Monday, April 16, 2012

Review: Circle Inn Bacolod

I had joked on Twitter that I was disappointed with this place because it wasn't, well, a circle; instead it was rectangular. To be fair, though, they had round windows on the facade.

Anyway, coming from our sun-soaked holiday at Sugar Beach over the holy week, we spent a night in Bacolod before flying back to Manila. Looking for something affordable but nice enough, I booked a room at Circle Inn Bacolod. Initially it was a standard room but we upgraded to their Zen room upon check-in. So how was it? Here's the rundown:

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The front desk and lobby.

Reservation
I booked online via the hotel's website on a Friday. Little did I realize that my card wasn't charged yet even if I already got a confirmation of my reservation, so I got an email on Monday saying there was a problem with my card. FYI, the card I used was Smart Money, a debit card linked to my mobile. It has a security feature where I need to unlock/lock it for internet transactions (for my protection). Naturally, it was already locked when the hotel charged it three days later.

I called them and they asked for my card details again. But it was inside the hotel safe at the time and to skip all the hassle, I asked them to simply charge me a different rate and just give us a room.

Check-in
I don't know why on earth was there only one lady at the front desk attending to guests checking in and out, and answering the phone all at the same time (Is the Management in some cost-cutting measure here?). Because you never had her full attention, check-in was extremely sloooow. That said, do you even expect her to give you a proper smile? (By the way, when we went out in the evening, she was still alone at the front desk.)

The lobby, restaurant and food
Considering the relatively affordable room rates here, I wasn't expecting much. But everything being relative, the lobby was fairly decent. What I didn't like, though, was that the restaurant and everyone dining are immediately in full view right upon entering the hotel.

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Yes, everything and everyone are in full view immediately upon entering the lobby. So be demure when eating.

Speaking of the restaurant, which looked more like a cafeteria, the service actually felt like that of a cafeteria. Okay, close. But the food was just terrible and the buffet breakfast was a complete joke. So if you're staying here, don't bother with getting the room with complimentary breakfast. You'll be better off eating someplace else.

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Spiral staircase by the lobby/restaurant. See the sign? It says, "Please DO NOT throw anything in the Koi Pond. Our pets are on a strict diet."

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The indoor koi pond. The koi here are gigantic! No question, they should be put on a diet.

Our room
We checked both De Luxe and Zen rooms but the former had an unpleasant smell and we ended up with the Zen room. The Zen rooms are in the newer part of the hotel, all with a view of the pool outside.

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The corridor itself was hinting at the Zen theme.

For the price we paid, the room was fine although I really didn't get where the Zen theme was. It must be the wood paneled flooring and accents. But it was spacious and was more than enough for the queen-sized bed, TV chair, TV, personal fridge, and vanity. There was also a small closet and safe inside it. The room was likewise well-lit and free WiFi was available (everywhere in the hotel, actually).

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The bathroom was fine but the two hand towels had a foul smell, like it wasn't properly dried. Good thing the bath towels smelled better so we didn't bother complaining.

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The pool area
Despite the limited space, the hotel managed to fit a pool here, which is a welcome touch. Judging by its design, it's more for lounging than doing laps, however. But no one's complaining.

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The pool at night.

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Sunbeds, tables and chairs left in disarray by guests. Nice spot to lounge, though.

**************
Despite the negatives, overall, Circle Inn Bacolod is still a nice place to stay, especially if on a budget. And just a couple hundreds more for a better room ain't bad either. Also, for the price, you get free WiFi! Just forget about complimentary breakfasts and the restaurant as a whole. Go eat somewhere else or just grab a bite from the nearby Munnsterrific convenience store. And be patient with check-in.

For booking and more information, go to www.circleinnph.com.

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