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“The Swagman - Only Its Ambience is Notable” 3 of 5 stars
Review of Swagman RPL Hotel Manila

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Swagman RPL Hotel Manila
2.0 of 5 Hotel   |   411 A Flores St | Ermita, Manila, Luzon 1000, Philippines (Ermita)   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #83 of 104 Hotels in Manila
Guam
Contributor
11 reviews 11 reviews
9 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
26 helpful votes 26 helpful votes
“The Swagman - Only Its Ambience is Notable”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed May 8, 2013

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.

Room Tip: Ask to see the room first, you may change your mind!
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  • Stayed March 2013, traveled solo
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 2 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 7
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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106 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
    4
    13
    28
    28
    33
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14
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10
Rating summary
  • Location
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    2.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    2 of 5 stars
  • Service
    3 of 5 stars
  • Value
    2.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    2.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (28)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Japanese first
  • Norwegian first
  • Swedish first
  • Any
English first
Manila, Philippines
Contributor
15 reviews 15 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
22 helpful votes 22 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed March 27, 2013

I am reporting on a rather unpleasant incident regarding the Swagman Fly the Bus March 24-27, 2013.

I have used this service from manila to Angeles several times over the years. On March 24th we arrived at the Ermita Swagman at 11:00 am expecting to take the 11:30 bus to Angeles. When attempting to pay for 2 one way seats the girl at the desk told me that there was no air conditioning on the bus as it was broken. "Is that OK" she asked. as it was already about 90 degrees I assured her that it was not OK and I told her ewe would find another way to AC.

I called one of my very reliable taxi drivers and we were on our way in about 15 minuets for 2500 PHP. Oh Well!!

On Tuesday evening March 26 I telephoned the Swagman Fly The Bus Angeles office. I specifically asked if all the air conditioning problems were solves as I wanted to leave Angeles the following day for Manila. I was assured that the necessary repairs were made and that the air conditioning was working perfectly. I made the reservation for the following morning and their van picked up at our hotel before noon and took us to the Brass Knob where the bus was waiting. From there we stopped at the swagman for a few minuets and then proceeded towards the expressway.

It soon became apparent the the air conditioning was not on. I asked the attendant if there was a problem with the air conditioning and was told that it was broken. She also told me that the bus was experiencing overheating problems. I was again an extremely hot day. Physically, it could have been dangerous for me to be stuck in the hot bus for 2 hours. The attendant suggested that the passengers just open the windows and everything would be fine. After some additional discussion she even offered a 100 peso discount for the lack of air conditioning. Are you kidding.

At that point I told her that I would be unable to take the trip. There was much discussion between her and the driver and the driver by phone with their office. According to my girlfriend who was interpreting, the driver did not want to drive all the way to Manila with no Air.

We stopped at the Expressway entrance and was told a van was coming to return anyone who, wanted to go to their hotel. I demanded and received a full refund.

About 30 minuets later a van came. We had them drop us at the Brass Knob. When we arrived there we almost immediately boarded a very comfortable Southern Cross van to the Southern Cross in Ermita.

Traffic was very heavy this afternoon and I am sure that the Bus would have taken about 3 hours.

I will be using Southern Cross transport in the future. They have much nicer and better maintained vehicles that Swagman Fly The Bus.

Room Tip: There are much nicer hotels in Ermita.
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  • Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 13
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Manila, Philippines
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
15 helpful votes 15 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 8, 2013

This is a hugely important and historic hotel most known for the quantities of booze and babes (that is likely a stretch) consumed by its residents. Any randy Aussie north of the 50 year mark and visiting Manila has shagged here at least once--Bedbugs be damned!! The rooms aren't the attraction, it's the residents. Think of Crocodile Dundee, but missing a few teeth, smelling extraordinarily gamy, having a case of the crabs and a bit of a drip--but smiling and ready to tackle any lass within the city of Manila and that about sums up the charm of this place. What's not to like?

  • Stayed October 2012, traveled with family
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 1 of 5 stars Location
    • 1 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 1 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 8
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Fremantle, Australia
Top Contributor
64 reviews 64 reviews
17 hotel reviews
Reviews in 18 cities Reviews in 18 cities
35 helpful votes 35 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed February 6, 2013 via mobile

I stay here everytime i come to Manila !
Reasonably priced and safe area with alot of security ! The staff are great and are very helpful !
It's a good place to bring your family !
Food is really nice !

