Sunday, July 20, 2014

Where to Stay in Dumaguete, Philippines: Island Leisure Boutique Hotel

Note: This is not a sponsored post. I paid my own way.

Dumaguete is a place I have waxed poetic about. This small town in Negros Oriental in the southern islands of the Philippines is laid-back and charming. The food is surprisingly good and cheap, too. And let's not get started on its proximity with beautiful islands like Siquijor.

But where to stay here? For that question, I put up for your consideration this hotel: Island Leisure Boutique Hotel.

Island Leisure Boutique Hotel, Dumaguete, Philippines
Island Leisure Boutique Hotel in Dumaguete, Philippines

Here's the gist of this hotel review: It's a nice place in terms of facilities, but its location and ambiance are some things you might want to consider more closely.

The Facilities

As soon as you step inside the super red door, the interiors of Island Leisure Boutique Hotel will surprise your eyes with this loud and colorful Marilyn-Monroe-Old-Hollywood-kitschy design, which, I admit, can be kind of cool. I reckon this place used to be a residential property before it was converted, I'm assuming by Andy Warhol himself (I kid), into a museum dedicated to Ms. Monroe (I kid again). See the photos below, you'll see what I mean.

There are many sofas, chairs, and small tables around a super red fountain, which all make up the common area. And there's a small bar, too, which sadly I did not get to use as I was in Dumaguete for a wedding (which is to say, I got sloshed someplace else). But overall, I quite like it.

Island Leisure Boutique Hotel, Dumaguete, Philippines
Didn't I say it was super red?

Island Leisure Boutique Hotel, Dumaguete, Philippines
These comfy nooks, I like.

Island Leisure Boutique Hotel, Dumaguete, Philippines
The hotel bar. I'll take a wild guess and say the owners have a thing for Marilyn Monroe.

Granted, I am not the type of traveler who's very particular about a hotel's design. As long as the place looks and feels clean, plus points if design is modern, or traditional but well-executed, then I'm happy. Island Leisure Boutique Hotel passed in that category.

The Room

The room I stayed in was spacious and quite comfortable. I paid 39 USD per night and it included breakfast. The room came with a fridge, air-conditioning, a big cabinet, and a TV, too. Bathroom was adequate. The bed equally spacious and comfortable (scroll up to see first photo).

But again, I'm not very particular on this aspect. I don't normally spend a lot of time inside my room, especially when a place as great as Dumaguete beckons outside, and especially when I was attending a wedding in said great place outside.

Clean, modern, comfortable. It's all you need to know.

Island Leisure Boutique Hotel, Dumaguete, Philippines
Room amenities complete

Island Leisure Boutique Hotel, Dumaguete, Philippines
Adequate bathroom

One caveat though (and this may be over-sharing so bear with me): The toilet in my room got clogged up (I assure you, it was not my fault). Fortunately, a few minutes after I informed the reception, a handy man came and fixed the problem. I was told that the hotel's drain pipes were not wide enough to handle both, well, submarines and toilet paper. Not that I threw in my toilet paper in there. Hey, I'm Filipino. I rarely feel 100 percent clean without using water after number two. So there. We got through that, didn't we?

The Location

Now, Island Leisure Boutique Hotel's location, I'm not so crazy about. It's at the northern edge of Dumaguete, between the port and the airport. Trikes (i.e., tuktuks) can be few and far between. If you hire one from downtown to take you back to the hotel, some may even refuse you. One did me, so I said screw it, I walked.

To be clear, it's not too far. It's just too far out of the way of everything else, except the airport, I guess.

Easy fix: Rent a motorbike. Everyone in Dumaguete drives one anyway.

Dumaguete, Philippines
Motorbikes, the main form of transport in Dumaguete. Highly recommended renting one if staying at Island Leisure Boutique Hotel.

The Ambiance

Island Leisure Boutique Hotel's ambiance? Quiet. Almost too quiet. And I understand they have backpacker dorm rooms for around 10 USD per bed a night. I couldn't tell. As far as I saw, I was the only independent traveler-backpacker in the place the entire time I was there. I was checked-in on a Philippine summer weekend, by the way.

Island Leisure Boutique Hotel, Dumaguete, Philippines
Quiet ambiance. Almost too quiet?

To be clear, quiet is totally fine, especially if you need some privacy (wink wink). For me, though, if I were in Dumaguete traveling, seeing the sights, and doing the tours, I'd want fellow independent travelers to interact and possibly do tours together with. But that's just me.

The Verdict

Let me restate the verdict I said earlier. Island Leisure Boutique Hotel is a nice place in terms of facilities, but its location and ambiance can be a little wanting for independent travelers and backpackers.

Other Practical Information

The hotel has a small pool and a spa, for those who would so indulge. I did not get to avail of the spa's services though, so I cannot say anything about them. I do know, however, that the prices of most treatments are around PHP 400-450 (USD 10-13) at the time of my visit.

The hotel has a restaurant, too, but again, breakfast is the only thing I can vouch for. It had bacon. Of course, it was good.

And the WiFi? Yes, it was fast enough, adequate for browsing and posting from my smart phone, at least. For doing work though, that I do not know.

I booked this hotel via Roomorama (of which this blog is an affiliate). Scroll up to see widget on sidebar.

Island Leisure Boutique Hotel
Hibbard Avenue (near Siliman Village)
Dumaguete, Negros Oriental, Philippines
See it on Google Maps here

(Full disclosure: The hotel emailed me a couple of years ago intending to sponsor my stay—and my flights even—in exchange for a review. The deal fell through when I mentioned that "my review will be honest and that I fully reserve my right to publish whatever opinion I have after my stay." I never heard back from them after that. It's totally fine. I realized that I should be extremely picky with the brands I get into bed with. And ultimately, I should always pay my own way.)

Have you visited Dumaguete? Where did you stay?

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