My Malaysian accommodation

Part of travelling is deciding where you are going to stay. Obviously this is influenced by how long you’re travelling. Since I don’t travel for more than 2 or 3 weeks these days, I can go for slightly nicer places than when I used to go to India for 3 months at a time.

I used to be a backpacker, but now I’m a bit older and earn a bit more, I’m more of a flashpacker. That is, I like a room with a bathroom all to myself, and maybe a bar fridge (if only to fill up water bottles and chill them in, as well as beer on the odd occasion, heh). 24 hr reception is also a plus, for when I come staggering in after a late night drinking session or club night.

I do love a hut on the beach mind you, and if I can get stunning seaviews mere footsteps from my door, then I’ll gladly trade comforts for views. There’s nothing like swinging in a hammock on your porch, gazing at the ocean while sipping a cool drink. I’ve done this on Phi Phi island (Thailand), Tioman Island (Malaysia) and Ko Samui (Thailand – back in 2000 before everything was flashy resorts, and you could actually get a hut on the beach for 15 US a night).

I can’t stand depressing rooms that are dirty and windowless, with no clean sheets or towels, but I don’t need air-con (a fan does me just fine, and often air-con is TOO cold for me). I also prefer not to be able to hear the occupants in the room next to me, or corridors, which is why I tend not to stay in hostels that much.

So here’s my rundown of the mid-range places I stayed at during my travels in Malaysia:

Kuala Lumpur

Citin Hotel – Jalan Pudu

I already mentioned in a previous post the Citin Hotel, and posted images so you could see how nice it was. I should point out I was upgraded to floor 10, with soaring city views, but I think this may happen with some regularity when they’re not full up. When I booked on the internet, straight after the booking was confirmed, it said ‘click on this link to see if you’re upgraded’. I didn’t click as I was in a hurry, but got upgraded when I got there. So, you never know.

It had great décor, comfy bed and pillows, was nice and clean with a lovely modern bathroom, had a wardrobe for clothes and even a safe for valuables in the wardrobe. See this post for more details.

Note: There is another Citin in Little India, near the masjid – don’t get them confused! Same chain, style and price.

Nightly rate: around 40 AUD.
Amenities: air-con, bar fridge, flat screen tv, toiletries, in-room safe, tea/coffee making facilities
Included: breakfast, internet on level 1 (if you can get on),
Best bit: the sweeping views.

Imperial Hotel – Changkat Bukit Bintang

When I returned to KL at the end of my trip, I chose to stay in the Bukit Bintang area, which is closer to the entertainment and shopping district (malls and food).

It was right near Jalan Alor, that hawker street I posted about before, as well as several other hawker stalls and café places around the Bukit Bintang Plaza. While I stayed in myself, I periodically peered out the window, and can attest that things run 24hrs around there. People were still up talking, eating and drinking until 6am.

The room was very nice and mod, contrary to what my footprints guide suggested (the phrase “don’t expect a gem at this price” almost put me off). Again, it has a good bed and pillows, desk, clean mod bathroom, alcove for clothes, spacious in area.

Nightly rate: around 46 AUD.
Amenities: air-con, bar fridge, tv, toiletries, and I think 24 hr reception.
Best bit: location is very central, yet virtually no street noise in the room.

Langkawi

Sunset Beach Resort – Pantai Tengah

This was the splurge of the trip. I wanted to check out the Balinese inspired, top-range villas with the gorgeous bathrooms, so I spent more than I usually would. The villas are set in leafy groves, so it is very tropical in feel.

The breakfast room/café faces the beach and is lovely, light and modern. Breakfast is included, but you have to be there by about 10.45. The (lady) staff are very friendly and talk to you by name, although they called me “green girl” for the duration of my stay, on account of my hair.

View from breakfast room

The villa itself was large, comfortable and styli
sh, with Balinese bedhead, wall hangings etc. The large bed is on a platform, and there’s a desk area and window seat if you like to lounge about. Of course there’s a tv and bar fridge, wardrobe area for clothes, and a choice of fan or air-con. The villas are very quiet, so I had REALLY good sleeps here

But the bathroom is the knockout. It is huge. It has a skylight ceiling so is always light and bright with an outdoor feel, and has a rock wall and pottery to add texture.

I almost wanted to set up a desk with my laptop there to write, so nice was the room, but I settled for the end of my bed.

There was a nice big shower, but the switch to turn the hot water on was so high up, I couldn’t reach it! I settled for daytime showers when the water was warmish.

There’s a front porch with 2 chairs if you like to have an afternoon or evening cocktail and people-watch, but I preferred to sit at the beach, myself. Speaking of which, there were more than enough deckchairs and sun-loungers on which to sun yourself.

