An unforgettable hostel in Manila

Please note that this article was first published in early 2020.

Poblacion in Makati

The lobby at Z Hostel
One of my favourite things to do whilst travelling is to anticipate what the next hostel will be like. Z Hostel in Manila may have topped all my experiences. They stick true to their mantra of “Good Vibes”. Upon arriving in the Poblacion area of Makati, I was immediately greeted by noise and loud conversation. The street that I’d stepped out of the taxi onto was alive with the clinking of drinks, thumping of international pop music and chatter of excited backpackers’ voices. Weary and bewildered that these humans were still so awake at 2am, I trudged into my hostel to check-in.

I’d realise in a few days’ time that my hostel was the reason for the street’s popularity. There was a whisper the street was colloquially named ‘Z Street’. The beating heart of social connections, the control hub of activity-planning and the comfortable sanctuary for rest (and a bit of solace), Z Hostel only has my fond descriptions.

The rooftop bar

The rooftop bar has energy and vibes

Let’s start with the rooftop bar. Peering over the glimmering lights of Manila’s skyline, and a peculiar collection of yellow-lighted buildings, this bar sets the scene. The scene for all manners of social activity, whether it be light conversation, raucous singing or an acoustic performance. With two bars and a DJ perched just above the guests, night times were much anticipated by the hostel’s guests and even the locals.

Local tours and hostel rooms

Delicious lechon (roast suckling pig)

Then came the free daily tours. (Side note: I didn’t realise hostels could be so generous. I’ll later note the other free perks that came as well). These tours, my one led by Martin, were informative and tailored to each group. Ours was a group of similarly-aged (mid 20s to 30s) international travellers, and Martin tailored the humour accordingly. An anecdote about negotiating the traffic in South-East Asia being like “Moses parting the Red Sea” cracked us all up. His recount of European history, colonisation and background to the sites we visited were engaging and memorable.

The rooms. These were curated! They had a kitchenette-like area with a bench and cupboards to stow away any culinary items a longer-staying traveller might keep. The beds were spacious, with a careful design that shielded half your bed from your neighbours’ view. Privacy needed, privacy offered. Our room was clean and well-tended to. There was a chalkboard encouraging each guest to write their memories down. Each room I found to be creative and designed with the comfort of the traveler in mind.

Making friends

Free breakfast! Although admittedly I woke up too late to experience any of them, I had the fortune of eating the ‘free breakfast for late-wakers’. This was still substantial, with egg and toast given. But I’d glimpsed the full free breakfast once, on my way to getting some water, and it looked nice.

The seed of friendships. This is my most endearing point about Z Hostel. Whereas hostels may traditionally be a place to stay the night and leave the next day, Z Hostel made me want to stay. Just to keep connected to the people I met and look forward to the people I would meet. There was a magnetic aura where guests would eventually end up in conversation with each other.

Whether it was relaxing over beer on the roof-deck, lounging in the book-decorated lobby or chatting in the relaxed cafe, Z created something more. Something like home.

It takes just a minute 🙏

My name is Garry Ho, I’m the founder.
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