I got an invite a few weeks ago from Roomorama, an online booking website for short-term accommodations worldwide. I asked if I could check out first how their services work, how exactly their offered accommodations look and see if it fares well with budget travelers like me.
Signing up was a breeze and it took me no less than five minutes to browse the available short-term rentals within the Metro area, pick my accommodation of choice, check the availability dates, and book my reservations. I was even able to personally message the owner of the bed and breakfast we would be staying in.
I love the fact that Roomorama has a very secure messaging system that automatically detects if you put in personal identifiable information and warns you about it.
The owner of Coco’s Garden replied to me less than an hour after I sent out my message thru Roomorama’s site and confirmed my booking. Everything’s done with just a few clicks of the mouse; no hassle of calling through phone nor going out to personally book the place. There was absolutely no need to ask the help of the in-house support team which are available 24/7 in case of uncalled circumstances.
Besides the ease of using Roomorama’s site, another nice thing about being a member are the perks that goes along with it, like discounts and stuff from its partner companies.
Now, on to their rooms!
It was a very hectic week; birthday parties, appointments, interviews and whatnots all piled up together. I really needed a place to just sit, lie, do nothing and totally unwind my tired joints.
We initially thought of booking a regular hotel room, but thought better of it, where’s the fun in that. We chose to find something much quainter; a place surrounded by lush gardens, quiet, a place built with wood, with history, has no sounds of zooming jeepneys, with a kitchen where we can cook and a grand veranda where we can have coffee and hang loose.
Well, with those requirements, you’d think we’d have to haul ass and head over to Tagaytay or Baguio to get that kind of place. Not so, we found the perfect place thru Roomorama right in the heart of Manila, I kid you not.
Coco’s Garden Guest House is not an easy place to find. Located at Paco in Manila, we’d have to set up my iPhone’s map just to find the place. And every lost turn was well worth it as we left the hustle and bustle of the surrounding streets and drove down their quiet alley.
Huge two-storey American clapboard houses surrounded us from both sides along with gigantic old trees; we were suddenly transported to Baguio.
Our host Greg, an American who’s been living in the Philippines for 25 years now doing tours around Manila, and Jorge with their entourage of five cats and five dogs greeted us upon arrival and proceeded in touring us around their post-war era home.
It was surreal to find something like this amidst the chaos of Manila. It was so Baguio-esque! We got everything we wished for; the gardens, the veranda, the quiet atmosphere, the architecture, everything!
The two-storey house has been passed on from generations to different owners; and it’s now Greg’s turn to watch over the place. It was made right after the war and was modeled after American homes of that generation. The walls were made of clapboards and painted white, the windows are huge and comes equipped with sliding wooden covers ala Bahay na Bato sans the capiz.
To get to their huge kitchen, we went up the house’s grand wooden staircase, into its beautifully stained wood floor, past antique furniture and turn of the century memorabilia, classical music wafting in and out every niche of the house all the while.
The kitchen is actually a major requirement for us since we were on a budget and bought our own dinner with us; it was gonna be Spam, fried eggs, and corned beef for dinner (and breakfast haha).
We lazed around at the screened back porch of the house the whole day, watching funny Japanese videos on YouTube, sipping coffee, sharing stories, watching not-so-ordinary birds outside, debating the veracity of the Philippine National Bird, watching the five house cats slink past and five dogs run by; taking in the nature sounds which are so rare to hear in the metro.
The sun slanted down the horizon and twilight arrived. Warm capiz lamps floated overhead as we continued practicing the art of doing absolutely nothing. I imagine this place to be doubly charming during rainy days.
Old houses surrounded by trees, especially Balete trees, are usually associated by being haunted by ghosts and this place is no exception. But no worries though, as Jorge jokingly told us, the only ghost in the house is him haha. Truth be told, there was totally nothing out of the ordinary during our entire stay, we slept like babies throughout the night and into the late morning.
It’s interesting to note that we had slept on a house where Francis Ford Coppola stayed at during the filming of Apocalypse Now.
To say that we had a very pleasant stay at Coco’s Garden is an understatement. The place is such a wonderful getaway from the busy city life and we totally felt like we were not in Metro Manila at all. Hands down, I would have to say that Coco’s Garden is Manila’s best kept secret when it comes to bed and breakfast accommodations.
Thanks to Roomorama, if not for their site, we would not even have a clue that something like Coco’s Garden existed within Manila. Why indeed stay in a box, Roomorama is definitely for the discerning traveler.