I have stayed here maybe 5 times in the past 10 years, with the most recent visit being in March 2013. I also stayed here once in 1998. I do not believe the rooms in this establishment have ever been refurbished since 1998. In 1998, on my first stay here, upon opening my room door for the first time, I encountered a commercial "roach hotel" box set up on the floor. When you see a roach hotel, you know what that means. Anyway, that was 1998, and this review is based on March 2013, for a current analysis of the place.
At the outset, I must say that I enjoy the ambience of this hotel. It attracts a crowd on the move, a potpourri of characters, old and young, male and female, from all walks of life. They have one thing in common: they are visitng the Philippines and they are staying here because they can't afford the 4 and 5 star hotels. There are a lot of people in this predicament, so they kind of shop around for the best budget hotel deal. The Swagman has the airport pick up and Fly the Bus to Angeles pieces, so this attracts a lot of folks. The name may also play a part, although I would venture to say that it would be riding on its past reputation, not present (past as in long ago past).
As stated, it's the ambience of the place that attracts me to it. The restaurant and small bar have an expat feel to them, it is as if everyone has an interesting story to them. There are the majority Aussie males or Aussies with their wives coming back to Manila to visit family or friends. There are those going to or coming from Angeles, or Boracay. There are the occasional Balikbayans, who for some reason have found this place. One cannot fail to see the ever-present western visitor with his local female companion. I once saw two blond haired Filipinas in the restaurant, they were both visiting from Sweden and evidently felt they needed to blend in there so they acquired blond hair. Anyway, the point I am making is that the ambience of the place is habit forming. The restaurant food is not remarkable, I would rate it as average. The chicken adobo is rather on the lean side, and the sandwiches are not particularly excitingly good. But, the beer is always ice cold and so are the Cokes. Almost better to just come here for the people-watching and a beer, rather than to book a room, because here comes the room desciption.
Not good, this pretty much sums it up. My rooms have always had a view to an alley. Then again, every budget hotel (motel?) I have ever stayed at in Manila has had no view. See definition of budget...no frills. I do not believe the establishment has refurbished any of the rooms in 20 years, Old and musty would be a fair description of the room. For what you pay for, you are paying way too much. The Swagman's room prices are simply way too much for the room value. I paid P1,400 for my room, it was probably worth P800 at most because it was in a somewhat dilapidated condition. It had one overhead light bulb and a lamp. The bathroom needed to be gutted out and refurbished, it looked like it had 20 years of hard use and had simply been cleaned for 20 years. The queen size bed was hard and took some getting used to. A room to definitely only use for sleeping, if you wanted to chill out you needed to hang out in the restaurant or go somewhere else. Again, I cannot fathom why some reviewers think the room prices are reasonable. Perhaps they've never been anywhere else? I always wonder why each floor has a safety grill to prevent people from falling to the first floor; had this happened before? Yikes!
I will always come here to eat and partake of the lobby and restaurant ambience. But, I do not think I'll stay here overnight anymore because the rooms are essentially dreadful and overpriced. In conclusion, I give the place 5 stars for ambience, 3 stars for food, and 2 stars for the room quality. It all kinda averages out to the 3 stars I give in total.
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- Also Known As:
- Swagman Rpl Manila
- Manila Swagman Rpl Hotel