When the Motley Crew went to El Nido for a belated summer getaway, we had no idea where to stay since we were all first timers to the famed tourist spot. We were dreading the cost of lodging because everyone says El Nido would cost us an arm and a leg if we wanted our stay to be nice and comfortable. But a quick look at agoda.com brought us to Swiftlets Inn which, according to reviews, was both affordable and of good quality. Clueless and pretty much desperate since the trip was drawing near, we booked two rooms (one for two and one for three) and hoped for the best.
Swiftlets Inn is a medium-sized accommodation nestled among the monolithic limestones and lush vegetation of El Nido, and only a few minutes’ walk to the sea shore, where restaurants are lined up ready to feed you and boats are waiting to take you island hopping. It doesn’t look like much on the outside at first glance; there was quite a bit of construction going on (it looked like they were adding another level to the existing building), but from what I witnessed during our stay, they were off to a great start.
We were met by a nice lady (forgot her name), who signed us in. She told us ahead of time that coffee, tea, and hot chocolate on the side tables set up on each floor were free. Free. That was one of the best welcomes I’ve ever gotten at a hotel. Need internet access? No problem; the hotel provides guests free access to their Wi-Fi. You can also book island hopping tours with them, though I’m not sure how that goes, since we’d already fixed ours at this point.
It seemed all the rooms are designed for couples (in fact, there were individual meal tables set for two outside every room where meals are served if you don’t want to eat at the mezzanine), so it’s definitely a great stop for honeymooners on a budget. The inside of each room was clean and furnished with a comfy king-sized bed, cable TV and closet. Rooms aren’t equipped with phones, but the place is pretty small so you can just poke your head out the room and call for someone to assist you.
The equally pristine bathroom has a bidet but no exhaust, so be sure to crack open the window when you do your business. The shower and bathtub isn’t dressed with a curtain, so the bathroom turns into a freaking water world when someone washes up. They could also do with stronger water pressure. On the upside, if you’re an environmentalist, you’ll be pleased to know that hot water here runs on solar energy.
The food’s very substantial, I have to say, and not just because my stomach space is limited. On our first breakfast, we were going to have breakfast at the mezzanine, but the bad weather said “not a chance“. The staff set up the indoor eating area instead, where we were greeted with a plate of bacon, eggs, veggies, rice, fruit, and juice (plus whatever hot drink we wanted from the complimentary beverage table). We ate well on our last breakfast, too.
And if you’ve looked at reviews of Swiftlets Inn at agoda and tripadvisor.com and seen how past guests praise the staff, they’re not lying. The people at the inn are just about the friendliest and most accommodating bunch you’d want to assist you. Aside from a nice greeting whenever you cross paths and quick action to requests, they were also nice enough to comply with our request to be served breakfast at 5 in the morning (breakfast is served at 7AM) because our pick-up was at 6. We didn’t get to meet the owner, but if this reaches you, the Motley Crew appreciates the hospitality.
So… would I stay there again? Abso-freakin’-lutely. I’m not dismissing the nuances I mentioned, but they’re minuscule compared to the overall great experience. In fact, every time I come across someone who’s planning a trip to El Nido, I recommend that they try this place. The service was excellent, the food was great, the rooms were satisfactory (for the most part), and the rates were reasonable. And did I mention the free coffee?
Overall rating: ★★★★✭
Balinsasayaw Rd, El Nido, Palawan
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