South Drive Manor a hidden Tuscan treasure

The South Drive Manor gives you a five-star hotel feel in Baguio City, but without the five-star price tag. Kind of comforting really.

Famed as the summer capital city of the Philippines, Baguio, is approximately 250 kilometers north of Manila, situated in the Province of Benguet.

Having an eight-degree cooler temperature, on average than any place in the lowlands of Luzon, it seldom exceeds 26 degrees Celsius at its warmest, a literally cool respite in this tropical country.

South Drive Manor Baguio

Aptly named, South Drive Manor Baguio Hotel boasts of “a place to enjoy and feel the forest pine breeze (which this “City of Pines” is known for), coupled with relaxation in a real Baguio City ambience.”

The street where it is located, yes, you guessed it, South Drive is a short two-minute car ride from Camp John Hay, a sprawling 250-hectare park originally built as a rest and recreation camp by the US military in 1903.

South Drive Manor is snugly hidden within the quiet surrounding areas of quaint residential houses, if you happen to walk around, you’ll find one with a gingerbread house-type of “mini-village” just near, yet near enough to the heart of the city.

It is only a ten minute ride away from the city’s major transportation, shopping and tourist areas -- the Victory Liner Bus station, SM City Baguio; Session Road, and its many downtown hole-in-the-wall dining and shopping spots; Burnham Park, Camp John Hay and Mines View Park.

South Drive Manor Dining Room

Many would agree that the hotel is a hidden Tuscan treasure among the pines, since the hotel’s interior design style, together with its wall texture, flooring, furniture and fabrics all come to form a soothing and comfortable ambiance.

The driveway leading to the lobby’s entrance is lined with all sorts of flowers and plants that make the area very picturesque.

Fireplaces in the Philippines?

South Drive Manor Fireplace

Inside, the restaurant before the front desk has a fireplace, which is not so common in Baguio’s hotels.

The food served is a mixture of American, Korean, Italian, and Filipino cuisine, which all complement the whole carefree, relaxed and friendly atmosphere and bring about snippets of Italian country style homes to my romantically parched imagination.

The hotel staff is very friendly and accommodating and some can even speak Korean since most of the hotel’s guests are Korean tourists.

Rooms all have the basic amenities; cable TV, hot and cold showers, telephone and complementary breakfast.

However, the attraction here is the spectacular view of sprawling pines trees from every room’s window.

What is it going to cost me to stay at the South Drive Manor?

Room rates average around US$75 -- cheap enough for city yuppies or traveling individuals on a semi-shoestring budget, but willing to spend for that authentic country experience Baguio City is most famed for.

It is indeed one of the better hotels the city has to offer.

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