1) A place where it won't kill me to drive and park (yes, hubby doesn't drive, I do. I don't cook, he does).
2) Somewhere we haven't tried but with good reviews.
3) Somewhere we don't have to wait in agony for a table or the food.
And with a text message, hubby asks "How about Manila Hotel? "
I immediately see a vision of us dining at The Champagne Room and I text back "Game!"
Most people know that I have a thing for old venues and anything french so having a date at The Champagne Room spells French Vintage Romance. In 2004, I was considering this charming venue for our wedding reception. Unfortunately, they ceased hosting weddings on that year (but resumed a few years thereafter).
For a little bit of history about what is probably the oldest hotel in the country, here's something from the Manila hotel website:
It has always been said that history never takes a holiday at Manila Hotel. In 1898, one of the first decrees was urbanizing and planning of the nation's capital, Manila. Architect and City Planner, Daniel Hudson Burnham was hired to pencil in his plans. He drafted a wide and long tree-lined boulevard that would begin at the park and at the spit's end of the bay, a boulevard that would be dominated on one end by a hotel.
On the commemoration date of the American Independence, July 4, 1912, Manila Hotel was inaugurated and officially opened. Four hundred handsomely groomed and elegantly attired guests were ushered in for a dinner American roast, Philippine lobster, and French champagne.
They came and they went during the twenties. In their Orient trek, notables and celebrities found their way to Manila Hotel, which is now dubbed by the elite corps as the Address of Prestige in the Far East.
The hotel's registry was once again chockablock with name-droppable figures especially in 1935. Commonwealth President Manuel L. Quezon invited Gen. Douglas MacArthur, who was then approaching the end of his tenure as Chief of Staff of the US Military forces, to come and build the Philippine Army. For six years (1935-1941), MacArthur, his wife Jean and son Arthur made the Manila Hotel their home.
When war struck and gave the entire country a cruel blow, Manila Hotel rose to the occasion and re-emerged a statelier vaunted institution. Doors were reopened to people determined to live well on July 4, 1946.
The long list dazzled as the fifties and the sixties at Manila Hotel were graced by the likes of Bob Hope, The Beatles, Marlon Brando, Tyrone Power, Secretary John Foster Dulles, Senator Robert Kennedy, Sir Anthony Eden, Charlton Heston, Burgees Meredith, the Rockefeller brothers, John Wayne, Publisher Henry Luce, Vice President Richard Nixon, Presidents Dwight Eisenhower and Lyndon B. Johnson, and more.
While it was the social gathering place for many and for sundry reasons such as weddings, debuts, coming out parties and anniversaries, the Manila Hotel was also the chosen site for many activities and congresses of national and international significance. Among them were the ASEAN Summit meeting of October 1966 and the Philippine Constitutional Convention in 1970.
Even at the turn of the century, Manila Hotel's story and tradition of unparalleled service goes on, hand in hand with genuine Philippine hospitality. It continues to stand proud, meeting the challenges of today's discriminating guests and showcasing only the best the Philippines has to offer.
Manila Hotel embodies rich Filipino tradition and hospitality that revives experiences worth remembering.
And so, on the night of February 14, while most lovebirds were battling traffic in other parts of the Metro, hubby and I were cruising to the oldest city with light traffic --- except for the Manila Hotel driveway :-)
Hubby checking out the chocolates being sold at the lobby.
Since we already made reservations for an 8pm dinner, we were more than happy that we did not have to stand in line and were given a table immediately after the maître d’ confirmed our reservation.
Truffled Spicy Rocket Salad with Red Roasted Pepper and Asparagus Pasta
Red Rose Petal Sherbet
And as the cars cleared out, I had a quick snapshot of one of Manila Hotel's newest event venues aside from its numerous ballrooms (outside of the hotel), Tent City.