Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Flotsam & Jetsam Artist Beach Hostel - La Union

The wife and daughter chose this place for our yearly Holy Week getaway because of Nadine Lustre. My daughter is an avid fan of this famous celebrity in the Philippines and she's extremely excited to stay at F&J knowing that her idol has stayed in the same place too.

As early as January, my wife booked two nights for two rooms, one was double while the other was triple occupancy, for our April trip. However, due to some miscommunication with my Boss, my vacation to Philippines was postponed resulting to my wife cancelling her booking at F&J on first week of February. A few days after that, my vacation was surprisingly re-approved by my Boss in Africa so I decided to re-book the same two rooms. Long story short, we were able to have our Holy Week vacation in the said place.

Holy Week in Philippines means an empty Manila and crowded touristy places in provinces especially in the northern part of Luzon.

As expected, F&J is full to the brim. After 12 hours on the road, we arrived almost dinner time and found their Kitchen Bar teeming with youngsters enjoying their beers and the music. Fortunately, after some time, a group left thus we were able to enjoy our dinner. Tired due to long drive, my family decided to take rest right after dinner while I stayed for several bottle of beers. Surprisingly, San Mig Light costs 50 pesos while Pale Pilsen was 30 pesos a bottle from their beer station. Yes, you heard it right, their beer station is separated from the bar.

breakfast area surrounded by dorms

entrance to dorms area

The following morning, though basic breakfast is free, we weren't able to have our morning meal because the four plastic tables in their garden were full or reserved by some hostel's or dorms' guests. We ended up taking our breakfast at KFC in San Fernando La Union which was 7 kms away. The same thing happened on our last day; all seats were taken or reserved by towels.

No worries during lunch time since we are able to scout earlier a good place to eat though dinner time was unfortunately the same situation but this time it was their Kitchen Bar that was full. On our last night, we asked if we could use their breakfast tables for dinner, we were told that the place was reserved for their guests artists for that night. Come on, we can devour our dinner in less than 30 minutes while your guests artists are still busy in your Kitchen Bar. We ended up travelling a few kms to the center of San Juan and dined at a Resto-bar with live acoustic band. I could say it was blessing in disguise since the food was great and cheap not to mention that the band was playing some of my favorite songs.

By the way, their Kitchen bar's guests are mostly from outside; you'll see their cars parked along the main highway and filling-up the hostel's parking area. Speaking of parking, there is limited parking at the actual hostel's vicinity so most guests ended up leaving their cars at the abandoned Pentecostal building just beside the place. Admittedly, for two nights, nothing untoward happened to our car; security was round-the-clock. Maybe because it was peak season, police and barangay outposts abound the area.

nice and comfy bed

sorry, no cabinet inside

lavatory is outside the bathroom

hostel entrance

The rooms are nicely decorated or should I say artistically decorated; the lively and contrasting colors are perfect for young individuals. Our rooms on the third floor have a nice but partially blocked sea view while our kids' room have no sea view at all. Unless you request housekeeping your room will remain the same when you return back. No electric kettle and complimentary bottled water inside the room so it means you can't have your coffee shots but you can refill your water bottle or glass at the water station beside the reception. Bringing footwear and foods inside the room is prohibited as well; typical hostel policy.

they should trim the treee

The split type aircon and electric hot water are both working fine but their WIFI is terribly slow. We gobbled up the data cap of my wife's mobile plan during our stay. You've been forewarned kids. Don't expect that you can upload instantly those selfies.

we enjoyed the sunset
rolling waves

To enjoy the beach, you have to walk for at least a hundred meters before you reach the shore. Arguably, San Juan, La Union is truly ideal for surfers but not for swimmers. In fact, night swimming is not allowed. Nonetheless, the whole family strolled, waited and enjoyed the stunning sunset.

I don't know the situation during lean season but I am sure that whenever Manila gets emptied due to long weekend this place becomes crowded with youngsters drinking their hearts out and enjoying the music. I have no qualms about that and in fact I love the music they play but I hope they'd allocate some place or space for their in-house guests staying at their new multi-storey hostel's rooms. Hence, if you are family with young kids then keep away from this place during peak season. You'll end up wasting your time waiting for vacant chair or table. Aside from that, there is nothing to do inside your room; poor WIFI connection and no cable TV. Did I mention that F&J Hostel is located away from the center of San Juan, La Union? However, if you're looking for a lively nights within this area and you're willing to spend more time in drinking and partying then this place is ideal. I have seen how the youngsters have enjoyed their evening here.

For family, I suggest that you stay at the center of San Juan, La Union where dining places are plentiful and the beach and waves are better though a bit crowded.

I hope F&J management would give especial consideration to their in-house guests and improve their facilities and services too since the rooms they offer are at the same price level compared with other nearby 3 star hotels with ample facilities for their guests. Why don't they serve breakfast at their Kitchen Bar so the guests would enjoy the morning sea breeze while seeping their coffee. Or at least provide room service and complimentary items so that their guests won't regret paying premium price for their newly built "multi-storey hostel."

By the way, it is now June and my wife hasn't received her refund yet for the second room. She received the first room refund a week ago less charge. In fairness, they have been very cooperative in this matter. Thus, if you're not sure whether you'll spend your vacation here then don't book online yet; if you run out of rooms then book in nearby hostels or hotels then visit F&J for night life. Unlike other tourists accommodation that offers free cancellation and using your credit card information as guarantee, F&J would immediately charge your credit card upon reservation. Thinking of cancelling your booking? You'll get your money a couple of moons later.

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