I’m slightly embarrassed to say this, but I booked the 5* Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila hotel for two reasons: I am an Accor member, and I was attending a conference at the Philippines International Convention Center (PICC) just across the street.
The Sofitel is convenient, and in a great location if you need to be within walking distance of the PICC. And wow! This is such a great property that I wanted to share my Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila Hotel Review with you.
Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila Architecture
Upon arrival at the hotel, I was ashamed to be so judgmental. Frankly my breath was taken away just walking in the door. It’s quite something spectacular. The Sofitel, built in 1976, is an architectural vision by famous Filipino architect, Leandro Locsin, also behind the Manila Ninoy Aquino airport, the Philippines International Cultural Center (PICC) and the now new Folk Arts Center. The interior is a mixture of contemporary Filipino design and classic, luxurious old-world European charm. It was the first, the biggest and most expensive city resort built in Asia in the 70’s.
Lobby at the Sofitel Philippines Plaza
The lobby is quite huge and confusing. The female reception staff, dressed in beautifully traditional Filipino dresses, are available to guide you to check-in. Their gowns take you back to time forgotten in Filipino history.
Once in the hotel, the concierge, check in, elevators, and the sports bar are to the left. To the right are the lobby lounge, restaurant and bar, and straight ahead is the view down to Spiral Restaurant with its beautifully elegant Grand staircase surrounding a 21 ft bronze masterpiece by national artist Eduardo Castrillo.
I arrived just in time to see a bride having her wedding photos taken there with her beautiful gown fluffed over several steps. She had three women helping her with her massive train. Up to 70 wedding photos are taken there a day! Being a French hotel, there was a kiosk selling typical French faire of macaroons, cheese and pate – a very nice foreign touch.
The exterior is quite uninviting with its blocky, high-rise cement structure. It looks like just another convention hotel, but once you enter, you are transported to another time.
When you are on the Spiral Restaurant level, you have views of the exterior pool area and if you didn’t know where you were, you’d think you were in a resort on an island with the sea views.
The Rooms at the Sofitel Plaza
My room was on the top floor offering sweeping views of Manila Bay, the outdoor pool and pool bar area, and on clear days, Manila’s skyline. The height from the 11th floor definitely caused a bit of vertigo, but I appreciated the views. The rooms have become slightly dated, but generally, well appointed.
The bed is extremely comfortable and the desk chair offers good support for working in your room. Water pressure and A/C worked perfect as well as internet connection. You can connect up to 4 devises, which worked well for 2 iPhones, iPad and Mac. All sorted.
I can live with slightly tired décor, but I can’t live without a powerful hairdryer. This was the only negative for me. I have ‘island hair’ for most of my stay. I even try the hair dryer in the spa and that was no better. To be honest, it doesn’t matter if it’s 5* or not, being in the Philippines, I didn’t expect the same services/amenities from a 5* there as I would other countries.
Not sure why, but I take the rating system in Asia with a grain of salt. They definitely work off a different rating system. Any rate, this hotel being a 5* needs to put a notice in rooms telling guests they can order additional items either for free (best option) or at a cost, like killer hair dryers, a pumice stone, a luffa, whatever. This to me says their clients are male. Not good considering how many women book travel.
The Sofitel breakfast is to die for!
The absolute best thing about this hotel is the breakfast. The key term here is ‘fast’. One of my colleagues mentioned I should go when I’m really hungry and now I know why! You need to starve yourself for days to eat there. There are hundreds of options, and I want to try them all. Whether Filipino, Japanese, Western, Chinese, French… it was all there – even gelato, in the morning!
The Sofitel offers a French ambiance
They even have a have a room separated off with stinky French cheeses and a dozen salamis and cured meats. It was a real treat. And you know what the autumn means in France…. it’s wine harvesting time. From the 3rd week of September through October, they have Sofitel Wine days where you can sample wines during brunch, take a private wine and cheese class, enjoy wines with tapas, a champagne tasting, and then fill up your cellar from their signature Wine and Cheese shop.
Some events are free, but most are for a fee. Check their website ahead of time to see what’s on in September and October. What a fun way to spend an otherwise dead evening in a conference hotel.
With buffets, you need to pace myself. You need to have superpower restraint to stick with fruits, vegetables… if you’re trying to eat healthy. And even in that department, you wouldn’t starve. The great thing about Asia is that they have fruits we don’t frequently see in Europe. I only take as much as I will eat. I hate throwing food away, particularly in the Philippines. Some place I saw a sign that said, “Buffet, all you can eat. No leftovers. You have leftovers, you pay double!”
In normal traffic, the hotel is about 30 minutes from the airport, and in Manila I used their version of Uber, called GrabCar. Those guys are fantastic. When you make a booking, you get the name of the driver, the make of the car and licence plate. This is a better than the local cabs because if there is a problem, GrabCar knows where you got in, who picked you up and where you are going. Much safer than local cabs.
The Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila is located at CCP Complex Roxas Blvd Brgy. 76, Pasay, 1300 Metro Manila, Philippines. You can book through any of the standard booking engines or through the property directly.