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An occasionally belligerent mother of five and an autism parent / advocate who believes that traveling, good food and good company are vital to keep one sane. I've worked as a news writer/newscaster, a quality systems auditor, a ISO9001 consultant, an FM radio DJ, a Filipino tutor, TOEFL reviewer and have gone into the food industry both as an entrepreneur and as a mommy chef, giving a sponsored demo on healthy cooking in a mall and on local TV. My favorite job however, is being a mom and a wife.

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Friday, January 1, 2016

Hotel Luna, Vigan City: A Hotel Review

It's 2016 and with it comes The Mediocre Wanderer's 5th year in existence. Five.Years! Woot woot!!! Thanks to all our readers, advertisers and inspirations who make this blog, worth updating.

True to form, we are starting the year with a hotel review of one of Vigan, Ilocos Sur's latest addition to the tourism industry: Hotel Luna.

Found along Luna Street, in the UNESCO Heritage City of Vigan, is the first and only museum hotel in the country.

Voted as TripAdvisor's 2015 Travelers' Choice, this four storey hotel has an old-world-charm-meets-modern-aesthetics style that is sure to delight the weary traveler. For us Mediocre Wanderers, we gave this establishment a 3.5/5 average. Here's why:

1. SERVICE - the Hotel Luna staff maintains a standard that hotels and establishments anywhere in the world stand to emulate. Polite, professional, knowledgeable with a ready smile - they have quite a solid team EXCEPT for possibly one or two individuals from the kitchen staff. More on that in #4. SCORE: 2 . 5 / 5

complimentary welcome drinks, served at the Chula Saloon

must get me these pillows

2. CLEANLINESS AND AMENITIES - we were a big group, so all of us got to stay in various room types and locations in the hotel. Phil, MAX and I got to stay in a Standard Queen Room on the 3rd floor. I must say, it was such a pretty cosy room with the perfect pillows and bed as far as comfort level goes.

Loved the lighting, the furnishings, the separate toilet (Japanese ones with hands free features), bath and sink areas, as well as the total layout. WiFi was intermittent or slow at times, and you had to have the smart TV turned on in order to have access to it. A mini fridge may be found, cleverly disguised, in the room as well.

love the lighting on the vanity

domo arigato, Mr. Toilet Bowl-o

The whole hotel is dotted by lots of artwork - paintings and sculptures. IN FACT, it has an art gallery at the 2nd floor. An original by Juan Luna, a whole lot of BenCabs, a spattering of various types of Sarimanok by Imao and many more can be seen in that one room.

an original Luna painting, bought by the hotel owner in Spain

one of the many BenCab paintings that dot the hotel

I heart Art!

We were met with odd power issues on Day 1, as activating the power in our room with the key card would cause the whole electrical system of the room to trip up. A hotel staff promptly corrected this problem for us.

The charming boutique hotel, as mentioned above, has modern amenities that make life easier in a trip to the past. A single modern glass elevator ferries both staff and guests to the various floors. Pleasantly enough, we have never had any issues with waiting for the lift, despite there being only one.

ooh, pretty!!
The hotel is wonderfully clean with a beautiful small pool at the courtyard. The hotel could stand to invest in a pool heater. We checked in around December. Despite the midday heat outside, the pool area wasn't hit that much by the sun. Water was freeeeezing!

it's all fun and games til Water Baby's lips start turning blue

The hotel also offers tours and calesa rides (Philippine horse drawn carriages). Ask the front desk.4/5

3. LOCATION: it's a two minute walk to the heart of the heritage center, Calle Crisologo, a stone's throw from a carpark and about a 5 minute walk to the plaza (downtown Vigan). A 5/5 on this category!

4. RESTAURANT/ROOM SERVICE and MENU: For breakfast, we tried out the breakfast buffet and an ala carte meal at Comedor. If the buffet isn't included in your room's perks, they charge around 500/pax. An ala carte breakfast meal costs around 280. The ala carte breakfast comes with eggs of your choice, a breakfast viand, some pickled radishes (achara), rice, coffee and a jar of local sweets known as balikutcha.

While the choices are varied - continental breakfast faves, lots of local viands, salads and Pinoy almusal specials, you're better off getting an ala carte meal or eating out for breakfast.

fruit station

I also had a minor issue with the egg station at the breakfast buffet. Given that I was the only who ordered anything from the two-woman manned egg station (they weren't cooking anything when I got there), I asked for a mushroom, cheese, tomato, bacon and onion omelette. One of the cooks repeated my request and said that they'll bring it over to our table, which was 2 tables away. That being done, I went off to get my food from the buffet line. I got soup for MAX, came back to get our drinks and came back to get my plate of food and still NO omelette. I went to the egg station and found the two cooks, still not cooking anything, and my plate of eggs, COLD and just sitting there on the egg station's table. Muy uncool chikas!

Wasn't a fan of the dishes, except for the safe bets like having an omelet made (if it gets to you warm!) and a few of the breakfast fare. Don't try the local specialty , the Vigan longanisa (a kind of sausage) here. The sausage tasted like it was defrosted, refroze and defrosted over AND over again. The bacon seemed poorly made and well, the viands served were stuff I could probably see in a low budget canteen (carinderia). I've definitely had better (in one of those carinderias).

gotcha, balikutcha!

they did well on the grilled veggies. I heart me some poqui poqui (an eggplant dish, not the one made with ahi tuna)

stealing this idea for the house-herbed butter and paprika butter

not so good bacon, I DO understand. But crappy Vigan longanisa from Vigan? That's just wrong!

We didn't try the room service, so we don't really have anything to say about that.

I recall bitter gourd and tuna as a breakfast dish...blech!
We tried eating ala carte dishes in the Chula Saloon Bar for dinner. This is food served in their restaurant as well. Nightly buffet specials are kind of their thing, so ala carte dinners have to be served in a different location.

Chula Saloon Bar
Dinner was mediocre. We tried the salpicao (meat was slightly tough), one of their paella specials (seafood plus other meats - salty) and a couple of non stellar menu options. Speaking of menu, click here to view it CHULA MENU.


It was NOT the meal we were hoping for - For starters, food took over an hour to arrive. Secondly, the carbonara that one of our companions ordered came out COLD. Not lukewarm but COLD. It was sent back to the kitchen....twice! While most of us were almost done with our meals, the pasta dish had not yet arrived. All we asked was that they nuke it in the microwave, but somehow, the thought of serving a hot plate of pasta was foreign to the responsible folks. Third, food does not come cheap at Hotel Luna. All in all, we give this category a 1/5.

the buffet area at Comedor

5. VALUE FOR MONEY:   If you're not booking the place through Agoda or any similar website, the place can cause you over a 100 USD  a night, which we find to be a bit costly, given the location. But that's just us, Mediocre Wanderers that we are. For the comfort of our stay minus the kitchen mishaps, I'd like to give this place a 5/5. It's seriously a great place to be in, especially if you don't eat there.

the balcony overlooking the pool area

For more info on Hotel Luna, visit their website here.
the balcony on the hotel's rooftop

Visually, the place is delightfully charming and the facilities are well maintained. I loved the place, it's location and most of the staff were really commendable. I hate being so conflicted on loving/liking the hotel. I guess, overall, what Hotel Luna needs to work on is their food service and their mediocre food creations.That and getting their pool heated up.

view from Hotel Luna's rooftop balcony

From TMW, may all your wanderings be better than ours!!