The first thing that came to mind as we were making our way down (but really more like getting lost) the dirty, crowded, and impoverished streets of Pasay was “How can there be a hotel down here?” Each turn our vehicle made, my eyes darted towards any and all structures that even remotely resembled the hotel that I’ve only seen in photographs. After almost an hour navigating the horrendous traffic from Makati, we finally enter a gated property by the far end of FB Harrison, channeling The Secret Garden while we’re at it.
Once a residential estate back in the 1950’s, the sprawling, 20-house compound has now been converted into the charming establishment that is The Henry Hotel. The all-white façade of the main house welcomes you into the reception desk, where the pleasant and bespectacled staff awaits. Always a curious cat, our photographer Patrick asks a female staff, “Why are you all wearing glasses?” “It’s part of the uniform, sir. The owner Hanky Lee came up with the idea,” she explains. After introductions were made to our would-be tour guide, we were led across the plant-lined pathway into a series of dark gray painted houses to explore the grounds.
With Eric Paras’ hand in interior design, you can’t help but nod your head in approval at how spot-on the look of the hotel is. Blending modern eclectic furnishings perfectly with the old Manila charm of post-war style houses, each of the 34 rooms shows off a variation of Baldoza tiled floors, an antique aparador, quirky art, and an all-white bathroom with all the modern amenities. The suite, which is an upgrade from the classic room, features a private patio, while the owner’s suite boasts an exclusive balcony that overlooks the lush greens of the gardens below. All rooms are also equipped with universal hotel staples: television and WiFi connection. But what the guests of the hotel should really look forward to is the assortment of Filipino snacks sitting in the mini bar, waiting to be devoured: rosquillos, dried mangoes, and cashews galore.
Aside from dining at the restaurant (Apartment 1B, in case you were wondering), and taking a dip in the outdoor swimming pool, you can check out 2680 Neighborhood. It is a lifestyle compound within the hotel grounds where three of Manila’s top art and design personalities run their businesses and reside in, namely Eric Paras’ A11 furniture and design house, Albert Avellana’s Avellana Art Gallery, and Jojie Lloren’s atelier.
Other than that, there’s not really much to do at The Henry Hotel. But that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and probably that really is the whole point—to take a breather and to disconnect from the stresses and the distractions of the city. With a place hefty with greenery, and all the makings of a good staycation, it’s about time to BRB and cue siesta time.