[Accommodation Review] – Pullman Kuala Lumpur City Centre (2 Bedroom Apartment), Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (9 – 11 Nov 18)

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Pullman Kuala Lumpur City Centre Signage

Location

Pullman Kuala Lumpur City Centre is located in the heart of the shopping district of Bukit Bintang in the capital of Malaysia. The Pavilion Shopping Mall is located opposite the hotel, and also a gateway to the numerous shopping malls in the vicinity. The Petronas Twin Tower is a mere 10 mins walk from Pullman Kuala Lumpur City Centre. Chinatown is just a short monorail ride away from the hotel.

The Suite

Pullman Kuala Lumpur City Centre has two buildings located next to each other. Most of the hotel rooms are located in the hotel building, while the 2-bedroom apartment suite we booked is located on the residence tower. The spacious 2-bedroom Apartment Suite in Pullman Kuala Lumpur City Centre has a total floor area of 97m², which seem significantly larger than most of the 2-bedroom apartments that I have stayed in.

Front Porch

The 2-bedroom apartment suite in Pullman Kuala Lumpur City Centre is a corner suite. Entering from the main door, a front porch for guests to put on their shoes is immediately in our sight. This area is furnished with a fairly large shoe cabinet which seems capable to store more than 10 pairs of shoes.

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The front porch in the suite is furnished with a large shoe cabinet

Kitchen

Further into the suite, separated by a wall, is where a small kitchen in the suite is located. The kitchen is fully equipped for guests to cook a simple meal and comes with simple cookeries as well as a full dining set for four persons. However, only two teaspoons are available in the suite, which seems a tad weird. There is a full-size fridge in the kitchen, perfect for guests to store some food items and drinks. Other kitchen equipment found in the 2-bedroom apartment suite is a microwave and an electric kettle. A bar counter segregates the kitchen from the rest of the areas in this suite.

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Kitchen in the 2-bedroom apartment suite at Pullman Kuala Lumpur City Centre

Dining Room

Opposite the kitchen, a little after the front porch is where guests will find the dining room. The dining room is furnished with a wooden dining table with four chairs. This is a great place for guests in the room to gather, other than dine in the apartment suite. There is another cabinet placed by the wall next to the dining table, which we did not utilise.

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Dining room in the apartment suite

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This cabinet next to the dining table provides suite guests with extra storage space

Living Room

Occupying the largest real estate property in the suite, tucked in the furthest corner from the main entrance is where guests would find the living room. The living room is furnished with a 3-seater couch and two single-seat armchairs by the side. There are a couple of small tables on each side of the couch furnished with table lamps. In the centre of these chairs is a fairly large coffee table. Behind the couch is a semi-circular large window, which gives guests a good view of the city.

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A very cosy living room in Pullman Kuala Lumpur City Centre 2-bedroom apartment suite

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View of Kuala Lumpur from the living room in the suite

Opposite the couch is where a large 49″ LED TV is placed onto the TV cabinet. The feature wall cabinet above the TV not only serves as decor for the room but also provides extra storage space for guests. The heavy use of wooden furnishing in the living room area, coupled with the use of warm yellow lights makes this area feel very cosy.

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TV console area

Tucked in the furthest corner from the main entrance to the 2-bedroom suite at Pullman Kuala Lumpur City Centre is a small work desk. The work desk pretty standard which one would find in most hotels, comprising of two tables, which provides ample workspace for the apartment’s occupants. The hotel has cable internet access, which might provide fast internet complimentary internet access. I find the wifi in the suite to be very sluggish when I connected my phone to it.

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Work desk in the apartment faces the living room

I like the way the hotel place the living room, which is between the two bedrooms, serves not only as a focal point but a very good gathering space for occupants of this 2-bedroom apartment suite.

The Bedrooms

Master Bedroom

The master bedroom in the 2-bedroom apartment suite at Pullman Kuala Lumpur City Centre is found next to the kitchen. The squarish master bedroom feels a tad smaller compared to the second bedroom. At the centre of the master bedroom are the king size bed and a couple of bedside tables on each side of the bed. The use of yellow lighting in the master bedroom gives it a cosy feel. I find the sleep quality on the king bed to be good, however, the pillows are too soft (and gave me neck sore the next day) for my liking. The Pullman Kuala Lumpur City Centre does not provide a pillow menu for guests. Air conditioning in the master bedroom is rather bad. I had turned the temperature to the lowest, but still, find it warm.

