For 40 years, The Peninsula Manila has been the benchmark of luxury in the Philippines. World-class business facilities and ultra luxe rooms aside, a spread of onsite spoils, including a day spa and pool, cements the 'Pen' as a destination in its own right. This isn't just any old 5-star hotel.
The Peninsula Manila commands a legendary presence in the heart of Makati City which makes it a favourite among travellers and locals keen to lap up its luxury – and culinary offerings. The hotel serves an average of 630,000 diners each year across six discerning dining and drinking venues. Here's a taste of the Peninsula Manila.
A new-found hobby of mine is people watching in hotel lobbies, from the corporate travellers who dart in and out, eyes glued to their smartphones, to the leisurely ladies who gather over coffee or cocktails and gossip. At the Peninsula Manila, it's almost difficult to focus on the people when there are so many other elements all vying for your attention, including the live orchestra, magnificent golden Sunburst sculpture and the intricate details of capiz shell embellishments. It's certainly the place to see and be seen.
Open day and night, The Lobby serves a well-rounded selection of local delights and international classics. Its claim to fame, however, is their interpretation of halo-halo harana, a traditional Filipino dessert. This fun tropical-holiday-in-a-glass is a layered confection of shaved ice, fruit, sweet beans, jellies, ube (purple yam) ice cream and pieces of dulce de leche (caramel flan). It's sweet, syrupy goodness offset by refreshing jellies and fruit; trust me, every spoonful is like a party in your mouth.
The Peninsula Manila’s newest dining destination exudes the old-world grandeur of the Escolta district. Put simply, Escolta nails the buffet concept. Early start? No problem. Nothing will wake you up faster than a decadent display of freshly-baked pastries, technicolour fruit, made-to-order eggs, freshly squeezed juice and whole young coconuts to sip. The entire culinary spectrum is covered at this international smorgasbord with Filipino classics such as champorado (chocolate rice porridge), dim sum, fresh omelettes, salads and everything in between. Escolta also focuses on a farm-to-table concept highlighting fresh, local produce. Bon appétit!
Spices' moody, dark timber interiors which open onto lush tropical gardens will immediately transport you to a tranquil South East Asia paradise. This decadent restaurant showcases the flavours of Asia, from the fresh aromatics of Vietnamese cuisine, to the heady flavours of India and Sri Lanka. The menu criss-crosses every corner of the continent to deliver a delicious, authentic dining experience. Take your pick from rice dishes, noodles, curries, soup, grilled items and more. Stick to the Filipino classics like Kilawing Tanguingue, a vinegar-cured fish salad similar to Peru's ceviche, and Pancit Bam-i, a glass noodle dish, and you won't be disappointed.
Still hungry for more in Manila?
Get the inside scoop on the Binondo Food Walk
Here's how to spend 48 hours in the Philippines' capital
Old Manila is the Peninsula's signature restaurant. Having undergone a recent revamp, romantic Art Deco-style interiors provide a sophisticated backdrop for a contemporary European menu. At the helm of Executive Chef Mike Wehrle and Chef de Cuisine Bertrand Charles, expect produce-driven fare blending classic techniques and modern flavours, without too much fuss or fanfare. After all, why fiddle with foams and sauces when you have access to beautiful produce?
The dish that arguably represents Old Manila best is the pan-seared foie gras. The bold flavours of the foie gras contrast beautifully with the delicate yellowfin salmon and caramelised apple and pickled ginger. Old Manila is shifting its focus to dishes designed for sharing, including the whole Dover sole, baked sea bass with beurre blanc sauce and beef filet Wellington with black truffle jus.
Hidden in the Peninsula Manila is The Bar, a masculine venue reminiscent of the dimly lit bars of La Antigua Habana in Cuba. Pull up a booth at the bar and indulge in your choice of a tipple or sink into a sofa over quiet conversation or a meeting. Couple your Negroni, single-malt or glass of wine with a Cuban and while away the afternoon.
Salon de Ning
Salon de Ning is a special place. After all, this captivating cavern is a luxurious atelier filled to the brim with strange, precious and curious objects collected on the intrepid travels of Madame Ning. This enigmatic dark-haired beauty is a connoisseur of all things fine and fabulous, brought to life by the imagination of The Peninsula Hotels CEO Peter Borer. Salon de Ning is her stylish Philippine home, one of four worldwide, joining New York, Hong Kong and Shanghai. Expect jazz; expect dancing; expect free-flowing drinks; and expect mouth-water hors d'oeuvres in a space where no detail has been forgotten. Step inside Salon de Ning and you'll be drawn into another world where old Manila meets the high drama of Shanghai, with a little bit of Hollywood glitz thrown in for good measure.
The writer travelled to the Philippines as a guest of Philippines Airlines and Tourism Promotions Board Philippines.