Thanks to my sister-in-law who introduce to us the concept of taking a staycation on Christmas eve, we decided to try out Novotel Manila in Araneta Center, Cubao Quezon City last 2016.
The reasons we chose Novotel Araneta were pretty simple. The hotel’s location was ideal, it wasn’t that far from where we live so we were not worried about getting caught in holiday traffic and spending hours trapped in the car with a preschooler and a toddler (I know you feel me, mommies!). Novotel was pretty affordable too. Compared with the other hotels which still had rooms available on Christmas eve, Novotel Araneta was cheaper by about Php 4,000. For one Superior room for 2 adults and 2 children (inclusive of breakfast buffet for two) we spent about Php 7,000. Sofitel and Marco Polo were offering rooms from 10 to 12,000 pesos overnight. It also had all the amenities we were looking for: parking, swimming pool, play area for the kids and they offered buffet breakfast. We were excited!
So first things first! Parking was very easy at Novotel Araneta, there was so much space! What met us at the check-in lobby was completely different though. Remember this was Christmas eve, so there was quite a crowd at the reception area! There were probably five hotel staff processing guests at the counter facing the entrance. Then, they had set up additional tables near the doors where people could also check in at these “satellite stations”. We thought that we were going to get stuck at reception for hours! Fortunately the manager (I assume he was the manager because he looked senior compared to the others) saw us and noticed the kids were getting impatient so he directed us to another staff member to check us in. He even gave us eclairs and stuffed toy keychains for the kiddos, so sweet! We booked online (via booking.com – very easy and worry-free!), so after asking for my IDs we just had to pay the security deposit of Php 5,000 and we were done! We were in line for probably 20 minutes and the check-in process took 5 minutes, whew!
Since there were a lot of guests, waiting/riding the elevators can be a bit tricky. There were times when we waited quite a while for the cars to come along, most of the time there would be other people in the car so we had to get to our floors in batches because all of us wouldn’t fit.
The room itself was cute. That’s probably my best description for it. It’s a lot smaller compared to rooms offered by other hotels for the same number of people in my group. I wouldn’t recommend you invite friends or family to visit you in the rooms because the size is just enough for two adults and two kids. I imagine that if there were more people than that, it would be incredibly cramped. The bathroom doesn’t have a lock which is fine I guess if you’re a parent like me since you wont be worried about your young children accidentally locking themselves in. Unfortunately, my toddler had a tendency to rush in while my husband was “sitting on the potty” which annoyed him to no end. My main complaint would be that we didn’t have hot water in the shower. My toddler cried while taking a bath because she couldn’t take the water, it was freezing! I wanted to call reception and complain but my husband said we were staying only one night anyway and because of the Christmas rush he seriously doubted that they would be able to help us out.
My favourite part was probably the buffet breakfast! Food was deeeelicious! They had quite the variety too, from Indian, European to American breakfast alongside the usual Filipino fare. Try their ube ensaymada, I must have eaten at least 5 pieces of it! They had delicious fruit shakes, my husband liked the coffee and their hot chocolate was also yummy! They had a long table for salads, as well as desserts, and since it was Christmas – they had puto bumbong made right on the spot! I was so happy about the food that all my frustration over the broken shower heater instantly evaporated!
One of the main reasons we chose Novotel Araneta was the amenities. On the 6th floor, we found the swimming pool, there was the gym, the spa and the kids’ play area. There was also a nice garden with a gazebo that seemed ideal for those garden wedding ceremonies. Novotel QC has two swimming pools: a kiddie pool and an adult pool, they are not heated so when my kids went swimming, I couldn’t really allow them to stay too long in the water since it was very cold. The afternoon of December 24th, there really weren’t a lot of people swimming so there was a lot of space, but Christmas morning the pool was packed! And not just the pool, but every table, bench and even the outdoor playground beside the pool had lots of kids and parents! We had to swim in the adult pool with the kids because there really wasn’t much room to swim around in the kiddie pool anymore. Good thing, we had gone swimming the day before so we still felt good about our short pool session on the second day.
We decided the children should stay at the Kids Club of Novotel Araneta instead, still located on the 6th floor. This place is kind of like the hotel’s “kidzoona” as my daughter loves to call it. I have to say, as a mom, I thoroughly enjoyed the Kids Club! The staff was attentive, the place looked and felt clean, and there were enough activities to keep my two young children occupied for more than an hour without resorting to putting a gadget in front of them! I will post a more comprehensive review of Novotel Araneta’s Kids Club in the future as this one is already quite lengthy, but my kids absolutely loved this section of the hotel.
Checking out of the hotel (don’t forget this was Christmas day) was a test of patience. Fortunately, my husband volunteered to line up while we were in the play area so we really didn’t stand around waiting for our turn at the reception. He was probably in line for close to forty five minutes, so this is something you should prepare for if you’re checking out during the holiday season.
All in all, it was a very enjoyable stay. I will probably update this post with more pictures from my husband’s dslr as my phone pics are not that pretty. It was a restful staycation for the family and the children really enjoyed themselves. I wouldn’t mind going back, and I’ll make sure they have hot water in the bathroom next time! I might also want to try this out again when it is not a holiday. Despite the crowd, the hotel staff were always courteous and accommodating and this more than made up for the long lines at the reception.
I hope this post helps you decide if you should bring your family for a Novotel Araneta staycation! Let me know what you think of the hotel too!
***This post is not sponsored by Novotel Araneta. I am simply sharing my personal experience. My family and I paid for all the expenses as well as the overnight stay in the hotel.***