The storage space in the master bedroom is not fantastic. There are two wardrobe space and a cabinet below where a 32″ LED TV is mounted. The wardrobe beside the TV  only allows guests to hang their clothes. The hotel managed to squeeze an ironing board and the iron inside this wardrobe, which takes up space in the already limited spaced wardrobe. The other wardrobe is found opposite the entrance to the bedroom, which has only shelves for guests to store clothes folded. However, I would think twice about putting my clothes here as I am not too sure when this wardrobe was being cleaned. There are some more cabinets below the TV which only allows guests to store small items and perhaps their shopping. The only power outlet in the master bedroom is found in the ledge below the TV. There is no in-room safe found in the master bedroom.

Second Bedroom

The second bedroom is located opposite the kitchen in this 2-bedroom apartment suite at Pullman Kuala Lumpur City Centre. Unlike the master bedroom, the second bedroom has an elongated space. The second bedroom is furnished with 2 twin beds each with a side table. There is only a small window in the second bedroom.

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Twin bed in the second bedroom

There is more wardrobe space in the second bedroom compared to the master bedroom, which goes to show the lack of thought by the interior designers of the hotel. It is also weird that the only in-room safe in the entire suite is found in the second bedroom. There are more wardrobe space as well as storage space in the second bedroom, allowing its occupants to store more clothing and items compared to the master bedroom. Similar to the master bedroom, a 32″ LED TV is placed on the cabinet opposite the bed.

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Wardrobe space and TV in the second bedroom

The Bathrooms

There are two bathrooms in the 2-bedroom apartment suite at Pullman Kuala Lumpur City Centre. Both bathrooms are located in each bedroom.

Master Bathroom

The master bathroom comes equipped with a bathtub and a walk-in shower stall. The bathtub is of a decent size, sufficient for guests for a good soak. Guests can opt to shower in the bathtub or utilise the walk-in shower stall.  The walk-in shower stall is equipped with a massaging function shower head.

At the centre of the master bathroom and also the first thing that one would see upon entering it from the master bedroom is the sink area. The master bathroom is equipped with a single sink and the marble countertop has sufficient space for one to put their additional toiletries on. There are cabinets above the sink that provides more storage space for guests. The hotel provides good quality bath amenities. Additional bathroom amenities such as toothbrushes, shavers, are found in this cabinet. However, the hotel does not provide glasses or mugs in both the bathrooms. Beside the sink and next to the walk-in shower is where the toilet is located.

Second Bathroom

Similar to the master bathroom, the second bathroom is located inside the second bedroom. Compared to the master bathroom, the second bathroom is smaller. The second bathroom is furnished with a bathtub, which is the same size as that found in the master bathroom. The bathtub in this bathroom also functions as a shower area as a walk-in shower stall is absent in this bathroom. There is an also a single sink countertop in this bathroom, however, this is smaller than that found in the master bathroom. The toilet in the second bathroom is found next to the sink area.

Ageing Suite

The suite screams of the need for a major renovation. The suite that I was assigned comes with fixtures that are broken and air-conditioning that is not functioning well.

Breakfast

Breakfast for guests staying in the 2-bedroom apartment suite is served at the Living Space, which caters to guests staying in the resident tower. The restaurant is located on the 10th floor in the building and is next to the swimming pool. One would find a good mix of local as well as western options for breakfast. The egg station is located outside the main restaurant area. The food is quite good and sufficient to fill one’s stomach. A small part of the menu for breakfast varies from day to day.

Swimming Pool

The swimming pool at Pullman Kuala Lumpur City Centre is located on level 10 of the hotel. The single swimming pool is separated into three parts, with a small shallower area catering for children and a large, deeper area for adults to do some decent laps in it.
A smaller round pool between the children and the adult pool is where one can find the jacuzzi pool.

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Swimming pool at Pullman Kuala Lumpur City Centre

Gym

There is a small gym located on the 10th floor of Pullman Kuala Lumpur City Centre. Access to the gym is via the keycard to the room. The gym comprises two areas, one area for guests to do their yoga pilates. An area further into the gym area is equipped with some gym machines such as treadmills and weight machines that guests can do some simple work out. The gym in Pullman Kuala Lumpur City Centre is quite simply equipped.

Children’s Club

The hotel has a Children’s Club located next to the gym, which is essentially a huge play area for children and young adults. The children’s club has an indoor playground as well as some computer for LAN gaming and console games such as Xbox and PS to keep children entertained during their stay at the hotel. There is even a movie screen area where guests can borrow movies from the manned counter to watch with their friends or children.

