Review: I’M Onsen Spa

I'M Onsen Spa, I'm Hotel Makati, wellness tourism, spa in Manila
How did you celebrate the Lunar New Year?

If you are an Asian who religiously celebrates the Lunar New Year, I bet you’ve been dealt the fuss of food preparation for the family (and when I say family, this is a BIG FAMILY), getting ready with those lai see, and visiting the parentals the next day. I maybe Asian but I only partly celebrate it, by spending the holiday at the renowned spa in Makati Avenue.

I’ve been planning to try this I’M Onsen Spa located at I’M Hotel in Makati Avenue, but only recently that I managed to have a right time to visit them and indulged myself to an afternoon of relaxation. Gladly, I’ve got a spare gift certificate that I’ve bought 18-months ago during the travel fair. Believe me, I almost forgot that I have that gift certificate until recently when I checked my stash of vouchers and GCs all safely store under the pile of travel magazines, right under my workspace. Then I realized that I made a right decision in purchasing that gift certificate, as the cost of the spa packaged I availed have increased.

Onsen versus Sento

However, before I give you the lowdown of my spontaneous experience, I would like to make this interesting facts that no one have ever noticed (unless you live in Japan).

We learn to appreciate an after work pampering, like many of our oriental friends through visiting a spa. One of this is visiting an onsen which became popular here in the Metro. Nonetheless, many didn't realized that the I'M ONSEN SPA is TECHNICALLY not an ONSEN but a SENTO.

Both ONSEN and SENTO are called PUBLIC BATHS, but different in some ways, which makes many foreigners (well even us many Filipinos) get confused.

“Onsen” means a hot spring. At an “onsen” spot, a hot water is always taken from a natural hot spring. Most of “sento”, on the other hand, use tap water heated by boilers. “Sento” means a paid public bath in general.

Locations of the two tend to be varied. Many of “onsen” are located in rural areas adjacent to active volcanoes. Visitors often stay overnight to fully enjoy hot springs at traditional Japanese inns. “Sento” can be built anywhere by installing water heating boilers and other necessary facilities.

So you mean I'M Onsen Spa is not an ONSEN but a SENTO?!

YES! They should named it I'M SENTO SPA, which is more acceptable IMHO especially for those people who knows exactly the difference.

But I understand this confusions (which is sometimes a genius way). For the sake of marketing and branding, some unintentionally mislead the brand name because they felt that this name would be sounds more pleasing and recognizable than the opposite (in this case, its all about branding okay!).

Tuesday morning, I called the reception and booked my appointment at 5:00PM. It was my luck because the spa wasn’t too crowded during that time, unlike the past hours due to holiday.

I'M Onsen Spa, I'm Hotel Makati, wellness tourism, spa in Manila

At around 4:00PM, I booked my ride via GRAB heading to the hotel. I was greeted by these ladies which I noticed are been busy for the next appointments, and et al. You see, hospitality in many spa varies. Some will greeted you with welcoming drinks and snacks, others don’t and just make you sit on the corner lounge, while waiting for your appointment time. I did wait and fill-up a form verifying my physical and health condition – not that I have any issues at all.

I'M Onsen Spa, I'm Hotel Makati, wellness tourism, spa in Manila

Inside the Onsen Spa

I was given my locker key/bracelet to store my items and clothing, and also get my towel, rubber slippers and my yukata (robe). The area is a free-zone, meaning it is normal to see naked ladies in the onsen even in the locker area. If you not used to the nakedness then you can cover yourself with yukata or towel, before heading to the onsen per se, but never give a judgmental look because that translates impoliteness.

After I’ve stashed my bag and clothing, I headed to the shower area, get myself cleaned and fresher before I dipped my body in the warm onsen.

I'M Onsen Spa, I'm Hotel Makati, wellness tourism, spa in Manila

For the sake of those curious minds what inside the onsen spa, I took a liberty to snap these images. The inside is very clean and less dripping water on the way. Each shower room have a rain shower head, and stored with refillable liquid body soaps and shampoo. Inside also have a sauna room, but I didn’t partake to that area, because I am more interest in getting free in the onsen.

Technically phone isn’t allowed inside but I am a stubborn clientele (and it would be a high risk of mine if I accidentally dipped my phone in the pool!).

Being in this place makes me feel safe and free – no worries and just relaxing, freeing those thoughts and letting new ideas comes in like a flowing water. The sounds of soft music and the water slowly flowing, and the sounds of the water in the shower rooms is such a great music to my ear. Very relaxing to the point it is normal that you fell asleep while dipping your body in the onsen.

I'M Onsen Spa, I'm Hotel Makati, wellness tourism, spa in Manila

Do you know what is missing during that moment?

A glass of sparkling champagne!

How I wish I could take a bottle with me and enjoy the moment like I own the place. Maybe when I avail the VIP Package then I could demand for a bottle of champagne, and enjoy it with my beau. Maybe next time when we catch the right time.

Or at least they SHOULD offer a warm ginger tea. Even cheap spas have them, and wouldn't cost them an arm-and-leg for that matter.

60-minute whole body massage

I'M Onsen Spa, I'm Hotel Makati, wellness tourism, spa in Manila
After enjoying my short nirvana, it was time for my whole body massage. I was told to wait in the lounge for a minute as my therapist (Melanie Marquez) is getting ready. This was a good lounge, very spacious and overlooking the busy street of Makati Avenue, and the next hotel the City Garden Grand Hotel.

I'M Onsen Spa, I'm Hotel Makati, wellness tourism, spa in Manila

You can also view the pool on the second floor, which is a also a relaxing sight – like viewing little koi in the pond.

