When I planned my trip to Bohol, I knew overspending would be a possibility since I would be going solo. Accommodations usually take up a big chunk of my estimated budget, so I had to be careful of the hotels I pick. I wanted one that was affordable, but would have the basics I need for a comfortable stay, and that’s how I stumbled upon Alona KatChaJo Inn.
It’s not a very popular lodging; in fact, practically no one I spoke to when I got there knew about it. But when I went on Agoda in search of a good but cheap place to stay, it kept popping up as one of the most highly rated places (8.7 based on 162 reviews). Compliments like “comfortable,” “basic but nice,” and “friendly owners” were prevalent among local and foreign (mostly foreign) commenters, and that was good enough for me. I booked a two-night stay for Php2,619 (including taxes).
As I mentioned in my Day 1 post, the tour driver only came by Alona KatChaJo Inn by coincidence; he had to stop on the side of the road and call up someone who might know where it is. I was sitting in the van, looking around when, lo and behold, we had actually stopped right across the street from the entrance. Tip: it’s along Panglao Cinrcumferential Road close to Moon Fools Hotel and Sea World Korean Restaurant (on the other side of the road; look for a light-up sign hanging from a pole).
KatChaJo looks like a small village with tiny homes, lots of trees and plants, and a cemented walkway. When you walk up to it from the main road, the in-house restaurant and front desk are the first things you come across. I go to check in, and the first thing the owner does is apologize that the power is out, but that it would be back by 6PM (I got there at about 5), I said it would be fine.
Inside the room, there was a double (or queen?) bed, air conditioning, cable TV, a sofa bed, a cabinet, an emergency lamp, hot shower, and some toiletries. Not bad at all for about Php1,300 a night. Toiletries include just toilet paper, soap, and shampoo, so it’s a good thing there’s a convenience store right across the street. In fact, the inn’s close to pretty much everything. Alona Beach, as well as its many restaurants, is only a few minutes away, though you don’t need to go there for a good meal since there’s more than enough of them along the circumferential road.
If you’re too tired to go out for a meal, you can have them at the restaurant or call room service. The only meal I had was one complimentary breakfast (I had to miss the first one because of my Day 2 island-hopping tour). The complimentary breakfast is the usual continental, but for just Php50 more, you can upgrade to an American (bacon and eggs) or Filipino (tapa or longganisa, or something, I’m not sure). Based on that meal alone, I wish I hadn’t missed my first breakfast, and that I had tried having other meals there.
Full disclosure: I forgot to pay for the Php50 upgrade when I checked out, and they forgot to charge me for it too. It was only when got back to Manila that I remembered it. On the ride away from the airport, I texted them and asked if they had a bank account I could deposit it to, but all they said was “That’s OK. Maybe next time,” which made me feel even more shitty. But I swear this is not the reason why I’m giving them a great review.
As kind of a simpleton when it comes to traveling, the only gaffe I can think of was the temporary blackout on my first day (the power came back on at 6:30PM, so it wasn’t bad) and the thin bath towels. Oh, there was also this funny smell coming from the drain when I showered during my first day, but it eventually went away. Other than that, the hotel is definitely more than enough if all you need is a basic place to crash in after a day’s adventure. On top of the room, food, and ideal location, the owners and staff—who kept greeting me whenever I pass by, it was almost embarrassing for me (keep in mind I’m kind of antisocial)—were great, very friendly and helpful.
Be sure to give this place a shot should you find yourself in need of an inexpensive room with great service. I went there not expecting much, and I was not just not disappointed (I’m pretty sure undisappointed is not a word), I was pleasantly surprised by the experience and would definitely stay here again (and not just to pay back the Php50 I owe them).
Overall rating: ★★★★☆
Alona KatChaJo Inn
Panglao Island Circumferential Road, Tawala, Panglao Island, Bohol
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