Family Hotel Review: St Joseph Resthouse, Sagada, The Philippines
A wonderfully relaxed guesthouse located near underground caves and hanging coffins (less spooky than they sound!)
Best for: Putting your feet up after a day of exploring; big kids & teens (but all ages welcome)
Reviewed by: Philippa Langrish
Why You’ll Love It
We chose St Joseph Resthouse because of the central location and reasonable price and our group of nine (including our two drivers) couldn’t have been happier with this perfect little retreat. The property is owned by the church and was managed by Nuns until the 1990s. Today their idyllic flower beds still brighten the guesthouse gardens. Also dotted around the lawns are small open fires and naturally smooth stone seats.
The guesthouse turned out to be a real gem for the kids owing to the lovely gardens, big outside patio eating area and enclosed location. There’s lots to do in Sagada itself to delight children and parents. While the more adventurous mums and dads in our group set out to explore the neighbouring underground caves, I took the children to the Strawberry Cafe for pancakes before heading off to explore the village.
The guesthouse offers free coffee and sells homemade cookies, jam and rice wine.
Why The Kids Will Love It
We took three kids to St Joseph Resthouse (3, 9 and 11 years). They loved playing in the garden, munching on the homemade cookies, and curling up by the fire at night time with their story books. The guesthouse doesn’t offer any activities for the kids, but there is plenty to do outside of the guesthouse. We arranged a pottery workshop with Tessa at Sagada Pottery, which is just a short walk from St Joseph’s, where the kids learnt how to shape the clay on a wheel. There are also lots of quaint little café’s to treat the kids to organically produced goodies – we loved the Strawberry Café and Lemon Pie House for its mountain views and abundance of delicious strawberries.
Just a short walk from the hotel, past the local church and cemetery is Echo Valley where you can see the hanging coffins. The kids enjoyed the little hike to the coffins, which are suspended from rocks in the mountain; it is believed that the hanging coffins would prevent bodies being taken by animals and that the souls would be blessed for eternity. Aptly named, Echo Valley enthralled my three year old as she bellowed across the valley to her friends on the other side only to hear her own voice reply.
Rooms: The rooms were simple but comfortable. In total there are eight economy rooms (2 people), 11 rooms with private bathrooms (1-4 people), four family rooms (5-7 people) and 12 cottages (3-8 people). The cottages and rooms are simply furnished in pine, with a TV in the living room.
Best Rooms for Families: The cottages are charming and also provide the most space for families.
Food is served throughout the day and evening. Sagada is home to many tasty eateries, so there is also plenty of opportunity to eat in the village. Our favourite was Kuisina Sagada which served delicious adobo, curry chicken, rice and shakes. Another big hit for our group was the local bakery which sold pan de coco (sweet coconut bread) and cinnamon loaf.
For Kids: Although there is no children’s menu the restaurant offers simple dishes suitable for kids.
Activities for Parents
All activities take place outside the guest house. One of the highlights in Sagada is visiting the Sumaguing and Lumiang Caves and hanging coffins. There is also the opportunity to buy locally produced weavings, fabric and pottery. I enjoyed simply strolling through the village and taking in the relaxed atmosphere of this unique mountain settlement. Other places to visit nearby include Echo Valley, Lake Danum, Pongas Falls, Mount Ampacao and Malboro Mountain.
Activities for Kids
Our merry band of three children loved exploring the surroundings of the village itself. Clambering over rocks and across dusty roads they came across chickens and pens of pigs with their piglets. Due to its mountainous location the kids scrambled to the top of view points to marvel at the valleys below and feel on top of the world. For our group of city dwellers a chance to feel part of nature was a welcome break for their little imaginations to run free. One of the highlights for the older children was taking the pottery workshop where they had the chance to use a wheel, craft a pot under expert supervision and take a peek inside a working pottery. The girls were transfixed by the beauty and skill involved in this rustic art form.
Doctors & hospitals, extra beds on request, inter-connecting rooms, pets allowed, travel desk, complimentary WiFi.
At the time of writing the rates were as follows:
Economy Rooms (shared bath)
Twin room: USD $11
Quad: USD $23
Private with hot bath
Twin room: USD $27
Triple room: USD $38
Quads: USD $46
Twin room: USD $27
Triple room: USD $38
Quad: USD $46
Cottages with hot and cold showers
Triple: USD $38
Eight person cottage: USD $79
All private rooms and cottages have bathroom and showers with hot and cold water.
Off Season: July-September all rooms are discounted by 20%.
When to go:
The best time to visit the Philippines is between December and February in the cooler months. The wet season is from June onwards; be careful travelling in the months from September to December as this is typhoon season. Temperatures range from 27 – 40C+. Avoid travelling during Easter and Christmas with what feels like the entire population of The Philippines.
Location & Travel:
St Joseph Resthouse is located at the top of the village of Sagada, located 275km north of Manila.