  • Stayed February 2013
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Perth, Australia
Senior Contributor
33 reviews 33 reviews
22 hotel reviews
Reviews in 15 cities Reviews in 15 cities
49 helpful votes 49 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed January 14, 2013

The Swagman in Ermita, Manila has had it's day I'm afraid. First stayed there about fifteen years ago and thought it was overrated, over priced and old then - nothing has changed except it is more overrated, over priced and run down! The only good point is the Fly-the-Bus transport system that runs through the Swagman organisation.
I stayed in a deluxe room this stay and the room could only be described as a "dump" - dark, musky and mouldy- a shock to the system really. I knew it wasn't going to be "five star" but have stayed in far better rooms around the Philippines for a lot less,
The restaurant has also declined in quality of food over the years also.
To be honest, I couldn't recommend this place except for the Flu-the-Bus system.

Room Tip: The top rooms are far better but for value, look for surrounding hotels.
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  • Stayed January 2013, traveled solo
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 2 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 9
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Cebu City, Cebu City, Philippines
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
23 helpful votes 23 helpful votes
1 of 5 stars Reviewed December 27, 2012

I have stayed at this hotel regularly over the past few years and sadly seen both the condition of the hotel and the service decline. I was to be picked up from my Qantas flight at 7 pm on 21 December and was left behind. If you travel to the Philippines or for that matter any place I would suggest having a list of useful numbers noted down for such an emergency. I bought a sim card at the airport and contacted the hotel they informed me that they thought I was not coming. My bag was one of the last off but I thought they would have waited. Two hours later I finally arrived at the hotel. Having experienced problems with air con before at the hotel I asked for a room with good air con. The room I was given had an air con that worked intermittently. If I was staying longer than one night I would have asked for a change of room.

Room was old, faded and peeling paint, 2 cockroaches on the bathroom floor, with a hard bed. The decor of the room would be generously described as tired.

One indication of it being a hotel being run into the ground was the automatic assembly line type toaster had broken down and been replaced with a 2 toast popup toaster and less staff on at breakfast .Those that were on though were very pleasant and polite.

On the positive side it is near a range of activities. I would highly recommend a visit to the Cowboy Grill. A classy large restaurant with fantastic bands and moderately priced meals. My top restaurant in Manila.

Biggest appeal is the free shuttle to the hotel from the airport.

In summary, regretfully, I will end my 7 yr relationship with this hotel. The airport service, the condition of the rooms, the lack of WORKING air con, AND THE EVER INCREASING PRICES means it is not just poor value for money but an experience I wish to forget.

Room Tip: Ask for a room with working air con. If you do not get it ask to move. I asked for good air con and...
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  • Stayed December 2012, traveled solo
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 1 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 2 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 13
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Dumaguete City, Philippines
Contributor
13 reviews 13 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
16 helpful votes 16 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed November 14, 2012

I have stayed Swagman Manila many times.Really only the location is favourable.They have a free airport pick up and drop off but this is covered by the above average fees they charge for rooms.The rooms are small,cleanliness is questionable and even their food is over priced but adequate. Their saving grace is they know the meaning of COLD beer!.
Swagman is close to Ermita nite life, USA Embassy and Roxas Blvd but the area is a haven for addicts, drop outs and beggars but their are some quite nice upscale restaurants and several large Shopping Malls.

Room Tip: The higher up you go the more expensive but a rickety lift and hard to find fire escapes are a downe...
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  • Stayed October 2012, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Swagman RPL Hotel Manila

Address: 411 A Flores St | Ermita, Manila, Luzon 1000, Philippines
Location: Philippines > Luzon > Metro Manila > Manila > Ermita
Amenities:
Business Center with Internet Access Restaurant Room Service Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #83 of 104 Hotels in Manila
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Hotel Class:2 star — Swagman RPL Hotel Manila 2*
Number of rooms: 57
Reservation Options:
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Also Known As:
Swagman Rpl Manila
Manila Swagman Rpl Hotel

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