, all dishes are great for sharing. I wasn't able to note the price of salmon as it seems to be part of Vatel's new offerings. 
But the highlight of my Vatel visit was its delectable Cerveza Negra and Chocolate Ice Cream (PHP145). It had that delightful dark chocolate flavor with notes of malt from Cerveza Negra
If you prefer something more citrusy to cleanse your palate, I suggest you try Orange Vodka Ice Cream (PHP140). 
Hotel Benilde's pool is located beside Vatel and I heard that it could be also be reserved for private functions. So make sure that you check with guest services first if the pool is available to check in guests.
Don't let the pool's small size deceive you as it is 5 feet deep. Just make sure to watch over your kids if you opt to have them swim as there is no lifeguard on duty. Also, make sure to request for towels beforehand via guest services as no pool attendant is on standby in the area. 
R and I headed down to Cafe Romancon for dinner and the place was rather empty on a Saturday night. Perhaps it was also because we had our dinner at 8 p.m..

With its affordable price range, one could enjoy a feast without putting a dent on the wallet. 
We tried Three Musketeers (PHP250), Gambas Al Ajillo (PHP280), Cream of Butternut Squash (PHP130), Minestrone Soup (PHP150), Norwegian Salmon (PHP390) and Friesian Express (PHP350). We also got Watermelon Shake (PHP120 per glass), Cheese Tart (PHP225) and Sizzling Brownie (PHP225).
The Three Musketeers is your usual cheese sticks. Deep fried cheese sticks paired with what seems like thousand island dressing, it's a delectable treat to start your meal. 
We were a bit disappointed with the Gambas Al Ajillo as it wasn't the gambas we were expecting. The sauce was more similar with spaghetti. The shrimps were fresh though.
Cream of Butternut Squash had smoked bacon bits adding crunch and more flavor per spoonful. With a dash of salt and pepper, it was a nice dish to have to warm up the tummy. It would have been a lot better though if it was thicker.
Minestrone was chunky and something vegetable lovers would enjoy. 
R's Norwegian Salmon topped wit creamy leek sauce was lovely. Each bite was juicy and flavorful. The sauce beautifully complemented the fish without overpowering its light taste. 
The Friesian Express was equally good. The seared hanging beef tender with rosemary pan jus was succulent and went well with the potato wedges served on the side. There are some parts though that were slightly tough to slice.

We were excited for dessert after seeing the Sizzling Brownies being served on the other table. Served on a hot sizzling plate, the server poured milk on the brownie topped with vanilla ice cream. 
Sadly, it was not as impressive taste-wise. The brownie's texture was closer to a cake as it was rather fluffy than dense. It didn't taste very chocolatey too to go well with vanilla ice cream. 
I was expecting the Cheese Tart to taste better with its nice plating. However, the tart was quite off as it had more of a pie crust texture instead of the usual flaky crust. The ice cream was great though.

We headed back to our room after dinner and had a great night sleep after a refreshing shower. 
We had breakfast past 9 a.m. at Cafe Romancon and the place was still packed with guests. 
The spread was simple and there were limited options for viands--chicken, corned beef or daing na bangus. Other options were assorted bread, arroz caldo and crab & corn soup. For dessert, there were fruits and chocolate cake. 
Before heading out, we had a chance to tour two other room types-- Deluxe Queen (PHP3,850) and Presidential Suite (PHP15,000).
The Deluxe Queen has similar features as Deluxe Twin room. The only difference is that it has a queen size bed instead of two twin size beds. 
The Presidential Suite, as expected, is a lot more spacious. It has a separate living area and dining area. There's also a powder room which also serves as washroom for guests. 
The bedroom is equipped with king size bed and a walk-in closet. 
It's washroom also has a one-person bathtub and even a flat screen television to help your bath more relaxing. 
Upon checking out, we noticed that we actually have welcome drink coupons. We decided to claim it upon check out instead.
Overall, despite the minor hiccups, our stay at Hotel Benilde was lovely. It would be a great option for accommodation if you have any engagement in the area. 

Hotel Benilde Maison De La Salle is located at Arellano corner Estrada streets, Malate, Manila. 

Cafe Romancon Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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