Nature’s beauty and man’s stylish designs come together to make this hotel a must-visit for anyone with an appreciation for beauty.
Written by Chelsea Gogola
Photographed by Yukie Sarto of Studio 200
Domicillo Design Hotel prides itself on being the only design hotel in Tagaytay. What do we mean by design hotel? Well, you only need one look at the place to understand. From the highway, the look of the hotel is understated. But its clean lines, bare concrete and glass exterior give it an undeniable modernity and chicness. This is the signature style of world-renowned interior designer Budji Layug, who took charge of the hotel architecture along with his firm Budji + Royal. The builder who brought the dream into reality is Elmer Burgos.
Owner Rene Alcala of Manila Mirrors, famous for its shell encrusted designs that can be found along the hotel, is a designer himself. His designer friends also took part in Domicillo’s unique look: Tes Pasola designed three Deluxe Rooms, Milo Naval designed two Superior Rooms and Budji Layug designed three Premiere Rooms. These three are also part of Movement 8, an internationally-celebrated group of Filipino designers. The rest of the furniture, from the chairs to the headboards, is made by local designers. It is this coming together of amazing Filipino artistry that makes Domicillo a one-stop destination in Tagaytay as it celebrates art, beauty and leisure. Rene tells us that he loves the design, with all its bare concrete and greenery, because it is “inoffensive to the environment and low-maintenance.” As beautiful as the place is, you realize that its design doesn’t require much upkeep—lush greens grow wildly and there are no worries about chipping paint.
Domicillo at its Best
For an introduction, the reception area is already a visual feast with the amount of beautiful craftsmanship on display—from the shelves of jewelry and accessories by local designers for sale to the one-of-a-kind furniture pieces. This is just a preview of what the rest of the hotel has in store for its guests. The view deck, situated on the very top floor, one above the main level, is where the hotel holds its parties. When there aren’t any gatherings going on here, it’s the perfect place to relax and stargaze.
The hotel’s structure, which is situated on the side of the cliff, has a descending design with the rooms located on the lower floors. Just below the main level are five of the rooms, the lounge and a pocket garden that brightens up the area with some sunlight and greenery. Rene explains that the lounge was originally set to be just another room but he decided on a lounge instead where hotel guests can gather and socialize.
On the lowest level is where the three 58.5 square meter Premiere Rooms are located and another, albeit smaller, pocket garden. These secluded rooms are perfect for couples. We’re sure they’ll enjoy the complimentary bottle of wine to go with the lower lake view from their own garden balcony.
We stayed in the Superior Room, which was 38.7 square meters in size and had a balcony with an upper lake view. Though many minds collaborated on the whole hotel, there’s a stylized simplicity that’s common in all the rooms. Ours had all the essentials: toilet and shower, king-sized bed, flat screen TV, minibar and a work desk. While there is Wi-Fi, signal can be tricky. If you really need the internet, just step outside the room and do your work in the lounge, where signal is stronger. Of course, it would be better if you left both worry and work at home to fully enjoy your vacation.
We were pleasantly surprised that a stay in the Superior Room came with a complimentary 30-minute head or foot message for two. The masseuses came into our room and did their magic. We really appreciated that we didn’t have to leave our rooms to get this spa pampering.
Another bonus was discovering that two restaurants in the hotel were above par both in service and quality of the meals served. First is La Finca, a farm-to-table concept restaurant by Chef Butch Zaldarriaga. The place is aptly named after the Spanish word for “estate.” One of the owners has a farm within Tagaytay where the restaurant gets most of their produce. La Finca is where guests can have their complimentary breakfast. But aside from that, we also got to try their other dishes: Bagnet Dinuguan (P425), Bagnet Pakbet (P475) and Sinigang na Bangus Belly (P395). The traditional Filipino recipes with a twist proved to be very delicious and filling. The amazing view that was visible throughout the restaurant made the food taste even better.
On the topmost level of the hotel, where you can have your meal al fresco, is Aozora, a Japanese restaurant which name means “blue sky.” Headed by Chef Seiji Kamura, it serves mostly traditional Japanese fare. But some dishes are given that Tagaytay twist, such as the Aozora Ramen (P295) that is infused with a bit of bulalo. It’s the perfect dish to go with the breezy weather. The restaurant also serves other Japanese favorites, such as California Maki, Rainbow Maki that’s topped with different seafood (P320) and Chicken Karaage. Servings are small, but prices are affordable. So unless you’re feeling puckish, we suggest don’t scrimp on the orders.
After our hearty meals, we decided to further explore the hotel. And when we weren’t gushing over the view of world-famous Taal Lake, we were having a grand time appreciating the fine furniture made by renowned designers such as Kevin Cobonpue and Ann Pamintuan.
Domicillo Design Hotel is definitely a place you have to visit at least once. But trust me, you will come back.
Domicillo Design Hotel is located at at Km. 58, E. Aguinaldo Highway, Tagaytay City; tel. (46)413 3552; mobile (922)884 1532; email <firstname.lastname@example.org>