While hanging out in the Boracay forum prepping for my upcoming trip, a "local expert" complained that he had never seen a "real review" of the Island Jewel. The reviews are all so uniformly good, they can't all be real, he hinted. Well, having done a few reviews for TripAdvisor, I decided to take him up on his challenge and write a Real Review of the Island Jewel. Brace yourselves, please.
Short version: Incredible hospitality, covers the basics beautifully and with heartfelt genuineness, makes you feel at home in a faraway place, wish I could have stayed there for much much longer. Staying at Island Jewel made my vacation a true life-changing event. Much more than great value for money, it will make your island vacation truly memorable.
Now for the details: Booking via email and sending a deposit via Zoom was a breeze. (Be aware that Island Jewel does not accept credit or debit cards, and that Zoom transfers can get tricky if originated outside the US or UK.) I opted for the transfer service, and from the moment I saw Brother Edgar outside baggage claim at Caticlan airport, via van and motorized banca and trike taxi to the moment I had a San Mig at the inn in Angol with Brother Peter, 30 minutes flat! That was just a foretaste of the wonderful efficiency and hospitality I received at this family-run inn.
Island Jewel is tucked away in a residential neighborhood called Angol, just to the south of Station 3 and a 2-minute walk to the best part of White Beach: best for me because it's more laid back and quiet than the busier areas of Boracay. Yes, roosters announce the dawn, followed by the chatter of birds at first light, but you will not hear them in your well-constructed room. At breakfast in the open-air dining area, you will hear children from the neighborhood, and sweet singing might drift from somewhere over the wall as you gaze on the well-tended garden. This is a pocket inn with a limited number of rooms, solidly built by Peter (formerly an engineer in the UK) and completed only a year ago, located in a real place among real people and not in some antiseptic tourist compound. Locals will nod and greet you as you pass, just as the staff greets you by name unfailingly with a formal "Good morning Sir", and this formality is part of the culture, a sign of respect and welcome for the stranger. Your common courtesy in kind is given back to you a thousandfold.
For the staff here is not just staff, it is family. And soon enough you begin to feel part of the family too. Amazing English Peter married amazing Filipina Marina, her kin work as staff, and everyone is spot-on and wonderful. Every day by the time I finished my early morning walk, my room had already been cleaned to perfection. Sister Josey remembered how I take my coffee, and made my breakfast eggs and garlic rice perfectly every time. All gave me great suggestions for dining and places to hang. A fan was switched on at my first bead of sweat. One evening Brother Francis invited me for an evening of pool at Cocoloco, soundly thrashed me each game, and I loved it! I truly felt welcomed and valued as a guest, and Peter's claim that Island Jewel is "home from home" rings very true.
My room was a ground floor standard (concession to a bad hip and trouble with stairs) and was just what was needed. Bedding is clean and just firm enough, not overly so. AC and fan work well and are fairly quiet. There is open storage, all rooms are non-smoking (though one may smoke outside the rooms), floor is cool tile, a small TV works fine. A mini-fridge stores various fluids at very fair prices, and laundry service is fast and cheap. And I say again, the housekeeping is excellent! Lighting is minimal, but one is in the room to rest and to sleep in dark peaceful coolness; there are plenty of places outside for more light-intensive activity.
My room did not have a bathroom; it had a wetroom. I hear that these are common in Asia, with shower, sink and toilet in one enclosed well-drained tile-floored space. (I've even seen them at boutique hotels in NYC!) Well-designed it was, and easy to keep spotlessly clean, as mine was always. The downside was the occasional wet foot, and Heaven forbid! shower spray on the toilet. (Simple solution: Apply towel. Wipe. Repeat as needed.)
The restaurant has developed a local reputation (I know, because I asked around) for quality and fair prices at breakfast and lunch. Try the Filipino breakfast, with eggs and garlic rice and your choice of several breakfast meats (including delicious tocino made by Marina). And after hours in the night when you come back from the hubbub up the beach to quiet Angol, Brother Erson faithfully stands guard to let you in the gate and to keep the grounds secure. All rooms but the ground floor standard have an in-room safe; that room, being close to the front desk, made having a safe unnecessary.
The accommodations were fine for me, and a welcome value at the price point. I loved the well-prepared food, the fairly priced beverages, the peaceful and quiet location in a real island neighborhood steps from the best of White Beach. But most of all I will remember the extraordinary hospitality I received from everyone at Island Jewel. It melted my heart and went far beyond "adjusting my latitude": it introduced me to the boundless warmth and welcome of the Filipino people. This was not just a vacation to me: it changed my thinking about people and values in many ways that I will remember long after my trip. Experiencing the Island Jewel was instrumental in this.
Island Jewel is not a soulless, anonymizing resort, divorced from local culture, and Peter and Marina would never have had it that way; this is a simple though clean and well-run inn without too many outward bells and whistles. You will need to want to feel a sense of place and to crave true unforced hospitality to stay at a venue like this. And once you do, you will have discovered a real home and have become part of a warm new family. I am grateful beyond words to have found the Island Jewel, now and always my Boracay home from home. And that, dear friends, is my real review!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Modern, family run, bijou hotel, only 1 minute from the famous White Beach. Quietly positioned at stn. 3 where the beach is clean and less crowded. Ideal for a relaxing holiday but only 15-20 mins beach stroll to clubs and vibrant night life. All rooms fully furnished with air-con, optional fan, H & C shower, cable TV, mini-bar & wall safe. ... more less
- Reservation Options:
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- Also Known As:
- Island Jewel Hotel Boracay
- Island Jewel Boracay