Hip and Homey Hostels in the Philippines
Steadily blipping brightly on the backpacking trail of South East Asia, the Philippines is quickly becoming more welcoming of backpackers from all over the world. Gone are the exclusive hold of expensive accommodations and sleazy inns. Enter the hip hostels that are opening its doors and ushering world travelers inside their comfortable, modish and most of all – good value-for-money rooms. Wanderers wanting to stretch their on-the-road budget, also welcomes the trademark camaraderie of like-minded individuals the hostel culture is known to provide.
To help you get an idea of how the hostel culture in the Philippines is slowly thriving, here are some hip and homey ones you might want to check out soon.
1. Tambayan Capsule Hostel (Manila)
Hip and modern interior. Photo courtesy of Tambayan Capsule Hostel website
Travel writer and award-winning photographer Christian Sangoyo of Lakad Pilipinas considers this hostel among his favorites in Manila. Among the long list of road refuge he had before, he sees this charming sanctuary – as a pleasant place to hang out as well. “Tambayan Hostel is a relatively new lodging catering to the backpacker crowd located right in the heart of Manila. It features Japanese-inspired capsule beds housed inside a renovated colonial residence. It’s a far cry from the usual graffiti-laden hostels—exuding swank rather than the typical wild bohemian atmosphere. On its second floor veranda, it has a gastrobar, with drinks and dishes for travelers with more refined taste buds.”
2. Yellow Doors Hostel (Tacloban, Leyte)
Rebuilding a city, while bridging travelers from all over. Photo courtesy of Yellow Doors Hostel
Once a sad ruin of the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan, now oozes with a happy and charming vibe. “Yellow Doors Hostel was an old and empty 3-storey building (the hostel occupies the top two) abandoned after Typhoon Haiyan and was since renovated and refurbished with up-cycled pieces from the remains of the typhoon. Used doors and windows adorn the hostel’s hallway, which were donated by people who were renovating their houses” Trixie, a staff member of Yellow Doors tells me:
“We breathed new life into these old possessions, a recurring design theme that you will see throughout the hostel. The very essence of the hosteling experience is an excellent common area. YDH has two: one non-smoking area in the living room with board games and a book exchange corner, and one on the roof garden where people can relax and enjoy cold beer while watching the sunset. On weekends, a bar and pop-up kitchen becomes the main attraction on the rooftop. The hostel has hosted some of Tacloban’s hit off-kilter events, including a painting party, a Great Gatsby-themed murder mystery game, and a blues and jazz night.” She adds.
3. Vessel Hostel, Circle Hostel and Flotsam and Jetsam Hostel (San Juan, La Union)
Situated almost within each other and a herculean stone throw away from the swells of San Juan, La Union are three artists-inspired hostels; Vessel Hostel, Circle Hostel and Flotsam and Jetsam. Each one differing in style and themes but all are similarly exuding with a pleasant vibe.
The bahay-kubo feel of Circle Hostel brings back that old community living where each one interacts closely with one another. A round of fun drinking and card games at the open-air common space will have you bonding with new friends instantly.
Don’t be surprised to bump into musicians such as Rico Blanco at Flotsam and Jetsam because its location fronting the waves of San Juan and the modish yet simple beachfront bar, makes up for a good place to just chill, play music and enjoy life.
Both, an engineering and architectural marvel. Photo courtesy of Vessel Hostel Fb
Re-designed and pimped up shipping containers stacked against each other comprises the unique feel of Vessel Hostel. Inspired by Industrial American architecture, the interior beams with ambient lighting as it gleams among its wooden walls and floors. I hear you say Instagrammable, because it is exactly what it is.
4. Paglaom Hostel
A chill-after surf haven in Siargao.Photo courtesy: Paglaom FB page
Siargao regular Mayan Benedicto finds this hostel not only a convenient surfer abode, but also a place to relax and meet new people. “Paglaom Hostel is a cozy hostel with a very friendly atmosphere. It’s one of those hostels that truly represent a chill and laidback lifestyle. In the common area, there are hammocks and pillows laid out on the floor with very creative decor. The dormitory is open but protects you from mosquitoes and bugs with their nets, allowing you to breathe in fresh air. The best part about it is the sense of community within the place. Whether you’re a staff, a guest, or even simply a visitor, there is a sense of comfortable feeling, one that you usually build through friendship overtime. This makes your entire traveling experience even better.”
5. Moon Fool’s Hostel (Panglao, Bohol)
Homey colors and bike-friendly hostel. Photo courtesy: Moon Fool’s FB Page
No frills yet very convenient on all fronts – meeting all the longings of a curious traveler is what made travel writer Gretchen Filart Dublin recommend Moon Fool’s Hostel in Bohol. “What makes Moon Fools Hostel an excellent stay is that it combines best pricing, comfort, and convenient location. Small and homey, it features uniquely designed accommodations, including private air conditioned rooms and separate dorm rooms for boys and girls starting at only P500/night – breakfast and hot showers included. Guests also have access to unlimited drinking water and a hip common area where they can read books and magazines, play board games, or chat with fellow guests.
The hostel rests on the roadside, an easy five-minute walk from renowned Alona Beach and within easy reach of ATM machines and moneychangers. Next door, you’ll find a convenience store and a restaurant serving Western fare. One of the few eco-friendly lodging facilities in Panglao, it promotes bicycling as an alternative way of touring Panglao, and you can rent a city bike downstairs for only P150/hour.”
6. The Poblacion (Makati) Hostels: Junction Hostel, Lokal Hostel, MNL Boutique Hostel, Z-Hostel and OMP Hostel
Comfy and bright rooms of Z-Hostel. Photo courtesy: Z-Hostel
Of course, the hostel culture in the Philippine won’t be this flourishing without these hostels located in Poblacion, Makati. Located and all built upon a short span of each other a few years ago, the presence of these hostels; (Z Hostel, Lokal Hostel, MNL Boutique Hostel, OMP Hostel and Junction Hostel) paved the way for the re-imaging of the Poblacion – Burgos Street from a red light district to a fledging backpacking – tourism district, where rows of trendy restaurants, bars and cafés have started to exist, making the area a nice place to hang out and stay during one’s pit stop in Manila.
Hostel living is an ideal way to learn the ins and outs of backpacking. Here, it’s easy to meet fellow travelers who share the same passion as you. In return, you may earn either a new friendship or valuable travel advice. Or better yet, both. Heading on the road next time? Ditch the exclusive feel of hotels for once and why not try staying at one of the rising numbers of hostels in the country.