The New Conrad Hilton in Manila
The 5* Conrad Manila is a new hotel that opened mid July 2016 with 347 rooms. I quite like staying in new properties because they try their hardest to make their clients happy, the prices are typically cheaper as it’s during ‘soft opening’, and they want happy customers to talk about what a great experience they had.
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Yes, there are still some areas that need to be finished. They need to add a few more warm touches, like books in the library area, and plants/greenery. But once this is complete, it will be a Conrad on the standards of the others. That also means I won’t be able to afford it. I love affordable luxury and finding a new hotel opening is one way to do that.
To be honest, there are some great mid-range and budget hotels in Manila to choose from, and with the changes I’ve seen in Manila I wouldn’t hesitate to try any of them.
Book the Conrad today!
Conrad Hilton Manila Restaurants
The Conrad has two restaurants: Blue China, headed up by celebrity master chef Jereme Leung, offering a modern take on traditional Chinese cuisine, and the Brasserie on 3, which is the main restaurant. China Blue has quite a selection of dim sum in the $4-6 range. The menu at the Brasserie on 3 is quite comprehensive of Western and local tastes. The decor in the Brasserie is very ‘woody’ and the musical atmosphere is a bit Buddha Bar, Lounge, Balinese, and Middle Eastern. Has a good vibe, but the hotel was still pretty quiet, which means I had five waiters helping me at any one time.
I enjoyed a delicious starter of fine organic crisp greens, cherrie tomatoes, artichokes, and mushrooms. The main was Gambas Aioli, shrimp with red chilis, garlic and paprika. I added garlic rice as a side. Actually the prawns came soaked in their oil and the rice just seemed to absorb it. It tasted a bit like greasy garlic rice, so I’d probably not order that again. But the prices were reasonable for a Conrad. Salad was @$7 and $11 for the Gambas, The Italian white Trebbiano was $6 p/glass. Wine overall is quite a premium in the Philippines.
They have a excellent menu of fine cuts of western beef, organic chicken, salmon and tuna, to more local varieties of Black Lapu Lapu, Kinilaw, which is an ancient cooking method, in essence crab marinating in vinegar, ginger, onions and tomatoes; and Sinigang, which is sour tamarind broth, prawns, salmon head and veggies with steamed rice.
I don’t usually order dessert but they brought me a tasting plate of chocolate truffle, chocolate crisps, mango ball and shortbread dipped in chocolate. Perfect way to end the meal when you don’t have much room. And it’s nice to sample without being caught out having to eat an entire dessert that doesn’t taste how you thought it would. That’s happened to me before. You see a dessert and it looks like a lovely delicious chocolate cake, but you taste it, and you can’t get your head around what you are eating. It wasn’t chocolate and I didn’t want it in my mouth! These all tasted like they looked.
Hilton Honors Lounge
I was lucky and thankful to be upgraded to a bay-view room with access to the Hilton Hhonors lounge on the 7th floor. Frankly, I forgot I had status with Hilton so this is an added perk. I appreciate having access because the lounge is usually open all day. You can pop in, grab something to drink and use the business services, or simply work from there.
They offer a nice quick breakfast, which is welcome if you’re on the go and don’t want the buffet or the buffet price. I usually grab some fruit, juice, coffee and maybe a pastry, and it doesn’t justify the cost of a full breakfast. In the Lounge, it’s just grab and go.
They also offer a quality choice of afternoon appetizers like sashimi, skewers, fruit, crudites, and a glass of wine between 5-7pm. After that, you’ll get fruits, dried fruits, some desserts, and veggies and dip along with coffee, water or juices until later in the evening. Even if I didn’t pay for it, I was going to ask what the cost would be to upgrade, because it’s simply worth it when you travel.
The lounge bar, C Lounge is a funky atmosphere with comfy couches and chairs and cut-out wood paneling with funky lights that cast an amber-coloured artwork on the wall. You can order off an a la carte menu while listening to jazz and blues. That evening a group playing Dave Brubeck, Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton music entertained us. Music is on 7 days a week up til 11p, except Sundays when they finish at 9p.
Actually, had I looked at this earlier, I would have dined here. They offer a nice menu of nibbles, salads, sandwiches and more substantial pickings, generally under the $12 mark. That is relatively reasonable for a chilled atmosphere with live music. They also have an afternoon traditional tea if you’re interested.
One major gripe, but not unexpected, is that the internet has been down for more than 24 hours. The Reception says it is a problem with the service provider. Needless to say, I needed access. Major aggravation.
