The Manila Hotel is a 550-room, historic five-star hotel located along Manila Bay in Manila, Philippines. The hotel is the oldest premiere hotel in the Philippines built in 1909 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, 1912. . . 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 Architect Daniel Hudson Burnham who drafted a wide and long tree-lined boulevard that would begin at the park where the end of the bay would be 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 which he patterned along the lines of Californian mission style architecture. . . . On July 4, 1912, The Manila Hotel first opened its doors to the public, as announced on the front page of what was then known as Manila Daily Bulletin. A sprawling property located in the heart of Manila, the country’s first ever five-star hotel became the address of prominence visited by the most illustrious of guests.
There were large tobacco factories right in the city of Manila, but I found so much else of interest and delight in the Philippines that I quite forgot that such things as cigar factories existed! I received my first introduction to Manila hats, however, on the first day of my stay, for at a delightful stall in the Manila Hotel there were two or three samples of ‘target hats’ on view, and after seeing them, all of our party were seized with the same burning desire to purchase a Manila hat. This, we found, was quite an easy business, for at 10 o’clock each morning two Filippino hat-sellers invariably took up their position on the steps of the hotel and exhibited a big array of hats to tempt the purses and hearts of the tourists.
The Northern Herald, 22 August 1918
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.