1. Many Americans visiting the Philippines are rich businessmen there to do their business thing. Such folks feel comfortable staying in the large 5-star resorts designed to accommodate their ilk. They like it fancy, they like a hotel so large you can get lost in it. They like having an enormous pool and waterslide in the courtyard, even if they’ll never use it. They want the very best of everything, right now, or they’ll raise a stink over it that nobody wants.

    Who wants to stay around such people?

    You, on the other hand, have friends or relatives in the Philippines you wish to visit; or you just got a wild hair one day that said, “Go to the Philippines… or else!” and felt compelled to make the trip. Do you want to stay in an enormous resort where you’ll need a map to find anything? Do you want to pay well over $300/night just to be catered on hand and foot by professionals who secretly hate you? Do you really need that water slide?

    For people who want to stay in great comfort, be pampered to a degree but don’t want to blow their life’s savings on a vacation, the Cocoon Boutique Hotel is the place for you.


    A view of Tomas Morato Av. I said there are restaurants; I didn’t say they’re all good.

    Located within easy walk of several restaurants, you won’t have to eat any meal other than breakfast in the hotel, which is a good thing, as you will see.  Besides, only two blocks away, Tomas Morato Avenue has the densest concentration of eateries in the area. However, you won’t have trouble finding food wherever you go in the Philippines. Mealtime is a sacrament to Filipinos, one they observe several times a day.


    Cocoon Boutique’s southern Quezon City location places you between Quezon City center and Manila: equally close or far from everything, depending on your mood. If you haven’t experienced it yet, traffic in the Philippines—and especially in the Manila Quezon City area (Metro Manila)—is horrendous. Take my advice and do not rent a car; take taxis (which cost about a quarter what they cost here) as much as possible.


     Failing that, hailing a tricycle will get you where you want to go just as quickly. Some buses and all jeepneys are very hot inside on warm days; bring a fan if you choose that route, and prepare for an adventure. The bus drivers of Metro Manila are insane on the whole.


    The spacious, well-appointed lobby will give you an excellent first impression: the staff is welcoming, friendly and extremely helpful; the entire lobby is elegant without opulence: class without snootiness. The first thing you will see is the antique Steinway pianoforte, or “square piano.” This classic instrument is worth well over a million dollars, but if the staff finds out you’re a pianist, they will insist that you play it. Just do so with care!

    This is a luxury hotel; make no mistakes. And therefore you will spend more here than you would in a no frills place; but it’s a lot less than other luxury resorts, the location is better and you’ll never be treated better no matter where you go. The rates for the cheapest rooms (which are like the lavish accommodations in non-resort hotels) are 7,000 pesos, or roughly $160/night. Through Hotels.com, we paid about $80/night. The hotel’s website offers a 40% off deal for newcomers. Rates vary depending on the time of year; going off season is always cheaper, but you’ll be rained on a lot. For what you get at Cocoon Boutique, $160 is a good deal; with the discounts, it’s an amazing deal.


    Breakfast is complimentary, and if you aren’t into the Filipino breakfast, there are many options including an amazing selection of very fresh tropical fruits. Filipino breakfast is similar to what we traditionally have in America, except that they have garlic fried rice instead of toast and rather than traditional pork in one of its many permutations, you can have tapa (thinly sliced marinated beef), longganisa (sweet Pinoy pork sausage) or my personal favorite, fried boneless bangus (filets of milk fish). Juice and the best coffee you’ll ever drink are part of the buffet.


    The rooms are spacious, tastefully detailed, extremely quiet and as comfortable as you could want. You will see wood, stone and brick everywhere, all recycled from demolished buildings and utilized so expertly that you would never know you’re staying in a building essentially made out of refuse. The walls are made of brick, then wood to contain the bricks and finally plaster on the exterior. A war could explode in the neighboring room and you’d never know it. All beds have Tempur-Pedic mattresses, so getting a good night’s sleep is never a problem. Room service is quick and efficient, especially if you’re ordering drinks from The Deck. The cordless remotely-operated air conditioning is amazingly efficient and nearly silent, even going full blast. All rooms have big screen TVs with cable access, but it’s mostly Pilipino TV, which—you’ll find if you give it a try—is very much like American TV, only not as stupid.


