Finding Zen In An Unexpected Place

Amid the city’s mall and commercial establishments, I had walked into a Zen garden.

At the center of the hall, white, blue-gray and flaming orange pebbles swirled in mandala-like patterns. From each mandala rose bright green shrubs and bushes or twisting driftwood, accentuated by rocks of varying shapes. And, while the skies were gloomy and overcast from Tropical Storm Gorio (Rumbia), the little sunshine diffused by dark clouds also penetrated through the hotel’s sky lights, giving the hall much-needed light.

Zen garden, hall, Go Hotels Tacloban, Leyte

Yes, I was in a hotel, and a budget hotel at that.

After being stranded at Tacloban airport for almost two hours from a downpour that would not stop, I was only too happy to finally step into Go Hotels. As it was a budget hotel, I had only expected the basics – a bed and a clean bathroom.

I was pleasantly surprised, though, when I found a spacious lobby with a cheery yet Zenlike art installation of yellow, green, and white circles on the ceiling. Yes, those were the colors of the Go Hotels logo, and they were warm, welcoming shades amid Gorio’s somber grays. The smiles and the graciousness of the front desk staff were welcoming too, and they let me and my friend check in hours ahead of schedule at short notice. Though a prior agreement would have Go Hotels host me and my friend for the Pintados-Kasadyaan Festival, we did not foresee checking in early because of the weather.

Lobby, front desk, Go Hotels Tacloban, budget hotel, cheap hotel, Leyte

lobby, waiting area, circles art installation, Go Hotels Tacloban, Leyte, Philippines

The second floor, where the rooms were, was even better than the first floor in its mix of Zen energy and bright colors. On the way to our room, we passed by another spacious lobby and an area with chairs and tables, again, both with the circles art installation. Anyone who wants to work or talk with the other guests can take a table. Sure enough, I saw one guest typing away at a laptop during our stay.

Circles art installation, lobby, common area, Go Hotels Tacloban, budget hotel, cheap hotel, Leyte, Philippines

And, of course, there was the Zen garden that stretched out in the hall outside the rooms. Taking in the rocks, pebbles and plants was a calming respite from the torrential weather.

Zen garden, Zen rock garden, Go Hotels Tacloban, Leyte, Philippines, budget hotel, cheap hotel

The room definitely had the basics – and more. A comfortable bed good for two, a clean restroom with essentials like soap and shampoo, and a rainshower. There was cable TV and Wi-Fi. And, the yellow room looked even cheerful with green circles painted on its walls. A minimalist hanging rack blended in on its walls.

While I waited the rain out I walked around the Zen garden and later took a nap on my room’s comfy bed.

Room, Go Hotels Tacloban Leyte001My only nitpick is that the rooms could have been bigger. Of course, there was still legroom around the bed, but not much for two people. I understand that this is a budget hotel, after all, but after walking through the spacious lobbies and halls (filled with a Zen garden), I was a bit expecting more space in the room. Also, since the first-floor lobby is spacious, it would be nice to have more seats for waiting guests, instead of just the single one to the left and a table with chairs to the right.

These are only nice-to-haves, though, as I really have no major complaints. My stay at Go Hotels was a relaxing respite from the storm.

If you are visiting Tacloban anytime in the future, I recommend you check out Go Hotels Tacloban if you want the basics, and more. And, it’s just 15 minutes away from the airport too.

cheap hotel, budget hotel, Go Hotels Tacloban, Leyte, Philippines

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