City Garden Grand Hotel Brings Your Nest at the Heart of Makati

Try to exist in Makati for too long and you will soon realize that the city is informally divided into two parts: the Central Business District and the “Red Light” District. While the former caters mostly to suit-clad men and high-heeled women favoring sleeker hangouts, the latter has steadily gained popularity over the past few years—extinguishing all notions of danger and shadiness, and introducing, to locals and tourists alike, a new destination filled with incredible energy, truckloads of leisure options, and endless dining choices. It’s true that short skirts and 3-inch thick makeups can still be found in the neighborhood, but nowadays, stumbling into a nice barbecue spot tucked beside a smoky, dimly-lit fun house is far from uncommon.

I’ve been meaning to dig deeper into this side of Makati for quite some time, and finally I was able to accomplish it when I stayed at the City Garden Grand Hotel on the corner of Makati and Kalayaan avenues—literally only a number of steps away from the red zone. As people who live in busy cities can confirm, we can sometimes take our neighborhoods for granted and not explore as scrupulously as we could. City Garden Grand’s location hides a trove of secrets—waiting to be unearthed.

The hotel itself is a revelation, as I didn’t expect a great accommodation choice—and an amazing rooftop spot!—in this area which I typically avoid for its notorious traffic. But if you’re a leisure or business traveler who is eager to be at the center of energy and variety while enjoying uncompromised comforts, City Garden Grand Hotel (check ratesis the place for you. Read on to find out more about my staycation at the other side of Makati.

Gateway to a Grand Experience

I have two favorite spots at this hotel, and interestingly, they are at the top and bottom floors.

The impressive lobby of City Garden Grand Hotel instantly changes the mood of each entering guest. If you’re pissed off because of traffic, the lobby’s beautiful interiors should appease you. Spacious and classy, the space boasts of chandeliers made of capiz shells suspended from the ceiling, lustrous stone hallways and columns, and elegant pieces of furniture. I also loved that the walls were made up entirely of glass, allowing you a view of the street outside.

My other favorite is the incredibly relaxing Firefly Deck, the hotel’s bar and restaurant located at the top floor. I have previously featured it here and I will talk more about it later.

Checking in wasn’t as quick as I had hoped and for some reason someone’s always queuing up the front desk, but I guess it’s only because the hotel was on high occupancy when I visited.

The Room

City Garden Grand Hotel is the first 4-star property among the Filipino-owned City Garden hotels (two in Manila, two in Makati). Boasting of 311 rooms, the hotel offers a range of accommodation options—from superior and deluxe rooms to junior suites and a 200-sqm. presidential suite.

I stayed in a Deluxe King Room (~PhP3,800/night, book here), a 32-sqm. room equipped with a King-size bed, an en suite bathroom with a shower and a bathtub, a mini-bar, coffee and tea making facilities, a workstation, and a sitting area. Dominated with white and brown shades, the space showcases Filipino touches such as the woven headboard, narra door, and hardwood floor—offering a certain kind of understated native elegance.

The bed is incredibly spacious and comfortable, with a fluffy 500-thread-count duvet made in India and non-allergenic pillows. It is flanked by two bedside tables with lamps and power outlets. From your comfortable spot, you can directly watch TV, which is sitting on a cabinet that carries the mini-bar, water pot, refrigerator, and complimentary drinks (coffee, tea, water).

Another good spot to relax in is the lounge chair positioned near the window, perfect for viewing the tube, reading the morning paper with a cuppa, or enjoying a nightcap ordered from room service. The workstation is just nearby—it remained unused, however, all throughout my stay.

The en suite bathroom, while typical, is sufficiently roomy and is furnished with an alcove tub, hot and cold shower, and City Garden toiletries. The toilet comes with a bidet. Right across is a spacious closet, in which bedroom slippers and bathrobes are provided, as is an electronic safe and an ironing board.

Wi-Fi is fast so it's perfect for those who need to finish some work in the privacy of their own rooms. When you book a room, make sure to request for the ones with city view so that you can revel in a fantastic sight like the below.


Located at the 7th floor, Spice Café is City Garden Grand Hotel’s all-day dining outlet. Complimentary breakfast is served at this space, with choices ranging from Asian (Chinese, Indian) to Western (American, Italian). The buffet offers soups, salads, pancakes, bacon, dim sum, noodle dishes, curry, and pizza, along with many others.

Up the 32nd floor is the relaxing Firefly Decka true haven hidden in the midst of busy Makati, with stunning views of the city, a cozy ambience, great staff, and live music every Wednesday to Saturday. The a la carte menu features bar chow and light snacks such as pizzas, pastas, and salads; however, if you’re in the mood for a variety of cuisines in one go, try their Cocido de Espana Spanish-Mongolian buffet, which features dishes like paella, tapas (albondigas, chorizo, jamon, etc.), cheeses, and barbecue. Make your own Mongolian rice bowl from the array of toppings, meats, and sauces available.


Make sure you get some drinks—it’s the best thing to do in an ambience like this. Whether you prefer beers or cocktails, secure a table near the railing and get soothed by the view. Try their version of the Amaretto Sour or one of their signature glow-in-the-dark concoctions, the beautiful-but-deadly Blue Lagoon (PhP190)—a mix of 4 different spirits. Rooftop bars are usually high-end and pricey, but at Firefly Deck, you get an astounding view without the hefty price tag.

Other Amenities and Services

The City Garden Grand Hotel, aside from having a great location, houses a range of amenities that will satisfy transient and long-staying guests alike. There’s a fully-equipped gym and a spa on the 9th floor, designed for the health- and wellness-conscious.

The roof deck also holds the outdoor pool, which is an amazing way to relax in the morning or in the afternoon around sundown. It boasts of a stunning 180-degree view of Makati, and should you want some refreshments while lying down on the loungers, Firefly Deck is just nearby.

The hotel also has several function rooms designed for banquets, meetings, and celebrations. For more information, check out their website.

Live a Grand Experience

If you’re a traveler who’s eager to explore the other side of Makati, staying in a hotel in the Poblacion area is the closest thing to a complete discovery. It’s nice to know that hotels like the City Garden Grand Hotel are here to assist in this exploration—offering an accessible and comfortable home filled with modern conveniences that don’t break the bank. The city’s energy explodes right outside the hotel, but sanctuary is only a few floors up.

City Garden Grand Hotel
8008 Makati Ave. cor. Kalayaan Ave., Makati City

The rooms are large, the beds comfy; the ones with city view are awesome.
Outstanding Firefly Deck staff; front desk staff can still be improved.
Taste is average; serving sizes are generous and prices are reasonable.
The hotel is relaxing and elegant in an understated way.
Near a lot of bars and restaurants. Downside is heavy traffic in Makati Ave.
A good hotel choice that's at the center of everything.

Points for improvement:
  • Faster check-in and check-out.
  • Food selections can be a hit-and-miss.


Recommendations (Click on the image below for full, printable size):

Have you stayed at the City Garden Grand Hotel? What do you think about it?

My stay was sponsored by City Garden Grand Hotel. All opinions, however, are my own.

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