The morning mist was trying to envelop the mountains of Banaue as we alighted from our ten-hour bus trip from Manila. We were welcomed with warm glasses of lemon grass tea by a hotel staff dressed in traditional Ifugao garb as we entered the lobby of the Banaue Hotel.
My initial impression of the hotel was that it was pretty old. It is the only hotel of its kind in the whole of the Ifugao province and it is huge; 81 rooms, a 200-seater restaurant, a conference hall and a swimming pool. Built in 1974, it is owned and operated by our very own government.
The lobby is spacious with lounge seats, a massive fireplace and a souvenir shop inside. Finished in natural wood and white-painted concrete, it somehow evokes a log-cabin feel that’s very apt with Banaue’s atmosphere.
Down into its dark hallways, I proceeded to my room; a three-bed affair with a view to behold. The room was pretty standard; cream walls with dark wooden trims, wall to wall carpeting, closets, clean bathroom and especially comfy beds. There were complimentary water and coffee waiting plus a wooden bulol pendant as a souvenir. A really nice touch.
The floor to ceiling windows open up to a vista of verdant mountain terraces beyond. I especially love having coffee at this area, watching the mist running from mountain to mountain, covering and revealing the green landscape beyond. The view was simply breathtaking.
During our four-day stay, we also got to sample the dishes being served at their Imbayah Restaurant. It seemed they have everything; we got to taste a bit of Filipino, American and Japanese cuisines which were all quite superb.
I particularly like hanging out at the restaurant at the end of each day to take notes down, write a bit, back up and process my photographs. Only problem was it was so easy to get lost to the view outside the huge windows overlooking the mountains. With a higher vantage point, the view is even grander here than at our room.
We tried exploring the hotel one particularly drizzly afternoon and found that there is another souvenir shop being run by a local family a few steps at the side of the hotel. Two hundred more steps down and an Ifugao village can be found.
During rainy days Banaue Hotel offers Am-Amung for stranded visitors. A cultural presentation set at an Ifugao hut below the hotel grounds, it depicts what a traditional day was like for our Ifugao brothers. I can’t say that what they depict is from the days of yore since these traditions are still being practiced until this day.
The show starts with Tapuy or traditional rice wine being passed around as the hotel staff, dressed in their native attires loom intricate fabrics, carve bulol rice gods, perform songs, dances and age-old traditional rituals.
With the hotel’s magnitude, it can be assumed that it also commands a higher price than the inns located at the town center.
The rates run from Php1,500.00 for a two-bed standard room to Php6,000.00 for a suite. Note that there’s no TV in the rooms (but who needs these things when you’re in Ifugao, right?) but there’s a TV-viewing area in the lobby. Their wi-fi signals also don’t reach the rooms but can be accessed in the lobby for a fee.
Tours around the province are also being offered by the hotel, just check with the information desk on their availability and current pricing.
I still maintain my initial impression of Banaue Hotel’s age after staying here for three nights. The hotel is indeed old. But like the ancient Rice Terraces of Ifugao, its antiquated look and feel is actually not a bad thing; it suits its settings extremely well.
Banaue Hotel and Youth Hostel
Address: Nueva Vizcaya-Ifugao-Mountain Province Road, Brgy. Ilogue, Banaue, Ifugao
Telephone: (074) 386-4047 | (074) 386-4048
Room Rates: Click Here
GPS Coordinates: 16.90721,121.065012
Click to view location on Google Maps
THE IFUGAO HERITAGE WARRIOR CARAVAN RUN IS A FIVE-DAY FAMILIARIZATION TOUR OF THE IFUAGO ORGANIZED BY PHILTOA.