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Children’s Club is equipped with entertainment options for kids and young adults

Service

Service rendered in Pullman Kuala Lumpur City Centre is generally good. Staffs are welcoming at the point of check-in. There are even staffs at the reception area that are deployed to assist guests in check-in and check-out. The porters at the main door to the hotel are very friendly and would always be there to open doors for guests. I called the housekeeping to request for additional bath amenities and my requests were met with speed and efficiency. The amenities that I requested for were delivered to my suite within minutes of hanging up the phone. The staffs at Living Space where breakfast for residence guests is served are very friendly. The lady at the front of the house was always seen with a smile and promptly brought us to our table. Plates were cleared promptly by the staff in the restaurant and food was constantly topped up during the first day when I headed the Living Space for breakfast, However, there seems to be a lack of staff around the Living Space on the second day. This has resulted in plates not cleared and food not topped up.

Overall

Pullman Kuala Lumpur City Centre is very well located with tons of shopping around the hotel. The suite I was assigned is very spacious and is well equipped even for a long-term stay. The suite seems dated and fixtures are falling apart. The sleep quality on the bed is decent, but the pillow is too soft for my liking. Service is generally quite good in the hotel where staffs can generally be spotted smiling whenever guests walk past.

[Accommodation Review] – Grande Centre Point Ploenchit (2 Bedroom Suite), Bangkok, Thailand (27 Sep – 1 Oct 18)

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Hotel Signage

Location

Grande Centre Point Ploenchit is very centrally located, very near to central shopping malls such as Central World and Siam Paragon in Central Bangkok. The hotel is located on the main street of Wireless Road and is a mere 5 mins walk away from Ploenchit BTS Station. Ploenchit BTS Station is two stops away from Siam Station where Siam Paragon and Siam Square is located, as well as two stops away from Asok Station, which is where Terminal 21 Shopping Mall is located. Nearer to the hotel is the newly opened upscale Central Embassy shopping mall, situated opposite Grande Centre Point Ploenchit. A 2-bedroom suite in Grande Centre Point Ploenchit and its relatively central location is a reason why I chose to stay at this hotel, I paid under S$1,200 for a three-night stay that comes bundled with daily breakfast for four guests. This provides very good value in staying in Grande Centre Point Ploenchit.

The Suite

The 2-bedroom suite has a total floor area of 96m². which modern Thai architecture resonating throughout the entire suite. White is the main colour with a touch of earthy brown, making the suite looks refreshing and clean.

Kitchenette

As soon as one enters the suite, the kitchenette is immediate to the left of the entrance. The space allocated to the open kitchenette is not big, however, it has all the amenities that allow guests to cook a simple meal. A full-size fridge that comes with 8 bottles of water and a can of coke, as well as a packet of fruit juice, is replenished every day in the fridge with compliments of the hotel. Next to the fridge, tucked nicely into the table top, is where one can find a 2-in-1 washer cum dryer. There is a sink as well as a single induction stove located next to it. Other kitchen appliances such as microwave oven and electric kettle are also found in the kitchenette. The kitchenette is also stocked with a complete set of dinnerware sets and cutlery for four persons. A small dining table, capable of sitting four adults comfortably is also found in the kitchenette. This dining table separates the kitchenette area from the living room area.

Living Room

The living room in the 2-bedroom suite of Grande Centre Point Ploenchit is located a little into the room from the entrance. The living room is decked in white with hues of brown that makes the living room look clean and cosy. The space allocated to the living room isn’t really that big, however, it is large enough for the occupants to hang around and interact. The living room is furnished with a 3-seater couch, placed by the wall and a single seat armchair. A coffee table is placed in the centre of the room. Opposite the couch is a large LED TV mounted on the wall. There is a table that runs along the wall where the TV is mounted. This table serves as a great place for us to put our shopping onto. The entire suite is equipped with power outlets that accept international plugs, there are four power outlets in the living room alone. I do find the living room a tad dark at one corner at night, due to the placement of the lighting. However, the living room is well lighted in most parts. The air conditioning in the living room seems to be malfunctioning. Most of the time the living room feels warm, as though the aircon is not working. We contacted front desk a few times to get it rectified, however, the problem seems to persist throughout our stay at Grande Centre Point Ploenchit.

