It was more than 13 years ago when I first set foot in Aurora. It was an exciting road trip with friends. From Manila, we drove through the Sierra Madre mountains down to Baler. Though I am fully aware of the surfing scene boom and the growing development of the province, I only got the chance to go back this early September when I chanced upon a good getaway deal at Deal Grocer for a three days and two nights stay at L’Sirene Boutique Resort in Baler. The resort looked hip and stylish, and the remote location made it even more appealing to me. It would make an ideal base for exploration and relaxation.
In a span of a decade, I can say I am seeing how Batanes transform. Recently, accommodations are on the rise to cater to the increasing number of tourist in the country’s smallest province up north. While new ones are being built or old homes converted into homestay, a long-time establishment asserts its place in Basco. Pension Ivatan, a small hometel with a restaurant known to serve Ivatan cuisines is already considered an institution. I have seen the trend of dining options come and go in Batanes but this is one of those that has stayed ever since I remember.
Figuring out Baguio’s transport system can be daunting at first due to its winding and narrow roads. But staying there for four nights, I got a gist of commuting and can go comfortably off town. While not centrally located downtown near Session Road, C Boutique Hotel has its own special charm. Coming from the mountain haven of Sagada, C Boutique Hotel was a quiet transition. It’s away from the bustling city center and closer to the mountain views in which Baguio is known.
There’s this distinctive charm I find in Cocoon Boutique Hotel that I can’t really put into words clearly. This small boutique hotel by the corner of Scout Tobias near Timog in Quezon City looks unpretentious from the outside with only about six floors (including the rooftop) and stretching wider on the Scout Rallos side. It was a different story once I got into the lobby. Like going through a rabbit hole, the high-ceiling lobby, the gorgeous vintage grand piano, the excellent woodwork on the walls, touch of color and life from the indoor plants and then there’s the genuine smile as the staff welcomed us.