You wouldn’t miss The Boutique Bed and Breakfast when you find yourself in Tagaytay. After all, it’s so close to the famous rotunda and stands out amid the mediocre establishments in the area.
The Boutique (or The B) has a modern and minimalist façade consisting of stark whites, edges, glass, lights and plants. It’s not particularly eye catching in the morning but once the sun sets, The B is breathtaking with all its lights on especially the chandeliers at the lobby that one could see from the outside.
It was such a thrill to be able to get a promo rate of an overnight stay at The B especially on my 1st wedding anniversary. I cannot think of anywhere better to stay at especially because: First, I was stuck in the south because my car is banned from the main streets of the metro on Thursdays – on which day my anniversary unfortunately fell. Second, The B is known to be a couple’s retreat. The room names like “I Lust”, “I Desire” and “I Love” couldn’t have made this little fact more obvious.
Here is an account of my experience:
1. Parking. There was ample parking maybe because it was a Thursday, there are actually just 7 rooms available (do the math) and The B’s Hawaiian Resto is not popular. For one, there are more interesting restos (e.g. sonya’s, Antonio’s, Leslies, Josephines, Buon Giorno among others) in the area and, for the life of me, I can’t fathom why Hawaiian? In Manila, the best resto theme would be Italian because everyone here loves pasta and pizza.
2. Lobby. Small and very modern with 2 leather couches, HUGE mirror and a chandelier.
3. “My” Toiletries. At the back of the receptionist was a small room that both served as the hotel store and where check-in guests are to choose their preferred room scent, soap, shampoo, conditioner and lotion. Available scents are the usual Lavender, Green Tea and Peppermint among others. The attendant will cut you a bar from the big bar of soap that sort of adds to the charm of the check-in process. I have had experiences with small, medium and big hotels but none offered this freedom. The toiletry choices are then placed in a leather bucket together with the standard slippers, laundry bag, Q Tips, cotton and loofah (yey). I, particularly, love the slippers embroidered with the brand.
4. I-Desire. I can only opine about this room because this was where I stayed. It is located on the second floor with a private terrace overlooking the al fresco side of the Hawaiian resto, some far away foliage and a bit of the Taal lake/volcano.
The walls of the room were done in brown/purple with a large mirror (I mean, LARGE) which matches the oversized winged chair. There was a wall- mounted TV which I reckoned would be about 32”, a DVD player and a high tech speaker (I say high tech cause I don’t know how to operate it).
There was a welcome fruit platter consisting of a large Fuji apple, an orange, a banana and 2 bottled waters.
Near the bedside was a magic 8-ball which I found playful but out of place in a couple themed room. I would have wanted a deck of cards or dice with all the naughty suggestions partners could try to do … hello, couple’s retreat, right? There were also 2 small glass containers – like apothecary glasses containing complimentary nibblers like shing-a-lings and yemas. I love the thoughtfulness.
5. Welcome! Just as I thought that I would get my much-needed ME time already, I got a knock on the door. The refreshments served was modest but packed with so much flavor. It consisted of a carafe of iced tea, “espasol” sliced in bite size pieces and served with chocolate dip. It was a good combination – flavorwise — and I was impressed.
6. Bedside shopping. There was a small box of things like sexy negligee, sleep wear and underwear etc. (e.g. loofah (what the heck), underwear bag (what the heck again) inside the cabinet which could totally be useful for those who would go to The B unplanned – good luck on getting a room. I heard occupancy rate is pretty high especially on weekends. Think, 7 rooms only.
7. Bathroom. The bathroom was about 1.5m narrow x 4m deep. It was clean with a twist of naughty as the shower side has a full glass window, i.e. floor to ceiling glass window! Guests eating at the al fresco side of the resto downstairs could get a free shower show if not for a satiny burgundy cover that was hanged at the lower half of the window – a rather pathetic attempt at modesty. While this might serve the purpose in the morning, I wonder how it would work at night. I usually take a bath with full lights on — like most people — and if I were to do so, I would give the guests at the resto a show in silhouette — hello Kenny G! I suggest they replace the satiny curtain with a more opaque one to block off any inadvertent and indecent shower shows.
8. Bed. The bed was a king with 4 goosefeather pillows (one can actually choose from a menu of pillows like microfiber, lavender therapeutic pillow etc.), 5 large throw pillows and 3 small peanut-shaped pillows. I’m not really a fan of too many pillows – 5 throw pillows? And 3 small peanut-sized ones? They made the bed too cluttered. Additionally, I was peeved by the not-so-white color of the linens including the towels. For the price and the modern hype, the linens were somewhat shabby looking. I actually smelled the pillows and blankets to gauge their cleanliness because one can’t be too sure from just looking at them. It was a good thing that everything smelled fresh – for sure, sprayed with some linen scent to add an oommpph. But, seriously, if laundry is really bad, a tonful of sprays wouldn’t work. I judged that the linens were clean but seriously discolored.
