The Puzzle Mansion, a gem among Tagaytay’s bed and breakfasts

Tagaytay has got to be the bed and breakfast capital of the Philippines.  Hardly two hours away from Metro Manila, it’s perfect for ducking out of the rat race for a night and returning to the havoc of the city refreshed without having been missed too badly.  Unfortunately, having too many bed and breakfasts is not a good thing.  Too often, the service sucks, the rooms are musty, and the “view” is either the street or the neighbouring resort.  So you’ll understand that when a bunch of friends and I arrived at Puzzle Mansion Bed and Breakfast, I had no great expectations.

The_Puzzle_Mansion_TagaytayPuzzle Mansion’s facade, as seen from the driveway.

It served me right when this “little” hideaway completely blew me and all my assumptions away.

DSC_0735It’s. SO. Pretty.

The Puzzle Mansion has been supremely popular recently, because of the amazing collection housed there by its equally amazing founder (but that’s a story for another post).  To help you find it, there are around thirty signs leading you down the main road, increasing in frequency as you get closer.  You can’t miss them – they all mention the Guinness World Record set by the mansion, in glorious blue and gold.

You know you’ve finally found the place when you arrive at a road that feels like you’re freefalling as you coast down into a valley filled with lush greenery and dominated by a vibrantly blue roof etched against the greenery, clouds, and sky.

Wheeeeee!

Wheeeeee!

When you’re breathing again, you’ll find yourself at the entrance of a vast estate.  There’s a few horses walking around on tethers, a small parking lot, and a couple of small stalls selling trinkets, food, and souvenirs. If you’re lucky, you’ll get the chance to be welcomed by the lady of the estate, Gina Gil-Lacuna.  But if not, don’t worry – stay over and you’ll be sure to meet her eventually.

The view from the door of our adjoining rooms.

The view from the door of our adjoining rooms.

The rooftop hangout of the rooms we were staying in.

The rooftop hangout of the rooms we were staying in.

The view of the pool from the rooftops.

The view of the pool from the rooftops.

We were ushered in by the manager, and seen to our room by able and accommodating staff.  Through my stay, it was ever more obvious that their dedication to guests is worlds away from the attitude you get from bored, tired, and seemingly annoyed “I’m-just-here-because-they-pay-me” workers more commonly found in resorts and inns (I’m looking at YOU, local inn whose name I shall not mention). They genuinely appreciated having people come to stay, and are enthusiastic about sharing the story behind the business and the mansion itself.  They were friendly, polite, and as far as we could tell, quite happy to be working there. This made our stay immensely more comfortable.

Here is one of the exemplary people on the staff, who followed us on our afternoon walk to offer us horse rides. :)

Here is one of the exemplary people on the staff, who followed us on our afternoon walk to offer us horse rides. 🙂

When you settle into your room to stow your bags away, you’re hit by the fact that it’s quite a large room.  You can actually place your bag on the floor beside the bed and walk around it (amazeballs!) instead of having to hop-shuffle-flop over the bed and crawl into a closet-sized bathroom like you usually do in bed and breakfasts. The bathroom is also spacious, with the sink a good seven or six steps away from the shower.

Bouncy, pillowy, comfy mattresses are the foundation of every bed and breakfast's reputation.

Bouncy, pillowy, comfy mattresses are the foundation of every bed and breakfast’s reputation.

The shower runs hot and cold water, and the design is so that there’s minimal drippage on floor outside the stall.  But despite these details which already had me thanking my lucky stars, there was one detail that was so heart-clutchingly thoughtful it made me fall irrevocably head over heels in love with the place. This was the fact that there are several hooks bolted into the wall for your towels and clothes.

I’m an idiot for not taking a shot of them, but trust me, they’re there.  Anyone who has stayed in a local resort and hates moist towels after a bath knows how precious these things are.  Your towels are dry when you are ready to use them, and they do not smell of mildew or of whatever it was you were forced to drape them over.

Because the smaller rooms are intended for short stays, there’s no real closet, but none of us actually noticed.  I myself only realized it while I was typing this entry out.

There's a lovely sitting area, though.

There’s a lovely sitting area, too.

Besides, who goes to a bed and breakfast expecting to have a place to store their three-piece suit?  If you’re a wash and wear person who brings jeans and shirts on vacation, and likes dry towels, then you’re golden.  If you really can’t live without a conventional closet, then rent one of the family rooms.

As large as the regular rooms are, the family rooms are bigger than our apartment.

As large as the regular rooms are, the family rooms are bigger than our apartment.

The beds are extremely comfortable, perfectly fitting two people.  Stay away from the edges, though.  They tend to slouch, and you can slip off.  Although I fell once, and it was no big.  I simply crawled back under the sheets and was back in dreamland in no time flat.

We had the rooms overlooking the pool, and one of the best things about them was that you can opt to open the windows instead of turning on the air conditioning. It’s like sleeping out in the open, just snuggled between clean sheets and a pillowy mattress. The fresh air is delicious, and it whets your appetite for the awesome breakfast the staff serves you right in the humungous kitchen.

