Gay Manila Manila City Guide 

Let’s just get this out the way. Manila is crowded. And hot. And polluted. And there are malls. A lot of them. But the way we see it, that’s a small price to pay for the enormous payout. The “Pearl of the Orient Seas” sobriquet is fitting, since the shelled mollusc doesn’t look like much from the outside, but inside an iridescent gem awaits to be discovered—if you’re willing to exert some effort to pry it open to get at it. This Asian megapolis is not for the faint of heart, so if exploring the world’s most densely populated city scares you, it’s probably not your place. From war to natural disaster, Manila’s been destroyed and rebuilt multiple times in its history, some say more than even Troy. These misfortunes have only served to strengthen the joie de vivre and spirituality of its people. Manila exudes immense energy and creativity. Manileño culture, food and language is a tasty hodgepodge of Chinese, Malay, Arabic, Spanish and American influences. Considered one of the most gay-friendly countries in Asia, the Filipino people are overwhelmingly pro-gay in their attitudes. Manila has irrefutable gay creds. True fact: the queer subculture has its own secret slang language called ‘Swardspeak’ that’s been around since the 1970s and one of its gorgeous citizens, John Raspado, nabbed the Mr Gay World title in 2017.

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The best hotels in Manila

Manila is the kind of city from which you will likely need a respite and no place offers a better break than Raffles Makati. Located in a 30-story skyscraper, Raffles offers on-call butlers, a palm-fringed pool and gleaming wooden floors. No less than 1,000 pieces of commissioned artwork are on display, most of them made by local artists. If you like to take gambles in life, the City Of Dreams – Nüwa Manila is a luxury resort and casino complex all in one. At the other end of the spectrum is La Casita Mercedes in the up and coming Poblacion neighbourhood. Set in a wonderfully restored colonial house from 1930 with just seven guest rooms, the B&B is furnished with Art Deco furniture and four-poster beds. Bright and airy, this is a great spot for couples, those who prefer peace and quiet and knickknack lovers. With 34 rooms set across five houses with leafy lawns in between, the Henry Hotel feels more like an intimate compound than a regular hotel. With an art gallery, furniture boutique, lush gardens, a restaurant and a pool all on site, you could easily spend a day without having the leave. We love a budget option that offers style and for that, the Element Boutique Hotel is second to none. Franco-Filipino runs, the 14-room hotel is a smart synthesis of East and West. The brushed concrete building is softened with hip furniture, crawling ivy, artwork and happy guests sipping rosé.

Photo: Tu Tu Words

Photo: Tu Tu Words

Manila | Photo: Luca Bucken

Manila | Photo: Luca Bucken

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