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Living Room

Balcony

The balcony in this 2-bedroom suite is located at the furthest end of the room, right after the living room and is quite large. It runs the entire width of the suite, up to the second bedroom. A single wooden chair and a small coffee table are placed in the balcony, which makes it a great place to hang out and relax by. The view of Bangkok from the balcony is superb.

The Bedrooms

Master Bedroom

The entrance to the Master Bedroom in this 2-bedroom suite in Grande Centre Point Ploenchit is found after the dining table in the kitchenette area. Entering the Master Bedroom, one will find the entrance to the toilet to the left. As one walk past the wardrobe, tucked into the right side of the wall, the room opens up to a spacious sleeping area. The furnishing of the Master Bedroom is a tad weird. Instead of having a standard king bed, twin beds are found in the Master Bedroom. The hotel can configure the bedding in the room to the king bed (by simply pushing both beds together. The colour theme in the Master Bedroom is predominantly earthy, giving the room a very comfortable feel. The sleep quality on the bed is excellent as I was able to get a great night sleep every night. The pillows are of the right firmness for me (I will not be able to sleep on soft or flat pillows). On either side of the bed are a couple of side tables, where I found a couple of power outlets to charge my electronic devices. Other than the bedside lamps, there are reading lights mounted on the wall where the beds are placed. The large picture of a river in Thailand adds some Thai flare into the room. However, I find the distance between the bed and the bedside table a tad far when both beds are pushed together to form a king bed. Opposite the bed, mounted onto the wall is a LED TV. An open ledge and cabinets are found beneath the TV, which provides guests with more storage space. There is no other furniture such are writing desk in the Master Bedroom. Instead of using curtains, Grande Centre Point Ploenchit installed wooden blinds in the Master Bedroom, which is equally effective in blocking out sunlight.

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Bedding in the master bedroom

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TV and cabinet in master bedroom

There is only one wardrobe found in the Master Bedroom located beside the TV. which I find weird given that there are two wardrobes in the second bedroom. The wardrobe size is not large and I can only hang a limited amount of clothing. The presence of a two-tier cabinet inside the wardrobe does create additional space for guests to stow some more clothing. The only in-room safe is found inside the wardrobe in the Master Bedroom.

Second Bedroom

The entrance to the Second Bedroom is located next to the balcony doors. There is also an en-suite bathroom inside the Second Bedroom. Compared to the Master Bedroom, the Second Bedroom is a lot smaller, however, it feels cosier. The second bedroom is also decked out in earthy colours with white walls, giving the bedroom a cosy feel. The Second Bedroom is furnished with Queen size bed, with bedside tables on each side of the bed. Similar to the Master Bedroom, there are lamps and reading lights mounted onto the wall on each side of the bed. Power outlets are also found on the wall by the bedside tables on both sides. Opposite the bed is where a TV is found mounted on the wall. Beneath the TV is a small work desk.

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Queen size bed in the second bedroom

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TV and a small desk in the second bedroom

Unlike the Master Bedroom, there are two wardrobes in the Second Bedroom. The wardrobes are located next to the work desk and stretch to the entrance of the Second Bedroom. Despite having two wardrobes, only one and a half wardrobe space can be used by guests staying in this bedroom. The full wardrobe, located next to the work desk, is similar to that found in the Master Bedroom, which also comes with a two-tier cabinet space. The other wardrobe, by the entrance to the Second Bedroom, only have half the space allocated for clothing storage. There is also a two-tier cabinet inside this wardrobe. The other half of this wardrobe is where one can find the only iron and ironing board in this 2-bedroom suite as well two umbrellas.

Bathrooms

Master Bathroom

There are two bathrooms in the 2-bedroom suite at Grande Centre Point Ploenchit. The bathroom in the Master Bedroom is the larger of the two bathrooms. Decked in brown tiles and dark flooring, the bathroom feels a tad old school and is a glaring contrast compared to the rest of the suite. The Master bathroom is designed with the bathing area on the left and sink/toilet area on the right. Immediately after the door, a walk-in shower stall enclosed in glass panels is the first thing that greets guests. Further into the bathroom, on the left side is where the bathtub is located. The sink area is situated on the right side of the bathroom, opposite the shower stall. The sink area is large enough for both occupants of the Master Bedroom to stow their toiletries. Next to the sink area is the toilet, which comes with bidet function. Grande Centre Point Ploenchit provides its guests will full bath amenities including toothbrushes, which some hotels in Bangkok does not provide. However I find the quality of the shampoo and shower gel to be a tad poor, the amount provided (30ml bottles) seem to be insufficient for both occupants to utilities in a day.

