Ramblings about food, cooking, recipes, travels, history and walking around Manila.
When Manila was struggling to keep heritage structures from being demolished and burned to the ground, the city of Pasay got lucky when an old compound was noticed by The Henry Hotel.
I received an invite from a friend to visit their family’s old compound where The Henry Hotel is now operating. I didn’t need any map since I knew where the old compound was, I had spent sometime there playing with old friends who used to live there. If my memory serves me right, they were living next door to Raymond Lauchengco (80’s babies… you know who I’m talking about *wink!*)
I used to frequent the old compound around the late 80’s to early 90’s. I can remember the red (or was it red orange???) gate opening to a long driveway lined with Acacia trees. Nothing much in it before but old houses and if my memory hasn’t failed me yet, I think an open space in the middle to play basketball, volleyball or badminton. The walkway enabled residents to bike around the compound even go roller-blading (yes, that was the “IN” thing during that time).
Fast forward to 2015, after two decades since I last set foot in this compound, the old gate in front of Gideon Academy is no longer there, replace by something more elegant and the bronze sign depicting The Henry Hotel was inside. As Richmond and I were fumbling for change (we had to take a cab since temperature was at 39 Celsius), the security guard informed us the cab can drop us off inside. We declined since we wanted to start shooting the place from the gates.
Upon entering the compound, memories started to flood in. It was like stepping through another time. I saw the old houses and an open space as a basketball court in the middle of the compound in my head. In reality, the old houses were repainted and restored with a sprawling garden and a pool. A little bit of trivia, built as an estate for expats back in the early 1950s (can be as early as 1948), this one hectare compound has more than a dozen retro American-style bungalows shaded by trees. Set amidst lush greenery is an interesting enclave of 15 post-World War II, medium-sized and nearly identical two-storey houses. Typical rags to riches story of Chinese immigrants, who were able to purchase the place from hard work after World War II. This compound used to be a residential abode for the Chinese owner’s large family, hence referred to by American expats as the Chinese Compound.
All these houses, designed to facilitate air flow before the introduction of air-conditioning, have high ceilings, large windows and a second floor balcony. This 32-room boutique hotel (rooms are actually spread over similar looking five houses) is a dream-true for heritage lovers.
Its floors are laden with Machuca tiles (I didn’t know what they were before lol!).
The White Mansion is where you can find the Owner’s Suite and the elegant dining area of Apartment 1B.
Our friend Mike Lu served as our tour guide/historian… I’m not going to give you the details about Mike’s family since it’ll take me half a day to explain everything… even harder to explain in this blog post.
The hotel was proved to be a superb find, an unexpected, secure, friendly, inviting, grand oasis in the midst of the chaos outside the compound- a striking contrast. A perfect example of adaptive reuse. Keeping the old world elements of these heritage structures mixed with 21st century comforts gives you something unique and inviting.
Guests can enjoy a dip in the pool and marvel at the serene garden, which was designed by National Artist for Landscape Architecture Ildefonso P. Santos.
Inside each refurbished room are contemporary bathrooms with modern-day shower features and a bathtub where one can unwind, enjoy a good book, savor peace and quiet.
Bonus if you check the art studio/galleries and furniture showroom within the hotel compound.
The service is efficient and courteous and friendly. Staff wears quirky (nerdy) glasses adding a touch of whimsy.
I wanted to stay a little bit longer, but I had to go to Paco Park with Richmond and hurry back to Resorts World where my family was.
But I will definitely come back for a staycation… and of course, the food! ^_^
Photo Credits: Richmond Chi & Jason Ng
The Henry Hotel:
2680 F.B.Harrison St., Pasay City.
Tel: (632) 807-8888.
Avellana Art Gallery:
Unit A-19, 2680 F.B.Harrison St., Pasay City.
Tel: (632) 833-8357
Open Mondays to Saturdays, 10 AM to 7 PM.
Atelier of Jojie Lloren:
Unit A-17 2680 F.B Harrison St., 1300 Pasay City.
Tel: (632) 556-4725, (632) 641-9347 and (632) 401-1194. Fax: (632) 896-7199
Artelano 11 Furniture Gallery:
Unit A-11, 2680 F.B. Harrison St., 1300 Pasay City.
Tel: (632) 832-9972
Mobile number: (0917) 837-0115