The Bayleaf Intramuros offers a perfect location to see Manila’s Spanish colonial history in the old town on a stopover in the Philippine’s capital city. You can walk the city walls, visit Fort Santiago and see beautiful churches, without having to fight Manila’s horrendous traffic. Rooms are stylish and modern and you get great views from the rooftop bar and restaurant. Just be prepared for high prices and mediocre service – read my hotel review to see if the Bayleaf Intramuros Manila will work for you!
Location: The Bayleaf Intramuros is inside the historic old town of Manila, Intramuros. It’s the perfect location for a stroll on the old city walls or to see the Spanish-colonial history with Fort Santiago, the beautiful church San Agustin or the Manila Cathedral. Electric Tricycles stop in front of the hotel, making it even easier to see the historic sights of Intramuros. The locaiton is ideal for first-time visitors to Manila mostly interested in the country’s history, before moving on to the island of the Philippines.
The hotel is about 45-60 minutes from Manila’s airport by taxi. 30-45 minutes from the financial district, Makati, or the casinos on Manila Bay and about 60-75 minutes from Bonifacio Global City. If any of these places are on your itinerary, hotels in those districts are a better choice.
Service: The service experience at the Bayleaf Intramuros was decidedly mixed. Upon arrival, the front desk had our paperwork ready, but was unable to process the payment from our booking and was not able to resolve it satisfactorily. We were informed that the top floor restaurant was closed for dinner and breakfast for our stay – information I prefer to receive at the time of booking, not when I no longer have a choice whether that is acceptable or not.
We requested to make a reservation at the rooftop bar & restaurant for sunset, one of the key items on our itinerary, and were told that no reservations are taken. When we arrived at the restaurant we were asked whether we had a reservation and were told the restaurant was sold out – that’s an unacceptable failure of communication! The restaurant did accommodate us with an (undesirable) table. Unfortunately, the poor service continued: It was difficult to get a hold of our server to take order and it took a while to receive our food and drinks. I had to go to the bar to make payment. For the price category, this is an unacceptable level of service.
Service at breakfast in the morning wasn’t much better: When we headed to the 3rd floor for breakfast due to the restaurant closure, it turned out that information was incorrect, too, and breakfast was served in the main restaurant. The staff did a good job keeping tables clean and the buffet stocked.
Housekeeping had done a thorough job of cleaning our room and presented everything in working order and good condition.
Overall, the service was significantly worse than at comparable hotels in the Philippines. While each issue was minor, it added up to a much bumpier experience than I’m used to in Asia!
Room: We had booked a standard king room and were upgraded to a room with a view of the historic city walls and parks in front of the hotel. Our room was compact and held in a modern, tasteful decor. Dark, rich hardwood floors are combined with dark purple walls and white, wood structured walls and white furniture. The queen-size bed has a comfortable mattress and good quality sheets, pillows and comforter. On one side of the bed is a nightstand, on the other a small desk with chair. Two mirrors make the room feel a little bigger. The contrast of white and dark purple walls worked well. I noticed that other rooms were painted in different colors.
The windows offer a nice view over the old city walls and the golf course outside.
In the corner across from the bed is a small cabinet with fridge and tea/coffee facilities. A narrow sideboard runs along the wall and a small TV is mounted above. Near the door is a small wardrobe that holds a laptop size safe.
The bathroom has a vessel-style sink on a countertop with plenty of space for your toiletries. On the right side is a standard toilet and on the other a large, walk-in shower with a partial glass wall. The shower has a hand-held, wall-mounted and a rainfall shower head. A hairdryer and basic toiletries are provided. Oddly, only two large towels and a bathmat were available, but no hand towels or washcloths, reminding me of a budget hotel. The bathroom appeared recently renovated and was held in large beige tiles.
The free, WiFi internet was reasonably fast and reliable at an average 3.6Mbps, enough to browse the internet or do email.
Restaurant & Amenities: One of the best features of the Bayleaf Intramuros is the SkyDeck rooftop bar and restaurant that offers 360 degree views of Manila Bay, the surrounding old town and the skyline of Manila. It’s a great place to watch the sunset and close out your day. Unfortunately, the service on our most recent visit was very poor. The food quality was good, but prices are ambitious for Manila and what you are getting. Our wine was bad and at 5x the retail price outrageously expensive. My recommendation would be to come early and stick with drinks and snacks in the bar area to get the most from the outstanding location and avoid disappointment.
The breakfast is served buffet-style in the restaurant one floor below the rooftop. You have a small selection of fruits, bread and pastries, juice, coffee and tea, as well as eggs, meats and some hot local dishes. I’d consider the quality and selection to be average for the price category, but it can’t compete with the fantastic spread offered at the similarly prices Novotel Manila, for example.
The Bayleaf Intramuros doesn’t offer a gym or fitness center, so a run around the old town will have to do!
Value & Rewards: We booked the Bayleaf Intramuros for a rate of $83/night including breakfast via hotels.com and earned 10% Welcome Rewards. The Bayleaf doesn’t have a rewards program. Considering the small rooms and lack of hotel amenities, the price seems steep – on the same weekend we could have stayed for just $15 more at the luxury Fairmont Makati! You can find the current prices here.
Bottomline: The Bayleaf Intramuros has a fantastic and unique location inside Manila’s old town. You get a stylish, modern room and decent breakfast, but have to make do with poor service and the lack of amenities like a pool or gym. The rooftop bar is a destination upon itself. You pay a high price for the location – there is little hotel competition in Intramuros.
If you are stopping over in Manila for a few days and want to see the Spanish colonial history, the Bayleaf Intramuros is the perfect place and I’d recommend to stay here, despite the service limitations. If history is not high on your list, I can suggest some better options in Manila.