Known as the Walled City, Intramuros is home to Manila Cathedral, the Casa Manila Museum and Fort San Pedro, indelibly associated with national hero, José Rizal. Explore it with a stay in one of these hotels, which either sit within the walls or just outside.
Founded in 1571, Intramuros quickly became the centre of Spanish rule over the Philippines, with government buildings, cathedrals and stately homes springing up within the city walls. Today, it’s an idyllic escape from fast-paced Manila. Horse-drawn carriages still trundle along cobbled lanes, and it’s possible to walk most of the 4.5km (2.8mi) ramparts.
The Bayleaf occupies prime real estate on the southeastern corner of Intramuros, next to several Philippine eateries. Colourful, contemporary rooms come with a minibar and bottled mineral water – keep in mind that superior rooms lack windows. While away afternoons with coffee and churros at Cioccolata Churros Café, or tuck into wood-fired pizza at Raffaele. Don’t miss cocktails and live acoustic music on the roof at Sky Deck bar.
This grand dame hosted Ernest Hemingway and The Beatles, among others, over the past 100-plus years. Staff greet you dressed in traditional Filipiniana; rooms come with carved mahogany-and-rattan furniture, capiz-shell shutters and a television in the spacious bathroom. Work out in the fitness room before diving into the pool; follow up with lechon paksiw – herby roast pork in vinegar – at Café Ilang-Ilang and jazz at the Tap Room. Rizal Park is just opposite the hotel, and it’s a 15-minute walk to Intramuros.
These modern, OYO-owned suites are well-placed for sights all over central Manila, being a 15-minute drive from Intramuros and just 10 minutes from Rizal Park and Rizal Memorial Stadium. Work up a sweat in the gym – the pool is available for an additional fee – and plan your outings using the free wifi. There’s no breakfast on site, but you’ll find a dozen Filipino, Chinese and Korean restaurants within two blocks’ walk.
A stone’s throw from Rizal Park and just a 20-minute walk from Intramuros, the Bayview is an ideal base for sightseeing and museum-hopping. Seek relief for sore feet at the massage and reflexology centre, work out tension at the gym, or just flop onto a pool inflatable and drift away the day. All air-conditioned rooms come with two bottles of water and a daily newspaper; executive suites have a dining area, powder room and bathtub. Head down to the Bayview Coffee Shop for local and international cuisine.
With geometric pendant lamps, black-on-white décor and art deco room numbers, the Artemis toes the line between hipster and business chic. Suites start with the studio, which has a dining area and complimentary coffee, and go up to the penthouse suite, with a living room and kitchenette. Fuel up on the all-day Filipino breakfast before heading out – Intramuros is a 30-minute drive away and central Makati is reachable in 20 minutes.
This all-suites hotel is close to the University of Santo Tomas – a 20-minute ride from Intramuros and 10 minutes from San Sebastian Church and the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene. Each home comes with a kitchenette with fridge, a bathroom with bidet and hairdryer, and a personal wifi router, so you need not worry about lapses in connection. The complimentary breakfast comes from popular Philippine restaurant chain Jollibee.