When on talks about pre-nuptial photo session– gardens, lagoons, beaches or parks are set ups that may come first into your mind. But Abby (my fiancée back then) and I opted for an indoor set up.
Why? First, the pre-nup schedule is set during the rainy month (July), of course, we don’t want to risk getting soaked up outdoor. Second, we prefer a classic and romantic theme. We dressed up like teens getting ready for prom! Since both of us are from exclusive schools in HS, we did not experience being in JS Prom!
We have two choices in mind – Manila Peninsula Hotel and Manila Hotel. She liked the grandiose staircase of Manila Pen, unfortunately they only allow photoshoot to guests, who also booked them for wedding reception. We have already settled our venue for reception months ago. So, we have to tick them off from our list.
We are left with only one choice and that’s Manila Hotel. A historical five star hotel located in Roxas Boulevard. Opened on 1912, this is the oldest luxury hotel in the Philippines. When Abby saw the pictures of hotel’s lobby and Champagne room, she really fell in love with it. So, we decided to go for an ocular a month before the scheduled session.
Indeed, the hotel looks more premier in real life. The lobby is elegantly designed with grand chandeliers and furnishings. It is also flawlessly lined with classic Greek column.
We checked out as well the other areas where we can shoot – façade and ‘Sea Breeze’ area (open area facing Manila Bay). They also showed us their Superior Deluxe room, which is furnished with warm and earth tones ambiance. Lastly, they lead us to their romantic Champagne room. It boasts luxurious European furniture, chandelier and table set up. Abby says, she felt like she’s in ‘Pride and Prejudice’ movie set.
To give you an idea how much it cost us, here is the breakdown:
Pre-nup Fee (this covers for the 5 hour photo shoot in the lobby, façade and Sea Breeze areas)
Room for a night – Initially, the hotel’s sales coordinator quoted us Php 5,000 to use their room for 5 hours. We told her that, we’ll just book a room online so we can use the room from 2:00 PM to 12:NN the next day (with free breakfast, of course). She later offered that she’ll give us the same rate for overnight instead of 5 hours.
Total: Php 13,000
I didn’t expect that I will spend a night here as I’ve always thought it’s something that I can’t afford yet. The usual cost per night here is Php 9,+++ but for Php 13,000 we were given the chance to use the hotel’s common area for several hours, spend the night and enjoy breakfast at their prestigious Cafe Ilang Ilang. I’d say you’re in for a treat once you decide to stay here for a night or two.
How to get here
Assuming you’ll be coming in from any area in Metro Manila, we highly suggest to take a cab or book through Grab or Uber to get here. There is no direct public transportation vehicle that can drop you off in front of Manila Hotel.
So what we did was rode a cab from their house in V.Luna, Q.C. We headed towards Quezon City Rotonda and traveled to Espana then Quiapo. We approached Manila City Hall then after a few meters from Intramuros we arrived at Manila Hotel.
Just a heads up, the traffic in this area is really terrible especially during rush hour on weekdays as you will be passing by the university belt and the same route to Divisoria, Luneta Park, Quirino Grand Stand and more. So you might want to bring a lot of patience. Please allot an hour or two for your travel time.
If you still prefer to commute, the nearest LRT 1 station here is the United Nations (UN) Station. But you’ll have to walk from there. You can check Sakay.Ph to know more about the commute route.
Upon our arrival we were warmly greeted by hotel’s receptionist. They immediately took our bags for check in. We then proceeded to the reception area for our reservation. It only took couple of minutes before we were escorted to our room.
By the way, like any other hotel, you’ll have to give a security deposit. This can be in a form of cash or thru wireless (credit or debit cards). This will and can be used just in case you have destroyed something in your room (intentionally or not), if you lost any non-complimentary items like – towels or mugs, if you stained the bed covers or blankets, if you consume something from their mini bar or if you ordered something from their restaurant. The security deposit is Php 2,000 (if I am not mistaken) and we paid thru credit card. This was credited back to my account after a week.
Initially, they’ve given us a room facing the Manila Bay area. But we indicated that we preferred the room facing Intramuros because we’ll be shooting already in the ‘Sea Breeze’ area. The process to transfer to another room was easy and fast! They also gave us another basket of fruits to compensate for the inconvenience.
Since this is a photo shoot, there are people helped us prepare: 3 hair and makeup artists, 3 photographers and videographers and 2 coordinators. The hotel attendants willingly assisted the makeup artist with their heavy makeup luggage. After the tiresome shoot, we ate at Shakey’s few meters away from the hotel.
We stayed in their Superior Deluxe room. Due to our hectic schedule on the first day, I haven’t had the chance to appreciate the beauty and elegance of the room. Imagine, we have to finish a 4-look photo shoot on 4 different areas in just 5 hours! Now, I know how print models feels! Just kidding. Haha.
Anyway once everyone got off and the room was left to us. I finally had the chance to look around. The room is very spacious for two people. We can play hide and seek! It has this old school vibe but also modern on some aspect. The LCD TV complimented the king size bed. Everything is in proportion.
The bathroom is spacious too! It has a marble bath tub that’s good enough for two and a separate walk in shower with enclosure. Abby loved the TV in front of the tub.
On top of that, the room seems sound proof. We can’t hear any noise from other rooms. When we woke up the next day there’s already a newspaper placed at the doorknob. It was placed on green cloth bag. It’s nice that you don’t need to ask for things. Everything is given proactively. It’s a nice feeling that every once in a while you’ll be treated like that – I felt like a king or something.
Breakfast at Cafe Ilang Ilang
Every time we checked in, we take our breakfast as early as 6:00 in the morning! We want to start our day as early as possible because it’s not every day we’ll get to experience things like this. So by 6AM, we headed downstairs for breakfast in Café Ilang Ilang. They served superb and delectable food choices! It was a buffet style and everything was delicious and tasty.
You can have your traditional American breakfast- ham, bacon, eggs, bread, juice and milk. Aside from that, you can also eat traditional Filipino breakfast like beef tapa, tocino, dried fish, salted eggs and more. You can also eat Chinese delicacies such as congee or noodles and various dumplings. There are also fresh fruits and pastries to choose from. This is highly recommended to food lovers as they will indeed enjoy the gastronomic feast. I can help but wonder what they serve on lunch or dinner. I’m assuming it’s as delicious as what we had experience. I’ll definitely go back here with my wife of course. 🙂
After which, we stayed and chilled at the view deck for an hour.
When we felt it’s getting hotter, we decided to go back to our room. We rest for awhile and started to pack our things. It took us sometime to pack because we brought a lot of wardrobe for the shoot. Now back to reality after hours of feeling like a king and queen. My wife wanted to stay or extend but unfortunately we can’t. After our checkout which also took couple of minutes a hotel attendant assisted in getting a cab. It was a quick and an unforgettable experience. We’ll be back soon!