The Novotel Araneta in Manila is a brand-new, upscale Accor Group hotel a little away from the main business and tourist areas. Thanks to another Accor Promotion, I was only two stays away from reaching Accor LeClub Platinum status and its many perks, so we planned a weekend staycation – and were pleasantly surprised what the Novotel has to offer at a good value price! Read after the break what I liked the most!
Location: The Novotel is in the Cubao business district, part of Quezon City, next door to the Araneta Coliseum, a number of low- and mid-level malls. You’ll have plenty of choices for shops and restaurants nearby, although there are not many as upscale as in Makati or Bonifacio Global City (BGC). Public transport by train is a short walk away, connecting you to the center of Manila. It’s about 20 minutes drive to Ortigas, 45 minutes to Makati or BGC and 1h to Manila’s airport or the historic center of Intramuros. Because it is on Manila’s most congested street, EDSA, it can easily take 2 or 3 times as long during much of the day, so I would not recommend this location for anybody who needs to be places more than a few kilometers away on a weekday!
Service/Rewards: On arrival, the front desk directed us to the Executive Lounge for check in as Accor LeClub Platinum members. They completed the paperwork quickly and had us on the way to our (upgraded) room. The staff at the lounge would go out of their way throughout our stay to make our stay pleasant and were friendly and attentive at any occasion, from food and drink service to newspapers or information about the hotel and the area. Housekeeping was thorough and quick and made our room at the requested time.
As Platinum members, we were upgraded to the Executive Lounge floor, but with little noticeable difference to the room class we booked. We received a welcome gift of fresh fruit and cookies with a personalized note shortly after arrival. We were given a late checkout on request and without any issues, a benefit greatly appreciated when on a “staycation” and something many hotels don’t manage to deliver, even though there is often little downside. We received Executive Lounge access, including hot breakfast, snacks and soft drinks served throughout the day and a cocktail & snack happy hour in the evening! You also have the choice of having the breakfast in the restaurant – it’s a huge buffet style restaurant with lots and lots of food. We picked the more private lounge for our meals.
Room: The room is designed with light wood and some bright accent colors, looking very modern and fresh. The queen size bed is comfortable with high-quality sheets. There is a chaise longue for seating and a narrow work desk with chair. The wardrobe provides sufficient storage and you’ll find a small mini-bar as well as coffee/tea facilities and a flat-screen TV. I also liked the universal power outlets, an electronic panel with USB and HDMI ports and power outlets next to the bed. The bathroom has – my favorite design – a glass window from the shower to the bathroom, making it more open and light-filled. Even better, it has a switch in the bathroom that turns the glass frosted for privacy, a much better solution that shades or a permanently frosted glass! There is a sink with plenty of storage around and below it. The toilet is in a separate cubicle with its own door. A complete set of typical Novotel bathroom amenities and thick towels are provided as well.
This is pretty close to the perfect hotel room in this price category – it’s very functional, big enough, modern and full of light, with some nice touches. The free WiFi internet is reliable and very fast at an average speed of 9Mbps.
Restaurant/Amenities: The Executive Lounge is a very beautiful place on the rooftop level, much nicer than I’ve found at much more expensive hotels. They have used a lot of natural wood, brown and orange tones for a warm and welcoming feeling. It’s full of light, nicely decorated and with separated spaces to eat, lounge and hang out. There is also access to a roof terrace with seating and great sunset views over the city. The buffet area is surrounded by slatted wood dividers, making it not feel like a cafeteria the way many lounges do! The only issue was some warping from the wood floors, something they are working on to fix.
One feature I liked about the lounge is that they allow you to order from the downstairs restaurant, so you get the best of both worlds: the privacy of the lounge and the full menu of a restaurant. We took advantage of that one night and ordered food up. The menu is broad with a mix of local and international choices. The food quality and value are good, making it a good choice in the neighborhood with mostly chain restaurants.
The breakfast in the lounge consists of nicely presented fruit, pastries and yogurt, as well as a selection of hot dishes. In addition, you can have made to order dishes. I had the waffles one day and an omelette the other. All of the food was delicious, much better than what most lounges and more expensive hotels offer!
The Novotel also offers a lobby bar and full restaurant on the ground level. You can utilize a computer corner with multiple all-in-one computers. There are two separate pools next to each other and a large number of padded loungers around it. Because it had rained previously, there were no umbrellas when we arrived, but staff brought them out later. Next to the pool is a large gym with plenty of cardio and weight equipment for a full workout.
The hotel also has a very upscale spa. The room we used had a huge jacuzzi tub (which unfortunately wasn’t working yet on our visit), as well as private shower and some of the most comfortable massage tables I’ve had in Manila. I especially liked the arm rest below the headrest, a very thoughtful feature during a back massage! Given the upscale space and very good therapist, the price (with a discount for hotel guests) was great value – much less than other upscale hotels and competitive with local spas that are much less well equipped.
Bottomline: If you are in the Cubao area or are looking for a luxurious weekend staycation in Manila without the price tag, the Novotel Araneta is a great find. For $114/night we got a beautiful room, a luxurious lounge as an Accor LeClub benefit and a nice pool & fitness center for a relaxing stay. Add the friendly, professional service and the great, inexpensive spa and the Novotel offers much better value than the similarly priced Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn Galleria in Ortigas. If you are intrigued by this glowing review, and are visiting as tourist or have business in Makati or BGC, I’d still recommend other hotels closer to your desired destination – even the best hotel can’t make up for Manila’s traffic and the time it takes!