Harold's Mansion: What Happens When You Stay in the Worst Guest House Ever in Dumaguete, Negros Oriental, Philippines

11:30:00 AM Jerik De Guzman 77 Comments

STORY: I've stayed in the ugliest hostels/hotels/guesthouses in Thailand and Cambodia. I've slept in a bed with bugs in Malaysia. I almost got burned alive in Hong Kong. A few days before this, I've stayed in an awesome guesthouse in Siquijor. Now, destiny played a trick on me. I think i just stayed in the worst guesthouse ever!!!

As soon as I arrived, i saw the owner himself. He was there together with two other assistants. I smiled and humbly asked for the cheapest room where i could stay for a few days. I already called up a week before to book a room. All of a sudden, the room i reserved got booked. Weird, i know. But I didn't mind staying in another room. 

I've read awesome reviews of this guesthouse. A lot of foreigners actually consider this place home away from home. The place has been one of the top picks of Lonely Planet and is a very popular hideaway for vacationers. Ask everyone in Dumaguete for a fun and cool place to stay, they would point you out here. This man didn't mind me. Yes, the owner whose suppose to be the friendliest guesthouse owner didn't even bother to assist me. The two girls who were both bored that afternoon, attended to me. A few minutes later, a Dutch couple arrived. Soon after, a group of European backpackers were falling in line. All of them were greeted with infinite smiles by the owner. There he was, standing up and walking away from his laptop and going to where the foreigners are. I wondered if they were all friends. Then, he introduced himself. Ergo, they haven't met yet. They all shook hands and talked for minutes while i was there, first in line and humbly inquiring about the room i reserved which happened to be booked already. I didn't even see the owner say sorry, not even a smile.

I got to the upper most floor where the cheapest rooms are. As seen in the photo above, I was staying in an awful-looking room. The walls were unfinished and made up of plywood. The smell of cheap wood was confusing me. After packing my bags, i was off to explore Dumaguete city. I arrived around quarter after 10 that evening. When i got to the entrance, i smiled to the guard who was manning the front. He stopped me and held me like an escape prisoner. He asked me a couple of times if i was staying there. I was really pissed off. I already introduced myself to the guard earlier that afternoon because i was hoping I'll be able to chat with him, and ask him about the city. I told him, if i wasn't staying in this guesthouse, why the hell i was there?

I left and went up to the room really, really mad. But i was still keeping my cool.

The next day, i was going down to the lounge on the second floor where there's free use of internet. I wanted to take care of my social networking sites. Just to be cordial about it, i asked the attendant if i could use the internet. He asked me again and again if i was staying in the guesthouse. I stood up and left in embarrassment from the other guests. 
---
EDIT AS OF MARCH 8, 2011
I am so sorry i just remembered this last incident which i think was unforgivable. I went to the toilet (let's not even go there) and then i had shower. It was about ten in the morning when i locked my door and went to do my business in the separate toilet and shower room. I returned (like the hippie that i am) in just my towel. I went to the room and started prepping up for the day. A few minutes later, one of the hotel staff used the hotel key to open the door. I saw him there standing by the door. I wasn't even dressed yet. Actually, i wasn't wearing anything. He said sorry saying he thought nobody was staying there and left.

Really? Let's backtrack a little bit. I booked my room in advance. I always smoke by the balcony and pass by the hotel staff countless number of times. The staff would definitely know i was staying in that room for a number of days, for sure.

I just wonder what if one of my sisters or my girl friends was in that room at that time when the hotel staff barged in the door? I can only imagine things. That incident was way uncalled for.
---
Pardon me for the next few lines...

"I wanted to get out of that shit hole fast but i already paid for the rest of my stay. It was making me crazy just the thought of staying in an overrated guesthouse with a bunch of bitches and assholes."

Everyday, when I wake up, all I want to do was leave the guesthouse. The air of the people was enough to suffocate me. One night, the owner treated the foreign guests to a drinking session. There they were across from my room merry making and having a good time. I didn't even bother to smile and walk up to them. If they offered me a drink, I would probably say no anyway.

