I fell i love with Zamboanga slowly, though the first hotel I stayed in is still my favorite to date. It may not be the biggest, newest or most recently renovated (goes to Orchid Garden), but Lantaka by the Sea provides me with two things I look for in hotels: location and charm.
With that said, Lantaka by the Sea is located in between the City Hall and Paseo del Mar, placing it in the center of action. You can walk to the city center and most tourist spots such as Fort Pilar. The hotel is old, and entering the hallway leading to the rooms will make you feel like you're in some 80s horror film, or a hospital. Nevertheless, Lantaka offers comfortable accommodations, not luxurious, but at least decent.
Lantaka underwent a renovation last year, and I think some of the rooms have been upgraded. I have not stayed in one of the pool front rooms with verandas, so I cannot really say. I haven't asked the hotel as well, since it really didn't bother me to get a newer room. At P2,200 a night, our standard twin room was already worth it.
So I now go on to my next criteria. Charm. Lantaka by the Sea is probably the only seaside hotel in Zamboanga. The renovation involved a ballroom of sorts and an al fresco dining area with a sea view. And that sea view captures Sta. Cruz Island from a distance, and Basilan further on.
It may not have the best swimming pool, but its cabanas and coconut trees make you feel you are in a more exclusive resort. I actually have spent late afternoon on these cabanas, drinking while reading a book and watching the sun set on the horizon.
There are more renovations in the hotel, and from our room's balcony, this private lounge may be one of them. It was on our floor, and we believe is part of the next room, because there was no other way to it when we checked further down the hallway.
Lantaka also serves great food, from its crispy bacon during breakfast to its fresh sushi and other Japanese delights served in their outdoor dining area. It's best to drink beer with the sushi served from the bar.
If you think Zamboanga has vintas on its shores, you're wrong. The vistas actually come out only during their festival on October. So, if you want to see some vintas, Lantaka has their colorful sail decorating the seawall.
Though Orchid Garden Hotel near the airport may be the more luxurious option (they opened a brand new building that now dominates Zamboanga's skyline), Lantaka is still my choice in the Latin City of Asia. Its location and charm has won me over for 3 years now.
Valderrosa St. Zamboanga City
(63 62) 991 2033