14 Main Bazaar
Rates: We paid MR30 between us for a twin with aircon
Stayed there: 11th and 13th August 2008
A nice, friendly place that offers all you need for a short stay in a nice, friendly (and small) town. The staff speak just enough English to take a booking and serve food, but always with a smile.
Sure, the toilet didn’t have a seat but who cares? There were two showers in the bathroom – one cold and the other hot all day. The latter was over a full-size bath – quite a luxury over here.
Our aircon unit wasn’t exactly what I would call “quiet” (it sounded like a reversing bus) but it did the job and I use earplugs anyway. The TV only showed the two local channels, so the only English broadcast I caught was Barney the Dinosaur. So in other words, I’d give them more points if they took the TV away…
Towels and soap were provided and the bedsheets seemed clean enough, though slightly threadbare. Nothing bad, though, and they smelled fresh enough on both our nights there. Believe me, the comfy bed and hot shower were hugely welcome after two days of trekking.
Hiap Chiong Hotel
33 Jalan Temenggong Jugah
Rates: MR35 for a twin
Stayed there: 10th August
We only needed somewhere to rest our heads after a late arrival, and before an early start. The Hiap Chiong fitted the bill nicely.
A warm shower and comfy beds were all that was required and what we got did the job nicely. If you sleep lightly, you may want some earplugs as the windows face out onto a main street right by the docks.
Do note that until mid-2009, the boat from Sibu arrives at a pier right in front of the hotel – not a hundred yards or so away as detailed in the Lonely Planet.
It’s nothing great, but safe and comfortable.
Lorong Dewan (Australia Place)
88300 Kota Kinabalu
Tel: 6088 – 270 284
Mobile: 019 – 8509269
Rates: MR20 for a dorm bed and breakfast (tea and toast). A few Ringgit more for aircon. Double/twins also available
Stayed there: August 18th to 24th 2008
Don’t mind that the web page hasn’t been updated in ages – most of the information on there is accurate enough, although the owner’s ex stole the Playstation when she moved out!
Ah, the owner… If Vincent was any more laid back, he’d be a candidate for emergency spinal surgery. The staff consist of himself and one other person, a lovely young lady who will make your tea/coffee and toast for you when you surface. Both are friendly and helpful. Vincent knows all the tours, all the hostels, all the dive shops, all everything. If you need something sorted, he can get it done for you.
The two dorms are spacious with three bunks in each. The beds are fairly hard, but I found mine comfy enough and actually good for my back. Towels are also provided for use in the two showers. At first, two showers and a sinke between up to 18 guests seems a squeeze but I never once had to queue. Day trips, arrivals and so forth are staggered to such a degree it’s unlikely to be a problem.
Contrary to the web page, there are no lockers but this is being looked into as I did ask. I think the plan is to build some into the bases of the bunks. The private rooms have lockable doors.
If I had a quibble it’s that the whole place is “smoke-friendly” with one person I was sharing with even lighting up in the dorm. In fairness, I think this was more down to his selfishness and isn’t normal behaviour in any other hostel I’ve been to. Some people took to smoking on the balcony, but many others just stink away in the small common room.
Nice place, though I may stay elsewhere on my next visit as there are so many options.
48 Tengkat Tong Shin
50200 Kuala Lumpur
Phone: (60) 3 2142 3339
Mobile: (60) 19 380 5339
Stayed there: December 10th and 11th, 2006 and September 11th-13th 2008
Rates: From MYR23 for a dorm to MYR90 for a double en-suite
Recommended by the staff at the Inn Crowd (see “Singapore“), so I had high expectations. In fairness, they were pretty much met.
The welcome was warm and friendly. The staff here do know the area very well and will be all too happy to scrawl all over your map in pink highlighter.
The facilities are adequate. Showers are dotted around and there are two (free) internet terminals. No wireless, but you can plug directly onto their hub should you so wish.
Locationwise, this place is superb. 7-11 opposite, large malls in less than five minutes, the Petronas and KL Towers within 10-15 minutes and so on. The front door opens onto a main road, though, so if you’re liable to be disturbed by the sounds of traffic, get some earplugs.
I was in a 12-bed (I think) dorm and found the upper bunk to be a bit on the shoogly side. Whenever the person underneath me rolled over in their sleep, my top bunk wobbled for 20 seconds afterwards! Still, I was tired enough not to care.
My stay was only very brief, but I’m impressed enough that I’ll be looking here first on my next visit.