There is a bar next to the pool which is perfect for a night to chill and relax, but pool closes at around 7pm so what’s the point of enjoying it?

I'M Onsen Spa, I'm Hotel Makati, wellness tourism, spa in Manila
I guess I haven't watched properly my face and my little makeup still there, lol

What includes to my package is a 60-minute whole body massage, which I really need because my body need spoiling so much. I choose their 1-hour signature whole body massage which is pretty amazing, my therapist Melanie is so good on her job. The whole facility is very clean, but I noticed one thing that irritates me most…

The obvious sounds of walking feet wearing those rubber slippers brushing against the wooden floor!

It is truly irritating and impossible for me to relax my mind. Not everyone can walk like a ninja, however they could minimize the noise by not letting clienteles and staffs to wear slippers inside, and do barefoot just like many Thai spas. I did this experiential relaxation at the luxurious Oasis Spa in Bangkok, and it was so zen – we are told not to use slippers inside the spa, only when we walk on hallways outside, because doing so will bring dirt, and noise to the whole facility.

How I wish I could go back to the onsen to free my thoughts, but doing so will only affect negatively my fully massaged body.

They should do something about the noise, plus the annoying chit-chatting and whistling of staffs in the hallway. It’s unethical.

I'M Onsen Spa, I'm Hotel Makati, wellness tourism, spa in Manila

That ugly rubber slipper had my afternoon in limbo hearing those annoying sounds. 

If slippers can’t be removed, I recommend they change it to bedroom slippers – its soft made of cotton and lightweight, and it’s good in the feet. Or opt for those soft abaca slippers or coconut husk made slippers that feels very therapeutic, and also very eco-friendly.

I'M Onsen Spa, I'm Hotel Makati, wellness tourism, spa in Manila
After my massage, I proceeded to the locker area and collected my things so I could enjoy the last part of my afternoon at the spa – enjoy the buffet dinner!

Buffet Dinner at The Common Good

I'M Onsen Spa, I'm Hotel Makati, wellness tourism, spa in Manila

Nothing makes the lazy afternoon of relaxation and pampering complete, without the feast of buffet and making your foodie soul happy.

I had a chance to enjoy that moment at The Common Good (which I believe formerly known as BLOOMS) it was almost 6:30pm and a perfect time for an early dinner. I was greeted with those very tempting food aroma, and I couldn’t wait to enjoy them all (although in really I can’t eat them all, as I have a habit of feeding my phone first, which makes me feel full for unknown reason).

The chefs are busy preparing those chicken for roasting, one is busy assisting another diner with his diy pasta, and another one is refiling the sweet station with those gorgeous delights.
I'M Onsen Spa, I'm Hotel Makati, wellness tourism, spa in Manila

Ahh dining is heavenly!

I got to enjoy the dinner without worrying of diet (it’s a bummer to think that way, I am here to enjoy to fuck the diet!). Food makes me happy, and my phone is happy as well!

Food brings us good memories. When I have an opportunity to dine (and not feeling in a hurry) I take my time sometimes it takes me two hours or more to finish, and it is okay. Dining gives me a chance to enjoy myself and reminisce good memories, taking mental notes of which food I would recommend to my beau and friends, what spices I love most, and then makes me think of the next destination I want to visit by next weekend. Food makes me dream and hope for the next adventure.

I'M Onsen Spa, I'm Hotel Makati, wellness tourism, spa in Manila

And what would complete my dining experience? A great wine on the side.

Unfortunately, that sparking delight isn’t part of the package, and getting one would be unreasonably costly than getting a bottle at Rustan’s store. Would be lovely if they offer a wine tasting event along with the spa package.

Pasta, maki, red meat (ohh I just taste the red, but took more of those chicken) lots of salads, pizza, ohhh Mamma Mia! I want wine for these!

It was a lovely day of being lazy and feasting at dinner. How I wish I could do this every day, I wouldn’t mind making this as a job! If there is one, please sign me up :D

I'M Onsen Spa, I'm Hotel Makati, wellness tourism, spa in Manila

Ratings: 4-stars


xoxo, Blair


  1. This looks like a great place to relax and pamper yourself! I love everything that includes a hot sauna and a long massage. The food looks absolutely deliciosu too!

    1. The food didn't disappoint! If only have huge space in my tummy, I will stay longer :D

  2. Looks like you had a great time! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Yes I did! Next I would like to try their couple's package :D

  3. WOW! It looks like you had a great, relaxing experience!! I need a day like this (and a massage!) in a place like this! haha I need to find one around me ASAP!

  4. This place looks so peaceful. I would love to have a day at the spa. Looks like you sure enjoyed yourself!

  5. I agree. It looks like a sento... I've been on an "onsen expedition" to Japan last year and an onsen has a distinctive appeal.

    However, it looks like you had a great time as you have the onsen for yourself. Nice!

    1. The onsen would be perfect for places with natural hot springs like those in Bicol.

  6. Looks like a heavenly place to destress. Will definetly try this out when I fly visit Manila.

    1. please do! I will search for other spa and will report back soon!

  7. This place looks amazing. I have never been to a real spa, but i hope to get around to it someday.

    1. You deserve it so you must have it to treat yourself!

  8. This is a dream day out for me as I love spas!! This onsen spa has everything I want in a spa day, and you clearly had a good time! The food looks good too!

    1. I agree, if I have time again maybe I'll pay them another visit.

  9. I'm not Asian and don't celebrate the Lunar New Year but I would love to spend the holiday at this spa. You may have started a new tradition and just don't know it yet.


Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any partner brands/company(s), beauty & lifestyle brands, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities, unless specified.


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