10. Pick a Movie. The B has a DVD library from where one can choose to borrow. The max is 3 DVDs at a time. You can borrow new ones upon surrender of previously borrowed DVDs. Let’s just say that only 2 titles, The Box and Rush Hour 3, piqued my interest. Either the library was just too shallow or I am a cinema rat – seriously, I am not. But, in their defense, I think they assumed that NOBODY was going be watching TV at all. I mean, couple’s retreat?
Sidetrip: If you value your time, don’t watch The Box. The only thing worth remembering about the movie is that Cameron Diaz starred in it. Rush Hour 3, on the other hand, has the same save-the-world plot with the same whining and loud-mouthed Chris Tucker– dear Chris Tucker, you are officially irritating me — and the usual great stunts from Jackie Chan.
11. Free massage. There was a 10 minute Facial or Foot massage. Nothing spectacular.
12. Nighty night. After 9pm, the hotel gave a night cap of hot chocolate and cookies. Again, a nice touch.
13. Breakfast. Dubbed as the “Morning After” breakfast menu which further underscored The B as a couple’s retreat.
The room attendant who accompanied me to my room with my bucket of toiletries explained that I have to check my breakfast preferences from among the choices and hang it by the door before 9pm.
Deciding what to eat for breakfast was serious. It started with choosing one hot and one cold beverage, one entree from Continental, Hawaiian and Filipino choices and desserts. I simplified that…there were actually lots of things like bread? Jams? Butter?
Breakfast was served at exactly 8am like I indicated in the breakfast menu that I filled out the night before. I was completely blown away by the set up! A big breakfast bed table – good for 2 — was put up where all my breakfast choices and nice cutleries were prepped. A sweet note came with the breakfast that made it all more romantic. WOW. I so loved it.
14. Feedback form. So The B appreciates what its customers have to say BUT the questionnaire could have been structured better and there should be a bigger space for comments.
14. Bye. Check out was easy and I got another surprise – an elegant gold box with burgundy ribbons containing a “goodbye” gift of chocolates. I was totally surprised by this one. I thought the “thoughtfulness” or “little personal touches” were over seriously. Then, it hit me again.
Few more things for improvement:
1. The B might be clear about its target market being couples but it should not assume that all those who check in are married or married and the wife takes the husband surname. While I loved the personal welcome letter signed by the owners waiting in the room, it was misaddressed as Mr. and Mrs. My-Surname. I might be married but I don’t use my husband’s surname and since the stay at The B was my surprise anniversary gift to my husband I was the one who registered. It was just kind of a mood breaker when I read Dear Mr. and Mrs. My-Surname. My husband never got to read that letter so I don’t know what his reaction would be. Whether that liberty to assume that people checking in are married was honest or just a plain ploy to create “kilig” especially for unmarried couples, I dunno. Just write a letter with more ambivalence.
2. The conversations down at the resto drifted up to the upper floors and was distracting. Okay, I was just watching a movie. But it will be probably more distracting for couples who are “engaged” in doing something more intimate. I wonder how it could get worse for those who were checked in on the lower floors. I am thankful I wasn’t bunked in either rooms – “I Surrender” and “I Escape/I Love”, which by the way had patios that opened to the resto’s al fresco area.
3. The B screamed elegance and class. While I appreciate the extra mile of having nibblers by the bedside, I think the shing-a-lings and yemas cheapened the experience.These things can be bought from the streets vendors or typical pasalubong centers. The goodbye gift in elegant gold box contained what appeared like cheap chocolates also. My expectation shot skyhigh with that elegant box and then plummetted at finding the cheap chocolates. Totally a HHUUUWWATTT moment. I would have preferred 3 pieces of kisses even without the box. In my opinion, this was a classic case of having the right concept and the wrong execution.
4. Street noise could be heard in the room. Beep beep, vvrrooom and that irritating sound trucks make when they pass by – like you know that something big and heavy was rolling. Although, the noise was “muted” but you’ll know it was there.
Overall, The B would have given a great and romantic get-away. The romance seemed to be built-in in the place but sadly there was an issue between me and my husband that is too complex and deep. The B didn’t help us patch things up.
Despite that I still think I got my money’s worth if just for the experience and the WOW moments. I hope I can return, hopefully to create happy memories not bad ones just like what I have now.