Update Sept 2008: Stayed here after all the other hostels were full as I’d wanted to try somewhere new. Stayed in the same dorm as last time and Maria (my traveling companion at the time) had a massive bed-bug problem. I had a few bites, but nothing compared to her. The staff provided bug spray and changed all the bedclothes, but this never cures the problem. I swapped beds with her the second night and again I had a few bites while she suffered badly. She swapped dorms to escape them.
Others in the hostel in different rooms also reported problems. It’s a shame as hostels often get blamed when it’s so easy for travelers to introduce these annoying pests. However, the only way to get rid of them is to destroy the mattress and replace it, and fumigate heavily.
Also, my PSP was stolen from my bag while I was there. While I admit it was my fault for leaving my bag insecure, there was a security camera right there so I had high hopes of catching the scum who did it.
However, only the owner has access to the video. And he has to call in external staff. And they wouldn’t come out on a Sunday. So I left on a Sunday morning with a promise that someone would email me. Which they didn’t. What’s the point in having security if it’s so useless? If the thief had still been on the premises, I could have caught them.
Green Hut’s definitely gone down in my estimations.
1-1 Jalan Angsoka
Off Jalan Nagasari
50200 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 603 2142 4633
Stayed there: August 30th to September 2nd 2008; July 5th/6th 2009
Rates: I paid MR23 per night for a bunk in an 8-person dorm with aircon. Other room types available.
OK, so I didn’t opt for Green Hut (above) on my second visit but I do like to check out other places – and this is owned by the same people! As far as hostels go, it ticks all the boxes: slightly shaky bunk beds; en-suite bathroom on the dorm with extras available in the corridors; front gate and room keys supplied so you can come and go as you please; hot (and I mean HOT) shower…
Lockers are available for your valuables, but I’m not sure if there’s a cost or key deposit. These are located in reception for additional security and come in a variety of sizes. I’d say the largest is “day bag” size.
It’s in a great location, not too far from the Green Hut but a smidgen closer to the Petronas Towers. The immediately surrounding area’s not the cleanest in the world, but I’ve walked it at all hours (daylight through to 4:30am) with no feeling of insecurity. There’s a 23-hour (yes, 23) restaurant at the end of the street so there’s always someone around should the worst happen.
Laundry is offered at MR4 per kilo (minimum charge MR4), there’s a fridge with cheap beer and soft drinks in, reception is open 24 hours, internet (on two PCs which I spruced up, and wi-fi) for free and a TV with cable for you to flick through while squooshed onto a comfy sofa.
My only quibble was that one of the guys working reception wasn’t from KL so couldn’t help me locate some things. He also recommended some people get to Chinatown using a taxi as there were no public transport links. Erm, apart from taking the nearby MRT three stops west for MR1.60…
Breakfast (tea/coffee, toast and spreads) is included and served from 7-11am. I don’t think you can get much cheaper in this part of KL. Chinatown does seem cheaper, but it’s also not such a nice area.
Update: After leaving on my first visit, I discovered that one of my ATM/Debit cards had been stolen from a money belt inside one of my bags and used about six times in KL after I’d left. I’m more inclined to think this was a backpacker than a staff member, but just be careful – they do provide lockers. Use them.
3 Jalan Bukit Bintang
Wilayah Persekutuan 55100
Tel: 603 2142 5313
Rates: 28RM upwards for shared dorms and rooms. Check for specials or on Hostelbookers for cheaper rates
Stayed there: Didn’t! See below
I arrived and was greeted by a member of staff who informed me that the ceiling of the hostel had collapsed under excessive rainwater. Instead, the walked me a couple of streets away to the Anjung KL Guesthouse (see below) where they’d arranged me an alternative dorm bed. The Anjung was more expensive, but Haven covered the different in cost so I wasn’t out of pocket.
Simply due to the way they handled this issue, I’ll be booking at Haven on my next visit to see what the place itself is like.
Anjung KL Guesthouse
No. 4, Tengkat Tong Shin
(Off Jln Bukit Bintang)
50200 Kuala Lumpur
Rates: RM30 upwards from shared dorms to rooms. Note prices rise on holidays and weekends
Stayed there: 24th and 25th February 2009
This was the alternative place I was moved to when the Haven’s roof leaked. A decent enough choice and a nice hostel at reasonable mid-range prices, though I was paying less than the book rate.
