Don't be confused, but this is two five-star hotels in one (both operated by the Accor group and with separate interiors by Bent Severin International). We're staying in the 280-room Fairmont Makati, but part of the same 30-storey glass tower is the Raffles Makati (32 suites and 237 "residences": one, two, three and four-bed luxury apartments that can be rented for longer periods). Tip: Look at the tiles on the ground floor to see which hotel you're in; white means you're in the Fairmont, pink means you've arrived at Raffles.
Makati, one of 17 municipalities of the Philippines capital (current metropolitan population 13 million, or 24 million if you take in the entire conurbation), is the modern commercial and "lifestyle" centre of Manila. Which means it's where most international visitors hang out. It's a safe district, with plenty of shopping malls, museums and galleries.
My "Fairmont Gold" room is on the the seventh floor, the executive level. That means I can take breakfast (and free wine, pizza, sushi and hors d'oeuvres between 6pm and 8pm) in the Fairmont Gold Lounge at the end of the corridor. As for the room itself, it's spacious with king bed, executive desk, ensuite, and ironing board (sadly, I only discovered after I'd left that laundry comes free on the seventh floor).
Spectrum, the all-day restaurant on the Fairmont ground floor, has the best buffet breakfast I've ever experienced, with five "culinary theatres" offering a world of superb cuisines (including Filipino delights). For more informal fare, try Cafe Macaron (sandwiches, pastries and desserts) or Fairmont Lounge (afternoon tea). But Fairmont guests can also use the Raffles restaurants. Two of them, the Long Bar and the Writers Bar, are inspired by the legendary watering holes in the original Raffles in Singapore. On Raffles's ninth floor is Mireio, a Provencal-inspired brasserie with a French head chef, and – one floor up – the rooftop Mireio Terrace where Manila's smart set enjoy panoramic views with canapés and cocktails.
Traffic is notorious in Manila, so allow an hour to cover the seven kilometres to the international airport or the historic heart of Manila. Fortunately, the Ayala Museum, with its fabulous collection of antique Filipino gold and its dioramas telling the story of these islands from the Stone Age to the modern day, is a five-minute walk away. If you're here on a Saturday, walk 10 minutes further to the Salcedo open air food market for a sumptuous street food lunch. (Warning: best to avoid the chewy barbecued chicken intestines – a local delicacy our guides insisted we try).
The two-for-one hotel concept works surprisingly well. Most Fairmont guests will enjoy their rooms, while walking seamlessly to Raffles without even noticing. And yes, you can get a Singapore Sling and throw peanuts on the floor at the Long Bar.
Fairmont Makati, 1 Raffles Drive, Makati. From $A220 a night. See fairmont.com/makati
Superb massage at the hotel's excellent Willow Stream Spa.
The blackened century eggs at the Spectrum breakfast buffet.
Steve Meacham was a guest of Brisbane Airport Corporation, Fairmont Makati, Manila and Philippine Airlines.