I am not picky when it comes to accommodations. Heck, i can even sleep on the floor. I am not exaggerating my experiences. What really pissed me of about this guesthouse was that the people working here are partial to foreign guests. I am hoping this is an isolated case. But i have a feeling, local tourists aren't treated as nice as the foreign guests. Why? Because supposedly foreign guests have more money? The people must have thought i am local, which is what i am aiming for. Either way, everyone must be treated fairly eh?!

One night, after coming back from Apo Island. I wore the shirt with pride. I just came back from the island and i traveled all by myself even though the guesthouse can arrange for a trip there. I looked at the owner and went up to my room immediately. As much as I'd like to let the owners and the attendants know how i feel, i realized it's not even worth it. They already know what's wrong.

It disappointments me a lot that i stayed in a guesthouse in my home country and i wasn't welcomed. I've stayed in an even cheaper guesthouse in Krabi and my neighbors welcomed me there like my family. I eat with the locals, i smoke with them and i roam around the jungle with them. I was home.

Thank you Harolds Mansion for making me appreciate all the guesthouses i've stayed in, and for making me realize how much i miss home.

EDIT AS OF MARCH 24, 2011
I just received an e-mail from the secretary of Harold’s Mansion a few minutes ago. The decision to not anymore disclose the content of the message was decided upon the grounds of my moral obligation as a Christian and objectivity for unprejudiced journalism. I stand by the content which I wrote as my review for the guesthouse, and that the experiences shared in this blog were truthful and never exaggerated.  I reiterate with full confidence that this blog shall never be threatened, persuaded, and/or influenced.Best 

Regards.

77 Comments:

Bong said...

It's unfortunate that you were treated that way. I suggest you inform the local tourism office in Dumaguete/ Region VII about this experience so as proper measures can be taken. Thanks!

yes, i think you should let them know that it is not ok. tourism office should conduct lectures for hotel/lodge owners.

if that happened to me, the loss of my original room booking...i would have thrown a hissy fit.

Kristel said...

This is just outrageous and I'm sorry you experienced this kind of hostility in our own country. I'm sad for the future of our tourism if there are discriminating people like this.

yhun said...

i've been reading in pex about accomodations in dumaguete. di rin preferred ang harolds mansion. :( eto na pala ang patunay. ang pangit nmn ng room, di man lang pininturahan.

i hope ma.realize na mga taong ganyan na laking tulong din ang local tourism.

hi jerick i hope you dont mind that i use one fo your photo on my blog..please tell me so of you find it offensive or whatever.

http://iloveshabbylove.blogspot.com/2011/03/weekend-fab-3-and-4.html

Chyng said...

paaak! how dare them! they're so biased!
nakakahigh blood, but at the same time nakakalungkot. i know you always want travel immersion, but you didnt get it from this one.

i-ban natin yan sa PEX!!!

This is very sad, though not really shocking. I guess its not unheard of even in India, where foreigners are treated on par with the locals...

poot said...

That really saddened me. Oh. Tho it's not pleasing to the ears I think you are right Kuya. They are more inclined to serve the foreigners. That's really not good. I mean, it's good to be friendly to foreigners considering that we are the friendliest in Asia but treating a local that way (the Harold Mansions Way), it is very very rude.

You've done the right thing. You didn't shove on their faces what's wrong on them. They must be the ones to realize it. :)))

Anyway, I'm a newbie here. I'm Jubert/Hoobert/Jubibo. 19. I'm gonna link you up ha. Thank you.

PinkIngrid said...

Yikes! Amusing name... MANSION? Choosy mansion! :-) Glad you wrote about this

Shame on the so-called mansion. If i were the one discriminated like that they would have known my fury right before i leave. Bad credits for this owner.I feel bad for you bro.

Thank you for sharing your experience... at least may warning na kami... di ako mapapadpad dyan... hehehe!!!

Meedge said...

Aw. That was saddening to read. It's one thing to be discriminated elsewhere in the world, but it's another thing to be discriminated in your own country. Shame on these people from Harold's mansion.

@Bong Thanks for the tip. I'll look into it. I just hope nobody else gets the treatment i got. Napahiya talaga ako! But I'll charge it to experience. Sana the people behind Harold realize that lahat naman tayo Pilipino.

