Weekend Staycation: Experiencing the Vestiges of Old Cebu

No matter how far and wide an adventurer has traveled, she must not neglect to explore her own city. This is something I really want to work on, and so I was happy when one of my best friends (Kristal) suggested we beat the April heat by having a staycation in the city center. She generously paid for the room, yay!

Casa Escaño Bed and Breakfast Review

our home for that weekend

The chosen accommodation for that weekend was this old Spanish house converted to a bed and breakfast – Casa Escaño. Their restaurant, which may be more well-known in the area, is called Don Merto’s Restaurant.

Address: 94 Juana Osmeña Street, Cebu City Philippines

Contact: +6332 253 5563 ; their website

At PHP 1,950, we booked their Deluxe Room. Kristal specified we wanted a room with two beds. After all, we are best friends, not a couple who needs a queen bed. Our objective was to chill and relax, not indulge in romantic cuddling. Why am I mentioning this? Well, when we arrived we were led to a room with a queen bed. That was not a good start at all.

The Deluxe Room with a queen bed initially offered to us. Great for couples, but didn’t meet our needs.

If there is one thing we both hate, that is inefficiency. So we asked the guy who ushered us in what happened to our twin-bed room. He just stared at us blankly and said he’ll check. It took a long time for anyone to get back to us and when someone did, it was a different guy (who was kind and courteous). Fortunately, we were transferred to a room with two separate beds. For a moment, that stopped our moods from spiraling downwards.

That would have been the end to our concerns had I not entered the bathroom. On the shower curtain sat a huge, shiny roach. Eeeeeeeeeeek! I hate roaches with a passion! This staycation was not off to a great start at all. Booo! Long story short, Kristal and I managed to get rid of that pest without any help from the B&B staff.

As for the room, it was spacious enough. It looked clean aside from the fact that there was a freaking roach in the bathroom. Towels and toiletries were provided. The pillows and sheets smelled nice and appeared properly washed. The beds were comfortable and we had no problem with the air conditioning. Kristal’s bed creaked though and mine actually was propped up, which means that bed broke before. We did not mind this last part as it went well with the old Spanish house ambiance.There was a non-flat screen TV in the room, which we did not use.

The Deluxe Room with twin beds we got transferred to.

A closer look at the bathroom.

As for the staff, apart from the guy who first welcomed us, everyone else was friendly and helpful. Even their restaurant’s staff were accommodating.

Verdict:  if you want a bed and breakfast in the center of Cebu and can appreciate furnishings that remind you of your grandparents and great grandparents, then stay here. Hopefully, no roaches will trouble your stay. For anyone looking for a more modern place, there are better accommodations out there. Personally, I think the room we got does not provide good value for money. Then again, my opinion is highly tainted by that cocaracha.

I am still immensely thankful to Kristal for the opportunity to stay there.

Chilling at Barako Haus Coffee Shop

To improve our mood and to officially start this vacation within our hometown, we decided to walk to nearby Barako Haus. It is a coffee shop known for its homegrown approach. It has a tasteful and obviously Filipino decor. I find their use of wood and earth tones very relaxing. The smell of freshly brewed coffee beans inside was also highly satisfying.

Comfortable and relaxing Barako Haus.

I’ve been to Barako Haus before and ordered coffee with sunflower seeds. That time, I only opted for the usual Arabica beans. It was delicious and delivered the barako (Cebuano term for strong) promise as I wasn’t able to sleep for the next 24 hours after drinking it.

This time, we made sure to try what this coffee shop is famous for – Sibet Coffee. Yes, that’s civet coffee, stylishly named to fit the establishment’s theme. To be clear, this is not coffee using civet cats as ingredients. What is used here are beans that pass through civet cats’ bowels. In other words, beans pooped by civet cats.

Eeew? Nasty? Maybe, maybe not. Definitely something that requires an open mind. Anyway, the great thing about Barako Haus is that they do not follow the malpractices of controversial Kopi Luwak (same type of coffee) manufacturers in Indonesia. (Side note: view my Indonesia travel posts here) They don’t export either because, apparently, civet cats are indigenous to the northern parts of the Philippines.

The best part is no civet cats are abused. At least that’s what they claim and currently I can’t find anything concrete to disprove that. They follow a sustainable process, so they say, and pay farmers fairly for their efforts in gathering the beans.

