Coron is one of the most amazing parts of this world that I’ve visited, and I can’t recommend it enough for lovers of sun, sand and water. From stunning lagoons to wrecks shallow enough to snorkel to beautiful beaches only reachable by boat, this region rewards island-hoppers and adventure-seekers. But island hopping is also surprisingly tiring, and at the end of the day there’s nothing better than retiring away to a sanctuary of modern luxury, somewhere just as beautiful as the local environment to relax and recharge. Which perfectly describes The Funny Lion Inn.
Located just outside of Coron Town, The Funny Lion is a 31-room boutique resort. Recently opened in 2015, it’s just far enough away from the hustle and bustle of this dusty, rural town to enjoy peace and tranquility. But it’s also close enough that it’s only a short drive to the local boat pier for island hopping departures. Plus its westward vantage means it perfectly situated to enjoy the sunset over the surrounding mangroves and waterways.
Letting the bright colours of the natural surroundings shine, from the blue sky to the lush green mangroves and the orange glow of the sunset, the buildings stick to a simple palette of browns and beiges. This minimalistic style continues inside the rooms. They’re luxurious in size but simple in furnishings, with open shelving for luggage rather than a wardrobe. And in place of the over-used Bali-style interiors of many resorts, the design and furnishings instead evoke the African home of the resort’s lion namesake, from the raw hide seat at the desk to the textured tiles behind the bed head.
The linen on the king-size bed is first class, with the white cotton sheets and thick doona providing one of the most comfortable night’s sleep I’ve had in weeks. The bedroom is completed with a colonial-style desk and lamp in front of floor to ceiling drapes, which I mainly kept closed to maintain a moody ambience against the western sunlight. And if you’re lucky enough to have an upstairs Pride Room, hidden behind the drapes is a large balcony with table and chairs, best enjoyed in the early morning or evening light.
Stepping through to the ample proportions of the bathroom, there’s naturally a rainwater shower and plenty of fluffy white towels. A pair of fragrant, high-quality liquid soap and shampoo are provided in stylish glass dispensers. These, along with the glass flagon for drinking water, are an excellent environmentally-friendly touch. It’s a welcome change from disposable plastic bottles, and something that other hotels should copy. The wooden barrel into which the sink is recessed makes for a quirky touch.
Stepping outside of the rooms, it’s impossible to not be mesmerised by the sight of the infinity pool and jacuzzi. Surrounded by deckchairs and pockets of shade, it becomes the bustling hub of the resort each afternoon, as guests return from their daytime adventures, perhaps taking advantage of the nightly happy hour to enjoy a cocktail or beer on the surrounding chairs, delivered by the cheerful but unobtrusive staff. And there’s no shortage of bubbles within the pool with an extra shallow section also able to convert to a huge jacuzzi.
Hidden away on the rooftop of the larger building is also another bar, Pride Rock Deck. While unfortunately it was closed for renovations during my visit, any day it will be re-opening, affording guests the best spot for enjoying the sunset, looking out over the serene cove and nearby islands. And in the ultimate touch of luxury there are two small rooftop jacuzzis, which I’m sure are very popular.
While a range of bar snacks are available at the Pride Rock Deck, for the full restaurant menu head down to the Hunt Restaurant, next to the pool. This is also the location of the daily breakfast buffet. When arriving for my first breakfast, at first the mixture of Asian and Western choices looked rather small. But that’s only because it’s easy to initially miss seeing the omelet and waffle station at the bar. One of my favourite touches were the local, tropical jams provided, especially the Bignay jam, plus the inclusion of Hot Choco, a favourite in the Philippines.
The nod to local specialities continues with the dinner/lunch and bar menus, which offer predominantly international cuisine. There’s plenty of pork and seafood options, plus there’s a dish of shrimps encrusted with cashews, one of the key local crops, although unfortunately it wasn’t available the night I ordered it. I can, however, highly recommend both the soy-infused fish and steak, both of which were very tender and tasty. Additionally, the fish ’n’ chips make for a great lunch or light meal, and is a surprisingly huge portion, given its small price.
If you’re not heading out island-hopping but staying at the resort during the day, it’s wonderful to have the pool virtually to yourself, and laze around it all day. There’s also plenty of time to have a massage, which are currently offered in the comfort of your room, pending the opening of a separate spa room. With a sore shoulder from all my swimming and spending too long editing my underwater photos, I elected to receive a Raja massage. The small stature of my masseuse belied how much pressure she could exert to perform this traditional massage style, which uses a little (but not too much) oil. Massages are also available until late for post-adventure pampering.
So, when it comes to visiting Coron in the Philippines, I have two key recommendations. Firstly, don’t wait too long, until the rest of the world discovers this quiet, tropical paradise. And stay at the beautiful and relaxing surrounds of The Funny Lion.
Rack rates at The Funny Lion start at Php 6000 ($120 USD) during the Lean Season, including daily breakfast and roundtrip airport/seaport terminals. Click here to book through Hotels.com or check out further reviews at TripAdvisor.
Want to see more? Check out our short tour on YouTube:
Note: The author was a guest of The Funny Lion.