@backPackingSheet I can honestly say, regardless whether the people working for this guesthouse were equipped with the knowledge, it still boils down to quality service, specifically making every guest feel at home. in my days of stay there, i felt like i was robbed really.

@Kristel i hope the passion for domestic tourism is as strong as for international tourism. i've stayed in a lot of guesthouses around Visayas. This is the first time this has happened to me. So, I'd like to think this is an isolated incident. But since this is my journal, i live to share my story.

@yhun i'm also a pexer but i've checked out their website and i thought the place was well-managed. i never knew it was well-managed catering only to foreigners!

@paperbiscuits Wow! thanks so much for the feature. ha ha people ask me why i dress up all the time. it's because i get inspired to work creatively when i wear something creative. And although i go backpacking, it's not an excuse to look not well-put. Thanks so much!

@Chyng Pero sobrang sikat nila sa Dumaguete. Everyone knows Harold's mansion, and everyone recommends it. When i got there, and now looking back... nyeh! Highly overrated place. ha ha fellow pexer, i just like to inform everyone of my experience. Baka people will ask baka may favored ako na guesthouse, eh dun pa lang ako nagstay ever so i don't know where else. Next time, i know better. But my friends ask me where to stay, i always say basta not in Harold's.

@Siddhartha Joshi Really? I'll take note of that. I always ask myself how come people still think this way. I hope one day, people will realize the essence of loving your own. By the way, i am heading to India in October. I'm planning on visiting Delhi, Jaipur, Rajastan, Varanasi and the outskirts. I am so excited for this trip!

@poot I agree. Actually, nahihiya ako for them. I've read good reviews from foreigners but haven't heard a good review from a Filipino.

Welcome Jubert! Thanks for linking. I'll check out your site. Promise me when you travel, let the people know of your experiences. Share your stories and inspire everyone to discover the Philippines first.

@PinkIngrid Apparently, the guesthouse is the most popular in Dumaguete. You cannot really trust popularity. I hope nobody gets the same treatment. Thanks DJ Ingrid for visiting!!!

@paperbiscuits Ang wish ko lang talaga sana maganda na ang experience ng iba. But if you will ask me if i'll stay there again? Siyempre hindi na! I charged this to experience. But yes, the experience was horrible.

@Pinoy Adventurista Yes, it was really an awful experience. So far, the worst guest house for me. Mas ok pa nga sakin yung guesthouse ko sa Krabi kahit na di kami magkaintindihan nung mga tao dun kasi i don't speak thai and they don't speak english. pero i felt i was more at home there than in Harolds.

@Meedge Actually i felt like i was drowning when i saw how the owner greeted the foreign guests. And they didn't even book a room in advance. I felt sad, disappointed and most of all, ridiculed.

Ed said...

just read this post jerik. I stayed in Harolds before and it was okay. But I never met the owner. Been reading your blogs and indeed you're not picky when it comes to choosing your accommodations.

They've been advertising that the owner is knows what it feels like to be in your shoes but it's such a sad state knowing that we're taken for granted in our own country. I also hope this is an isolated case.

Still, they don't know you own a blog and now a lot of your readers know where NOT to stay. Thanks for sharing this post Jerik! Very professional despite what happened to you. Very nice that you kept your cool too.

fetus said...

put@ng inang Harolds Mansion na yan! i really hate it when filipinos discriminate fellow filipinos!

HAROLDS MANSION, we're so very biased against you! i would in every possible chance warn people from you!

Parker said...

This is the thing that brings our country even lower, when Filipinos think foreigners are better than their countrymen. To those that want to go to Dumaguete, check out Ildesefa Inn, which is a few blocks away from Harold's. The people there are really nice and the place is homey with a bakery at the ground floor. This is where I always stay.

Ian said...

Buti hindi ka tulad ng ibang customer na mareklamo agad konting palya lang sa service kahit budget ang binayaran o mataas... meron kasing ganun pero anyway, nakakalungkot naman dahil sa premier accomodation pa ng Dumaguete yan, ngayon bad-mouth na sila from the list of accomodation.

this is a well-written post despite your bad experience.thanks for sharing this.at least we are warned where not to stay.that place is a big black eye in the supposed-to-be "city of gentle people".