As is standard in the area, a simple tea/toast breakfast is included but as a bonus the hot drinks are available at no charge all day. Wi-fi is also free, though the reception closes for 30-60 minutes while the staff have lunch and from midnight (ish – I stayed till 2am) until 7am. This means you have to leave the reception area so you can’t use the wifi, watch telly, etc.
Decent sized lockers – large enough for any laptop – are available for a 10RM key deposit. Talking of deposits, your room key will set you back 30RM though you also get this back when you check out. Bed linen is included also, and the beds are nice and clean. The dorm (and I assume all the other rooms as well) is air-con.
As far as location goes, it’s fine as it’s on the same street as the majority of Golden Triangle hostels.
Hotel Alpha Genesis
45 Tengkat Tong Shin
50200 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 603-2141 2000
Fax: 603-2141 1000
Rates: Â£27 upwards, depending on room type and season
Stayed there: July 7th 2009
The hotel accommodation in Kuala Lumpur, short of the expensive five star stuff, gets a bad rap and there’s no denying it’s not up to the standards of Bangkok. However, we found the Alpha Genesis perfectly OK so either the accommodation as a whole is improving or we struck lucky.
Located on the same street as many of the hostels I’ve used in the past, it’s pretty easy to find. It’s also in a good location for food, shopping, cinema and tourism. It’s barely five minutes’ walk from the nearest monorail station and slightly more than ten from the main bus hub.
The room was small, but not pokey, and clean. The mattress was the kind of comfy hard that’s just right for me. TV had maybe eight channels, but I’m not one for telly-watching in a hotel anyway. Essentially, it’s enough for someone who’s holidaying properly – that is, they’re busy all day and tired at night. It’s a room to sleep and freshen up in.
Staff were very friendly and helpful. Leah had arrived without her luggage due to flight delays, and the front desk were happy to send a fax to the airline for her. Likewise later on the business centre refused payment for a phone call for her to chase her baggage up.
Breakfast was acceptable and included in the price. As with any buffet, it’s a matter of taste but it’s “eat all you can” so makes for a good start to the day. None of the other guests seemed to be complaining either.
Overall, we were both very happy with it. Given the mixed reviews this hotel and others have received online, sometimes I wonder if people expecting too much.
Borneo Seahare Hostel
Teochew Association Building
Tel: 006 016 8868860
Rates: MR19 for a dorm bed and all-day breakfast
Stayed there: July 6th to 9th 2008
More like a couchsurfing experience than a hostel, this is a delightful place to stay if you’re on a budget and want somewhere quiet. There are two dorms of 6 beds each (I think one is female only) and a double room.
No aircon is available, though there are plenty of fans dotted about. There is a TV lounge with two comfy sofas and a couple of hundred DVDs to pick from. Internet is available on a supplied PC (MR4 per hour), though this was being rebuilt when I was there.
The breakfast consists of bread, jam, butter, cereal, tea, coffee and dilute orange juice. It was also available all day long, so if you come in from the pub with the munchies you can snack on some toast.
Lockers are available and will hold most valuables up to laptop size. A notice says they’re MR1 a day, but I don’t think this charge is actually levied. A laundry service is offered for MR2 per item which sounds a little pricey. I settled for washing my stuff by hand and hanging it on the clothes line out back.
Showers are nice, new and electric so chuck out water of a decent temperatures. There are only two toilet/shower rooms but I never had to queue.
What makes this place, though, is the way it’s run. Wesley and Teresa welcome you in, sit you down and go through a town map. Everything of interest is pointed out to you, questions are answered and a guided tour of the hostel given. You’re provided with keys for the front door and your dorm… and then you might not see them again for a couple of days! As I said, it’s more like staying with friends than a hostel.
It is a little tricky to find as there’s no sign outside, but the directions provided when you book are adequate. As a hint, when you locate the Borneo Hotel, walk further up the road it’s on with the Hotel on your left. At the end of that block is the Borneo B&B. Cross that street and the next block is the Teochew Association Building (it’s written in large letters on the corner). The stairwell for the hostel is about halfway along this building.
1271 Jalan Sri Dagang
Rates: MR25 for aircon dorm, MR40/MR50 for single/double
Stayed there: August 14th/15th 2008
Listed as the editor’s choice in Lonely Planet, this was actually going to be my second choice as there was one other place in town at half the price. A good job I didn’t head there (Tai Tong Lodging House) as it’s now a derelict building!
