If you are attending a convention at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Manila, are planning to see the historical sights of Intramuros or just need a luxurious treat on a “staycation”, I recommend the Sofitel Manila! It’s a favorite of the wealthy locals and of repeat visitors to Manila and offers outstanding service and great amenities to separate itself from other luxury hotels in Manila. Find out more why I liked it!
Location: The Sofitel Manila is located right on the Manila Bay and next to the Philippine International Convention Center. It’s also close to the historic sights of Intramuros as well as the new casinos along the Bay and the gigantic Mall of Asia. The ride to the airport is 20-90 minutes, depending on the time of day and the terminal you are using. There is little you can walk to, so check my tips How to get around Manila.
Service/Rewards: I’ve stayed at the Sofitel Manila many times and the service is consistently excellent, one of the differentiators for the Sofitel among many hotels with great service in Manila. The front desk was able to check us in without any wait, although the paperwork took a little longer than it should. They were friendly and thorough in answering our questions and providing an overview of the hotel. Show tickets we had emailed to the hotel were delivered to our room later. Housekeeping had done a thorough job and prepared our room well. Staff throughout the hotel, including the gym, pool, pool bar and spa were friendly and attentive, going out of their way to make us welcome. The staff at Spiral’s restaurant and at the Executive Lounge stood out – they were going well beyond the call of duty in their efforts to make our stay memorable.
As a Accor LeClub Platinum member, we can check in at the Executive Lounge without waiting – just ask one of the hostesses to send you up to the lounge, you’ll need a keycard in the elevator and you can skip the lines. On each stay, we have received upgrades, from a one-category room upgrade (higher floor, Bay view) to multiple categories to a large, renovated suite!, Each time, we also received a substantial welcome gift of fruit, cakes and a bottle of wine, as well as Executive Lounge access. Whenever we requested an early check in (as much as 2h) or a late check out (as late as 4pm), we received it without issues, even when the hotel was full! While the Executive Lounge offers a full breakfast, the Sofitel also gives the option to enjoy the breakfast buffet at Spiral – one of the best breakfast buffets you’ll find anywhere and my favorite in Manila! Read my separate review of the Spiral Brunch! You can also borrow movies from the Executive Lounge or play one in-room movie during your stay, a nice touch on a rainy day!
Room: The Sofitel Manila is currently (August 2017) undergoing renovations. Floors up to 5 are renovated, 6-9 are currently undergoing renovation (so there is some noise Monday-Saturday, daytime) and the club level floors (10-11) are not renovated.
The Deluxe room (pre-renovation) had a nice view from the balcony over the pool and bay. The bedroom is large with a very comfortable king-size bed, a chair in the corner, a large work desk and large closet. There is also a small bar area with a fridge and coffee/tea facilities. The furniture is held in chocolate color wood, nice but very late 90s. There are a large TV and a laptop size safe. The bathroom has a narrow peekaboo window with shutters to the bedroom. It has a large walk-in shower with glass door, a single vanity and a toilet – but there is no bathtub or separate toilet cubicle. The amenities are standard Sofitel – very nice!
The King Suite (renovated) on our most recent stay was very nice. The new color scheme with some pink/purple (ok, I’m color-challenged) splash of color in the carpets and the sofa add a modern touch, the bathroom fixtures are very nice and now, everything feels like a new Sofitel!
Our Suite was located on the corner facing the city with windows on two sides and a wrap-around balcony. From the entry way, the large living room is to the left, with a beautiful curved, brightly colored sofa. It’s facing a huge flat-screen TV in one corner and a bar with a high-table, pod coffee maker and fully stocked min-bar! There are soft drinks, wine and beer, as well as snacks and even a drawer with kids games, sun tan lotion and other necessities.
Past the bedroom is a very big bathroom. It has a dual vanity with vessel-style sinks and lots of space for your toiletries. There is a toilet (without a separate cubicle) and a large glass enclosure with a shower and free standing bathtub facing the window. I love this set-up. The shower has a rainfall shower head that includes a massage setting as well as a hand-held showerhead. You can use all of them separately or together for a power-shower. The deep soaking tub is comfortable with room for two and a view over the city. The set up allows you to step from the tub to the shower without flooding the whole bathroom and gives you lots of space in the shower as well, very luxurious!
The renovation is a needed and welcome upgrade, putting the rooms in line with other luxury hotels in Manila and eliminating the only “downside” to staying at the Sofitel. Even if you are not staying in a suite, I’d recommend to ask ahead of time for a renovated room!
The free wifi was reliable and fast at an average speed of 3Mbps – enough for work or streaming video throughout our stay.
Restaurant/Amenities: The resort style amenities are another winning factor for the Sofitel. The grounds of the hotel are large and have a prime spot right on Manila Bay. You’ll find a resort-style pool with plenty of loungers as well as a kiddie pool with slides and play area. There are seating alternatives along the waterfront (a seawall, no beach) on a grassy area. You can get a workout at the full gym with cardio and weight equipment or on the tennis court. You can relax in the steam room or at the luxurious LeSpa with massages and a wide variety of treatments. Make an appointment for weekend visits – the spa books up regularly!
While I usually avoid hotel restaurants, I have visited the Sofitel restaurants a few times without even staying there. Spiral, the main restaurant, has the best breakfast and (champagne) brunch buffet in town and is worth a visit on its own. It is so renown, it hosted the last state dinner! The lobby bar has live music on weekends and makes for a relaxing end to the evening.
The Executive Lounge is one of the best lounges I have been to anywhere. It is a large space that is nicely separated into a living-room style area, a bistro area and a library area. The seating is varied from bistro tables to high bar tables and lounge sofas, as well as balcony outdoor seating. The lounge serves food and drinks throughout the day. The breakfast has a continental buffet with excellent croissants and pastries, fresh fruit and yogurt, as well as made-to-order hot dishes of a large menu. During the day, there are fruits and snacks and in the evening you’ll find a cocktail hour with wine and drinks as well as a buffet of cold and hot snacks that can easily make a whole dinner. It’s a wonderful benefit for Accor Platinum members – or is worth the extra price for an Executive Lounge room, as you can pretty much have all your meals at the lounge, if you so choose! The breakfast at Spiral is worth about $50 per person, putting the higher room price into perspective! I also liked the fact that the lounge is making an effort to keep an exclusive feel to it. They offer a kids club, giving kids their very own “lounge” while keeping the main lounge quiet and peaceful, especially during the evening.
Conclusion: The Sofitel Manila now offers nice, renovated rooms, the best resort pool in town, a great spa and the best brunch. You get excellent service, especially when staying at the Executive Lounge level. You get all that at very competitive prices, especially during Accor Private Sales – we paid as little as $100/night for all this! If you are visiting Manila for a convention at the PICC, want to see the historic sights of Intramuros or just need a luxurious staycation in Manila – the Sofitel is your best choice in Manila. I continue to go (despite living in Manila) and recommend it wholeheartedly!