Rizalenio said...

This is a sad story. Nobody wants to be treated that way.

asar nga mga bias na guesthouse na yan! yaan mu pagnapunta ako dun sabihin ko sa knla, my nabasa akong post tungkol a guesthouse nyo, ang pangit ng review, nxt time, ayusin nyo serbisyo sa kapwa Pilipino ha! hmmp! hehe pati ako nainis sa nabasa ko. :( I agree w/Parker,kakalungkot tlga kapag ganyan asta ng mga Pinoy, kakagigil!

@Ed i really hope it's an isolated case. my nature is never to fight. I just happen to believe that people make their own choices. And we're all old enough to know what's right and what's wrong. I just hope Harold and the rest of the crew put themselves together. We're promoting local tourism too. Thanks Ed!

@fetus Because we live in a free world. We're all free to voice out our opinions. Now, others may still think otherwise. I am just sharing my experience. Like you, i really really hate it when people prioritize foreigners over the local people. I am very saddened by what happened. But i'll charge to experience and live to tell the story.

@Parker thanks for the tip man! I love that you recommended a good place to stay. Because Harold's is one of the most popular guesthouses in Dumaguete, readers might not know where else to stay. Thanks again. Like you, i believe that Filipinos should learn to love ourselves and countrymen before we can love others.

@Ian if you will look at my record, di talaga ako picky when it comes to accommodations. basta may bed and may electric fan. maayos na ako. siguro that is part of the training ng backpacking. It also adds to the insult because i just came back from Siquijor - Villa Marmarine and outstanding talaga ang service. I was hoping that when i get to Dumaguete i'll be hosted also by an awesome guest house. I guess i wasn't lucky with my choice. I never complained to them. I never said a word during my stay. Alam na nila dapat yun. And if the people there are really prioritizing the guests. Ni isang beses, never did i hear a word from the owner or the people asking me how am i doing? Oh Ian, thanks for reminding me. Meron pa palang isang incident na kelangan ko idagdag. Thanks!

@Earl i wanted to be objective and less personal since it's all about recommendations here in my blog. i just want a clear description of what happened in my stay in Harolds Mansion. Thanks ha!

@Rizalenio I agree. Each and everyone of those who stay at a hotel/hostel/guesthouse pay for the accommodations. Regardless whether they pay for the cheapest or most expensive room, same treatment must be administered. Without guests, the hotel business wouldn't be successful. Thus, the jobs of the people...

AJ said...

I just read another blog post about a hellish experience in a hotel, now this. Geez, ang bait mo pa rin ha. I award you the Mr Congeniality trophy! Kung ako yan, naghuramendato na ako. But I'm a man bitch, hahaha.

Thanks for posting this. I'm going to Dumaguete in June and I will avoid Harolds Mansion like the plague!

dumaguete is a 6 hour bus ride from Bacolod. This just makes me want to jump on a bus and check in at the "Mansion" and if they piss me off they are gonna hear from me!
It is just painful that they treat local tourists like shit and treat foreigners like demigods and rockstars.

Eric said...

It usually happens, when I was in Thailand nobody approached me yet ignoring me(Khao San rd.) When I started talking in English the attendant suddenly greeted me....
Dumaguete is known to be a friendly place but I am not generalizing it. Feel sorry for you, hope it didn't happen to you in Siquijor.
I really hate the mentality of Pinoy, some ignoring the locals thinking that we(locals) are penniless and nothing that they pay much attention to the foreigners. Good thing that you post this...

@AJ I'm thinking positive that maybe it's just me. I really look like everyone! he he But regardless, even locals should be treated the same way. I was furious but i kept my cool. I just thought, i'm just a visitor and this is their turf. But i live to write my experience. Pero di ko makakalimutan yung look sa face nung owner when he saw the foreigners versus when he saw me. WOW! Double-standard kung double-standard!

@givemetravelfunds i couldn't agree with you more, man! I can take cockroaches and noise but that treatment was one hell of an experience. Outside Harold's Mansion, everything's a 10 out of 10! So, you're based from Bacolod? Haven't been there!

