On F. Ramos Street, a short walk from the buzz of Fuente Osmena Circle in midtown Cebu City, Philippines, there are two budget-friendly, family-friendly hotels that offer clean, comfortable rooms, a helpful staff, and a sense of everyday life just outside their doors. My father, who lives in Cebu City part of the year, discovered each on his earlier visits and recommended that I check them out.
The main entrance to the Diplomat Hotel (90 F. Ramos Street; 00-63-32-2530099; [email protected]) is set back in between a corridor of small businesses and shops with an atrium that provides a sense of space and light. Like in many establishments in Cebu City, Santo Niño, the former patron saint of Cebu, has a prominent spot from which to greet guests.
Walk into the lobby and you can’t miss this replica of the holy child. You’ll find versions of this statue everywhere in the city. The version at the Diplomat is perched on top of a stand that looks a bit like a waterfall–a little odd looking but it works as a reminder that decorating tastes vary which is one of the endearing qualities about travel.
The rooms, however, have a more straightforward modern decor of clean lines with few frills except for air-conditioning, a TV, and a telephone.
Catering to business travelers, the Diplomat’s services include a travel agent, laundry and dry cleaning, and an airport transfer. I found the staff to be warm and welcoming. The hotel does have an on-site restaurant, but check out Mae Krua Thai Cuisine restaurant a few doors down. It’s quite good. For breakfast, Robinson’s, also a quick walk away, has a food court that offers a wide variety of options.
Standard room rates start at Php 1040.00 for two single beds. If you’re traveling with children, there are rooms with 3 single beds and 1 single bed and a double bed. The most expensive room is the Suite Room with a bedroom and a living room. That runs Php 2,400 (a little more than $50 U.S.). Make a reservation directly with the Diplomat Hotel through their website, or try using agoda.com or Hotels.com.
Well Hotel (F. Ramos St., Cogon Ramos, ph. 032-254-1741, [email protected]) a bit further from Fuente Osmena Circle is a place to go for breakfast, as well as another pleasant choice for overnight stays. It’s a newer hotel than the Diplomat with large glass windows which makes the hotel’s restaurant a terrific place to watch the comings and goings along the street. I was particularly interested in the vendor selling cooked corn on the cob.
A buffet breakfast is included in the room rate. For a classic Philippine favorite, order the grilled bangus (milkfish) off the menu. It’s one of those dishes you’ll tell others about later, and a reason I’m heading to the Philippines again one day.
Rooms start at PhP 1,300 for the Standard Room (Single Occupancy). The largest room, the Family Room, has a quintuple occupancy and includes a buffet for five. This rate is PhP 4,600 which equals a little over $100.
Each room has a mini-fridge, an electric tea kettle, a flat screen TV and air-conditioning.
Children 10 and under who share a bed with a parent are free.
Whether you stay at the Diplomat or the Well Hotel, finding a taxi or a jeepney (a mini-bus of sorts with open windows) is an easy undertaking.
Post and photos courtesy of Jamie Rhein (except for the guest room photo which is courtesy of the Diplomat Hotel).