hotels and resorts

LOOK: This modern-classic family home is a must-stay AirBnb spot in Marikina

Steph Arnaldo

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LOOK: This modern-classic family home is a must-stay AirBnb spot in Marikina

John Roxas/Rappler

Bring a close group of friends or family to Willow House, a stylish but cozy Marikina home complete with an outdoor patio and pool

MANILA, Philippines – At first glance, The Willow House looks like an unassuming bungalow situated in the quiet neighborhood of Rancho Estate, Marikina City. With its two-car open garage and 1970s-inspired exteriors, it felt like we were about to pay a visit at a rich, older family member’s not-so-humble abode.

WILLOW HOUSE. The Willow House is situated in a quiet, residential, gated community. John Roxas/Rappler

Once we stepped inside the grand wooden front doors, we were proven quite right – The Willow House was one of the most beautiful home AirBnbs we’ve seen!

FRONT ENTRANCE. Ceiling to floor wooden double doors greet guests. John Roxas/Rappler
Comfortable luxury at its finest

The spacious first level boasts of an open floor plan, consisting of a living room, dining area, and open kitchen, brightly lit by the ceiling-to-floor French glass windows and sliding doors. The stylish home seamlessly merges industrial-modern interiors with classic, Parisian elements; it felt very luxurious, but not uncomfortable.

OPEN PLAN. The dining area and living room are right next to one another. John Roxas/Rappler

Despite its aspirational vibe, it had a communal charm that made us feel right at home (I wished it were my home)!

NATURAL LIGHT. The whole first floor is abundant in natural lighting thanks to the French double doors. John Roxas/Rappler

The windows overlook the outdoor patio, which houses the swimming pool and an outdoor dining area with sets of tables and chairs, an outdoor sink, and grill. It’s fit for a group of friends or a large family, but it’s not a “party house.” Quiet time should be rightfully observed.

The Willow House is as beautiful during the day as it is at night, with abundant natural light in the morning and an expertly-designed lighting scheme around the house that is never harsh, but cozy and warm all throughout. In some angles, the house resembles a hip studio or gallery, straight out of an interior design magazine.

MODERN-CLASSIC. A sleek, darker palette is used for the home, with whites shades and textures to accentuate. John Roxas/Rappler

Marianne, The Willow House owner, told Rappler that the place was designed and built like a group project; a collaborative effort between her, her partner, and SSD Architects, whom they have worked with for more than a decade. The Willow House was built from her family’s wish to have more space during the pandemic and to finally build their “forever house.” The Willow House was the first concrete step in that direction, but they realized that they could not afford their dream house just yet.

OUTDOOR LANAI. There’s an outdoor kitchen, outdoor dining set, and swimming pool in the patio. John Roxas/Rappler

“We did not want to give up. We decided to be creative. The Willow House was Phase 1 of our ‘forever house.’ We built what we could afford and turned it into an income-generating asset to help raise money for our goal,” Marianne said, thus opening it for AirBnb renting just this year.

“The Willow House was basically the ground floor of the dream house. It was designed to be a house with two floors and built with all the necessary provisions for the upper floor. With a little more luck and a lot of hard work, we can begin Phase 2 and finish the house we always wanted. Every guest that has stayed at the Willow House has brought us closer and closer to our dream,” Marianne added.

Marianne handled the aesthetics, visual aspects, and “general look and feel of the house,” as well as the furniture and decor. Her partner was responsible for the technical considerations, while the architects tied it all together and gave professional guidance for the direction they wanted to go.

“They turned all our ideas into actual details that could be followed and built. We were all very involved in the construction and were there every step of the way.”

It was both a personal and economical choice, since The Willow House is technically “their house,” meant for their kids and loved ones to enjoy.

GROUP-FRIENDLY. The Willow House was designed for close family and friends to enjoy a good and wholesome time. John Roxas/Rappler

“If it was a straight rental property and leased on a long-term basis, we couldn’t design and build it the way we wanted. There would be no way to justify the effort and cost. We also won’t have the opportunity to enjoy it for ourselves,” Marianne said. However, they needed to make money, so it can pay for itself and for further construction in the future. This made AirBnb the best and smartest option.

“We can stay and enjoy the house whenever we want and still rent it out during vacant times.”

Wonders of Willow House

The Willow House is the “fusion of classic and modern design,” according to Marianne. Her vision was guided by a desire for an open and inviting atmosphere where one can socialize effortlessly from kitchen to dining, and into the living room. 

