Planning a trip to the Philippines? After my own experience, I feel confident enough to offer some very simple advice:
Step 1: Beeline it straight for El Nido
Step 2: Book a bed (or room!) at Spin Designer Hostel
I promise you won’t regret it, and I'll tell you why.
Traveling for extended periods of time can be an exhausting endeavor, and the kind of adventure that very rarely includes the comforts we all enjoy at home. Of course, some backpackers are better suited for dorm rooms packed with people, late nights full of partying, and chronic lack of sleep than others. This kind of person has an enviable way of living- they're able to effortlessly do without things that I consider to be basic human needs. I am not this type of person.
When you’re on the road, there’s nothing better than having a comfortable place to lay your head at night. A clean shower, WiFi in a country where you may not have a SIM card, good food, friendly staff, and an opportunity to met people are are all wants and needs that are very rarely met. There’s only so much Agoda and Booking.com can tell you about a place, so oftentimes we dive in blind and end up severely disappointed.
Well, my friends, a miraculous day has come. The day that I discovered the hostel of all hostels, on which all other hostels should be modeled. During the course of my three-week solo trip around a few Southeast Asian countries, I headed to Palawan. Within this incredible island province in the Philippines is El Nido, one of the most beautiful places I've ever laid eyes on . Booking accommodation as I went, it was time to pick a place to stay. While perusing the Agoda app on my phone, I came across the holy grail of hostels- SPIN.
Spin Designer Hostel was (and still is) killn’ it with the online ratings- and this was the first thing I noticed. Rarely do you see budget accommodation boasting 9+ stars reviews online, but over 200 people had left rave comments on TripAdvisor. I swiped through the photos, saw a 4 bed female dorm was available, and booked 1 night to test it out. 4 nights and a decision to forego another city altogether later…
During my stay, I had the coincidental pleasure of having a one-on-one chat with the hostel’s owner. Friendly, modest, and down to earth, he didn’t reveal who he was until we’d already spoken for quite some time. I learned that he had gotten into business very young and started buying up property. “The beaches of the Philippines were under appreciated” so he scoured the country for promising places to buy some land. Spin came as the result of an El Nido land purchase, and was built as a reflection of what he himself would want as a traveler. Needless to say, he nailed it.
The property itself is beautifully and functionally designed. El Nido, I discovered, is Spanish for “the nest” and helps explain the eye catching centerpiece in the common area- a spiral staircase surrounded by a cylindrical nestlike enclosure. The area has four WiFi networks, a kitchen with free flow coffee and tea, a flat screen TV, and a seating/jam sesh area where people can socialize or play music.
The dorm rooms max out at 4 people and are extremely spacious, and both mixed and all female rooms are available. Not down for sharing? Private rooms are an option as well. Beds in the shared rooms are wider than your average twin, comfortable, and come with the softest oversized blankets you'll ever enjoy. You’ll swear to find one just like it after you leave, because it is just that good and another night without it feels really sad. A reading light and four chargers PER BED make charging a non-issue, which I particularly appreciated. I've got electronic gadgets galore, so this was extremely helpful. Lastly, the large lockers provide more than enough storage for your things.
Having come from a city that suffers from an inconsistent water supply, the bathrooms were the most welcome sight to my eyes. For the dorms, there are two choices: 4 female-only private bathrooms with a shower and toilet, and a large shared bathroom. These are totally sufficient for the amount of guests the hostel houses, and most days I was able to snag a private bathroom. The water pressure was even up to my high standards....WIN.
Then there was the breakfast. The FREE breakfast. Every morning from 6-10 there’s a resident egg and pancake maker. Fresh fruit, juice, coffee, tea, and bread are also available. You'll find that many El Nido visitors book island hopping tours, so Spin's breakfast is a convenient way to start the day before your 9 am tour takes off.
Location is everything they say, and Spin doesn't disappoint as it is only a short walk from town and the beach where the tour boats depart. The staff is also commendable, considering they learned my name after only a day or two! They are friendly and accommodating in every way, and are constantly updating a board in the common area with activities to sign up for. From beach picnics, to hosted BBQ's, to pub crawls, there's always something on and plenty of opportunities to make friends. It’s difficult to find good service in Asian countries sometimes, and these people were the exception.
So here's the bottom line- if you want to see one of the most beautiful parts of this earth, sleep well, vacation comfortably, and meet awesome people, take my word for it and go to Spin.