Tuesday, September 11, 2018

My Secret Garden in Japan: Yufuin Ryokan Nogiku

Ryokans are Japanese style inns located mostly at hot spring resorts. While Beppu is the more popular choice for onsen in Oita, I convinced CS to travel farther to Yufuin instead. This quaint town offers a wealth of fascinating boutiques, interesting local finds, beautiful cafes, and art museums - all within walking distance from the train station. After spending a few days in the city and sleeping in a small hotel room in Fukuoka, it was indeed a treat to wander amid rice paddies and farm houses before finding our home for 3 days in town - Yufuin Ryokan Nogiku.

There's no security in the property as Japanese people are known for their honesty and discipline. Guests can just follow the signs (with English translation) leading towards the reception area.

CS and I were warmly received by the staff upon entering the reception area. As soon as he learned that we're from the Philippines, he called his English speaking colleague to officially welcome us, explain onsen etiquettes and its operating hours, show us the facilities and lead us to our room.

Yufuin's most prominent skyline is the twin-peaked Mount Yufu, as viewed from our living area.

Before leaving, the staff graciously offered hot green tea and some homemade Dorayaki, a classic Japanese confection of honey pancake sandwich with red bean paste filling, made by his father. The mildly sweet and fluffy pancake was extremely delicious that we brought 2 boxes back to Manila for pasalubong and personal consumption.

This traditional Japanese hotel offers only 8 rooms - each equipped with tatami floors, futon beds, LED television with local channels only, kotatsu (Japanese heated wooden table), refrigerator, toilet and outdoor bath with basic toiletries, and private onsen. Guests are also provided with yukata and wooden slippers for the authentic Japanese onsen experience.

Our booking is inclusive of delicious and balanced breakfast freshly delivered everyday. As the hotel has no in-house restaurant, our meals are delivered by the staff directly to our room.

If we're not dining out, MaxValu is our go-to place for affordable sushi and sashimi. Best time to visit is late in the afternoon to early evening for discounted prices up to 70% off.

Pros: Private outdoor onsen on each room, clean and well-kept accommodation, spacious bedroom and living area with a great view of Mount Yufu, delicious Japanese-style breakfast, attentive and helpful staff, and free parking if you're driving to town.

Cons: No lunch/dinner service and late check-in/early check-out policy in Japan.


Yufuin Ryokan Nogiku
2879-1 Kawakami, Yufuin
Yufu, Oita, Japan
Tel.: (8197) 785-3372

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Executive Hotel Lounge Review: Hotel Jen Manila

Shangri-La group's mid-range hotel chain, Hotel Jen has evolved into a hip and vibrant accommodation to cater the needs of a modern business traveler or an urban explorer. To see Hotel Jen's Club King Room features and amenities, please click here.

And of course, the ultimate perk of staying in the club floor - exclusive club lounge benefits!

Ambiance and Amenities.

Offering an amazing view of Manila Bay, Windows by the Bay is Hotel Jen's private club lounge located at the 19th floor of the building. Dress code is casual but guests are encouraged to refrain from wearing gym attire, swimwear, bathrobes and room slippers.

Photo from Hotel Jen's Website

Variety and Abundance of Snack Choices.

Food during evening cocktails is quite limited but the staff are quick to replenish the buffet so guests won't have to wait even on a full house. As a mid-range hotel offering an affordable rate of Php7600 for a club room with lounge benefits, Hotel Jen definitely surpassed my expectations with flying colors with a simple yet complete variety of food choices from appetizer to dessert.

Unlimited alcoholic & non-alcoholic beverages.

Operating Hours.

  • Afternoon tea - 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM
  • Evening cocktails - 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM
  • Breakfast - 6:00 AM to 10:00 AM

Full Breakfast Buffet.

An array of breads, cheese, nuts, cold cuts, salad, cereals, fried rice, vegetables, fish, beef tapa, sausage, corned beef, sweet ham, fresh fruits, yogurt, and fresh juice comprises the buffet breakfast at Windows by the Bay. For a wider selection of international cuisine, guests can also choose to take their breakfast at Latitude, Hotel Jen's all-day dining restaurant.

Other Perks & Services Offered.

  • Exclusive check-in and check-out
  • A totally in-the-know lounge team to help you get the most out of your stay
  • Free local calls
  • Evening cocktail hour
  • Lounge facilities

Overall Service.

Among the hotel club lounges in Manila, Hotel Jen's Window by the Bay is by far the most kid-friendly lounge we've been to where kids are allowed to stay even during cocktail hours. Staff are generally friendly and accommodating, some would even initiate small talks to make you feel at home. So if you're on a budget but fancies a VIP service for a day or two, why not book a club room at Hotel Jen for the ultimate staycation experience. Trust me, it's worth the upgrade!


Hotel Jen
3001 Roxas Boulevard
Pasay City, Metro Manila, Philippines
Tel.: (632) 795-8888
Website: www.hoteljen.com 
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