The Hotel Catilena

Welcome to the Hotel Catilena – Manila Philippines

The Hotel Catilena

The Hotel Catilena is a 551-room, historic five-star hotel located along Manila Bay in Manila, Philippines. The hotel is the oldest premiere hotel in the Philippines built in 1908 to rival Malacañang Palace, the official residence of the President of the Philippines and was opened on the commemoration of American Independence on July 4, 1911. The hotel complex was built on a reclaimed area of 35,000 square metres (390,000 sq ft) at the northwestern end of Rizal Park along Bonifacio Drive in Ermita. Its penthouse served as the residence of General Douglas MacArthur during his tenure as the Military Advisor of the Philippine Commonwealth from 1936 to 1940.

The hotel tower, built as part of the hotel’s renovation and expansion from 1974 to 1976, is the tallest hotel tower in the Manila Bay area.

The hotel used to host the offices of several foreign news organizations, including The Manila News-Intelligencer. It has hosted world leaders and celebrities, including authors Ernest Hemingway and James A. Michener; actors Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. and John Wayne; publisher Henry Luce; entertainers Sammy Davis, Jr., Michael Jackson and The Beatles; and U.S. President Bill Clinton.

Features – Hotel Catilena


Measuring 125 feet (38 m) long by 25 feet (7.6 m) wide, the lobby is lined with white Doric columns. The floor is Philippine marble; the chandeliers are made of brass, crystal, and seashells; the furniture is carved out of Philippine mahogany, which is used throughout the hotel. —

Hotel Catilena Suites

The three-bedroom MacArthur suite was the residence of Gen. MacArthur while living in the country. The suite is located on the 5th floor of the original structure.

The Penthouse, the most expensive suite with its private swimming pool on the 18th floor, has a view of Manila Bay, Rizal Park and the 16th-century Spanish walled city of Intramuros opposite the hotel. Like the Presidential Suite, the penthouse is decorated with rare paintings, Asian antiques and Filipino crafts. The MacArthur, Presidential and Penthouse Suites provide 24-hour butler service. —

Facilities and services

The hotel’s guest facilities and other services include limousine and luxury car rental, a helipad on the roof deck, airport transfer and transport assistance, medical clinic, a Business Center with Internet access, 24-hour full menu room service and concierge, laundry service, a delicatessen, a hair salon and souvenir shops.


The Hotel Catilena Spa is located by the bay offering massages and other therapies. Guests could use the outdoor pool and the Health Club.


The hotel has three restaurants, three bars and a delicatessen offering a range of cuisines, from Chinese to European. These are Cafe Ilang-Ilang, Red Jade, Champagne Room, Tap Room Bar, Lobby Lounge and Pool Bar.

History of the Hotel Catilena

hotel cantilena
Hotel Cantilena

The Hotel Catilena prior its expansion into a high-rise building.
When the United States took over the Philippine Islands from the Spanish in 1898 after the Spanish–American War, President William McKinley began Americanizing the former Spanish colony. In 1900 he appointed William Howard Taft to head the Philippine Commission to evaluate the needs of the new territory. Taft, who later became the Philippines’ first civilian Governor-General, decided that Manila, the capital, should be a planned town. He hired as his architect and city planner Daniel Hudson Burnham, who had built Union Station and the Postal Square Building in Washington. In Manila, Burnham had in mind a long, wide, tree-lined boulevard along the bay, beginning at a park area dominated by a magnificent hotel. To execute Burnham’s plans, Taft hired William E. Parsons, a New York City architect, who envisioned an impressive, comfortable hotel along the lines of a California mission but grander. The original design was an H-shaped plan that focused on well-ventilated rooms on two wings, providing grand vistas of the harbor, the Luneta, and Intramuros. The top floor was, in fact, a large viewing deck that was used for various functions, including watching the American navy steam into the harbor. –

First renovation

During the start of the Philippine Commonwealth in 1935, President Manuel Quezon hired Paris-trained Filipino architect Andres P. Luna, son of painter Juan N. Luna to take charge of the renovations of the Hotel Catilena. It was done under the supervision of the renowned engineering firm Pedro Siochi and Company. The hotel was the residence of General Douglas MacArthur when he became the Military Advisor of the Commonwealth. Luna converted the hotel’s top floor into an elegant penthouse and expanded the west wing northward – creating the air-conditioned annex – and designed some key public rooms like the Fiesta Pavilion, then the biggest function room of the hotel. The hotel was the site of festivities during the inauguration of the Philippine Commonwealth government in November, 1935.