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Shower stall and the bathtub is found on the left side of the bathroom

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Toilet and sink on the right side of the bathroom

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Bathroom Amenities

Second Bathroom

The Second bathroom is slightly smaller than the Master bathroom. This bathroom is also decked in the same colour scheme as with the Master bathroom. There are two entrances to the Second bathroom, one from the Second bedroom and one from the living room. I guess this design is to allow the suite’s occupants’ guests to use without accessing into either bedroom. The Second bathroom is also designed with the bathing area on one side and the sink/toilet area on the opposite side. There is no walk-in shower stall in this bathroom, guests using this bathroom would have to take their shower in the bathtub, where the shower head is mounted at a higher height compared to the one in the Master bathroom. The sink area in the Second bathroom is also a tad smaller compared to that in the Master bathroom. The toilet in this bathroom also comes with bidet function.

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The Second bathroom is smaller and is accessible from the living room

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Bathtub in the second bathroom

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Bathroom amenities

Breakfast

Breakfast is served at BlueSpice Restaurant, the only restaurant in Grande Centre Point Ploenchit. BlueSpice restaurant is located on the ground floor next to the reception. Guests are treated to a mix of Asian and Western cuisine for breakfast. There is also Thai food included in the buffet breakfast. The food served is delicious and I especially like the mango sticky rice, which is served at a limited quantity daily. The mango served was juicy and sweet. There is also an egg station where it is prepared ala-minute. The breakfast menu is adjusted slightly daily so that guests will not get bored with the food.

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Breakfast in Grande Centre Point Ploenchit

Swimming Pool

Swimming Pool in Grande Centre Point Ploenchit is located on the second floor of the hotel. The main pool is large enough for guests to swim some decent laps in. The pool is a great place for guests who want to suntan as the deck chairs are not obstructed by trees or tall buildings. Other than the main pool, there is also a wading pool in the sheltered area of the pool area for children as well as a Jacuzzi pool.

Gym

Grande Centre Point Ploenchit has a small gym, located next to the swimming pool area. The gym is a tad small and is split into two separate rooms. The first room consists of weights, where one can find some decent weight equipment. The other room is where guests can do some running on the treadmills on or do some cycling on the stationary bike.

Service

The service rendered by the staff in Grande Centre Point Ploenchit is excellent. We were greeted with smiles wherever we go in the hotel. The great service started the moment we alighted our cab, where the porters readily received us and helped us with our luggage. The staffs at the reception welcomed us with a smile and processed our check-in swiftly. I approached one of the staffs at the reception regarding the aircon issue in the living room of my suite, the staff took note and the problem was resolved when we returned to our suite. The staff at the reception were seen wearing a smile every time. The staffs at BlueSpice restaurant were great too. We were always welcomed with a smile every day we patron the restaurant for breakfast. The diligent restaurant staff were seen patrolling the dining floor and ensured that no empty plates where left uncleared. The food was constantly replenished by the staff who checks the quantity level of the food on a regular basis. Even the housekeeping staff made us feel welcome. We bumped into them a few times and these heroines behind the scene will always smile and greet us. They did a fantastic job in keeping our suite clean.

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Complimentary refreshments in the hotel lobby

Overall

Grande Centre Point Ploenchit offers excellent value for money for the suite and the location it is in. Despite not being right smack centre of Bangkok, it is close enough to the city centre where all the buzz is. Being situated in this area of Bangkok does bring some tranquillity in busy Bangkok. The hotel is very close to BTS station, which makes it very accessible to other parts of Bangkok. The room is nicely decorated with modern Thai theme and is very clean. The sleep quality on the bed is excellent, provided me and my friends with excellent sleep quality. The staffs throughout the hotel made us feel welcome and are always seen with a smile. I had an excellent and comfortable stay in Grande Centre Point Ploenchit.

[Accommodation Review] – The Nibbana Villas (4 Bedroom Private Pool Villa), Bali, Indonesia (8 – 11 Aug 18)

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The private pool and the gazebo in the villa

Location

The Nibbana Villas is located in Seminyak area, an upscale and less crowded part of Bali, north of Kuta. The location of The Nibbana Villas is a tad far from Seminyak town centre, approximately 20 mins walk to Seminyak Square. However, the villa is within 5 mins walk to Bintang Supermarket, where a night market full of local food is located. Seminyak is also where most of the villas in Bali are located, mostly comes with their own private pool. The Nibbana Villas seem to share the same facilities as Jineng Villas. Visitors who might have difficulty communicating with their taxi drivers can quote the address for Jineng Villas. There is a small 24-hour convenient store across the road where The Nibbana Villas is located.

