Balai Isabel

A kare-kare worth returning to, at Seda at the Fort. And memories of the Lancaster Hotel in Paris.

Today I had lunch at the ground floor restaurant of Seda, which is the new hotel at the top of Bonifacio High Street that’s owned and managed by Ayala Corporation.

I’d never been to Seda before. But someone had suggested it as a venue for lunch, and it was convenient to my morning appointments, so I agreed.

Scroll down to read more about the kare-kare worth going back for…


Seda is a business hotel, so of course it can’t be compared to five-star deluxe hotels like the Peninsula Manila or the Makati Shangri-la. It’s a four-star property catering to business executives and leisure travelers wishing to make the Fort their base.

I tailored my expectations accordingly.


I always pass it by car, but I’d never actually been inside.

I even was kind of glad we were eating there because I thought this meant I wouldn’t eat too much for lunch.

I wanted a modest meal as I have a formal sit-down dinner to attend tonight, to say farewell to another ambassador I’m close to.


What a nice surprise it was, then, to find a very stylish and well-maintained hotel with a very upmarket vibe.

The first thing that greeted me when I walked in, too, was a very relaxing aromatherapy scent that simply wafted across the room. How lovely.

Lots of stylish boutique hotels in Europe employ aromatherapy at the entrance, and it really makes a difference.

The living room of my favorite Marlene Dietrich suite.
I once watched a World Cup match between France and Spain in this suite,
with the windows open, in real-time on TV.
I could hear all of Paris scream when someone missed or made a goal. 

One of my favorite little hotels in Paris is the Lancaster Hotel (make sure you get the Marlene Dietrich suite or the Chinese suite, if you go).

I used to stay here for at least two weeks at a time, in a previous lifetime, long before I started a magazine, and I always loved how they used scent to enhance the stay experience for guests.

This was so long ago, and I think they were one of the first hotels to employ this.

At that time, a very sophisticated Eurasian lady owned this hotel, and I think she had a hand in creating this very special place.

I remember how she and I used to have discussions about Birkin bags in the lobby during Paris sale season, as she was never without her Birkins.

She’s since sold the Lancaster Hotel to a Spanish luxury hotel group that’s continued in the same tradition, I believe.

I stayed there only once more, after it was bought by the Spaniards, years ago, and it was still the same lovely place.

Anyway, whenever I come across a hotel with aromatherapy at the entrance, I always remember my stays at the Lancaster Hotel from a lifetime ago.


And today, I must’ve been fooling myself, if I thought I was not going to eat much for lunch in anticipation of a formal dinner tonight.

I saw kare-kare on the menu, and just out of habit, I ordered this. I usually order kare-kare whenever I see it on a menu, just because I want to try it.

What a wonderful kare-kare this was, for something like PhP 550. It had a proper balance of oxtail and tripe, and the sauce was thick and tasty. The order arrived good for about three persons, and I ate every single thing.

This kare-kare is so worth going back for, even in a never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife.



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