Weekend getaways: 48 Hours in Manila
The capital city of the Philippines is not just a launching pad to the country’s beautiful beaches and serene hill stations. The vibrant city has all the elements that make for a perfect weekend getaway – fine food, trendy bars, stylish boutiques, and world-class spas. Victoria Cheng of Gastronommy lays out a game plan for the perfect languid weekend.
Stay: Fairmont Makati
The luxurious Fairmont Makati is located in the prestigious business district of Manila in Makati City, within convenient walking distance to the Ayala Museum and Greenbelt, the city’s stylish shopping area. The hotel also has a private underground walkway for guests to access the nearby shopping malls directly between 10am-10pm.
Have a snack from Café Macaron’s selection of homemade pastries or cakes and unwind before taking Fairmont Makati’s car service to your next destination. Alternatively, you can enjoy breakfast at Writers Bar, a space inspired by the original Writers Bar in Raffles Hotel Singapore. The quaint café is lined with works of local artists and shelves full of historical, cultural, and fictional books.
Up for a spot of diving? Head to South of Manila in nearby Anilaos. Fairmont Makati’s car will take you to a dive site of your choice, but we recommend Acacia Dive and Dive Solana. The resorts are situated in San Teodoro, Mabini —a secluded escape from the busy metro areas of Manila. Descend to the healthy reefs, alive with countless forms of marine life from large animals such as turtles and giant sea horses to a plethora of colorful smaller species such as octopus, cuttlefish, and frogfish. Anilao arguably has one of the largest number of species of hard and soft corals as well. It’s a veritable haven for underwater photographers. The water is warm and ideal for year round diving, except the July-August monsoon season.
Drink: Long Bar
After freshening up, head next door to Raffles Makati’s Long Bar. Long Bar is a favorite cocktail destination in Makati, serving its own signature drink inspired by the Singapore Sling: the Makati Luxury Sling, featuring 24K gold flakes as its key ingredient.
Stroll: Bonifacio High Street
Bonifacio High Street, located with Bonifacio Global City features a mix of mid-to-high end shopping retail with a lovely open garden-park centre between the shopping complexes. Inspired by the elements of New York City, the heart of BGC High Street South boasts couples strolling around, joggers with their pet dogs, or families dining al fresco during sunset.
Dine: Black Sheep
Nearby Bonifacio High Street is Black Sheep, one of Manila’s best fine-dining restaurants that sits high in the penthouse of W Fifth Avenue. With floor to ceiling windows, the restaurant offers a spectacular view of the city. Chef Jordy Navarra, previously of Fat Duck in the United Kingdom, returned to his roots in the Philippines where he serves up inspired haute creations rooted in his native cuisine.
Dine: Breakfast at Spectrum
Each morning, Spectrum transforms into a splendid buffet brunch haven. The all-day dining restaurant, located on the ground floor of Fairmont Makati, takes pride in its use of local produce. There is even a sample display case of honeybees working in their honeycombs, where guests can obtain fresh honey. The range of cuisines are wide and include pan-asian fare, sweet Western breakfast options, and Filipino favourites.
Relax: Willow Spa
At Willow Spa, begin your relaxation journey in the eucalyptus steam room before proceeding to a treatment in one of the lavish spa suites, complete with a therapist who knows exactly what she’s doing. We recommend the Traditional Hilot Foot and Body Massage. Using the foundations of Hilot, an ancient Filipino art of healing using chiropractic manipulation and massage, Willow Spa combines it with soothing oils to ensure a tranquil experience.
Drink: The Curator
For a perk me up before leaving Manila, head to The Curator, a purveyor of fine coffees and an increasingly popular spot for coffee connoisseurs (the café is hidden inside Cyrano Wine Bar). After 6pm, The Curator switches hats and also offers elaborate cocktails and a dining menu.
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- Old world elegance at The Sanchaya