One of the stops of the Carlos Celdran Viva Manila tour was a visit to a historic hotel near Rizal Park that is not the Manila Hotel. I am of course talking about the Luneta Hotel which first opened in 1918.
Designed in the French renaissance style by Spanish architect Salvador Farre, the hotel with its charm and elegance, rivaled the Manila Hotel as a popular place of stay among guests, especially notable ones like dignitaries, elite, and marine merchant personnel. Dwight D. Eisenhower, during his stint in the country as aide to Gen. Douglas MacArthur, also stayed in this hotel and had good memories of it. It also served as the hotel for the delegates of an international meet that was the XXXIII International Eucharistic Congress in 1937.
Luneta Hotel was one of the few fortunate structures to survive World War II but over the years, decay was slowly creeping in the hotel as it eventually shut down its hotel operations, save for it becoming part of film lore when it was used as one of the locations for a Hollywood action film “Missing in Action” which starred Chuck Norris. (for this, the hotel was transformed into a Vietnamese hotel called Lun Ta Hotel) However, it was given a new lease of life when in 2008, it underwent a massive restoration and rehabilitation, with much work being done behind the iconic facade which was preserved and restored to its old glory.
The result was the reopening of the hotel last year, in time for the city’s Araw ng Maynila. Luneta Hotel 2.0 now stands as a boutique hotel open to accommodate a new generation of travelers and guests.
Inside, the hotel manages to somewhat recapture some of the spirit that has made it a loved landmark, recreating classic designs with a modern flair to it.
The hotel has 27 rooms and 6 floors, the 6th floor being the hotel’s function area as well as a roof deck view of the city, especially of Rizal Park and the hotel’s surrounding area. Being on the roofdeck gives one the vibe of being in Europe or old New York for that matter.
Luneta Hotel stands as a symbol of resurgence and revitalization and inspiration for heritage conservation in the midst of the challenges the city’s remaining heritage is facing. As such, the hotel deserves recognition and patronage as a gem worth checking out.
For more information on the Luneta Hotel, check out their website at lunetahotel.com.