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The walkway to our villa

The Villa

We booked a 3 bedroom villa, however, we were surprised to know that we were given a 4 bedroom villa upon our arrival. Since we paid for 3 bedrooms, the staff welcoming us during our arrival informed us that the 4th bedroom, located on the second floor will be locked. However, he is kind enough to let us view the 4th bedroom in the villa, which is slightly smaller than those rooms on the ground floor.

Garden and Pool Area

The villa that we booked comes with a private swimming pool. Walking through the 2-panel wooden door that serves as the main entrance to the villa premises, we arrived at the outdoor area of the villa. From the entrance, it is apparent that the villa is designed with the private pool as the centrepiece in mind. The building structures of the villa are built surrounding the swimming pool. There is a large gazebo placed near at one end of the swimming pool, near to the main entrance to the villa. This gazebo is a perfect place for those who are not swimming to relax in. The private swimming pool in the villa is quite big, occupying almost the entire real estate of the villa, with a few trees planted on either side of the pool. The size of the pool is perfect for its occupants to get a good swim or just to chill out when the day in Bali gets hot. There are a few pool size deck chairs placed around the pool for guests to rest onto while not swimming.

Living Room

The living room is the first room that is near to the main entrance of the villa. The entire living room is air-conditioned, which is a feature I wanted when looking for a villa for my stay in Bali. My previous experience in Bali was met with a war with mosquitoes, hence an enclosed living room for my friends and me to chill out becomes one of the factors when scouting for an accommodation for our trip to Bali. The size of the living room is excellent for us to chill in. The decor of the living is modern, yet comes with a touch of Balinese in the feature wall with the Balinese wood carving. A 3-seater couch together with 2 single seat armchairs (large enough to squeeze 2 persons on) forms the centrepiece of the living room. In front of the 3-seater couch is a coffee table large enough for us to play card games on and to put our snacks on. Tucked by the wall, in front of the couch is a TV console where the cable TV, as well as some books, is placed. The only hairdryer in the entire villa is stored in one of the cabinets in the TV console. There are a couple of chairs and a small side table placed behind the 3-seater couch by the wall, which provided additional seating space for the occupants of the villa. The living room has powerful air-conditioning provided great cooling for the occupants of the villa.

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Living room in the villa

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There are more chairs in the living room to chill out

The Bedrooms

The bedrooms in the villa are identical, except for the placement of the furniture inside the bedrooms. The decor of the bedroom is simple and the lighting in these rooms are bright. The villa uses yellow lighting in the bedroom which gives out a cosy and comfortable feel to the bedrooms. The air-conditioning in all the bedrooms are powerful enough to cool the room within a short period of time. The sleep quality on the king beds is excellent. My friends and I were able to get quality sleep on the beds.

Bedroom #1

This bedroom is linked to the living room with a wooden door separating the rooms. There is another door that faces the swimming pool where guests can gain access into the room. As we enter this bedroom, a king size bed that is placed in the centre of the bedroom caught our attention. The king bed is placed facing the main entrance to this room.  Bedside tables are placed on either side of the bed, each decked with a bedside lamp and power outlet, providing convenience for guests to charge their lifestyle devices and to put small items onto. Behind the king bed is where the dressing tables with a large mirror tucked by the wall at the corner with the exception of one of the bedrooms where the dressing tables are placed beside the bed. A large wardrobe with a safe is placed between the 2 dressing tables. I like the clever use of a headboard in this room as it divides the bedroom into 2 areas and allows access to the wardrobe behind as well as the dressing table. Hangers are provided inside the wardrobe. Despite being able to store a large quantity of clothing, however, there are no hanging racks inside the wardrobes. A TV, facing the bed, is mounted on the right corner of the room next to the entrance to the room. An armchair placed below the TV for guests to relax.