What I love about the rooms is that there is plenty of storage space, closet space – even in the bathroom. It’s easy to tuck all your makeup and appliances away so the counter is clutter free. You can empty your suitcase and put it conveniently in one of the 2 closets for hanging items. You could almost walk in the closet.
That bathroom hairdryer was not hot or powerful enough, so that was a bummer and I always wonder why they bother putting in a scale. Seriously? Ditch the scale and invest in a professional hair dryer – both are for women, stereo-typically speaking and one doesn’t justify the other. Also, my desk chair was too low and there was no lever for lifting it. I tried swirling it around to see if it would rise, but no luck, so a bit uncomfortable if you need to do any substantial work in the room.
Conrad Room Design
The room has very contemporary look and feel with warm cream tones and Scandinavian-inspired furniture – lots of smooth light woody curves. There are lots of hidden lights – behind the headboard, at the baseboard, underneath the sink in the bathroom, even behind the alarm clock, which is great if you like keeping a light on at night so you can see if you need to. There is nothing worse than waking up in a strange hotel and saying, ‘Where am I and where is the bathroom?’ I have to keep a light on. I get what they are after with the design, but can’t help but think this design is probably a common theme in many upper mid range hotels opened this year. There were a couple of plugins on the desk, and 2 USB ports, so plenty of juice.
S Maison Shopping Center
The hotel is on floors 3-8 and on the 1st is the entrance to the hotel elevators and access to S Maison, a very slick, new, high-end shopping centre, with a variety of shops, restaurants, dental and body treatment centres. It opened in June 2016 and is a great place to splurge on watches, diamonds, jewellery. They also have a few budget-friendly restaurants and a few hair and nail salons.
From S Maison, there is a bridgeway that takes you to MOA or Mall of Asia. This is the biggest mall in Asia, and is connected to the Conrad via a bridge. You find many of your favorites from back in the US/UK and specialty stores from Asia. This place is sprawling and will take several days to see it all if you plan to shop. Shoes and pants are on the agenda, and the favorable exchange rate with the Philippine Peso is making it worth it.
After a few hours of shopping, I wanted to chill so I headed back to S Maison to Kiyosa Japanese Total Beauty hair and nail salon. I spent two much-needed hours having a foot spa, gel pedicure and manicure. They use luxury Japanese scrubs and creams for a truly divine experience – look, feel and smell! I had the attention of two attendants, plus a gaggle of girls all stopping by to tell me about the other treatments I should try or to refresh my coffee. Lovely spot for a bit of ‘me time’ and I would definitely go back.
Love it. Day 2 at the HHonors Lounge, as I pull out my room key ready to say room number and last name, I hear, “Will you be joining us for breakfast, Ms. McDermott?” Yes, Thank you. Once inside, “Would you like your cappuccino and orange juice mixed with sparkling water?” The staff are fantastic! “Did you take a lot of photos yesterday?”
There is one improvement I’d mention. On the elevator in my tower it said, ‘Spa 4th floor.’ But when you get off, there are no directional markers to find the spa, which happens to be in the other lobby. Luckily a staff member directed me. Otherwise, I’d never find it. But I actually had the best spa treatment in Manila I’ve ever had at the Conrad Hilton. It was an amazing experience.
I usually make this suggestion to any 5* or boutique property. Too often, the amenities are for men. They could have a menu in the bathroom of items that can be provided/purchased from the front desk. This is especially true when there is no sundries store onsite. They could offer a loofah, pumice stone, decent quality hair conditioner, powerful hairdryer, band-aids, nail file, hair brush – things you may have forgotten or treats you might enjoy. The hotel could keep a small inventory and re-stock as needed, but just providing the service would be welcome.
Take a Grab Car
In Manila, I strongly recommend Grab Car. Grab Car is like Uber in Manila. There, you get info about who’s picking you up, their licence plate and the make of the car. When you grab a cab off the street, no one knows where you are or who you are with. Download the app or have your hotel book it for you. The ride from the airport took 20 minutes and a Grab Car kiosk is across the street from arrivals. The ride to the Conrad cost less than $3.
All-in-all, I had an excellent experience at the Conrad. Their prices will not stay low for long, so get in there while you can. More information can be found on their website. Be sure to read my review of the traditional Hilot Massage I had at the Conrad.
Conrad Manila is located at Seaside Boulevard corner Coral Way Mall of Asia Complex, Pasay City, 1300, Philippines
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