When I was a teenager we looked forward to a magical place in Malate called Penguin Café.
The first Penguin had no aircon, only electric fans of different shapes and sizes.
Each time I was allowed to go out, I would join my guy friends in our New Wave/Gothic hairstyles and outfits.
During the ’80s, we still had the US bases in the Philippines. At Penguin Café we mixed with American sailors in uniform and prostitutes and theatre actors.
Penguin later relocated to Remedios Circle, which now had booth seating, aircon, and good food.
Us college students mixed with backpackers, foreign journalists, and more theatre actors.
This was the anthem of Penguin Café
When the mainstream folks discovered Penguin Café, it started to die a long and natural death until it finally closed for good in 2010. Sadly, there hasn’t been anything quite like it in Manila.
Fast forward to 2014 Tokyo.
Last month my friend Sayoko brought me to Asakusa her son Yu had discovered a really cool place called Nui.
My jaw dropped as soon as I walked in, saw the interiors and the cool people. It was truly magical.
“We can have a drink here,” Sayoko-said.
“Sayoko-san, can we leave now and come back with Jeroen? I really want him to see this,” I said excitedly.
“Of course,” Sayoko said. She understood right away because she gets me.
Nui Hostel Bar & Lounge was opened in September 2012 by 22 talented Japanese craftsmen, who wanted to build something really cool in the obscure area of Taito-ku.
They made use of industrial and natural materials to create an unexpected ambience.
On top of the bar and lounge are dormitories and private accommodations as low as 2700 yen per night.
The rooms and communal bathrooms are not chuva-approved, but hey, if you’re up to it, I won’t stop you
The following night we came back with Jeroen, whose reaction was exactly like mine—pure magic.
The place was packed so we ordered our drinks and stood on this tree bar.
It was cold outside. Guests casually parked their coats on the racks by the window.
The multi-level design just blew me away, as did the mismatched furniture
Here’s where guests inquire about the rooms
and a sign I spotted at the front desk: Beyond All Borders, which is the main concept of Nui.
It’s been a while since I’ve been to a place so magical. Thank you, Sayoko-san, for taking us
Nui. HOSTEL & BAR LOUNGE is at 2-14-１３ Kuramae, Taitō, Tokyo 111-0051, Japan
Tel. +81 3-6240-9854
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