Hotel Reviews

Residencia Almar

Alas, my time living in Dumaguete has come to a close. After one and one-half years residing in the City of Gentle People, I came to the gradual conclusion that I would be better off elsewhere. Sure, it was slightly acrimonious to realize that the people weren’t always so gentle (they also call it Drama-guete for the rampant Junior-High level social immaturity); that the infrastructure was surprisingly lacking (I could deal with anything except the fact that the food sucked); or, that it was a little too slow, boring, and intellectually unstimulating for me at this point, but no place is perfect.

Dumaguete is still a great, chill place and wonderful for a visit or if you’re rapidly approaching 100 years old and want to retire.

That being said, I couldn’t wait to get the hell out of my apartment at Amru Gateway Residences. The place is great and the folks there have been amazing, but no one enjoys living in the midst of boxes, dust, and a near-vacant shell of an apartment for a whole week.

After wrapping up all of my duties, selling everything I could, donating the rest, and somehow squeezing my essentials into colossal bags, I was ready to leave. But, my flight wasn’t until that Sunday.

So, I booked a room at the La Residencia Hotel for my last weekend.

In fact, I’ve driven, walked, or bicycled past the La Resistencia every single day I’ve lived here, but never once been inside its lobby. I did know that it’s the site of the former ancestral home of an early governor to the province of Negros Oriental (where Dumaguete sits) back in the 1800s. Since then. It’s been revamped and expanded to a second floor, but still holds an old-world aesthetic charm on the outside.

While it’s in a perfect location, right on the popular seaside Boulevard and seawall next to Bos Coffee, the price was pretty reasonable – about $45 per night through

But I expected a Dumaguete-version of a luxury hotel since the price usually ran higher and it was connected to the Almar Steakhouse, which is (allegedly) one of the only places to get a good steak in town and charges according to its high-end aspirations.

I wasn’t disappointed when I first dragged my huge bags into the front lobby, as it did look modern and well-decorated, if not extremely cozy (read: claustrophobic.) In fact, the lobby had comfy leather chairs, open windows to let the sea-reflected sunlight in, nice vintage wood floors, clean black-painted trim, and even a modern white chandelier globe.

The super nice and friendly woman working behind the front counter chatted for a minute after checking me in, and a guy who I thought was a random guest (turns out he works there, of course), helped me lug my bags upstairs to my room.

Here’s where my hopes were dashed. The upstairs hallway was even noticeably out of date, with old deep carpet, fixtures, and a lack of aircon that made it sweltering. My room was even worse, with an ancient aircon (that did work), 1960s wooden windows that didn’t even shut properly, a safe that obviously hadn’t functioned since the Ferdinand Marcos presidency, and the like.

Despite that, the room was comfortable, clean, and safe enough, and I had no complaints – especially since the staff were so hospitable. They also have rooms with balconies in the front of the hotel (mine was at the back) that may be newer and nicer, but the staff informed me that those get really loud because of the street noise below, especially on a Saturday night.

Just realize that you really pay for location with the La Residencia hotel, and “charm” just means its sorely outdated. However, there aren’t many better options in Dumaguete, so if you want to stay on the Boulevard and get a taste of real Dumaguete, the Honeycomb Hotel down the way or the La Residencia are your only options.

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Norm Schriever is a blogger, Amazon best-sellling author, cultural mad scientist, and enemy of the comfort zone. His work appears in the Huffington Post,, Good Morning America, The Anderson Cooper Show on CNN, NBC, MSN, Yahoo,, and media all around the world.
Norm grew up in Connecticut and graduated from the University of Connecticut, where he was never accused of overstudying. After expatriating to Costa Rica in 2011, he started traveling the world and documenting what he saw. He now lives in Southeast Asia, writing his heart out and working with local charities.

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