Last Sunday we had dinner at the newly-opened Raffles Hotel in Makati. We’d never been there, but assumed it would have a coffee shop serving light meals (We’d had a heavy merienda).
First we had to find the entrance to the hotel. There is no access on Makati Avenue, and if you’re driving you have to go around all the Glorietta malls before you spot the driveway behind Landmark Department Store.
The name Raffles brings up expectations of grandeur which are not met: the lobby looks like the ground floor of a mid-size office building. We assume that luxury hotels have colossal staircases for the dramatic entrances and exits we imagine we will make (They are not likely to happen in real life, but we’d like to maintain the option). The stairs in this lobby are commonplace, in a shade of orange reminiscent of the over-applied spray tans of aging starlets. But the mistake was ours: this is not entirely a Raffles hotel, but part-Fairmont business hotel and part-Raffles Suites (including the famous Long Bar, which presumably has peanut shells strewn on the floor).
The coffee shop is small and serves only coffee, tea and pastry. We proceeded to the fine-dining restaurant Spectrum, which has the atmosphere of one of the better corporate office cafeteria. Its design is not minimalist or maximalist, but whatever -ist strives to be so safe and inoffensive as to arouse no comment whatsoever. On the tables there are tiny square glasses that hold mint and basil plants, and an egg-shaped orange lamp. Had the lamp been green it would’ve looked like the egg in the first Alien movie and given us something to remark upon. The table has a pattern of concentric bamboo squares, presumably for that “Asian feel”.
Bombur (not his real name) found our table remote (which the rest of us preferred, being antisocial) and attempted to occupy a table in the cozier part of the room. Whereupon a waiter asked him, “Are you supposed to be here?” The waiter probably didn’t mean to be obnoxious; it must’ve been a translation failure. He said that the table was reserved; Bombur pointed out that there was no “Reserved” sign, and the waiter replied that they had no signs. What.
Bifur and Bofur tried the buffet, Php1,500 per person, and Bombur ordered adobo from the menu. Bifur and Bofur said the food in the buffet was cold and rather unappetizing; the siomai was particularly inedible, though the humba was quite good. The adobo was too salty. When a manager came round to ask about the food, Bombur gave his real opinion. The manager apologized and did not charge him for the adobo.
The desserts were sweet but had little else to recommend them, the macarons were so hard they could’ve been over-sized Go pieces. We know Spectrum has just begun operations, so we’ll blame opening jitters and hope they get over them quickly.
The ladies’ washroom outside Spectrum was very nice, but too small. In fact our general impression of the Fairmont is that they’re saving space: the ceilings are high, but the rooms are long and narrow. (We have not seen the Raffles Suites). Why would we go to a luxury hotel in order to feel constricted? We can do that at home.