Bedroom #2

Bedroom #2 is located next to the kitchen and dining area. Unlike bedroom #1, the king bed is placed by the wall facing the bathroom as we enter this bedroom. Similar to bedroom #1, bedside tables are placed on either side of the bed, each with a bedside lamp and power outlet for guests to charge their lifestyle devices and to put small items onto.  The dressing tables with a large mirror tucked by the wall at the corner with the large wardrobe are placed beside the bed. Similar to bedroom #1, a safe is placed between the 2 dressing tables. Hangers are also found inside the wardrobe. The TV in the room is mounted on the left corner of this room, between the main entrance to the room and the bathroom. Similarly, the armchair for guests to relax in is placed under the TV.

Bedroom #3

The decor and placement of this bedroom are similar to bedroom #1. Bedroom #3 is the largest of the all the bedrooms. A king size bed, facing the entrance to this bedroom, placed in the centre of this bedroom immediately caught our attention as we enter the room.  Bedside tables are also found on either side of the bed, each with a bedside lamp and power outlet for guests to charge their lifestyle devices and to put small items onto. Similar to bedroom #1, the headboard separates the dressing area and the main resting area in this bedroom. Behind the king bed is where the dressing tables with a large mirror tucked by the wall at the corner. A large wardrobe with a safe is placed between the 2 dressing tables. Hangers are also found inside the wardrobe, but there are no hanging racks inside the wardrobes. We had to hang our clothes on the handle of the wardrobe. The wardrobe is large enough to store a substantial amount of clothing. The TV mounted on the wall to the left corner of the room and faces the king bed similar to the other 2 bedrooms. The armchair in this bedroom is placed in the right corner of the bedroom.

The Bathrooms

All of the bedrooms in The Nibbana Villas comes with an ensuite bathroom. The bathrooms in all the bedrooms are identical, with the only difference being the orientation of the facilities in each bathroom. The bathroom in all 3 bedrooms are bright and clean and is rather large in terms of the size. In all 3 bathrooms, the sink area is placed next to the entrance to the bathroom. The sink area is rather sizable with sufficient space for 2 persons to place their personal toiletries. On one side of the sink, one can find a power outlet mainly to charge electric shavers. The sink is placed in the centre of the sink area with a mirror hanging on the wall above it. In the centre of the bathroom is a large bathtub with Jacuzzi function. The tub is clean when we check in and the Jacuzzi function works very well. There is a walk-in shower next to the bathtub that has both a rain shower and a regular shower head. In front of the walk-in shower, next to the entrance of the bathroom is where one will find the toilet. The villa does not provide a full set of bath amenities, soap is provided instead of shower gel. However, toothbrushes are provided in The Nibbana Villas (some hotels do not provide toothbrush).

The Kitchen and Dining Room

Located between the rooms and in front of the swimming pool is where one finds the kitchen and the dining room. The villa uses an open concept for the kitchen and the dining room, likely to cater for cooking needs in the villa. Tucked by the wall of this area is a small kitchenette, fully equipped with 2 stoves, microwave oven, toaster and an electric kettle, allowing its occupants to do some simple cooking. This is also where the staffs of the villa come in every morning to prepare the breakfast that is included in the price of the villa. Along the same kitchen bench is a sink where one can wash their plates in. The villa is also fully stocked with plates and cutlery, sufficient for 8 occupants, to enjoy a decent meal in. There is a water dispenser, capable of dispensing hot (sufficient to make a hot cup of coffee), cold and room temperature water. I find this water dispenser very functional and saves us time to boil water. Next to the water dispenser is where a large fridge is located. The dining table is placed in front of the kitchen area, which is large enough to seat 6 comfortably. This is where the staff would serve breakfast every morning. There is a small stand-alone toilet beside the kitchen and dining area, which is very functional for the villa’s occupants.

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The kitchen in the villa is fully equipped

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Dining table with the fridge and water dispenser in the background

Service

The service we received at The Nibbana Villas is nothing short of excellence. The great service started with the booking. As I booked the villa through a third party website and asked some questions regarding the booking. I was surprised to have received responses from the villa management. The reply was very prompt and the staff relentlessly answered all my queries. When I arrived in Bali, I received WhatsApp messages from the villa informing me that they took note of my arrival time and that the villa was ready waiting for our arrival at the villa. I was also given directions and the exact location of the villa. The staff responding to my WhatsApp messages even told me to give them a call should our driver got lost. I also received text messages from the housekeeping staff to confirm our arrival time. At the villa, we were greeted by a housekeeping staff, who introduced himself to us and showed us around the facilities in the villa. The staff helped us with our luggage, served us welcome drinks and took our order for breakfast the next morning. The same housekeeping staff, came in the next morning to prepare our breakfast and brought together with him another housekeeping staff, who are equally friendly and approachable.

