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Singapore to the Philippines: How to have a cracking Manila stopover

Manila at its best
Manila at its best


While I’m a quiet fan of the place, I do know that Manila isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. However, it’s hard to avoid a night in the capital if you want to get to one of the islands – the flight connections are too tight for transiting.

Here’s an easy way to make your Manila stay feel like a relaxing leg of your tropical holiday rather than an irritating side-line: head straight for the city’s best hotel, the luxurious Makati Shangri-La.

The hotel turned 20 in April, but you wouldn’t know it. It feels fresh thanks to a steady schedule of upgrades and renovations. The location is ideal: close to the airport (our taxi took 15 minutes) and across the road from Greenbelt Park, an upmarket garden oasis surrounded by half a dozen popular shopping malls.

In the thick of it, you might say
In the thick of it, you might say


We had an Executive Room – spacious enough for a family of four, though there are plenty of larger suites if you want the children in a separate sleeping area. (Why didn’t I think of that earlier?) Not that we spent much time in the room: instead, it was straight to the outdoor swimming pool to relax in the sun. Then, at 5pm, we headed up to the 24th-storey Horizon Club lounge for inclusive canapés and cocktails – plus great views of Manila’s business district and beyond. If your room type doesn’t include Horizon Club privileges, definitely enquire about an upgrade – you get express check-in, all-day drinks, the aforementioned canapés and cocktails, and more.

There are loads of dining options – eight different bars, restaurants and outlets, in fact. Casual dining at Circles is the best option for families. Greenbelt has dozens of restaurants, too, if you feel like stretching your legs.

This room reminds me of a ship, I'm not sure why
This room reminds me of a ship, I’m not sure why


Like other top-of-the-line hotels, the Makati Shangri-La excels at managing the particular quirks of each guest’s travel arrangements. We had a 5.30am checkout to get to our domestic flight, so I inquired the day before about getting an early breakfast to go. These were duly delivered shortly after our wake-up call – and, for our two girls, they came in the form of individual Barbie lunchboxes filled with fruit, snacks and drinks; one of the highlights of their whole holiday.

Makati Shangri-La is at the corner of Ayala Avenue and Makati Avenue in Makati City, Manila.

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