Which brings me to the next thing I loved about my stay – the dream kitchen.  Seriously. Immaculately clean and well-stocked, it features two deep double sinks, a high ceiling, large picture windows, and a large oven. If I could marry that kitchen, I would.  It had, after all, three coffee makers to its name.  We would make beautiful dishes together.

The kitchen in its awesomeness.

The kitchen in its awesomeness.

The dining area in the kitchen is large enough to seat eight comfortably.

The dining area in the kitchen is large enough to seat eight comfortably.

It must be lovely to wake up and watch the sunrise as you make breakfast.

It must be lovely to wake up and watch the sunrise as you make breakfast.

Er… right, breakfast.  When you stumble in all bleary-eyed from a restful night without the incessant noise of traffic and without your alarm going off, the staff serves you a heaping plate of the breakfast of your choice.  You can choose to eat in the humungous kitchen, pleasantly surrounded by the hubbub of cooking and feeding, take your meal out in the open air dining hall, or you can ferret your food away and enjoy it in some secluded corner while the sun slowly bathes everything in brilliant gold.

Deliciously strong coffee and a view overlooking the garden.

Deliciously strong coffee and a view overlooking the garden.

Early morning views of the wishing well in the garden.  I wish to come back soon!

Early morning views of the wishing well in the garden. I wish to come back soon!

You can spend your morning here before heading out.  You can spend a good long while exploring the museum that made Puzzle Mansion famous, or taking a quick dip in the pool.

You can also set up a work station by your room door and attempt to get some work done. Which takes me to a gray area – The Puzzle Mansion has terrible internet and phone reception. My Globe line just gave up, and my Smart line and internet worked only away from the rooms. They have wifi, but it’s too intermittent for uploads and downloads. But it’s not too much of a big deal unless you absolutely have to go online. Otherwise, it’s pretty nice to unplug from the web, if only for a day or two. Not even that, if you don’t mind trekking up the road to catch a signal.

Every office should look like this.  *sigh*

Every office should look like this. *sigh*

When you’re ready to go, there’s one more unique thing that you absolutely have to try – the coconut cream pie.  Baked fresh daily right on the premises, it’s a far cry from the buko pie that’s mass produced on every street corner of Tagaytay. And it can only be found at the Puzzle Mansion.  The pie’s crumbly crust and creamy filling reminds you more of cheesecake, but the strips of tender young coconut flesh remind you of what it’s meant to be.

This pie haunts my dreams and is probably the cause behind the sudden addition of a couple of pounds.

This pie haunts my dreams and is probably the cause behind the sudden addition of a couple of pounds.

There’s dried ground coconut for texture, and as the rest of it melts in your mouth, you get these tiny bursts of sweet accents to the rich flavour of the filling.  This alone is absolutely worth a two-hour trip to the city.  To my shame, I have to admit that The Girl and I finished off an entire pie by ourselves over the course of three days (sorry, friends).  It was just that good!

All in all, I had an a lovely weekend. Internet would have been nice, and cellphone coverage could have been better, but the Puzzle Mansion Bed and Breakfast had so much to offer that I hardly missed them. And if you ever come to stay the night, I can guarantee that you won’t, either.

Because of everything there is to talk about, I have to split my post about the Puzzle Mansion into two – but in the meantime, check out their Facebook Page and make your reservations!

 

 

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    posted on by Little Bunny posted in travels and trails

    10 Responses to: The Puzzle Mansion, a gem among Tagaytay’s bed and breakfasts

    1. Mel

      So pretty! No internet or cellular reception sucks though. I’m still deciding if it’s a deal-breaker or not. 🙁

      • Little Bunny

        Agreed, it’s a bit of a handicap, but it’s not the Puzzle Mansion’s fault, really. They’re in a little cove in the mountainside. Cell reception’s almost non-existent in the rooms, but once outside, up the road, and in the kitchen, phones will work. Your plan-based internet may or may not. 🙁 But if you’re hiding away, it’s pretty awesome. 😀

      • jomarcenter

        They offer wifi so don’t worry .

    2. Cha Sy

      Cool pictures! Amazing details of every nook and corner of Puzzle Mansion!

      • Little Bunny

        Thank you, Cha! 🙂

    3. Fred Valdez

      Nice place. They shouldn’t call it “bed and breakfast” though. (Maybe they want to benefit from under-expectations?) We all know what B&F is. That place is a resort. Unless of course they have B&F rates.

      • Little Bunny

        There’s really no strict divisions about these things in the Philippines. They can’t really call themselves a resort because a resort offers activities and play areas, and the Puzzle Mansion is generally for chilling and sleeping. The rates are reasonable, the two rooms we stayed in were 4,480 and huge family rooms are 6,800.

    4. Bunny

      Was she in the Guinness Book of Records or something? I was hoping to see all the puzzles. Hehehe!

      • Little Bunny

        Yes, she was in the Guinness Book of World Records. Don’t worry, I’m writing another post about the fabulous lady who utterly destroyed the previous record. It’ll be out soon and it gots tons of pictures! 🙂

    5. Bunny

      When I said “she”, I meant the owner. I think I saw a sign about it somewhere in Tagaytay

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