Right now Cebu is experiencing a shortage of high-end hotels. The grand dame of luxury hotels, the Cebu Plaza, came crashing down in 2003 with debts of 900 million pesos. The Sheraton's hi-tech building has long been completed, but hasn't opened yet due to some legal dispute. The Cebu Hilton is still under construction.

That leaves only three luxury hotels, the Marriott and the two Waterfronts. The Waterfront hotels are locally owned; there's a smaller one right across the airport, and a larger one in Lahug, in Cebu City. Both Waterfronts are home to a Casino Filipino, operated by PAGCOR (Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation) - these are the only world-class casinos in Cebu. The Airport Waterfront probably makes sense only for business travelers; if you're here for pleasure and can afford the Waterfront, you might as well check in at a luxury resort near the ocean. (Unless you're a hard-core gambler, of course.)

The Waterfront Lahug is a nexus of Cebuano society: this is where the elite get married, stars from Manila give concerts, and conventions are held. It's Disneyland-like spires are visible from all across the city.

Currently, the Marriott is probably the best hotel in Cebu in terms of quality of service, decor, facilities, and so on. The location, right next to Ayala Center, isn't bad either.

Once upon a time, the Montebello was what the Marriott is now: a fairly classy hotel next to a mall. But the Gaisano Country Mall's star has long since faded, and the Montebello, too, seems to be stuck in a bygone era. Unless the owners splurge on a million-dollar makeover, this hotel will sink further and further towards the lower end of the budget-hotel category.

The Midtown, situated right on Fuente Osmea, the Midtown tries but fails to be among the elite class of hotels.

Just a few hundred yards from Fuente is the Holiday Plaza, on Ramos Street. The Holiday Plaza Hotel doesn't look like much from the outside, but has spacious hallways, terrific rooms, and is at this point in time actually the only hotel that competes well with the Marriott. Further down Ramos is an establishment called the Diplomat Hotel, but that's just a third-rate pension house with a pompous name.

The Sarrosa Hotel and Castle Peak Hotel, located across the road from each other near Ayala, are good budget hotels - inexpensive but great service. The Sarrosa seems to be favored by Japanese guests, who have notoriously high standards regarding accommodation. If you were a regular guest at the defunct Garwood, you will probably be fairly happy at the Sarrosa or the Castle Peak.

The Castle Peak is not to be confused with the Golden Peak, an equally pleasant hotel equidistant from Ayala but on Escario Street, not F Cabahug Street. A stone's throw away from the Golden Peak, on Gorordo Avenue, is the small and tidy West Gorordo. Further down Escario Street is the popular Cebu Grand - but the only thing grand about it is the name.

There are three city hotels in Lapu-Lapu City, Mactan. The Bellavista, while horrendous from the outside, reveals itself to be a luxurious and elegant boutique hotel on the inside. One of a nationwide chain, the Days Hotel, meanwhile, is an overpriced motel. Right next to the Bellavista is the Cesario, a budget hotel under the same ownership as the Bellavista. They'll let you use the Bellavista's pool; sounds like a pretty good deal.

For more details on accommodation in Cebu, check our independent directory of Cebu Hotels.

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