The beach here is quiet, with no motorised watersports as at Pantai Cenang. Only the people at the resort sunbake here, which is good if you like it intimate, but not good if you like to feel you’re out among the masses. The water is deep enough to get wet and have a swim though, whereas at the other end of the beach it can be really shallow.

It is definitely a place for couples, not singles. A note on the tours: perhaps best to book with an operator on Cenang if you want to mix with other westerners. The island hopping tour I booked through here, consisted of me, an Indian couple on their honeymoon, and 2 Malaysian families who spoke only malay and to each other. NOT the social activity I was hoping for.

The places we visited were beautiful and enjoyable; I had my feet “massaged” by catfish, and I met some inquisitive monkeys!! I gave one a banana, which was probably  mistake, cos they came after my bag when I sat down 🙂

However,
as I was the only ‘whitie’, and everyone else at the places we visited was either Malaysian, Indian or Middle Eastern, I couldn’t get down to my bikini and swim. Everyone else swam fully clothed, and I would’ve felt like a Jezebel doing otherwise, so I didn’t get to swim at all  🙁  But that was really the only downside, and easily avoided if you book through a backpacker place.

The sunset here on Thursday night, my second night there, was simply AMAAAAZING…

Nightly rate: around 70- 75 AUD (but there are cheaper villas)
Amenities: air-con, bar fridge, tv, toiletries, tea/coffee making facilities
Included: breakfast til 11am. Although wifi is possible here, you have to find a shop that sells the Wi-net cards – and I never did.
Best bit: feeling of luxury; the bathroom.

Given that on this occasion I was travelling alone (not the smartest move in Langkawi, I admit), I decided to move to the more happening part of the island at the next beach up – Pantai Cenang.

AB Motel – Pantai Cenang

This one gets the thumbs up from backpackers, so I was aware I was going downmarket for this one. As I only booked my room the day before, my choice was limited, and I ended up in a room in the main building rather than a bungalow.

It was also one of those rooms with a connecting room to the next one, and although it was bolted so there were no intrusions, it meant the noise carried from the next room.

There was an Arabic speaking family next to me, and the father in particular had a voice that carried. I had to put the tv on the drown the voices out, and then I was aware when I stayed up late, that I had to keep it turned down low. On my second morning they were up way before me and being vocal. I turned on the air-con and opened the balcony door for white noise.

On the plus side, I was on the second floor, and had views of the beach from my balcony (which had 2 chairs for enjoying the sunsets). Not only that, but in the room itself, I could hear the waves crashing onto the beach. Yeah!

The room itself had 2 double beds and was way bigger than I needed. There was a choice of fan or air-con. Again the bed and pillows were fine, and there was a tv, bar fridge, wardrobe, and choice of fan or air-con.

The bathroom was ok, but there was no toilet paper, so I went to a shop and bought a roll for 1RM. The shower was right near the toilet, so it got wet when I had a shower. But at least I could reach the hot water!

Being on the busier part of the beach meant that there was lot of watersport activities nearby, banana boating, parasailing etc, and the water was quite shallow. There were some seats and tables between the beach and the hotel, and on my first night, there was a bunch of drunken locals being really loud from 5 to 5.30am right outside. I had to get up early for the snorkelling tour later that day, so sorely missed my sleep – not happy, Jan!

However, there was a nice atmosphere at the beach, people walking along, playing football, throwing Frisbees, sunbaking etc, with beach restaurant/bars at night lighting up the coast. I really enjoyed feeling amongst it here, as opposed to the exclusivity of the resort at Tengah.

The snorkelling tour I booked here had a lot of Europeans, so there were no problems re: swimwear. It was nice to chat to other backpacker/travellers, too. Here’s a pic on Pulau Payar, the island marine park where we snorkelled.

Nightly rate: around 25 AUD
Amenities: TV, bar fridge, air-con, soap, onsite internet cafe (open til 11)
Best bit: the balcony views

Penang

Oriental Penang – Jalan Penang

I got an upper floor room again, and again there were sweeping views of the Penang skyline. I could see the harbour and the mountains (with spectacular lightning bolts during storms).

While the décor was dated, the bed was fine and bathroom clean enough. There was a TV, chairs, desk, 4ft high fridge, wardrobe.

However, you did not have the choice to turn off the air-con, and I found it FREEZING! Although a sign said to keep the windows closed, I opened them to let in some warm air and try to normalise the temperature. At night I had to sleep in my jumper; there were extra pillows but no extra blankets.

Being situated on Jalan Penang (one of THE three main streets), it was extremely central for the Georgetown sights, hawker stalls and cafes.

Nightly rate: around 25 AUD
Amenities: TV, fridge, air-con, soap, 24 hr reception,
Best bit: the skyline views

Hope that’s helped you see the sort of places you can get in that mid-price bracket. There is still more coming from my Malaysian trip, like the food, architecture and shenanigans in Penang, so stay tuned…