THOUGHTFUL PIECES. Every piece of furniture and decor was hand-picked by Marianne herself. John Roxas/Rappler

“The house was inspired by mid-century modern architecture, particularly the homes in Palm Springs, California. We also drew interior inspirations from Los Angeles homes and Parisian apartments. For the furnishings, we wanted old and new to co-exist harmoniously,” she added.

We noticed that intent right away – the vintage ’80s pieces didn’t look awkward neighboring a modern nordic lamp. In fact, this “fusion” gives Willow House a unique distinctive blend and an edge over the typical Muji-inspired, minimalist, Japandi aesthetic.

SPACIOUS. The living room comfortably seats 6 guests for movie or board game night. John Roxas/Rappler

No details are spared here – we had almost everything we needed for a fun and comfortable stay. The whole place is air-conditioned, with a huge, flat screen smart TV and state-of-the-art speakers across cozy leather sofas. There are board games too, and a strong wi-fi connection.

The open kitchen was a dream, with ample storage, golden fixtures, and vintage appliances like the cutest microwave, electric kettle, and high-end cutlery. There’s even a coffee station, cooking basics, pots, pans, gas stove, rice cooker, and a double-door refrigerator with drinks for purchase, too.

OPEN KITCHEN. The kitchen is fully-equipped with everything you need for a delivery feast or home-cooked spread. John Roxas/Rappler

The comfort rooms were just as gorgeous, with the primary room boasting double rain showers. There are no towels provided, but there is shampoo, body wash, and a hair dryer for use.

MASTER’S BEDROOM. The primary suite has a queen bed with premium, clean linens. John Roxas/Rappler

There are three bedrooms – one with a queen bed and the other two with double beds. The queen bed was too comfortable to get out of, with its fluffy pillows and comforter. The room also sports blackout curtains covering the view of the outdoor lanai.

The check-in/check-out process was smooth and easy, too – instructions are given on how to obtain the house and room keys via the self-lock box outside.

It’s obvious that a lot of love, time, energy, resources, and attention were devoted to every corner and inch of The Willow House – a true labor of love that was worth it, but didn’t come easy.

“We bought the property during the pandemic in March 2021. It was challenging to finalize the sale and complete all the paperwork. The lockdown made movement very difficult and even government agencies had erratic operating hours,” Marianne said, which delayed construction until August 2022. The house was completed in May 2023.

EXTRA BEDROOMS. There are two other bedrooms with double beds each. John Roxas/Rappler

“It could have been built quicker but we were very particular about materials used and contractors involved. After all, this was going to be our house. Some elements were designed on the fly and were reworked multiple times. It took about two months to furnish the house, buy the necessary appliances, get all the decor together and make it guest ready. We opened our doors to our first guest in August,” she said.

PARISIAN-INSPIRED. The interior design and architecture is inspired by vintage elements abroad. John Roxas/Rappler

The Willow House has an estimated floor area of 188 square meters, but it feels much bigger than that. It was designed and built to let in as much natural light and ventilation as possible.

“When we designed and furnished The Willow House, we had no specific target market in mind. It was a pure labor of love reflecting our personal tastes. It has to be something our family can enjoy too,” Marianne said. Its relaxed and quiet atmosphere is perfect for intimate gatherings or celebrations among family and close friends. The gated residential community also adds to the peace and feeling of security.

“Our desire is for guests to feel they are in a home that is different yet inspiring. We want them to sense that every detail was intentional, making Willow House more than a stay. It’s an experience of comfort, nostalgia, and purposeful design,” Marianne said. Truly, it felt like our home, too in a way, that it merited an instant desire to book another stay with more friends and family.

FAMILY HOME. The Willow House exudes comfort and luxury, all wrapped up in a uniquely stylish abode. John Roxas/Rappler

And why the name The Willow House? Because this dream project began in the pandemic, a few family businesses were significantly affected, which was a struggle. To Marianne, the willow tree signifies “renewal and growth,” in the way that it “embraced the strength to bend with change and the resilience to flourish anew.”

The Willow House is more than just a picture-perfect, Instagram-worthy AirBnb spot that’ll finally take that trip outside the GC. To Marianne and her family, it means new beginnings, hope, and inspiration. And for guests looking to unwind, enjoy each other’s company, and have a simple good time, this is the place to be! –

Guests can book a stay at The Willow House via Airbnb. As of November, rates start at over P8,000 a night. You can also check them out on Instagram.

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Steph Arnaldo

If she’s not writing about food, she’s probably thinking about it. From advertising copywriter to freelance feature writer, Steph Arnaldo finally turned her part-time passion into a full-time career. She’s written about food, lifestyle, and wellness for Rappler since 2018.