Opened back in 2016, Shangri-La at the Fort, Manila is the newest property in the Philippines from Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts. At 576 guestrooms it is actually the smallest of the three Shangri-La brand hotels in the Philippines capital (each of which have more than 600 rooms), however the development also includes separate serviced apartments and full-blown Horizon Homes residences, all within a 250-metre-tall tower. The company also operates a single Hotel Jen in the east of Manila, aimed predominantly at younger, leisure travellers.
WHERE IS IT?
The hotel is located in the emerging Bonifacio Global City (BGC) district in the heart of Manila just east of Makati. Unlike its bustling and rather hectic neighbour, however, the BGC area is notably calmer and can be comfortably explored on foot.
A new business and residential hub in the city, the area recently became the new home of the Philippine Stock Exchange (located next door to the Shangri-La) when it moved offices earlier this year.
WHAT’S IT LIKE?
Despite it being the smallest of Manila’s three Shangri-La hotels when it comes to room count, this is by no means a small property. Shangri-La at the Fort, Manila offers a plethora of facilities, including one of the largest gyms you’ll find at a hotel (more on that later).
While this is a modern property, guests will find it retains Shangri-La’s signature, classic design while avoiding feeling out of date.
Starting at 45 sqm at the smallest, rooms at the Shangri-La are a very comfortable size, with an overall quite minimalist design that helps keep the rooms feeling open and uncluttered. I was staying in a Horizon Deluxe room, which comes with access to the Horizon Club Lounge.
Rooms sport Shangri-La’s signature colour scheme of white, cream, gold and light brown. Together with the floor-to-ceiling windows, this makes for a bright and neutral space, albeit one that could do with a dash more colour to liven it up slightly.
Personally I found the standout feature of the room to be its wealth of hidden storage spaces, most of which I didn’t use but were welcome additions. The safe, meanwhile, is housed inside a small cupboard high up in the corner of the room rather than in the bottom of a wardrobe, making it far more accessible for guests like me that are pushing the two-metre height mark.
Next to that is a floor-to-ceiling sliding door that conceals the ironing board and iron.
The king-sized bed is thoroughly comfortable, and can be made even more so courtesy of a pillow menu with six different options, though personally I found the default pillow more than satisfactory.
The desk is similarly comfortable to work at, though I would have preferred a chair with armrests. There are sockets located just by the desk – two power and two USB, though one of the power outlets is occupied by the Harman/Kardon Bluetooth speaker. This, incidentally, was easy to switch on and connect my smartphone to – an issue I’ve found to be far more common than I’d like during my travels.
Fortunately there are also sockets located by the bedside table, meaning you can charge a smartphone that’s acting as an alarm clock without having to place it on the other side of the room. Controls for the lights are located next to these outlets and are fortunately simple analogue switches rather than complex digital interfaces that require a background in computer programming to operate. Across the room there is also another set of sockets by the Nespresso coffee machine, which comes with three capsules (including one decaf).
Both a separate rainfall shower and a bath are offered in the bathroom – for someone shorter the latter would be ideal, though I found it difficult to fit in and get myself fully submerged (a common issue among hotel baths, I’ve found).
Amenities such as soap and body milk are from L’Occitane, and rooms also come with two dental kits, a comb, razor and cream, shower cap, and cotton buds and swabs.
Located on the 40th floor, the Horizon Club Lounge offers a buffet breakfast for guests with access, along with cocktails in the evening. On my visit there was space aplenty, with ample sofa and armchair seating as well as dining tables and chairs that are more conducive to having full meals. That being said, as with all club lounges the selection is sparser than the restaurants downstairs so if you’re looking for a big feed you’re likely better off heading to the main restaurant, High Street Café.
Views are also excellent from the lounge, offering a panoramic view of the city. If you’re really looking to get a look at the city there’s even an outdoor balcony, though it should be noted that due to recent government regulations stipulating that smoking in the city be confined to designated areas, guests are not permitted to smoke on the balcony.
FOOD AND BEVERAGE
There are six F&B offerings at the hotel: Cantonese restaurant Canton Road; all-day dining restaurant High Street Café; afternoon tea spot High Street Lounge; casual burger joint Raging Bull Burgers; premium steakhouse Raging Bull Chophouse and Bar, and Peruvian eatery Samba.
It’s hard to pick a runner-up for the top choice. Samba offers great, fresh dishes and fun tiki-inspired cocktails outdoors by one of the hotel’s two swimming pools; Canton Road has delicious dim sum in a classy setting; and Raging Bull Burgers is a trendy, casual spot to grab a beer and a hearty burger.
But when it comes to the standout eatery, it has to be Raging Bull Chophouse and Bar. The bar has a variety of standout cocktails, though if you’re looking for something special ask the knowledgeable bartenders to whip you up a drink to your own liking. Expect bottles of smoke and drinks served in miniature wooden barrels and leather-clad hip flasks. The bar even sells pre-made cocktails such as Manhattans and Negronis in bottles that you can purchase for later.
As for the steakhouse itself, the selection is truly special. First, customers are asked to choose from a selection of ornate steak knives each featuring a unique decoration.
Afterwards, delicious chunks of steak are offered up on wooden boards with five different dipping sauces and a medley of specially crafted salts. Bring a big appetite.
The hotel offers one of the largest pillarless ballrooms in the BGC area at 1,800 sqm and with a ceiling that reaches up 10 metres. The ballroom also comes with access to a pre-function foyer that covers some 537 sqm.
Corporate groups can also make use of the Bonifacio Hall, a 780-sqm space with its own pre-function area that is almost as large, along with 19 other multifunctional spaces.
Of all the Shangri-La’s offerings, the Kerry Sports Manila gymnasium is by far the piece de resistance. Forget small room with a few token weight machines – this church of iron is a veritable house of worship for all things fitness covering a massive 8,000sqm across two expansive floors.
Along with more than 90 pieces of fitness equipment (including a newly added obstacle course section), the facility has two indoor squash courts, two outdoor tennis courts, a 25-metre outdoor lap pool and hot tub.
There’s even an NBA-grade indoor basketball court that has hosted private events with international basketball superstars. Separate studios for yoga, spin and a number of other classes are also available – as are classes – and there’s even a dedicated café offering protein shakes, sandwiches, salads and coffee.
The downside to all of this is that the gym isn’t for hotel guests’ use alone. Membership is available to non-guests as well, meaning the gym can get rather crowded. That being said, there are enough pieces of equipment available that you should be able to find an alternative if your station of choice is occupied.
For parents travelling with children, the hotel also has a 1,000 sqm children’s play area called Adventure zone, complete with numerous large slides (I asked – adults are not permitted to go down them).
With its location outside of the main hustle and bustle of Manila yet still within a growing business district, Shangri-La at the Fort, Manila is a tranquil place to stay compared to some of the city’s other offerings I’ve experienced. Standout leisure and F&B options mean guests can easily find all they need within the property itself, though if you do have to head outside, that too is a pleasure to do.
Best for… Location and facilities
Don’t miss… A morning workout session at Kerry Sports Manila
Price Internet rates for a Horizon Deluxe room stay in mid-November start from PHP18,514 (US$346) including tax and surcharges.