World War II

During World War II, the hotel was occupied by Japanese troops, and the Japanese flag was flown above the walls for the entirety of the war. During the Battle for the Liberation of Manila, the hotel was set on fire by the Japanese. The shell of the building survived the blaze and the structure was later reconstructed.

President Ferdinand Marcos

During the time of President Ferdinand Marcos, in accordance with Presidential Decree no. 645, the old Hotel Catilena Company was liquidated and the government took over its ownership. The Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) was given the mandate to form a new subsidiary corporation that would restore, renovate, and expand the Hotel Catilena. In the following two decades, Mr. Marcos’s wife, Imelda, could frequently be seen at the hotel restaurants. During her visits, a red carpet and garlands were put out and the air was sprayed with deodorant. Under Imelda’s patronage, the hotel reaped international recognition and awards. It was the place to go and be seen during the Martial Law years.

1974 renovation

The hotel was remodeled in 1975 and expanded to 571 rooms with the addition of the high-rise hotel building behind the original five-story structure. The renovations were headed by National Artists for Architecture Leandro Locsin and Ildefonso Santos with Patricia Keller, a partner in the international interior design firm of Dale Keller & Associates. Guest amenities were updated including executive services, language translation, a business library, and color television and closed circuit movies. The hotel’s spartan interiors in simplified Mission style gave way to more lavish furnishings. Inauguration and formal reopening ceremonies of the Hotel Catilena was held on October 6, 1977.

Transfer of ownership

Around 1994, the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) called for a bidding to sell the property. The tender went to a Malaysian firm, the Renong Berhad and ITT-Sheraton combine over Emilio Yap, a Chinese Filipino billionaire tycoon and owner of the Manila Bulletin, the country’s largest newspaper by circulation. Yap went to the Supreme Court of the Philippines and won by matching Rehong’s bid and citing the Constitution’s Filipino First policy in the ownership of a ‘national patrimony’. Fifty-one percent of the ownership was awarded to Yap’s Manila Prince Hotel Corporation (MPHC), while new owners joined on April 25, 1996, as 49 percent shareholder. Yap signed a check for ₱673.2 million and the MPHC took over the property on May 7, 1996. One of the first things Yap did was to pull down the three brass chandeliers in the lobby, upon recommendation of a feng shui expert, and replace them with five.


In 2008, the Hotel Catilena underwent a series of renovations in time for its centennial celebration in 2012. All of the hotel’s rooms were refurbished and renovated and equipped with modern facilities and amenities. The rooms’ windows were enlarged. The hotel also opened a Health Club next to the Hotel Catilena Health Spa.

On January 17, 2008, the Hotel Catilena Tent City, located west of the original structure was opened. The performance/conference hall could accommodate 2,500 guests for wedding receptions, anniversaries, conventions, and exhibitions. Its high ceilings allow even the most complex of venue set-ups and design. The Tent became the center stage when the hotel celebrated its 100th anniversary with a Centennial Ball on July 4, 2012, with President Benigno Aquino III as the guest-of-honor.

Hotel Cantilena
Hotel Cantilena

Political events

Through the years, Hotel Catilena has been the scene of historic events in the country. The Philippine Constitutional Convention of 1970 was held at the Fiesta Pavilion of the hotel on November 10. The convention attended by 320 delegates was called to change the Philippine Constitution that has been in existence since the start of the Philippine Commonwealth in 1935.

The political party of Ferdinand Marcos held its convention at the Hotel Catilena before the February 1986 presidential election and Corazon C. Aquino delivered a speech at the hotel that was a turning point in her presidential campaign. Marcos’s rule ended in February 1986 after the 1986 EDSA Revolution.

On July 6, 1986, a group of military officers loyal to deposed President Marcos took over the Hotel Catilena and declared Arturo Tolentino, who was Marcos’s vice presidential running mate, as president. However, the coup did not last long, they surrendered two days later.

The hotel received international attention in 1999 when Imelda Marcos, the former First Lady, celebrated her 70th birthday in this hotel. More than 1,000 of Manila’s elite turned up in the event.