What's special about The Henry? It's not your typical, city-centre Manila hotel. Most of the Philippine capital's luxury hotels are huge, new-build, business-district towers, each with hundreds of rooms. To create the 34-room Henry, owner Hanky Lee, who also runs a sister property in Cebu, converted five 1950 two-storey buildings in a verdant residential compound that was once home to a wealthy Chinese family.
Does it feel old? Let's say "classic". And because Manila isn't known for its care or appreciation of period architecture, The Henry is a rare find. The original hardwood floors have been gloriously restained and the gorgeous Spanish baldosa tiles, also retained from the pre-renovation houses, feel timeless.
Where is this place? In Pasay City, about 5km from the main business (and hotel) district of Makati and 8km from the Spanish-colonial quarter, Intramuros. That's 10 minutes away when there's no traffic, but probably more than double that when there is.
That doesn't sound like much of a selling point. There's good news, too. The Henry, with its massive old trees, does feel like a rare urban oasis. And it's just a 10-minute drive from Ninoy Aquino International Airport at the best of times. Be warned, though: it's not always easy to get a taxi.
Oh! Is there anything to see nearby, then? Stroll under the trees of this oasis-like compound. A property down the path houses the Avellana Gallery, one of Manila's leading purveyors of contemporary art. Across from that are two houses comprising A11, the furniture-and-houseware boutique of Filipino interior designer Eric Paras, who created the custom-made, Philippine-hewn furniture that graces The Henry's guest rooms.
Anything to do while in residence? There's a swimming pool (top) to lounge by or jump into on one of Manila's notoriously hot, humid days. Across the landing from my room was a pocket-sized balcony, the perfect spot in which to sit with a laptop and work alfresco. Or you could laze under a ceiling fan on a chaise or one of the Eames-like chairs on the portico, perhaps sipping a cool drink.
Can you eat there? A branch of Chef Marivic Diaz-Lim's popular Apartment 1B restaurant sits just off the small hotel lobby. Her speciality is gourmet comfort food. For breakfast, that means options such as organic French toast with toasted almonds and omelette with grilled vegetables; later in the day, simple pastas, salads, soups and roasted chicken are on offer.
What's the bottom line? The rate for a classic room is 12,000 pesos (HK$1,970) per night while a suite goes for 15,000 pesos.
For more information, visit www.thehenryhotel.com.