After five nights in Manila, our next stop was Tagatay, a two-hour drive from the capital. The town sits on a ridge above Taal Volcano Island: an active volcano surrounded by Taal Lake. Our home for two nights, the “Taal Vista Hotel”:https://www.taalvistahotel.com/, promised superb views.
We arrived at noon and on getting out of the car, immediately noticed it was at least 5 degrees cooler than Manila with none of the humidity. Check in time of 2pm was rigidly enforced, so we explored the extensive grounds and found the swimming pool (far too chilly for dipping), before settling down in the lobby bar for a light snack of goldfish-sized Tawili fish, fresh from the lake. They were lightly floured and deep fried and complete with head and tail and served with a jar of white vinegar.
Our premier lake view room was huge, but sparsely furnished and bland with cream walls and floor tiles. There was a comfortable large double bed, sofa, coffee table, desk, TV, and a fridge which instead of being under the unit, jutted dangerously out. Inside it contained four complimentary soft drinks because of our ‘premier’ status, as was the water with tea and coffee making facilities. The wardrobe had an easy to use, accessible safe and there was an iron and ironing board. Wifi was complimentary and good.
The bathroom was similarly huge with a long shelf ideal for toiletries. The cold tap ran constantly unless you had the knack of not turning it fully off. The bath had an overhead shower with a fixed head. The bath was deep, but narrowed in the middle and didn’t leave a lot of flat space for standing under the shower. In addition, a tiled ledge around it, made getting in and out difficult. There were good white towels, bath robes and slippers, decent hairdryer and toiletries branded by the in-house spa.
Our balcony, with wicker chairs and table, had superb views overlooking the lake and volcano.
The hotel was huge and very long, and our fourth-floor room was at the opposite end to the main area, so it was quite a hike to our room along corridors. However, we had to pass the gift shop where I bought very reasonably priced Philippine pearl ear-rings. There was also a good photographic display of how the Taal Vista looked years ago.
There were two restaurants: the main Veranda restaurant, with an a la carte menu and buffet at 1,100 Peso/£18, and the Taza restaurant. The food was good and on our first night we shared a Veranda Salad before mains of beef bourguignon and lasagne. Breakfast was an extensive buffet of hot and cold dishes with Filipino, Western and Asian sections.
During dinner three musicians serenaded the tables, but we just said a polite ‘no thanks’ when they hovered at our table: the Filipinos lapped it up.
This was a probably a larger hotel than we normally like, but it certainly delivered on the views and was probably the best in the area.