@Eric In Thailand, nobody talks to me which is quite good for me. No annoying tuk-tuk drivers because they think i'm from there. When i was in Krabi, no joke - i look like the Thai bartender so we joked everyone i'm his brother. If you'll read my post on Siquijor. It was the total opposite. My stay at Villa Marmarine, it was the best! I felt i never left home. The guest house is that good!

C A R L A said...

i've heard a lot of bad reviews about this hotel...this needs to be close! dumaguete is such a wonderful place to be tainted with this kind of hotel...i guess what they are showing on their website is the exact opposite...

@CARLA Yes the people from Harold's Mansion are friends... to foreigners! It's sad and disappointing. I'm over my experience but sometimes when i think about what had happened, i can't help but feel really mad. Pilipino pa talaga sila!

this is bad... thanks for sharing this! :)

Aleah said...

Thanks for writing about your experience here. Of all things I hate, it's management like this, who bend over backwards for foreigners but think we're beneath their notice. You should've put the hotel's name in the title; that way, it will be found easier in Google and avoided by travelers.

@adventurousfeet I know everything about Negros is perfect except for this guesthouse. It's really the worst place i've ever stayed in.

@Aleah To be honest, i don't want to cause anymore trouble. Although, looking up at your suggestion, maybe it's time everyone reads my review. i felt really embarrassed in front of foreigners, actually. Thanks Aleah, i might just edit the title so it's more searchable.

Cacho said...

thanks for following my blog. in any case, this article caught my attention as i was just planning to do a visit to duma (since it's just a literal hop-skip-jump away from cebu). this is really bad news. interestingly, some of the places i've been to display similar behavior because most people think that I am NOT filipino but when i switch to the vernacular they (most often) change their attitude. sad. really sad.

@Cacho i don't know why they have this mentality. Foreigners come and go, but the locals live here and they should be actually top priority. I've read your stories in Cebu and i commend your job showing the beauty of your province. Bakit ba kasi ganun? Tsk, but in Harold's dun lang ako naka-experience mapahiya ng sobra!

Anonymous said...

baka gusto nila dollars ayaw nila ng peso hahaha

WTF, it's just money all the same :D

Had observe some discrimination in some provinces i visit ,5yrs ago, Bohol was among the unfriendliest places for local tourists ,tipong utang na loob mo na servicean ka nila hahaha

but went back a month ago,the local tourism industry is more organized and people seem to be more accomodating...they should.....as their livelihood is derived from us,tourists

especially the bulk of tourists are locals..

personally, i also obeserved na mas galante tayo in giving tips kesa foreigners...bakit tayo ang dinidiscriminate ? tsk tsk

@Anonymous i couldn't agree with you more. Everything you said is sad but truthful. i just wish, guesthouses like the above should learn to practice what they preach. good service should be simply top priority. where did you stay in bohol? How was the experience?

What an awful experience! And to think they're in lonely planet's top picks. And the skintagging?!? It's just absurd, shame on them. Nobody deserves that kind of treatment. I will be in dumaguete and will be staying at the O.K. pension house this coming June. Standard fare, pretty affordable, just a cozy room to spend the night in. I just hope the staff will be accommodating and fair.

throwcautiontothewind.wordpress.com

@throwcautiontothewind sadly, i live to tell this story. I've never felt so humiliated in my life. To think, i am in my own country. I just hope in the future, they will work on their service because beyond what is expected, true service is the first thing for a business to succeed.

RoxGSN said...

The nerve for the Harold Mansion to threaten you after how they treated you! I'll tell my friends who are to go to Dumaguete next month never to set foot in that cheap "MANSION".

@RoxGSN i just wished they will improve their service especially to their fellowmen. ang hirap kasi makita lang na kano, feeling nila marami pera eh mas kuripot pa yung backpackers nila. but yes, i cannot really recommend it to the people i know. :(

Anonymous said...

My name is KIm from Korea. I am very sorry to read this story. There are many kinds of people in the world and there must be bad men among them, some of whom you came across unluckily. All guests have to be treated well regardless of races. If they didn't serve you with their best, they are not qualified to hotel business. I'm going to visit Dumaguete Jan. 2012 with my friends and we will consider your remark when we decide hotel. Cheer up!

