Art/Style/Travel DiariesStyle

1940s Manila high society landmark has new life

The chic Admiral Hotel Manila–MGallery blends the old world (Art Deco) with the contemporary (chef Cyrille Soenen’s fare)

At the lobby, a ‘flying paper’ art installation inscribed with historical notes, reaching towards the ceiling, with a print of Filipino cultural life (Photo courtesy of Admiral Hotel Manila-MGallery)

Admiral Hotel Manila–MGallery’s unique rooftop dining destination, Admiral Club Manila Bay (Photo courtesy of hotel)

ADMIRAL Hotel Manila–MGallery is probably one of the chicest hotels I’ve visited lately. The first of the MGallery brand of the international Accor Group hospitality chain in the country, it features an Art Deco design that harks back to 1940s Manila—when men wore suits and women dressed up stylishly when going out—while incorporating modern boutique hotel elements.

Upon entering the hotel lobby, guests are greeted by the eye-catching Las Paginas de la Historia art installation, inscribed with unique stories of the old Admiral Hotel, which was the hub of Manila’s social set in the pre-war era. The papers fly toward the colorful ceiling, bearing a huge print depicting the bayanihan spirit, a folk dance, and other Filipino cultural bits, while to one side are traditional barandilla balconies. On the floor, meanwhile, are reinterpreted Machucha tiles, a feature in old Filipino-Spanish homes.

(To be clear, this is a totally new structure, as the old hotel, which began its life as the Admiral Apartments in 1939 designed by architect Fernando H. Ocampo, was totally demolished by condominium developer Anchor Land Holdings, which bought it from the original owner, the Lopez-Araneta family.)

For guests to get to their suites or the ninth floor, where the main dining outlet, the Admiral Club Manila Bay, and a bar, the Coconut Grove, are located, they must first step into elevators decorated with unique, pop art prints.

At the helm is one of my old favorite chefs Cyrille Soenen (Prince Albert, Cicou, Impressions), whose French dishes I certainly have missed

Admiral Hotel Manila–MGallery Executive Chef Cyrille Soenen at the Coconut Grove on the rooftop with a view of the Manila Yacht Club (From his FB page)

We had a very filling meal at Admiral Club with uninterrupted views of the bay through floor-to-ceiling windows. The restaurant celebrates Filipino-Spanish, French, and Asian flavors through its food ateliers, the Tapas Bar and Josper Grill. At its helm is one of my old favorite chefs, Cyrille Soenen (Prince Albert, Cicou, Impressions), whose French dishes I certainly have missed. I was glad to find his delicious liver paté and assorted French hors d’oeuvres served on a pale butcher’s block.

Despite Accor’s French DNA, however, the hotel had no French restaurant to showcase Soenen’s extraordinary culinary talents even further, although this is perhaps understandable, since the hotel firm probably wanted to stick to the overall Filipino-Spanish theme. Also missing are smaller private dining rooms for more intimate meals with family or friends, or for out-of-sight meetings with fellow executives and business colleagues.

Rooftop swimming pool (Photo courtesy of Admiral Hotel Manila-MGallery)

Stepping out of the main dining area takes one to Coconut Grove, a modern rooftop bar that brings an elegant, sensuous, and free-spirited vibe to Manila. I can just imagine having a drink or two (or more!) with friends, while taking in the stunning sunset along the bay, or while frolicking in the rooftop pool.

After an excellent lunch buffet with director of sales and marketing Marie Buenaobra-Agulay and marketing communications manager Katrina Nocom, we previewed some rooms on the second and third floors. Each floor has unique themes that showcase our local culture, like festivals, heroes, folk dances, traditional games, and native objects.

Tapas Bar of Admiral Club Manila Bay

The 123 guest rooms are equipped with premium amenities such as Samsung TVs with Bosé soundbars, Nespresso coffee machines, TWG tea sets, and organic Appelles bath amenities. Six Executive Suites and the Doña Suite (Presidential Suite) offer expansive living space as well as luxurious Cinq Mondes toiletries.

“We are delighted to welcome guests to explore the captivating culture and rich history of the Philippines with our first MGallery property in the country,” says Garth Simmons, CEO of Accor Southeast Asia, South Korea, and Japan. “True to the brand, Admiral Hotel Manila-MGallery draws inspiration from its destination to tell unique stories through design, culinary, and wellness experiences.”

Toward the end of the tour, we tarried a bit at the El Atrio lounge, which features a fine selection of beverages and freshly baked pastries from the hotel’s pastry chef, the celebrated Kevin Ong. On display are his famous French macarons and mirror-glaze chocolates bonbons, which I lusted after despite my, ahem, elevated sugar issue.

From board meetings, conferences, and seminars to weddings and other gala events, the hotel offers a collection of spaces to gather or celebrate. The 192-sqm Grand Harbour Ballroom can host up to 110 guests, while the North and South Harbour Ballrooms are ideal for smaller functions. The Blue Gallery pre-function space, complete with a well-stocked bar, is the perfect place to meet and greet before the main event. The venues feature Accor’s All Connect hybrid meeting solution and are equipped with modern sound systems, lighting equipment, and meeting technology.

Deluxe Twin Room perfect for staycation (Photo courtesy of Admiral Hotel Manila-MGallery)

To celebrate the hotel’s opening, guests can book a gorgeous Deluxe Room for P8,888 per night, for stays until September 30, 2022. Rates include breakfast for two at Admiral Club Manila Bay and a P1,888-credit that can be redeemed in all hotel outlets.

Deluxe Room King, with strong Internet connection and coffee/tea facilities, perfect for work (Photo courtesy of Admiral Hotel Manila-MGallery)

“Admiral Hotel Manila–MGallery is the only luxury boutique hotel in Manila which boasts an unparalleled array of experiences and offerings that go beyond the ordinary,” says general manager Matthieu Busschaërt. “As it was a former hub for high-society events back in the early 1940s, we wanted to relive the glamour of Manila’s golden age within this reimagined hotel.”

For sure, we will be back soon for more meals, and book a splendid stay by the bay.

Admiral Hotel Manila–MGallery is at 2138 Roxas Blvd, Malate, Manila. For bookings or inquiries, call tel. no. (02) 5318-9000 or go to

About author


She’s been a journalist for some 30 years, writing mostly about banking and the economy. Belatedly she realized tourism and the lifestyle beats were the more fun gigs. On her downtime, she bakes (slightly) sugar-free cookies, but is more proud of her kansi and adobong puti. Day drinking is best with friends.

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