This is great little boutique hotel as close to the beach as you can get. Just step off the dining deck and you're on the beach path, ten feet later you're on the beach. There are lovely, tall palm trees... it is very nice indeed. However, I only rated this a 3 - and there are good reasons for that rating. However, I need to preface my comments by saying how much I enjoyed my stay here. It was a great, relaxing place to decompress after a couple of weeks working long days in Manila.
So, what's the problem, you ask?
I wanted an ocean view room and they offered the 357 Suite. The photo (of the bed) looked great. And the room did have an ocean view and the bed was as pictured, but it is not a suite. (I didn't require a suite, but when you're booked into what's called a suite, you expect, well, a suite. This was a bedroom, with a sliding glass door that opened onto a balcony (more on this later) and it had a private toilet and washroom with a shower. I've stayed in many suites, and you at a minimum expect more space. This was comfortable for me, but if my wife were traveling with me, we would have been really cramped.
The bathroom is also small. Normally a "suite" has a nicely upgraded bathroom, but this was a sink, a toilet and a "corner shower" you know, one of those small things you might find in an RV or trailer. There was no sense of design or decor in the bathroom. Please understand, I'm not slamming this resort -- I liked it a lot -- but when you book a place it is sometimes nice to see an honest assessment of what you're getting. You want the surprises on your vacation to be happy ones, not disappointing ones.
It's a common rule that you can judge a hotel by its towels; big, thick towels equate with creature comforts and attention to detail, small thin towels typically mean the finer points are slipping a bit. Yep, 357 Boracay had basic cheap towels. (Note: I had just come from the Crown Plaza hotel in Manila - not a world class 5 star establishment by any measure - but it had nice big thick towels. If they can do it for their hundreds of rooms then a boutique can do it for 10 rooms.)
The room (I can't bring myself to call it a suite) had a sliding glass door that opened onto a balcony that looked out at the palm trees on the beach, and beyond those you could see the water. Very nice, but it's weird to sit on your balcony enjoying the view and have other hotel guests walk out and enjoy the hotel balcony -- which is between you and the view! So, it's private in the sense that there's a fence around your space, but it really is just a corner of the common area.
It doesn't sound like it, but I really do like this place - but their website gave me a much more luxurious expectation than was realized upon checking in... and that is what I want to help balance a bit by my review.
Finally, the weirdest thing, was that you had to pay the full amount of the stay prior to arrival - in order for your reservation to be confirmed. This (for me) was a real pain. They did not accept PayPal, they would not use MoneyGram, my only choices were Western Union (which I could never get to work online) and a wire transfer into their bank. I tried to pay them for two weeks. Finally, since I was in Manila, I spent an hour in a taxi to go to their office in Makati and give them cash -- at which time they couldn't even provide change for the payment. Guys, this is the 21st century... you have to figure out how to accept credit cards. At least offer PayPal as an option.
Ok... enough of the problem areas. Now, for some compliments.
The room was really pretty. The bed was nice with its net covering (not a true mosquito net, but it looked nice).
Breakfast was good. (Note: only the continental breakfast was included in the room rate - a full breakfast was a more expensive option, which I did every day)
Location is amazing. Close to the boats that bring you from Caticlan, and right on the beach.
They have beach chairs and beach towels. Not all places do.
The cost was reasonable.
I loved the atmosphere, the vibe, here - it was very "beachy" - you knew you were on vacation every moment.
Debbie, the manager, was on top of everything - from the welcome cold drink and shell necklace, to booking any activity you desired. Except changing money, but there are many places that are on the beach that show their rates on a board so you can shop before you do your forex.
On the website for this hotel they are justifiably proud of their awards - but you'll notice there have been none for the past seven years. That's my basic feeling about this place - it was great, and now it is kind of coasting and if it doesn't pick up steam soon, it will join the group of mediocre establishments of which it is said, "this could be a really nice place if they would only..."
That being said, I'd go back again tomorrow!
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- Also Known As:
- 357 Boracay Hotel Boracay
- 357 Hotel Boracay