Ask a Manileno about Casa Vallejo Hotel and you’ll probably hear a horror story or two.
Ask someone from Baguio the same thing and they would most likely say it’s a century-old house converted into a hotel, resting at the foot of SM City Baguio.
Between the two, I think the second statement holds more water. Never in our three-day stay have we experienced ghostly hauntings. Although I intentionally omitted the spooky part when I told the husband we’re billeted at the Casa Vallejo. I stress the the like Ateneans stress the the before Ateneo. Yep, I feel that privileged.
The hotel itself looks modest from the outside. It is an unpretentious, wooden one-storey casa built in rich, dark wood that resembles Western country farm houses. No blinking “OPEN” signs, no sliding doors, no elevators, no inebriated teenagers smoking
pot cigarettes. Just a wool doormat and a wooden carving of Casa Vallejo 1909 hanging out the front porch, plus some shrubs and pine trees ’round the stairs and the curb.
This homey ambiance is fluid inside-out. Stepping foot inside is much like taking a tour in an ilustrado’s posh, well-preserved casa, though the design is much more straightforward. Concierge at the left, fronting two receiving areas. One of them has a brick fireplace. I imagine Christmas would be pretty legend-ary here.In between those two is a long, narrow hallway with rooms on either side.
Our shack was the standard one (P1,350/night on 50% promo rate. Sweeet!), and while it’s weeny, it’s well-appointed. Fully carpeted, premium sheets, silhouette curtains, a wall-mounted LCD TV with cable, and a desk by the breezy window. They don’t have a bidet, but the bathroom’s all shiny and roomy. WiFi’s a bit sketchy though. We had better luck connecting to SM’s than the hotel’s.
However, the real star of the party here is not Casa Vallejo itself, but two-time Miele Guide Asia’s Finest Restaurant recipient, Hill Station. This grandiose restaurant is located at the basement of Casa Vallejo, accessible via a grand flight of stairs from the hotel’s lobby.
We have passed by hotels in Lower Session Road (where majority are located), and at any time of day, the surroundings at Casa Vallejo are much sober. Despite its location, the area is one of the quietest along the entire Session Road stretch. Our room was right in front of the street, but we slept soundly. Fewer vehicles pass by – which is good for parents like me. I have a toddler screaming at my face all day.I seriously don’t need honking cars and scary speakers adding to the yell-o-thon.
I’ve read reviews saying front desk staff here don’t act as professionally as people working in a boutique hotel should. My take is if they aren’t pestering me or negatively impacting my stay, I have no business nitpicking. They didn’t.
The receptionists, though giggly and frequently slouched on the couch, go back to their spots and receive guests blithely upon their arrival. They carry all your bags and direct you to your room. Along with guards and housekeeping, they are attentive and greet each family member passing by. I couldn’t tell you enough how Lia loved the attention, the little rascal. She hugged them a gazillion times and welcomed the lift.
And if you’re too tired to do city tours, Casa Vallejo hosts in-house gems which are all quaint, otherworldly nooks themselves: Mt. Cloud Bookshop, Hill Station, North Haven Spa, and Cinematheque – where you can watch foreign indie films for free. Yes, free! But I’ll get into all that later.
|Yes, we are!
For now, if you’re planning to stay at Baguio’s finest Casa, keep these in mind:
- Bring travel toothbrush and toothpaste. They only give free shampoo, soap and towels.
- If you’re on a budget, bring food and instant coffee. The only in-house restaurant is Hill Station, and it isn’t exactly inexpensive. Otherwise, take a walk down Lower Session Road, to SM City upfront, or to the nearby 24-hour bulalohan/carinderia (we buy our coffee here). Hot water is available at the front desk every morning.
- If you are noise-phobic, request for rooms at the left side of the hall. Rooms at the right directly face the street.
- Naturally,water heater is available. But don’t expect air conditioned units (not that you’ll need it) or a fridge.
- Baguio is generally a no-smoking city. Although we and the hotel employees do get to sneak a fag out front every now and then. Hehe.
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Mt. Cloud Bookshop, North Haven Spa and Cinematheque at Casa Vallejo, Baguio City
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