From a former prisoner-of-war camp to an ultra-trendy design-led property, the hotels of Baguio, on the island of Luzon, offer a surprising range of unique accommodation options. Here’s our selection of the best.
Often a stopping point on the way to the Ifugao (or Banaue) rice terraces and Echo Valley, Baguio, the Philippines, is worth visiting in its own right. At about 1,400m (4,593ft) above sea level, the city has a year-round average temperature of 19C (66F), making it balmy but cold if you’ve just come from the beach, so pack layers.
More of a mountain chalet than a Philippine-style hotel, the Manor sits among the fragrant pines of Camp John Hay, southeast of Baguio. Once a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp, then a US military recreational facility, Camp John Hay is now a resort with a golf course, restaurants, shops and high-flying treetop adventures. The Manor’s 158 rooms come with forest or garden views. Deluxe rooms have an outdoor veranda, and suites come with a microwave and DVD player. Don’t leave without trying the sweet chocolate and peanut butter loaves at breakfast.
Breathe in the mountain air at this white, bright neocolonial-style home, a 10-minute drive from the centre of Baguio. Start with a strong black coffee in the cafe – an intimate haunt popular with local people – before hiring a tricycle to drive you around the mountain viewpoints. Indulge in an invigorating massage at the spa, then catch a cab to the Baguio Night Market to buy ukay-ukay (second-hand goods), street food and locally made crafts.
This four-star hotel’s smart rooms are the epitome of contemporary Pinoy style, with plenty of light wood tones and neutrals. Each room has a balcony, ideal for enjoying the pine-covered mountains of east Baguio. The Ibdiyan Wellness Centre offers a fitness room and indigenous Ibalois-style massage techniques, while the two restaurants serve Western cuisine and Filipino comfort food, respectively. However, the biggest draw is the Adkos Gallery featuring contemporary artworks by Filipino artists.
Just across the road from the Baguio Botanical Garden and a five-minute drive from the Baguio Country Club, this 16-room lodge is a quiet idyll. Rooms resemble a traditional Philippine home, with floral-patterned curtains and hardwood beds. The bar serves generous Filipino dishes with mountains of rice, and there’s the occasional live-music performance. Bear in mind the “safari” name should be taken literally – owner Celso Tuason has African hunting trophies all over the walls.
It’s rare to find a design hotel in the Philippine Cordilleras, but the G1 Lodge is exactly that, sporting modish geometric floors and slatted furnishings evocative of a big-city boutique hotel. Here, you’re steps from SM City Baguio and the succulent delights of Mang Inasal and Max’s Restaurant. Back at the hotel, there’s a huge breakfast on offer, with a buffet and à la carte menu with Western and Filipino dishes. In-room televisions come with complimentary Netflix – upgrade for a balcony with city views.
The Venus Parkview Hotel has occupied this coveted spot on the southwest side of Burnham Park since 1976. Its location and grand ballroom make it the local wedding venue of choice, but there are plenty of other reasons to stay. Classy, modern rooms pop with shades of scarlet and ultramarine; some have balconies overlooking the park. There’s even a room for six if you’d like to secure a lower rate for a larger party. Don’t miss the mango cheesecake for breakfast.
A hop from the Mansion House – the president’s summer residence – and the Baguio Country Club, this four-star boutique hotel impresses with a quiet, intimate ambience. Interiors are delightfully kitsch, with explosions of florals, twinkling chandeliers and mismatched upholstery, while bathrooms come with L’Occitane soap and essential-oil-infused hair products. The photo-worthy cafe serves a breakfast buffet, cupcakes and monstrous freakshakes.
Spread over a cheery green-and-yellow wooden home on the north side of Baguio, Elmar Cabin is a five-minute drive from Burnham Park and 10 minutes from Tam-awan Village, a fascinating reconstructed Cordillera dwelling with a traditional art shop and cafe. Rooms come in two styles: four-bed quadruple rooms and eight-bed family rooms. Friendly staff and a cafe serving excellent coffee, pancakes and tocilog (a dish with cured meat, fried rice and an egg) round out the homely feel.
With a smart, wood-panelled lobby and navy-suited staff, the Forest Lodge feels more Makati than Baguio. The equally swish rooms have a modern colonial style with plenty of dark wood and white linen; most have lush forest views. The Twist serves Asian fusion light bites, and Coffee Stains has a spread of cakes. You also have the restaurants and shops of Camp John Hay on your doorstep.