Manhwa Review | Hotel Pharus by BINGO



There will be spoilers for the series Pharus.

Trigger Warning: There may be references to murder, death, arranged marriage, mentions of divorce (not between main characters), ableism, confinement, attempted cheating (not between main characters), attempted assassination, corruption, estranged family, gun violence, spying, mentions of suicide, , chronic illness, child neglect, manipulation, excessive drinking, self-deprecation, violence, classism, blackmail, and PTSD, as it appears in the manhwa.


Daniel is down in the dumps. His long-term lover has left him to get married, his boss is closing the bar down, and without much direction, he has no idea what to do with his life. More bad news arrives at his door when someone delivers a letter announcing that Daniel's estranged father has passed. But hope is waiting in the wings as his father has left him the hotel Daniel once grew up in. Seeing this as his new start and a chance to revisit his happy childhood memories, Daniel takes the leap and moves out to the countryside to find his childhood home worse for wear but still in running order.

It might be best to just sell the building or demolish it and move on, but Daniel is determined to establish a life for himself, so with the help of the hotel manager, Daniel delves into the hotel and its current state. Things are in need of repair and some minor maintenance, but everything seems fine except for the newest addition to the hotel: the west wing. Supposedly, it's in great disrepair with a significant mold issue. But a plaque on the wall suggests something more paranormal, warning people to stay away and, if they see something, to report it to the staff. When Daniel happens upon his father's hidden study, a ledger full of payments far exceeding the price of a stay makes the west wing seem all the more suspicious.

Things only become stranger when a guest, whose stay has been paid for months in advance, arrives and turns out to be a child of the Creston family: Alexander Creston. And for a generous fee, Daniel is tasked with reporting all of Alexander's movements to a mysterious caller. The caller mentions that Daniel, the former owner's son, has inherited this task. Just what was his father doing in the hotel? And why is Alexander now part of it?


I saw this was coming out not long after I read Alien in My Wardrobe, which is also by , and I was so pumped! has a very unique art style, which is super refreshing to see. It is very angular and sharp, which isn't going to be to everyone's preference, but it's worth a once over at least. Unfortunately, similar to what happens in Alien in My Wardrobe, where some characters in this style, for whatever reason, creep me out more than they attract me. Grayson is one, with his unfortunate hairstyle, but he isn't part of our main couple, so that's hardly a problem. However, the real issue lies with our bottom, Alexander. He's supposed to come off as distant and sarcastic, which he does effortlessly, but he does not appear all that attractive to me… except in bed. There is something about his face when he's in bed with Daniel that is so freaking attractive I can hardly believe it's the same person. I do love how his dark and gloomy design counters Daniel's much brighter and lighter one, but there's something about his face that I wish was different. He gives dead fish vibes sometimes, and I don't like it.

Cover art for Hotel Pharus on TappyToon

I was also a bit disappointed with this story-wise. Granted, this might be more of a fault to my preferences than the work itself, as I don't care for mysteries, and though this is -lite as opposed to a full-fledged mystery, it still wasn't my favorite. Many times over the course of the series, the issues with the hotel are presumed to be supernatural in nature, which admittedly set me up for disappointment. I much prefer the supernatural over secret murder hotels where the wealthy send their troubled children to die, but that's just me. I wouldn't necessarily call this a short series, but I think it needed more time to stew in that darkness for the weight of the dark subject matter to resonate. Much of the time is spent in bed (or in other rooms) with Daniel and Alexander having sex, which I adored, don't get me wrong, but for the sake of the story, I think it could've leveraged some of that sexy time to explore more of the hotel's horrid history and really hit home just how rotten this practice of exile and murder was. There's also a mini-arc where Dylan, Daniel's asshole ex-lover, comes around trying to sleep with him again, which I don't think added very much. Sure, this allowed Daniel to move on and get closure, but it was such a short stint that I don't think it was all that powerful or necessary.

Something I was super interested in that was glanced over was the implication that Grayson was actually in love with Daniel's father after his parents divorced. I would've loved to explore more of that, but with how short the series is and all the other elements explored, it just wasn't possible. With that said, something I was impressed with was how candid this was about gay relationships. I'm so used to manhwa emphasizing how unaccepted gay couples are in society and how they have to hide their relationship, but that doesn't happen here. Alexander and Daniel openly kiss and live together in the hotel. Grayson readily admits that he was in love with Daniel's father. And, probably most importantly, it is never said that the reason any of the exiled children, including Alexander, were sent there was because they were gay, which could've easily been done. It was so refreshing to have their sexuality just be generally accepted and not used as a plot device to show how shitty their families or society at large is.

Similarly, another unexpected surprise that I was as happy about as I was disappointed in was the reveal that Grayson and Liam ended up together. I love older men in my BL, and Grayson, though not my favorite character, was right up my alley on the age front. Unfortunately, we never see him with Liam beyond a sweet confession and brief kisses in passing. It's such a tease and one that I almost wish it hadn't been mentioned because the lack of payoff hurt so much. Middle-aged men can be smutty sex beasts, too, and I wish we got to see some of that from Grayson. Limiting it to barely two episodes with very little context on how they fell in love is agony. It's fun to opine over, but agony all the same.


This has a lot of potential but doesn't feel as well executed as it could have been. I love BINGO, and even though this wasn't my favorite title from them, I will still buy every title that gets licensed from them. If you enjoy mystery and , you might enjoy this one. It is definitely on the lighter end of those genres, so it might work better as someone's gateway into those genres, especially in the context of BL. I didn't hate it, but I didn't love it, and I really, really wanted to love it. So, in the end, my expectations were far too high, and I ended up being way more disappointed than I think this warranted.

Have you read Hotel Pharus? If so, what do you think? Do you agree with my assessment? Do you not? Let me know, and comment below!

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