‘It’s very basic’ Carlos, our guide, advised trying to manage our expectations of the https://banauehotelandyouthhostel.com/
on the Philippine island of North Luzon. He explained it was government owned and run and low on fripperies.
So why was it on our itinerary? We were there to see the Philippine rice terraces, and this was the best place in Banaue. It also has an adjoining hostel for an even cheaper stay.
The lobby was huge and felt very cavernous. The client base ranged from couples to large tour groups of every nationality. Check in was efficient and we were given the obligatory, tasteless welcome drink. Our room, 309, was up a set of dark wood stairs (there didn’t appear to be a lift). The room was simple but reasonably well equipped with tea and coffee making facilities, desk, fan (no AC), lots of hanging space but only 3 hangers and good shelf space. There was no TV, mini bar or safe, but safe deposit boxes were available at reception. There was a double and single bed and enough room to leave out two open cases. Other rooms near us, had more beds to cater for the larger groups. There were highly polished wooden tiles on the floor, but the room would have benefitted from a few colourful local hangings. Decent hairdryers were supplied on request for a 500 Peso deposit, and wifi was only available in the lobby but it was fast.
The bathroom was reasonable in size with a walk-in shower. There are no toiletries, but Carlos had warned us of this, so we’d collected a stash from more up-market places along the way. Although he’d advised the water may take time to run hot, we found it hot and very powerful.
Although we had a balcony, there was not enough space to sit out. But it afforded spectacular views of the rice terraces and we caught wonderful sunrises which made it worth putting the alarm on for 6am.
Opposite reception was a very well stocked bar with an amazing array of drinks and wine on offer for 1000 Peso/£16 a bottle. It was adjacent to the restaurant, so we took drinks through, including wine which we’d ordered in advance to ensure it was chilled.
A free cultural show took place in the lobby most evenings but could also be requested. Around a dozen young boys and girls, plus a few adults, explained the various tribal costumes and demonstrated traditional games and rituals before ending with cultural singing and dancing. It concluded with us being asked to join in the dancing which we politely declined and tipped instead.
The restaurant was huge and although there was a buffet for 464 Peso/£7, we chose from the a la carte menu. This was extensive, but many of the dishes, often involving beef, were unavailable. What was on offer was reasonable but varied in quality: plates of pasta and sauces were good, but a pork chop was tough. Ice creams were available from a fridge in reception, but for dessert we had sweet, juicy pineapples we’d bought from road-side stalls which the hotel were happy to cut up for us.
Breakfast was limited. There was one juice (sweet and lime), a good selection of fruits including banana, papaya, water melon and melon), but no yoghurt and only cornflakes. There were lots of hot dishes including 4 types of rice, so we knew we were amongst the paddy fields. One of Roy’s favourite breakfasts was shredded corned beef (an American legacy) and garlic rice. Coffee was reasonable but milk in short supply as many Filipinos are lactose intolerant.
In-room massages were available for the bargain price of 400 Peso/£6.50 but instead of something soothing, it was rather firm. There was a lovely-looking swimming pool but it was a little chilly for sunbathing and there were no loungers, just wire metal chairs. Gift shops spilled out from the ground floor area and up onto the first, where a conference area existed.
This is the place to stay if you’re visiting the rice terraces, although a central area to wash muddy shoes and clothes would have been helpful, especially as it rained on us a lot!