As of this writing, the United Kingdom remains on the "Yellow List" in the Philippines. This means that fully vaccinated travellers are still required to quarantine in a hotel facility for five days (previously six). Since I arrived back to London, I have been asked a few times about my experience in travelling to Manila during pandemic. I recently blogged about this journey, however I realised that I haven't written about my hotel quarantine experience, so here I am.
As my travel to the Philippines was urgent, I didn't have much time to properly search for hotels. My travel agent recommended agoda.com which was a friendly hotel website. There were a few hotels available, however they were ridiculously expensive at that time. I chose Dusit Thani in Makati because it was the cheapest at 50% off from the original price. For five nights, I only paid £303 which was a real bargain for a five star hotel, hurray!
But, I had high expectations from a five star hotel because a few years ago, I was fortunate enough to have been given the opportunity to stay at The Ritz in London and at The Waldorf Astoria in New York. To me, the quality of a five-star hotel was of those two hotels. Unfortunately, Dusit Thani didn't feel like a five star hotel at all. It was rather disappointing because when I was young and heard of Dusit Hotel, it sounded like only wealthy people could afford to stay there. But my experience was more like a three star if I could be honest, and I will tell you why.
- I pre-arranged an airport pick up before my flight. At the airport, I was met by a friendly driver in classic Dusit Thani uniform. He was very polite and chatty. He was telling me about how difficult it was for him and for his colleagues during the pandemic. I actually felt quite bad that I didn't give him any tip because I didn't have the right cash for him. The rest of the hotel staff was okay. They were polite and helpful, although there were times when the service was slow. I actually didn't ask for anything apart from water and cutlery, but still I had to ring twice. One thing I must remember next time I stay in any hotel in the Philippines is to tip the staff. I didn't think about it because it's something that I am not accustomed to.
- It was a king size room and was spacious enough for one person. The view was good, overlooking tall buildings, some greeneries and the SM Makati. I could tell that the hotel was old as the furniture was looking tired. I had to call for housekeeping as I saw a stain in the chiller. To be fair, she tried to scrub the stain as much as she could, however it didn't come off. It appeared like it was a very old stain. To make myself feel better, I sanitised the chiller with anti-bacterial wipes. I knew it was a chiller, but man, it didn't even chill my bottled water at all.
Another thing that I had to raise with the housekeeping staff was the shower. The shower glass was filled with soap and water stains. There were also moulds on the grout. When I told the staff about this, she explained that those stains and the mould have been there for ages and would be difficult to remove. I told her that I use some chemicals that really work back home. I recommended "Barkeeper's Friend" shower spray and "Cillit Bang" mould remover but Ate just laughed. Maybe she thought I was joking.
Anyway, I don't normally use the bathrobe when I'm staying at hotels. But since I was in quarantine, I decided to use it this time. I couldn't help but laugh out loud when I saw a large hole on the arm of the robe. I was so tempted to say something to the staff at that time, but decided not to as I don't wear them normally anyway. So I put the robe back in the cupboard instead.
Not to mention that the towels were also rough. The remote control's writings were fading. The complimentary tea tasted awful. But at least, the kettle was clean.
- So, I had a long list of food that I wanted to try whilst in quarantine. But the excitement immediately turned into disappointment when the driver told me that no food deliveries were allowed in the hotel. Should have I known this when I was booking my hotel, I wouldn't have chosen Dusit Thani for this mere reason. I would even normally bring crisps and small snacks when travelling, but because I was excited to finally eat foods that I haven't eaten in a long time, I didn't bring any with me on this trip.
Okay, I completely understand that they need to make business but they could have at least indicated this on their booking information. So having no choice, I ordered a meal on my first night. I was excited to try their sizzling sisig, but at almost P440, it was a huge disappointment. It was like eating a leftover. It was dry and the meat was tough. It just didn't taste right. I also had halo-halo (P332.45) and a can of coke zero (P159.57), but meh. My dinner definitely was not a five-star hotel meal.
Luckily that night, my bestfriend called and offered to bring me some fruits. I asked her to kindly bring some Cheetos and cup noodles as well. I also ordered mini bibingkas from Bibingka Manila- one of the foods that I wanted to try.
The following morning, I craved for Pinoy breakfast so I ordered their Local's Best for P616.13. To be honest, my sister-in-law and my Ate Vicky can make a way better breakfast than whoever was the chef at Dusit Thani in Makati at that time. I only managed to eat the egg, two spoonfuls of rice, half a longanisa and two of the fried dilis. The tapa was so salty I felt sick after I tried a piece. The longanisa was a complete and utter disappointment. The longanisa that my family usually buys at our local market was hundred percent better than their stick-thin longanisa. I was scared to eat any more dilis because they were too hard, I was afraid it could chip my tooth if I carried on eating. And oh, the single fish that I thought was tuyo was actually tinapa. And the coffee certainly woke me up not because of the caffeine but because it was awful. Although I was prepared to suck it up and eat more rice and tapa as I didn't want to get hungry, I couldn't anymore because I was feeling sick. And this was the last time I ordered their food.
And so my bestfriend brought the fruits at the reception the following day. I received a phone call from the receptionist informing me of her arrival. The receptionist challenged the fact that my friend brought me fruits because it was apparently not allowed. I explained to her that when I checked in, her colleague told me that fruits were allowed. She defended herself by saying, "But Ma'am there are two cup noodles in the bag. They're also not allowed." I was annoyed so I asked her if she wanted me to starve. She then said that they would allow me to have the fruits but that would be the first and last time. So, for the next 5 days of my quarantine, I ate fruits, bibingka, crisps and cup noodles.
Despite the not so good experience I had with Dusit Thani Makati, I remain grateful for the fact that it was cheap, centrally located and had a good view. I know I have no right to complain as I am aware that some people were in a worse quarantine situation, but this is a hotel claiming to be a five-star hotel, when in my experience it isn't. Personally, I wouldn't recommend this hotel for quarantine for the main reason that food delivery is not allowed and their food is expensive and disappointing. Additionally, the hotel really needs an upgrade as to be fair, it's one of the oldest hotels in Manila.