In my never-ending exploration of hostels in Southeast Asia, I stumbled across a recently opened hotspot in my next destination of the Philippines — Pink Manila. My first week in the Philippines I was flying solo, and so I was eager to meet other travelers to explore what I considered a somewhat intimidating city.
I had no idea how blown away I was about to be by the warm welcome I would receive at Pink.
I didn’t realize it when I first arrived as Manila was my first destination in the country, but true “backpacker scenes” are quite rare in the Philippines. It makes Pink all the more special — if you’re looking for travel buddies to team up with or bump into throughout a trip through this archipelago — this is the place to do it.
In my short time at Pink I met a wide variety of travelers, from English teachers in Korea on holiday to dive nuts chasing the next great reef. The very social atmosphere and variety of communal chill out areas made friend-finding easy.
Taking up the fifth through seventh floors of a former residential building, Pink is a high-rise backpacker hideaway in the heart of the Vito Cruz area.
Vito Cruz is connected to the other areas of Manila by a nearby metro stop, an efficient and affordable way to way to get around the city. Taxis, if they aren’t being driven by scammers, are also quite affordable. A ride from the airport cost less than $5USD.
Pink offers both six and twelve bed dorms, each with an ensuite bathroom. Each dorm features large lockable shelves large enough to store an entire medium-sized backpack — a very welcome touch. Otherwise rooms are basic, save for touches of signature pink!
Air conditioning turns on automatically in the evenings and off in the mornings.
Pink’s greatest asset is obvious the moment you step through the door. The pool that wraps across the first floor of the hostel is responsible for many guests’ lack of exploration of the city. But who can blame them? Manila can be overwhelming, and lazing around in the pool with fellow travelers provides the perfect oasis from the heat and chaos. Floating in a yellow raft, Instagramming away thanks to my waterproof iPhone case, and listening to music… I was in heaven.
Additionally, Pink boasts a kitchen and extremely affordable breakfast options, free internet and computer use, and frequent group activities like shisha nights on the roof and unique walking tours of the city. There is also some very basic exercise equipment in the ground-level common area of the building.
The roof is strewn with hammocks overlooking the Makati skyline. At night, the staff often sets up blankets and pillows under a tent for shisha parties.
Room for Improvement
The area of Vito Cruz is not necessarily the most ideal — there is little to do within walking distance. Still, it is very close to a subway line and I found the hostel itself to be a worthy destination. I suggested that Pink provide a local map with more information about where to eat, shop, drink, etc.
Pink is still a very new hostel and so most taxi drivers do not know the location. Before arriving be sure to have a clear map or description of directions.
At the time of my stay, internet was only available in the common areas though there were plans to extend it to the rooms.
I said before that the greatest asset of Pink was the pool, but there is actually another feature that stood out in my mind long after I left. The staff at Pink Manila, and the hospitality that they fill the hostel with, absolutely blew me away. Marianne, the manager, was like a Filipino mom to me while I was there. “Our guests are family,” she told me with a smile. And I was treated as such, with Marianne going as far as to set her own alarm for 2am to make sure that I woke up and got into a taxi safely for a middle-of-the-night flight. I’ve never felt a warmer welcome or goodbye at a hostel.
I truly loved my time at Pink Manila, so much so that on my way out of the country I scheduled a long layover so that I could head back one more time to say hi to the staff and have one last dip in that lovely pool. I can’t imagine a better place to start or end a trip to the Philippines.
Location: 2551 Pablo Ocampo and Bautista Boulevard, Vito Cruz, Manila
Price: Six bed dorms are $14 per night, while 12 bed dorms are $11
Amenities: A lovely pool, free internet and computer use, kitchen use, exercise equipment available, occasional tours and pub crawls organized
Book Here: Pink Manila Hostel
Have you ever stayed in a hostel with a pool? I’m hoping this trend catches on!