When I was a kid growing up in the ’70s, one event changed my life forever.
My dad took us to a uncle’s house in Dasmariñas Village. It was the most beautiful house I had ever seen—big, modern, with huge garden. I even remember the music that was playing: “Do The Hustle” was the rage at that time and the adults were dancing on the verandah. That visit made me want to own a modern home which I was able to achieve with my husband in our 30s.
A few years ago, a blog reader named Rene Alcala emailed me asking for advice on what is a chuva-approved bathroom. So I met up with Rene and spent the day looking at bathroom fixtures and tiles.
Rene told me he was building a boutique hotel in Tagaytay in collaboration with Budji Layug and other known Filipino designers.
Last November 2014, Domicillo opened quietly, but I only got to see it recently with my husband and kids.
To me it felt like visiting the out-of-town James Bondish home of an eccentric uncle—modern, boxy, concrete, with many levels and much greenery. The feeling I had was similar to that experience I had in the ’70s.
My boys loved the place. I feel though that there are parts that are not kid-friendly and I have some reservations about the bathrooms, just because I have very particular bathroom preferences. But because I feel it deserves a story, I asked my friend and writer Dinna Vasquez to stay for a couple of nights and tell us all about it.
Room with a view at Domicillo
By Dinna Vasquez
There are lots of places to stay in Tagaytay, but many of them do not offer an unobstructed view of Taal Volcano and the surrounding mountains from your room’s window or veranda.
That view is free, of course, but Domicillo gives you the luxury of waking up to a selfie-worthy view.
It’s not just the view that makes Domicillo special. It’s the combination of natural and man-made attractions that make you feel so relaxed you won’t even want to go out of the room to have breakfast.
Domicillo, built along the Tagaytay ridge, is an eight-room boutique hotel that is a design and architectural collaboration between its owner, designer and exporter Rene Alcala and the Budji + Royal architecture firm.
A graveled parking lot with a concrete wall leads to steps and a ramp going down to the hotel.
“This was supposed to be a two-bedroom hotel,” said Alcala. “But when we were building it, after the excavation, Budji told me, ‘This isn’t going to be a two-bedroom. There is space for more.’”
The bed and breakfast, as Alcala prefers to call it, is full of rough, unfinished surfaces—from the raw cement of the floors to the unvarnished wood of the furniture—which is Budji’s signature look.
Alcala made the most of the 1,000-square-meter lot to indulge in his love for plants. There are several varieties of bamboo, giant staghorn ferns, elephant ear taro and many others.
Domicillo used to be a lifestyle store at the Cliffhouse complex in Tagaytay so Alcala, an exporter and the man behind Manila Mirrors, is no stranger to what visitors are looking for when it comes to accommodations.
“Everybody wants a good view because that is one of the reasons why they come here.”
We stayed at Domicillo for two nights as Alcala’s guests in the Layug-designed Premier room with a lower lake view. The room is comfortable enough for two adults and a small child although honestly, the place is more for grown-ups wanting to get away from the city.
It is the perfect hotel for couples who are celebrating anniversaries or simply want to reconnect with each other without the kids and the hustle and bustle of Metro Manila.
Domicillo is also not a place for older people who have difficulty walking or going up and down the stairs.
The Premier rooms, for instance, are two floors below the lobby. But we heard some older balikbayan guests loved the bed and breakfast so much they didn’t care.
One couple reportedly didn’t leave the room for three days and ordered food to be brought inside.
We can imagine how they felt as the only times that we went out were for breakfast on our second day, a massage and dinner at the nearby Qi Wellness Living, and when we checked out on our last day. We simply ordered takeout from a fastfood outlet through the hotel’s landline and our orders were brought down to our room.
The Superior rooms with an upper lake view have beds designed by Milo Naval while the ones in the Deluxe rooms with a garden view were done by Tess Pasola.
The common areas and the guest rooms are full of mirrors designed by Alcala (they are for sale) and paintings by R.M. de Leon from his personal collection.
In this age of social media, the best way to describe the aesthetics is to say every nook and cranny of Domicillo is Instagram-worthy.
Room rates are inclusive of free minibar in all rooms, daily newspaper, breakfast for two at the hotel’s La Finca restaurant, organic amenities, and one-hour whole body massage for two for the Premier room, or 30-minute head or foot message for the Superior room.
The rooms offer free Wi-Fi and cable TV but because Domicillo is built on a steep terrain, signal problems are expected.
So most of the time, my daughter and I stayed in the room, read and talked. We didn’t watch a minute of television or spend hours on our mobile phones. We were just happy to enjoy each other’s company. Worth a visit!
Domicillo is at Km 58, General Emilio Aguinaldo Highway, Maharlika East, Tagaytay City.
For bookings and more information, call (046) 413 3552 or 0922 884 1532.
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(Photos: JILSON SECKLER TIU)