Thanks KLM! I was able to travel around South Korea around August of 2011, and i was treated with respect, and the people who own the place embraced me like their family. Even though we didn't understand much, i knew i was welcomed. Hope you will have a great time in Dumagute. Be sure to visit Siquijor, too. If you're in Manila, let me know maybe we can meet up. thanks!

Oh dear, I already made a reservation but then again I can back out anytime, right? Or I might try spending a night here then let it see for myself, if I get to experience the same thing, I can always bolt out. Thanks for the heads-up. ;p

ybiang said...

This is sad. I was considering Harold's Mansion pa naman. Thank you for this though. I hope the owner as well as the employees learned their lesson here. No one deserves to be treated this way. They did not know that the Internet is powerful enough to spread a feedback such as this. I was wondering kung ano sinabi sayo ng secretary. Did she/he threaten you?

http://www.thefrugalwanderer.com

Good thing you shared your thoughts and experience about this, at least na-aware kami sa totoong nasa loob ng "mansion" nila. I checked their website maganda di mo aakalaing may bahid pala. I checked youtube din naku may nangyari palang modus operandi sa loob nito. Laking tulong talaga ang mga bloggers/travel bloggers sa pagkakalap ng mga impormasyon. Kudos!

Anonymous said...

Thanks to your blog! A blow by blow first hand experience such as this is very helpful to fellow travelers.

My friend & I will visit Dumaguete and was supposed to book Harold's.

This is an eye opener.

Gabz said...

omg...I'm glad to have read this! I'm almost decided na to stay here coz of the affordable rate and good reviews I read online just recently. Maybe they've improved their service? Btw, I suggest you put the name of the guest house in the title so this post will appear on google when searched.

Gabz said...

I'm not sure if my previous comment went through. Anyway, I'm glad I read this. I'm almost decided to book with them coz of affordable rates and good reviews I read about them recently. Maybe they've improved na? Btw, I suggest you mention the name of the guest house in the title so this post will appear on google when searched.

Hi Pinoy Wandering Boy! Welcome to my site! Did you push thru booking with them? If you did, kindly share your experience so i can update this post with builds from others who stayed. Thanks!

Hi Ybiang! I agree that everyone should get a fair treatment. The secretary personally e-mailed me as per the owner. I prefer not to speak about what we talked but i will never take out this post as long as i live. :)

Hi Grace! Let's give everyone a fair battle, including Harold's Mansion. If they improved their service, better. But if they still continue with their unjust treatment to their customers, this blog post is serving its purpose.

Thanks Anonymous. I don't work for anyone, i just blog to share my experiences with others. I believe, as travelers, we all have the same goal and vision in life which is to relax, unwind and have a good time when we travel. My stay at Harold's Mansion wasn't really my idea of a good accommodations.

Hi Gabs! I really hope they've improved because people will continue to look for quality accommodations and i hope their business will be included.

I'm also protecting their business. Let's see. I actually want to make a secret visit in hopes of finding that their service has greatly improved. Thanks so much Gabz for the heads up.

Anonymous said...

I'm leaving for Dumaguete this Monday and I chanced upon this blog when I searched for some reviews re: the said accommodation (since I saw that they offer the cheapest rates and that it's popular with backpackers).

Thanks for the heads up, Sir! I can take my chances on many other things, but not on choosing a "home" away from home. =)

- Edmond

Ryan Mach said...

Hi PNJ,

I actually had a great stay at this hostel. :-)

www.pinoywanderingboy.com/2012/02/8-reasons-you-should-stay-at-harolds.html

rio said...

harold's mansion.. booo... thanks for the warning.

@Edmond Sometimes, when you think about it. I would rather spend some more pesos for a good value stay. I am not picky with accommodations. I just strongly know the difference between right and wrong. Thanks!

@Ryan Mach It's PBJ. I'm glad that you had a good experience at that place. I didn't. After seven years of traveling, 20 countries and 61 provinces, Harold's Mansion is still the worst guest house i've ever stayed in anywhere i've been.

@Rio I will live to remember how painful it was to stay at that place. It ruined my whole trip in Dumaguete.