The Manila Hotel is not just a luxurious, five-star hotel; it is also a historical site going way back in World War II. The sprawling property is near the Rizal Park and boasts magnificent views of the Manila Bay and its surrounding areas. It is famous for being the residence of General Douglas Arthur from 1935 to 1941.
It was designed by New York architect William E. Parsons, who envisioned a grand but comfortable hotel, just like those in California. When General MacArthur accepted the job of supervising the creation of the Philippine Army during the 1930s, he was given a suite in the Manila Hotel as his residence. MacArthur was given the honorary title of General Manager, partly to make it appear that the general is a hotel employee entitled to housing. MacArthur did not just stay at the hotel; he took over the management of the facility.
The hotel became a base for Japanese troops during World War II. The building survived the destruction wrought by the bombing of Manila, although it was later reconstructed.
After the war, the prominence of Manila Hotel is such that it became a favorite of political leaders. Ferdinand Marcos used the hotel for a convention. Corazon Aquino delivered a speech during her presidential campaign. Imelda Marcos became a frequent visitor, and she was given the red carpet treatment during her numerous stays. In 1999, the former first lady celebrated her 70th birthday at the Manila Hotel, which was attended by more than a thousand of the city’s elite.
The hotel is known for its main lobby, an impressive marble-floored area with white columns, crystal chandeliers and handsome mahogany furniture. The 570 guestrooms are all about contemporary luxury, with elegant furnishings and modern equipment. The MacArthur Suite, the one used by the general, can be booked for USD650 a night. Guests can enjoy the use of a private swimming pool and expansive views of the ocean, Rizal Park and the ruins of Intramuros.
The Manila Hotel has a truly enviable list of local and foreign guests. John F. Kennedy, Michael Jackson, Sammy Davis Jr., Ernest Hemingway, John Wayne and The Beatles are only some of the illustrious names who have stayed in the historic hotel.