Barako Sibet. Yum~ I recommend :)

As for the Barako Sibet coffee, it definitely tasted different from regular Arabica beans coffee. It went down smoother than usual and had a smoky aftertaste that seems to linger for a few seconds on one’s nostrils. You can order it with or without cream. I was expecting I’d be high on caffeine for the next 24 hours again, but I had no trouble sleeping that night.

Dinner at Casa Verde

As the sun set that Saturday, Kristal and I decided to just stick with our Old Cebu theme for the whole weekend. So we went to Casa Verde for dinner. For those who are not aware, this is another old Spanish house converted to a restaurant this time. It is quite famous among Cebuanos and even has a branch in Ayala, which seems to be always full and frequented by tourists.

The original branch is located in Ramos area. Notable nearby landmark is Crown Regency. The place is often full as well and is visited by tourists too. In fact, there were several tables occupied by Caucasians when we went there.

Casa Verde’s facade does look pretty at night.

When I was still working in the Fuente area, Casa Verde was a great place to go to when the urge to indulge in good food struck. So I was looking forward to having dinner there since it has been a long while since my last visit. The place was almost full when we got there. We were given garden seats.

As much as we wanted to be satisfied, we just weren’t. A few minutes after we were seated, mosquitoes flocked above us. Since it’s summer, even evenings can be so hot. The temperature and humidity were definitely high that night. Too bad that the electric fans were only facing the Caucasians in the garden. No staff bothered to look after our comfort. 🙁

Food we ordered: Surf and Turf, Aglio Olio-esque pasta with steak, and calamaris. We were happy with the taste and serving.

We were happy that the meals were as delicious as we remembered them. Too bad, again, that our first appetizer choices were not available. In fact, there were many menu items that were not available. What has happened to you Casa Verde? You used to be awesome. The level of service these days has obviously gone down. The sliding doors and the disappearance of the bar at the front are nice improvements, but were immediately offset by the non-functional air conditioning.

Overall, the meals were filling and tasty, but that was the only great thing we experienced that evening there. Casa Verde definitely needs to get their act together and not rest on their laurels, which may be withered very soon.

Vegetating in Our Room

After dinner, we went back to our accommodation and proceeded to forget all of our worries in life. The delightfully cold room did its magic against stress. Thankfully, there was no roach to ruin our relaxation at this point. We simply watched movies on our mobiles, chatted, and basically just loosened up. It was a fine way to end the night.

pre-bedtime chamomile tea (bought at the nearby Robinson's)

pre-bedtime chamomile tea (bought from the nearby Robinson’s)

Passed by a flower seller on the way back to the B&B. She graciously allowed me to take a picture of these roses. Thank you, they are beautiful! Unfortunately, I did not bring enough cash to buy plants this day.

Lunch at Don Merto’s the Next Day

Our room booking at Casa Escaño came with a complementary, plated breakfast. We were not able to eat that, however, because we couldn’t be bothered to wake up early. Sleeping in was definitely a more acceptable choice for us ^_^

Anyway, we checked out at lunch time and decided to try the B&B’s restaurant – Don Merto’s. The menu offered a wide range of choices. We settled on two appetizers (Mozarella Bites & Fries) and two pasta dishes (Carbonara and Parpadelle). We have no complaints about the food. They were served swiftly and were delicious and filling.

delicious lunch to end the weekend on a high note

The restaurant offers open-air dining; ventilation is provided by old ceiling fans. I have to hand it to Casa Escaño for excellently maintaining the nostalgic feel of the place all throughout.

The breeze ruffled this curtain of plant roots hanging down from the restaurant’s trellis. It was such a lovely lazy-summer-afternoon sight.

After lunch, Kristal and I parted ways feeling rested. Despite the various unsatisfactory things encountered over the weekend, I would say it was still a great staycation. Not everything was horrible and at the heart of things, we accomplished the reason for this weekend mini getaway – break the monotony, relax, and explore Cebu more.

Thanks for reading this far. Cheers! ^_^

About DaNnEa

Bitten by the Travel bug and happy about it. Nuts about productivity and positivity. A huge fan of internet and mobile technology. Anime Fanatic. Harboring personal finance frustrations. Working to become a scriptwriter or author.

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