Few months before December 2016, I searched for different destinations because I want to plan in advance where we should go for the New Year's eve celebration. Last 2015, we toured around Bataan and stayed at The Plaza Hotel in Balanga. As much as possible, we want to stay away from fireworks' smoke; that's why we always choose to just have a staycation in a hotel every New Year's eve. I end up choosing Hotel H2O in Manila because I know that many people will go either in North or South for the holidays. On the other hand, Manila will not be crowded by that time. And I was right.
I booked their New Year's Special package which includes an overnight stay in an Aqua Room, Manila Ocean Park tickets to selected attractions, Zenyu Spa hotbed treatment or fish spa, New Year's eve special dinner buffet and a breakfast buffet in Makan-Makan restaurant.
Hotel H2O Experience
Hotel H2O is located just behind the Quirino Grandstand. This is also where the famous Manila Ocean Park is located. The Rizal Park, also known as Luneta Park, is just a walking distance from Hotel H2O. There is so much to see in Manila like the historical Intramuros and National Museum - both of which are just a few minutes away from Hotel H2O by car. You may also opt to hire a calesa instead to go around Manila.
Check-in and Check-out Time
Just like any other hotels, the standard check-in time in Hotel H2O is 2:00 pm, and the check-out time is 12:00 nn. If it's not peak season, they allow early check-in depending on the room availability. But since it's a peak season, I know we couldn't check-in early. I called a day before and asked if we can go early to get the Manila Ocean Park tickets. They said it's okay, so we arrived around 11:00 am. We were able to have lunch and tour around to some attractions while waiting for the check-in time. At exactly 2:00 pm, we went back to the hotel lobby and we were surprised with the very long lines at the reception. It took us around 20 minutes before being served.
Concierge, Hotel Lobby and Hallway
The concierge is at the ground level, near the parking area. This is where the guests may go for the first time. There are hotel staffs to assist you with your luggage and they will instruct you the directions going to the hotel lobby. The main lobby of Hotel H2O is located at the third floor. It is very spacious and it seems like it's built for a big number of people. There are a lot of couches in the area where you can relax while waiting. The hallway going to the rooms is clean. I feel like I was inside a small but long tunnel while walking there. You have to remember your room number clearly because the doors are confusing.
There are 8 different room choices in Hotel H2O - Park View, Bay View, Aqua Room, Aqua Supreme, Bay Deluxe, Aqua Jellies, Premiere Classic, and Executive Suite. We availed their famous Aqua Room and our little one is very happy with it.
The Aqua Room has 1 big bed, enough for 2 adults and a child. Since we're 3 adults, we requested for an extra mattress. There's a coffee and tea making facilities, safety deposit box, wall-mounted television, and a refrigerator. However, the refrigerator in our room didn't work so I called the housekeeping and requested for another one. They are kind enough to change it.
The highlight of the room is the aquarium and you can see different kinds of fish inside it. Some of them are clown fish (hello Nemo), lipstick tang, banner fish, orbicular batfish, rabbitfish and many more. Sometimes, there are only few that will pass by but there are also times that they go in big batch. You'll immediately notice it if you're paying attention with the big aquarium. The aquarium lights turn off at exactly 9:00 pm and will be on again at 6:00 am. Since we're there for the New Year's eve, we're still wide awake at that time and Wyatt became sad when the aquarium lights turned off.
Work Desk and Internet Connection
Being an online freelancer, having a fast and stable internet connection is crucial. I brought my laptop with me because I still have some stuffs to finish for my clients. Upon check-in, I was asked by the receptionist about how many device do we need to connect to the internet because they will give an individual login for the wi-fi. I asked for 4 because there were four of us to stay there. Once you input the login details, it is valid for only 24 hours.
The working desk at our room is a long one; it's connected to the coffee making facilities all the way to the other end, which is the front of television, with the aquarium at the side. I immediately setup my laptop and connected to the wi-fi. The connection is fast but sometimes it slows down too. I used my Globe mobile data from time to time and it's much faster.
There's only one chair inside the room but we need another one. I called the housekeeping again and asked for an extra chair. It took some time but thankfully, they managed to bring one more chair to our room.
When I booked for the room, I declared that there will be 3 adults and 1 child in the room. I've paid the extra charge for another person so I expected that everything is set according to our number. But then when I checked the bathroom, there are only two bath towels, two dental kits, and a bottle of shampoo, liquid soap, and lotion good for just two persons. It's a good thing that we're prepared enough and we have some extra necessities. Although I can request for another set, but hey I called the housekeeping several times already. I don't want to bother anymore.
What I don't like about the bathroom is that the main glass door is the same with the shower door. I mean, they can be interchanged. One door with two functions but you only have to choose what to close - the main bathroom or just the shower area. We just opted to close the main door area and we left the shower area open. It's a mess because the water from the shower sprinkled all over the bathroom especially that we have a child with us.
Anyway, there's a digital weighing scale inside the bathroom and I loved it. I was able to check my weight several times during the eating season. Hahaha!
Restaurant and the Food
The New Year's eve special package includes a buffet dinner and breakfast in Makan-Makan Restaurant. For the dinner, they require a reservation. So upon arrival at the hotel, I immediately reserved a table for four pax. They gave a wristband that should be worn to enter the Pacific Hall for dinner. The dinner will be served from 7:00 to 9:00 pm. They assured us that even if we came around 8pm, there's already a table reserved for us.
Our little one fell asleep around 5:30 pm and we waited for him to wake up before having a dinner. We didn't worry too much about the time because we have a reserved table. However, when we get there quarter to 8:00 pm, it took them some time before they gave us a table. They have a list and it's indicated that we're supposedly occupying table number 65. But then there are other people sitting there so we just stand and wait for the usher. I asked him why we don't have a table. He said, "naibigay na po sa iba eh". (It's given to someone else). I was like, WHY?! What's the purpose of reservation if they will just give it to other people? I've paid in full, so technically, the table reserved for us shouldn't be given to someone else!
About the food, nothing's special about it - just average. They have lechon, fish fillet, chicken that I don't know what it's called, soup, alfredo pasta that's very overcooked! You can't even recognize the pasta anymore! The consistency is no longer good. My husband even mistakenly think that it's a sopas. After eating dinner, we experienced LBM! Because of that, we didn't have any appetite for breakfast the following day.
I called the housekeeping if they have medicines. I bought imodium which costs 30 pesos each. Pricey but we have no choice. I thought one is enough but the diarrhea is getting worse. So I ordered two more imodium.
As much as we loved our stay in Hotel H2O for our New Year's eve celebration, we can't deny the fact that we're somewhat disappointed. It's a good thing that our child didn't eat that darn pasta so he didn't suffer with LBM like us. The room is good and supposedly relaxing but we ended up uncomfortable the entire night because of that LBM. I commend the staffs though for consistently keeping up with our requests.