Azalea Residences and Rediscovering Baguio

I have developed a not so pleasant relationship with Baguio when i was a kid. I have been sent to this city for a couple of times, most of them to represent for competitions where triumph was never my ally.

During those naive moments in Baguio as a younger boy, I only have memories of frustration and disappointment - the kind of remembrance that we don't want to take home with. I have not come back since, probably because of the lack of chance to revisit or the lack of drive to make new memories. It wasn't until Azalea's invite that I saw myself excited about meeting the pine city again. 

As I grew, I learned how to move on from the memories that I do not wish to recall. I was looking forward for comfort and pure leisure upon entering Azalea Residences, little did I know that what was waiting for us was something deeper than the earthly pleasure that hotels are expected to give. It rekindled why I wanted to travel in the first place and it led me to make a new relationship with a city I once hated. I've had the chance to experience a number of hotels until I have reached that point of certainty in expectations. Azalea Residences caught me off guard because for the first time, I have actually met a hotel that knows their blood and soil beyond the standards of four stars.

It was pouring when the van I was aboard stopped in front of the hotel. The door was opened by men in blue ties and gray vest. I was battling between my half-conscious self after a deep sleep on my seat and the need to look at least presentable when I stepped down. We were given welcome drinks and the warm welcome overpowered the cool breeze.

Azalea, which is a name for the a bush that bears beautiful flowers in cold areas has represented the hotel well, being a 6-floor charmer in the cold highlands of Baguio. I did not know what to expect when we were ushered to our room, but what I came in was a suite with two bedrooms, a kitchen bar and a living room right beside the balcony. Whether you come in twos, threes, fours or fives, Azalea has prepared a room just right for anyone who seeks pleasure in Baguio.

When we got the chance to hop on other rooms, I was delighted to see how spacious they were, Baguio being a family destination, Azalea provides that well deserved holiday comfort while keeping your family and your friends intact in a luxurious hotel accommodation. 

Two Bedroom Living and Dining Area
Master's Bedroom
Twin bed in a Two Bedroom
Living Room
Dining Area in a Tripe Bedroom
Deluxe Room
Deluxe Room Dining Area

What awed me the most was when we opened the door of the presidential room. It has it's own virtual fire place, a dining area and a loft at the second floor. It made visualize the interiors of my dream house.

Stepping outside the comforts of this wonderful hotel, I was curious what was next. I've been to Baguio's most popular tourist destinations, but never did I know the hidden charms this country-side town has to offer. I've always wanted to see the vulnerable and candid parts of my destination. When Azalea's staff started to bring us to what would be our daily musings, I was indeed delighted because they had the genuine interest to bring their culture and the side stories of Baguio into the spotlight, I appreciate that Azalea not only knows where to bring us, but knew the story behind, it's something I consider genuine hospitality.

It was such a pleasant experience to be dancing with the Cordillerans on a hill where huts and traditional houses appear like mushrooms where every detail had a story to tell and the culture has been well preserved that even the youngsters understand their skin and race and danced the stories of the folks. The Tim Awan Heritage Village had me off my chair to the beat of the local gongs and sipping turmeric tea.

As part of Azalea's menu, we were served with a Hot Pot dinner. I have never been a fan of Hot Pots, but Azalea surely had me craving more after my first bowl. 

As the night grew older, we were brought to a wooden house converted into a spa haven where the aroma of fresh flowers embraced every corner. They call this the North Haven Spa where sauna, shower and a full body massage were the house's ways to pamper Baguio's guests and even locals.

 The sub urban feels of Baguio, that of which I really liked, became stronger when I realized this haven was sitting on top of a book store and local movie house that screenplays indie films. The Mt. Cloud bookshop had blown me away, I have been looking for a place like it my entire life and even at the slightest, I have never thought I could find one in Baguio. They also house books of their culture that aren't found in many bookstores, like those we usually see on movies, this place was dressed in varnished wood interiors and paper cranes that were originally made by the owner in the belief that one thousand paper cranes can grant one wish. The bookshop also gives back to the community by allowing anyone to spend sometime and read as long as they want for as long as they do not take home the book. ;)

Baguio also is the home to some Halloween stories, some of which are just products of the playful mind while some remain the reason why Baguio has always been tagged as peculiar. One of which was the Diplomat Prayer Hill which used to be a vacation house of some dignitaries, converted into a hospital and was known to have stories of bizarre activities and sightings in the past, but today, is only a symbol of history and a peaceful venue for "soul searching". Although the facade of which covered in thick fog still gives that eerie feeling.

Ili Likha was a fairy tale dream for me, as a young boy I have always been fascinated with Peter Pan, when I entered Ili Likha, it definitely made all those dreamy visions to life. Imagine a paradise made of indigenous materials, scrap metals, bottles, wooden carvings, tables and chairs all assembled to become multiple layers of masterpieces. I call it multiple layers because it was indeed made of multiple floors and the entire place was an abstract. This was an art installation haven for visitors like myself who gets so much delight when our creative hormones start to become hyperactive.

This was exactly how I thought Neverland would be where Tinkerbell does what she's best at. Not only can I stay here and unwind, they also house three different mini restaurants in the place and the smell of Balbacua and freshly made pancakes were wrapped in the blanket of pouring rain. This was also a melting pot where art meets the culture of the Cordillera. This is also the home to local artists who are noble enough to relive and share the culture through their art works.

On intervals during our side trips, Azalea's Tradisyon Pinoy Comfort Food   has spoiled us with their sumptuous menu and their line of Monbana chocolates, tea and coffee as their in house restaurant. Although the menu's not purely Filipino in nature, the idea of Tradisyon is to offer dining treats that are familiar to the Filipino taste everytime they are on a vacation or spending some holidays. Whether its Pizza and Pasta, Mongolian Cuisine, Hot Pots, Filipino Delights or Sweet enders, Tradisyon surely knows how to treat the guests just right.


Their bar 8 Degrees Lounge also gives the chance to guests who wants to spend some good time over drinks.

What pleases me the most about Azalea is their well appreciation of what a holiday should be. They understand what hospitality truly means from the linens of their bed, to the well furnished rooms, to the wonderful personalities of each and every staff, to their understanding of the culture where Azalea stands, because in the Hotel industry, it is not plentiful to see hotels that thrives to embody the link between culture and hospitality, and in another aspect, what Baguio is all about - an intimate town where warmth is as heartfelt as its cool climate.

I am more than glad to have rediscovered Baguio's other side, this time, only with good memories to bring home. 

The Wander Dan Notes:
  • If you are planning for a celebration or a surprise party, Azalea can help you prepare with all you need. Just let them know what you need and they will do it for you.
  • Azalea also offers tour packages which you can customize based on your preferences. 
  • Azalea Residences Baguio is located at Leonard Wood Road just across Teacher’s Camp in Baguio City
  • Visit their website at
  • Try their in-house hot chocolate on a cold morning or a lovely afternoon

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