    The bathroom will amaze you if you’re as easy to impress as I am. Not only can the glass shower stall hold two people with ease, the bathtub can as well. I’ve had apartments smaller than that bathroom. The only negative that I could find about Cocoon Boutique (and I was really looking) was the refrigerator. We stayed in the hotel for two engagements, in two different rooms, and in both cases the fridge was merely cool, at best. But this problem is easily remedied by a call to room service for some ice. Ice makes everything better… or at least colder. Another option is to leave your beer on the counter (there’s plenty of counter space, by the way), turn the AC to its maximum setting and go out for a few hours.


    The Deck is the breakfast restaurant/bar that wraps around two sides of the rooftop pool. The pool is small and lit from below with constantly shifting colored LED lights that provide more ambience than illumination. The covered dining area will keep you dry when it rains, and count on it doing that a lot, even during the so-called “dry season.” Because the hotel is taller than most buildings within about a mile, the view from The Deck is excellent when the rain stops falling—and can be thrilling during thunderstorms.


     Planters between the tables and pool feature several herbs used by the chef in meal preparation. While hanging out on The Deck, I observed him snipping individual leaves after careful scrutiny several times.


    Josh and Eras: just two of the many who provided excellent service on The Deck

    The bar on The Deck is fine, but don’t ask for a Manhattan cocktail. For some reason, no one in the Philippines knows how to make a Manhattan. But relax if you are a Manhattan drinker, because the mai tais at Cocoon are large and tasty. Stick with tropical drinks to avoid frustration.


    While the breakfast fare is terrific, the lunch/dinner menu at Cocoon is better than fair but still struggling to reach excellence. But who cares? A one minute walk—or less—will take you to one of many fine local eateries. If you like Cantonese food, look no farther than Maki Haus next door to Cocoon, which sounds like it should be a fusion Japanese/German restaurant but isn’t. The place looks like any cheap venue serving food designed to give health inspectors heart attacks, but Maki Haus offers some fine chow, and at good prices.


    The staff at Cocoon are second to none. Just don’t try to speak too much English at the service crew, such as housekeeping; it only amuses them, and you probably won’t understand their response. The staff is every bit as efficient and quick as that of any 5-star resort in Manila, but they are also friendly, outgoing, very helpful and extremely courteous, which you may not find at the huge resorts. They made us feel as if we were a part of the hotel family while always maintaining a sense of propriety. Everyone called me Sir Thomas, which made me feel like royalty… simple-minded buffoonish royalty (which was nobody’s doing but my own), but royalty nonetheless.


     The Business Center is just two PCs on a long table. The BC staff is very friendly, but not the most knowledgeable around. Then again, I do not recommend Cocoon Boutique for businessmen, but for vacationers who deserve some pampering, so who cares? All you’ll use the business center for, in all likelihood, is to check your email and to log in to Facebook to rub in your friends’ noses just how great a time you’re having.


    Speaking of pampering, what’s better for cosseting a weary traveler than a full body massage? The Iris Spa is located beside the Business Center on the second floor, and one session is included in the price of your room.

    Outside of the hotel but occupying the same building is a beauty salon where the pampering continues.  My wife spent three hours in there getting a hair job, manicure and pedicure and received beauty treatments and massages without having to ask (and for no extra charge). Those three hours cost her a whopping $25 or so. If you try for the same treatment here in Los Angeles, it’ll set you back a couple hundred or more and you won’t be pampered nearly as much.

    There are nicer hotels in the world (maybe not in Metro Manila, though); you’ll find equally helpful and friendly workers on occasion; you may find a hotel in an even better location that offers the same kind of service—but you’ll be hard pressed to find all of these qualities in any place other than Cocoon Boutique Hotel. It is, in all honesty, the best hotel I have ever seen, let alone stayed at.

    Cocoon Boutique prides itself on being a “green” facility. The term “green” is usually enough to make me avoid a place, but I’m glad I didn’t in this case, and they take their responsibility seriously. All lights are energy savers, mostly LED. All rooms have two waste baskets: one for recyclables, and one for non-recyclables. Please be sure to show the same environmental consciousness as Cocoon does when staying there and separate your trash appropriately. The Earth will thank you.


    Cocoon Boutique Hotel                                                                                                                  

    61 Scout Tobias corner Scout Rallos Streets,
    Bgy Laging Handa,
    Quezon City 1103, Philippines
    Trunklines: 632- 9212706 to 08
    Fax Number: 632- 4137281


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