Highlands was definitely a good choice. The woman who staffs the place is very helpful and friendly. The dorm was clean with plenty of free space. They could get another two bunks in there easily, another four or even six at a push. Bedding’s put on fresh for each new visitor. Towels are provided and the showers are nice and new.
The telly in the lounge has cable with a gazillion channels, and there’s a DVD player though I never did find the DVD collection. They also have one of the best book swaps I’ve seen in far too long. Loads of books, and most in English – and some decent titles.
Miri is small enough that it’s hard to be in a bad location. Highlands is a short walk from the main bar area and five minutes from the local bus terminal.
Tours from here seem to be a good price as well, sometimes beating the tour operators by as much as two thirds. I can’t say anything about the quality, though, as I didn’t take any. If I hear back from some people I know who did then I’ll add the details here.
It’s a little hard to spot as it’s situated two floors above ground level. Look for a bar called “Wheels”, and it’s through the door to the left.
Rates: MR35 upwards for rooms only. They have NO DORMS despite what they may tell you
Stayed there: August 25th 2008
Don’t stay here. They told the person who I booked through that I could get into a dorm for MR20 a night, which seemed fair. When I arrived at 4am, I was ushered into an air-con double and in the morning they billed me MR45 for 2 hours’ sleep. While grinning cheerily and telling me “last year we have dorm, now no”. So they lied on the phone. They got 20 and I walked out.
The room was OK, but I won’t recommend a rip-off joint.
Dragon Inn “Floating” Hotel
Tel: +6089 781 088
Rates: MR15 for dorm, higher prices for private rooms
Stayed there: August 26th to 29th 2008
Not exactly the Hilton with bare-bones facilities in the dorm area, but a nice place nonetheless if you’re happy to rough it a bit and you’re on a budget. This is the cheapest accommodation in Semporna, unless you’re diving with Scuba Junkie and use their dorms which (I gather) are little better though closer to town and the dive shops.
The friendly staff were very honest with me when I arrived before they even showed me the dorm – cold shower, squat toilets, only one key for the room. The beds themselves aren’t that great – a little creaky and the bedsheets have seen better days, while the pillows seem to be filled with cotton wool balls. Having said that, they were comfy enough to rest my head on.
No air-con, obviously, and the fans made little difference in the barn of a room. Eight bunks and two singles in the male-only dorm I was in, and still enough room to hold a small party in the middle.
It can get very humid at night and the roof leaked slightly – they need to get that looked at as it dripped on one of the bunks. I also got bitten to death by mozzies one evening, but had no problems the other three nights.
On check-in, I was given my own loo roll and soap. Payment was accepted on Visa with no surcharges which is pretty much a unique experience in Sabah for me. They also refused to take more than one night’s money in case I decided to go elsewhere – they run a “no refunds” policy and are very up front about it.
OK, it was pokey. And a bit dirty. But the building is awesome and the staff so open and honest that it’s almost unreal. After my experience with the Damai Lodge (above) they really made me feel better about Semporna.
Kang’s Traveller’s Lodge (Daniel’s Lodge)
9 Lorong Perdah
39000 Cameron Highlands
Tel: (05) 4915823
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Rates: MR8/10 for dorm without/with locker, higher prices for private rooms
Stayed there: September 3rd to 10th 2008
Came for 2-3 days, stayed for over a week. Thus is the effect of some cool weather, friendly people and good accommodation with free wi-fi.
Daniel’s (now Kang’s) once had a bad write-up in Lonely Planet, but I can tell you it’s wholly undeserved, or at least they’ve sorted any problems that may have existed.
Yeah, it’s a little scruffy, but it gives it a bit of a “beach house” appeal. The bed sheets and mattresses are clean, showers warm (though sometimes the pressure is a little low), lockers secure (require own padlock), toilets a mix of western and squat, staff incredibly friendly… and it has the only late-opening bar in town. As long as it’s not raining, there’s a bonfire to sit around and the pool table’s always available though a little pricey at MR3 per game.
No food is served, but the Kang Hotel in town does a good variety of breakfasts and is only a short walk away. All tours they offer can be booked direct at Daniels from where you’ll be collected. Talking of collections, they’ll come and get you from the bus station as well. No charge.
There are loads of comfy places in and out of the sun/rain to relax. The video lounge has seating for about 12 people and there are almost 1000 films to choose from.
For the price, it’s superb. I just kept handing over MR10 notes each morning and staying “one more night”.