Ah, December... I love going to Baguio at this time of the year and I can't explain it fully. Maybe the weather has something to do with it or the laid-back atmosphere or that I always sing "chestnuts roasting in an open fire..." and that Baguio seems to be the only place in the Philippines with attic houses and fireplaces (where you can roast the marshmallows) haha. This time, I stayed at The Manor Hotel in Camp John Hay and finally got to check out and list down my must-go-back-to and will-avoid restaurants once and for all. Hehe.
The Manor lobby was already renovated from my first visit a few years back. It's definitely spacious and cozier this time around. Check-in was swift
and they gave us a warm welcome drink (think it's lemongrass and calamansi) :)
I got to chek out my neighbor's 1-bedroom suite hehe. There's one bed (looked like a queen, can fit 2 people),
a sofa that can sleep one more person,
a dining table and a slightly bigger counter with microwave, fridge and mini bar.
They had 2 bathrooms in the suite and a balcony.
Here's my room - Room 334. It's a standard with 2 queens (just looks small in the picture, loved the size of the bed, honestly this room can fit 4 people...).
The bathroom was a bit outdated and wouldn't drain so we switched to another room. One thing I would advise is to check for that when you are booked here and if there's hot shower before you settle in.
I liked the separate vanity table (though the blow dryer I didn't like).
There was an iron board and a safety box (I couldn't get to it because the cabinet door won't budge...). They really need to renovate the rooms I think.
Another tip is to stay in the quiet part of the hotel (as you exit the elevator to your rooms - choose the rooms at the left corridors!). I'll tell you why while showing you the garden.
Well, they changed our room bit it was at the (turned) right (from the elevator) corridor. It was super noisy at night and in the early morning because when you look down, there's the road and parking lot!
Good thing we only stayed for 2 nights. If you were in my position (light sleeper), would you choose to sleep in a quiet room with no hot shower and poor drainage or a room that's ok but on the super noisy side? I just think they can do better and at least check all rooms before each guest stays in with their high rates and all. Anyway, I couldn't let that dampen my holiday spirit haha. Their holiday decors is one of the things I like about this place. It also looks good from the outside....
We got the Forest view for the rooms and it's not bad for me. I love Baguio's pine trees.
There's an eco-trail available but if you get this view then you must be on the noisy side haha. This was our second room view!
They have a wide selection for breakfast and you can sit outside facing the garden for a nice view.
For our first dinner, I suggested Hill Station at Casa Vallejo near SM Baguio since it was easy to find and I've been there once for late lunch (and it was a good experience). It's nice to find out that the Mt. Cloud Bookshop and the Baguio Cinematheque is just next door. Bad idea for this second one haha. The place was packed and the service was super bad.... It might be a good idea to just come here for late lunch and make a reservation too. There's one round of complimentary bread but it really won't be enough for the super long time that your food will arrive. The next mini round will cost you around P60.
We ordered the Oriental Salad though I would order the one with vinaigrette like the first time I went here.
The Mushroom Soup was just okay. I think you'll get more value with the French Onion Soup with all that cheese.
For the main course, I liked the Roast Beef better than the Spareribs. The servings we got are a bit small for the price.
I had the Spiced Chicken. I probably would try other things in the menu...
I was so glad that we tried out Mario's Restaurant for lunch the next day. I know there's one in Quezon City but the restaurant began in Baguio so I just had to include this in our to-do list.
To summarize, everything was great for me even their Celery-Green Apple drink! The Clam Chowder was nice and had lots of meat.
I loved Mario's Caesar Salad! The sauce had the taste that I was looking for, the veggies were crisp (you'll find the freshest vegetables in Baguio!) and there were generous bacon bits with every bite :)
We each ordered yummy dishes and mine was the Mushroom Truffle Pasta. Just say the magic words mushrooms, truffle oil, cream and pasta - I will definitely fall for it haha. This dish can feed around 3 people! If all other food trips fail in Baguio, I would gladly stop at Mario's Restaurant for a last meal to make it all alright :D
We headed over to Sir Pat Acosta's organic farm called the Master's Garden in La Trinidad, Benguet. We went there just a few months ago with the Agricultural Training Institute of the Philippine Department of Agriculture, toured the farm and took home a lot of fresh organic veggies. I think this is a wonderful pasalubong idea from the highlands ;) We got so caught up just talking to Sir Pat that I only got to take a picture of his old shoes LOL. I have much more info on the Master's Garden in my other organic agri posts.
For dinner, we headed to Cafe by the Ruins. Last time I was here, I only got to eat snacks! Well, i ordered the basil and white cheese again then paired it with foccacia. I must say that I still prefer the scones I ate last time.
Their menu seemed to have a mix of Pinoy and Chinese influence in there. I didn't try the Tortang Talong and Duck dishes anymore.
I was busy with my Crispy Adobo Flakes haha. If I was super hungry, I would have finished the red rice. I enjoyed eating string by string then dip it in vinegar ;)
For brunch the next day, we headed to the Baguio-AyalaLand Technohub for some Vizco's since ot was very near The Manor Hotel and inside Camp John Hay.
I had the Philly Cheesesteak then asked them to cut mine in half. It's huge and the meat was a bit salty (but if you bite with the bread then it balances a bit). I think it's pretty reasonable with the price as well.
The other's had the Vizco's burger. The cheese and sauce were dripping with every bite so that was fun haha. They were really generous woth the portions. The only thing that I didn't like were the chips (tasted weird)...
I tried the carrot cake. It was a bit compact and drier than I would have liked.
I'm glad they have other cakes that are NOT chocolate.
My friend actually suggested that I order their bestseller - the Vizco's Strawberry Shortcake (P80 slice, P375 6", P610 8"). OMG I loved it at first bite haha. It's light, flufy and sweet. And it's a good alternative if you want strawberries from Baguio and you don't just want to eat it sour (you can make strawberry sinigang like in Mines View Hotel by the way hehe) or as is ;) I would definitely come back for a slice and take home a whole cake as pasalubong/dessert (all mine)! Haha.
Camp John Hay Manor Hotel
Camp John Hay, Ordonio Drive, Baguio City 2600
HillStation Casa Vallejo (near SM Baguio)
Casa Vallejo, Upper Session Road,
Session Road, Baguio City
Mario's Restaurant (near Camp John Hay)
16 Upper Session Road, Baguio City
ME-133 Lamtang-Pico Road, Barangay Puguis, La Trinidad, Benguet
+63917-9258499 (Pat) / +63917-6468134 (Ana)
Cafe by the Ruins
25 Shuntug Road, Baguio City
Vizco's Restaurant and Cake Shop
(there's one in Session Road - 8GF Puso ng Baguio Building)
Photo Fog Cafe, Camp John Hay Baguio-AyalaLand Technohub