Back in August when I left to begin my life as a digital nomad, I knew that I wanted to do things a bit differently from my three months in Central America. During that time I traveled as a typical backpacker would – staying in the cheapest hostel, never mind the uncomfortable bed (complete with bed bugs occasionally) and drunken backpackers traipsing in and out at all hours. Nothing wrong with that style of travel, but it just wasn’t for me anymore. So when I heard tell of a design hostel in Manila that all my fellow travel bloggers from TBEX were raving about, I knew I had to check out what the buzz was about. Enter Z Hostel.
Their tagline is ‘a luxury hostel for the smart traveler.’ Honestly, Z Hostel could really be a boutique hotel, which is one of the top reasons why people stay here. You can even stay in a private room, though it was a bit out of my budget at $52. I opted to stay in the female dorm ($20/night; Expensive for a dorm bed but average price for The Philippines) because I find it to be one of the more social dorm rooms, and I personally feel a bit safer in an all-female dorm room.
Upon entering Z Hostel I knew I was in good hands. The lobby is so chic, and the aircon was on full blast. And then they sealed the deal … with an onsite diner that’s open 24/7. Um. Yes, please! I tried out a variety of dishes from said diner and can vouch for the fact that the meals they serve are delicious.
As for the female only dorm room, it was one of the more comfortable dorm rooms I’ve stayed in by a long shot. The beds are soft and large, and there was enough space in the room to walk around (trust me, this is a luxury in many places!) Our room, since it was a female dorm room, came with a vanity! Each bed has its own corresponding locker, which was large enough to store my suitcase and my smaller backpack in. AND it had a power point (or outlet) inside of the locker! If you want to go out for the day, but need to charge some devices at the same time, this is a life saver. No more leaving your charging device out in the hopes that someone won’t just steal it. This small touch felt indicative of the experience at Z Hostel, many little details were thought of in the design.
Unfortunately, and this was one of the only negative things I could say about Z Hostel, the female only dorm is literally right below the rooftop bar. During the week it’s probably fine, but I was there on the weekend when the music didn’t stop bumping until around 3 AM. Even with earplugs in I could hear and feel the thumping bass. If you are a very light sleeper, it might be better for you to choose a different room on one of the lower floors. Or make sure that you come during the week when the rooftop bar closes a bit earlier.
That being said, the rooftop bar is one of the perks of Z Hostel. Even if you don’t drink, go up for an amazing view of surrounding Manila. The skyscrapers in the distance make for some amazing Instagram pics.
Back in Manila and I'm staying at @zhostelph for a couple nights before flying to Palawan. You know I love design hostels, and Z could be a hotel it's designed so nicely! This photo was shot on their rooftop bar before the weekend chaos began. Thanks to Z Hostel for being such a generous host! #🇵🇭 • • • • • #zhostelph #zhostel #manila #manilaphilippines #philippines #philippinestourism #itsmorefuninthephilippines #visitthephilippinesagain2016 #philippines🇵🇭 #manila🇵🇭 #Filipinos #manilaph #philippinesphotos #visitphilippines #ilovethephilippines #manilaskyline #hostelsaroundtheworld #flashpacking #designhostel #hostellife #hostels #backpacker #philippinesdestinations #ig_philippines
One thing I really enjoy about Z Hostel is that it’s not just for international backpackers. Filipinos come to Z Hostel to hang out, either at the rooftop bar or in the 24/7 diner. The rooftop bar, in particular, is known in Manila for having some amazing DJ sets and is the place to be on a Friday or Saturday night. I met loads of people who I wouldn’t normally have the chance to in a typical backpacker hostel.
One of my favorite things about travel is meeting locals and getting to know what they love (and hate) about their country. This pursuit is especially fruitful in The Philippines where a majority of Filipinos speak English fluently. I had quite a few in depth conversations about the history of the beautiful Philippines and present politics as well.
In my dorm room, there was a nice mix of Filipino travelers and international. Hanna of Hanna Travels, who I met at TBEX, was staying at Z Hostel long term. She introduced me to some of her friends at the hostel who were also staying long term. Because Z Hostel is so comfortable, many people seemed to be staying more than just a few days. Within the first fifteen minutes of arriving, I was invited to a Halloween Parade the following night.
This was no ordinary Halloween Parade, either. We went FULL OUT. Bernie, a girl in my dorm, hired a professional makeup artist. I learned that the parade was actually a Costume Contest, and we were in it to win it. The theme was zombies and general creepy characters. Hanna and I went as a demon child and her mangled voodoo doll. Once we were all decked out (which took the better part of an afternoon) we all went to the parade.
The Halloween Parade was an experience I will always remember. For one night, we were celebrities. It was said many times during my three weeks in The Philippines that it is the capital of the selfie. And that night I understood why. We couldn’t go one minute without having someone, or an entire family, ask to take a photo with us. Once the parade was over, the judging began. In the meantime, a concert ensued, with lip synching and dancing for days. It felt like days, because in between dances the emcees would talk for an hour about the various product sponsors. Us non-Filipinos were left wondering what the hell was going on! In the end, it was worth it because two of our group won!
The next morning it was time for me to check out and head to Palawan, one of the most famous islands in The Philippines. I could have easily stayed a few more days at Z Hostel, and regretted having to leave my new friends so soon.
If you are ever in Manila and are looking for a budget friendly place to stay that’s social yet refined, Z Hostel is an amazing choice!
To see my experience at Z Hostel (including that crazy Halloween Parade!) check out my Snapchat video from my stay:
Check out the other posts in my Unique Hostels Around The World series:
Happy Exploring, Wherever You Are!
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Have you ever stayed in a design hostel? What did you think? Do you prefer the “backpacker style” hostel, or are hotels with more privacy than a dorm can afford more your jam?