El Nido Series Hostel

El Nido | Hostel Review: La Banane

Tuesday, February 19, 2013Ryan Mach

I was finally losing consciousness after what seemed like hours of tossing and bouncing when the door burst open, revealing a group of drunk travelers who barged inside the room unannounced, chuckling and talking in high volume oblivious to the fact that it's very late at night and people were actually sleeping, or at least trying to. I pretended I didn't hear anything but their intrusive presence made it impossible for me to doze off. Someone from outside the room hushed them up. Apparently, I wasn't the only one who was riled up by the interference. They took it down a notch but after a few seconds, they resumed their little party. I glanced at my phone to see the time, and I got more annoyed to learn that it's almost three in the morning. It was already past four when the chaos finally died down.
[Empty front lawn]

The next night was no different. It was in fact even worse. Previous occupants had been replaced by new guests and this lot was more intense. A late-night party adjacent the room aggravated the situation. They were singing Dutch songs like it was nobody's business and unlike the previous night, no one tried to hush them up this time. I could only sigh in frustration and reminded myself that it's my choice to stay in a hostel so I had to suck it up. Besides, those kids (they're way younger than me) were just having fun. With dawn close to breaking, I was desperate to catch some sleep, but time passed by so quickly and before I knew it, the alarm went off. At exactly 5AM I got up, packed my stuff without making any noise. I was going to catch the first bus trip to Puerto Princesa. My room mates were all sleeping soundly.

[Men's dorm near the entrance]

Sleep is one thing that is just hard to come by when you're sharing a room with a group of strangers. It is especially difficult to achieve when the mattresses are plagued with bed bugs. It was Johan, a Belgian traveler, who noticed those pesky little suckers. Minutes after he lay down on the lower bunk of a triple deck bed across mine, he began scratching himself and whipping the bed sheet with his towel in a fashion that reminded me of a shaman trying to ward off evil spirits. "Bed bugs," he complained. He asked the hostel staff to change the sheet. It seemed to make the situation better. The next morning, when I asked Johan if he had any sleep, he just shrugged and showed the rashes on his legs. He left the hostel and checked in at another inn. The next victim was a German traveler, who just like Johan, found it hard to sleep because of the bugs. I could tell that he was pretty tired from the trip but those pestering crawlers wouldn't leave him alone.

I guess I was just lucky to have gotten a bed that had no bugs. Or perhaps those bugs had a thing for foreigners.

Bed bugs are just one of the few things that make staying at La Banane unpleasant. Mediocre customer service is another thing. The staff at the hostel aren't exactly unfriendly but they seem to lack compassion. You can feel that you're welcome at a hotel you're staying just by how its staff treat you.

"That's the problem with some famous hostels. The quality of their service declines after they've gone prominent in the business and acquired a lot of customers," Johan told me while we were having dinner at an eatery along Calle Hama. He suggested that we try checking other hostels around. We've gone as far as Corong-Corong where more affordable hotels are located before finding Plaza Inn, a very cheap but run-down resort just a stone-throw from La Banane. I told Johan I'd give La Banane another night just to see how everything goes.
La Banane, a new backpackers' hostel in El Nido, has been making a buzz among travelers, especially foreigners, as a great and cheap accommodation. For starters, it has already been mentioned in international travel guides most notably Lonely Planet. Etched on its wooden gate are logos of travel organizations like Petit Fute, Rough Guides, Taipei Hostels, World Traveler and Bug among others which are an indication that La Banane is widely recognized in the travel scene. But its rise to fame is largely due to recommendations by travelers who had a great experience at the hostel.

Everything went fine on the first night to be honest. I enjoyed staying at the front yard with the moon above and the gentle lapping of waves while checking my email and Facebook. Their Wi-fi connection wasn't very fast but at least it's free (I hope they'd be able to speed up pc wifi connection). Sitting cozily on one of the bean bags sprawled on the gated lawn, I decided to stay at La Banane despite the problem with the bed bugs. I think they're the reason a staff tried pushing me away by suggesting that I should try a different lodging house. The dorm room smelled of insecticide when I arrived. Unfortunately, it didn't completely annihilate the bugs.
[View from the hostel]

La Banane is a small, two-storey hostel that doesn't come with frills - its location alone is already a luxury. Situated right beside Bacuit Bay, it offers guests a magnificent view of the sea that opens up to various islands in the distance.
What this hostel has that can't be found in any other hotels in El Nido are the cushions in which guests can use to relax while they check their email, sip their coffee, or drink booze. These big bean bags also serve as a social pill for interaction among the guests.

One reason I was adamant about staying at La Banane is its cheap dorm rate. For only Php350 per night, you can almost get your money's worth. It's inexpensive all right, but it comes with a price. You'll be sharing a dormitory room with a group of complete strangers and a communal bathroom near the reception desk. I can't imagine how an emergency CR situation would pan out with only one toilet/bathroom for all dorm dwellers.

Each bunk comes with a locker where you can put your important stuff. The hostel is virtually open during the day and guests can enter the perimeter unsupervised. There is no security guard around but there's always a staff in sight.

Currently, they offer the following accommodation types:
Tent: Php300
Dorm: Php350
Cabin: Php800
Room: Php1200

I'm going back to El Nido this summer. I'm still on the fence whether I'd consider choosing La Banane for our accommodation. For its friendly vibe, the hostel is a great place to feel young and to meet travelers.

La Banane

Hama St. Brgy. Masagana Zone 3
El Nido, Palawan, Philippines
Contact : Ritchel 0063 921 411 37 14

You Might Also Like


Contact Form - Powered by Blogger