The housekeeping staff are meticulous in cleaning the villa. We would always come back to a clean villa and tidy bedsheets. The housekeeping staff even changed our towels despite us not placing them in the bathtub every day (some hotels will only change towels when they are being placed on the floor or in the bathtub). The housekeeping staff always wore smiles on their faces whenever they bumped into us in the villa. They even helped us with our luggage on our departure date when the front of the villa was flooded. Breakfast is always served on time and the staff would prepare coffee and tea.

Overall

While the location of The Nibbana Villas is not central, my friends and I enjoyed the tranquillity of the surroundings that this location has to offer. Walking to Seminyak Square takes a little longer, but the presence of the nearby Bintang Supermarket more than makes up for the distance. For SGD1,300 for a 3 bedroom private pool villa that comes with breakfast, I thought The Nibbana Villas offer good value. The bedrooms are sizeable and the air-conditioned living room makes a great place for us to gather late at night without worrying about mosquitos. The swimming pool is rather big and the sleep quality on the beds are exceptional. The bathrooms in the villa are bright and clean and the Jacuzzi tubs gave us a relaxing soak. We felt welcomed by the warmth and friendly staffs who are also very helpful. I highly recommend The Nibbana Villas for visitors to Bali.

[Accommodation Review] – Airbnb – Mitz’s Apartment (1-Bedroom Apartment), Osaka, Japan (19 – 26 May 18)

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Facade of Mitz Apartment

When I was planning for my trip to Osaka, I wanted an apartment that has a separate bedroom from the living room which provides space for me to throw my shopping and have sufficient space to do the packing on the night before I depart Osaka. The apartment has to be near to Namba area as this is where I will be taking the train to Kansai International Airport on the day of my departure. Numerous listings on Airbnb around Namba area, but these listings are studio apartments and are very small. I found Mitz’s apartment on Airbnb that fits all my requirements. The price is very reasonable for the location and size of the apartment.

Location

Mitz’s apartment is very well located. It is within 5 mins walk from the nearest subway station, Nippombashi Station, which is 1 stop away from Namba Station. It is also with 3 mins walk from Kuromon Ichiba Market (commonly known as Black Market). There are 2 convenient stores within 2 mins walk from Mitz’s apartment. The apartment is also within 7 mins walk to Dotonbori. Link to Mitz’s apartment can be found here: Mitz’s Apartment Listing on Airbnb.

The Apartment

Porch

The first thing that I come across as we entered the apartment is a small porch where I take off our shoes. It is customary that one takes off one’s shoes before entering any Japanese house. A small cabinet by the wall is where we found in-room slippers and where I can store my shoes as well. There is another cabinet where umbrellas are stored beside the shoe cabinet.

Bathroom

A little further from the porch are the bathroom and the toilet. The toilet is a separate room on the left of the corridor. The toilet is equipped with a wash bidet and has a sink on top of it that saves water. The bathroom is located opposite the toilet, on the right side of the corridor from the porch. The dry area of the bathroom comprises a sink, which Mitz placed a cabinet on top of the sink to create more storage space. Next to the sink is a washing machine. The wet area has a shower head and a bathtub. The bathroom in Mitz’s apartment looked modern and clean. As with most Japanese Bathrooms, Mitz’s bathroom has a heating function which can dry the bathroom in no time.

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Toilet

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Dry Area of the Bathroom

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Wet Area of the Bathroom

Bedroom

Mitz’s apartment has a separate bedroom, which is rare for housing in Osaka at this price point. The bedroom is just next to the toilet. The bedroom is rather small in size, Mitz has placed 2 king size bed in the bedroom, leaving it hardly any space to move around. However, there are 2 doors, one by the kitchen and another by the living room, which makes the bedroom rather accessible. There is a cabinet inside the bedroom, but this cabinet is not usable as the owner has used this as a storage space. The sleep quality on the beds is excellent. I had a great night sleep every night every night. The pillows are not too soft for my liking.

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The bedroom that has 2 king size beds

Kitchen

Further down the corridor from the main entrance to the apartment, opposite the bedroom lies the kitchen. The kitchen is small but is well equipped with stove and a fridge. Mitz has readied some coffee and tea as well as some condiments that we could use.  The kitchen is well stocked with utensils and pots and pans which allows one to cook some simple meal. There are a microwave oven and an electric kettle in the kitchen that we used to make hot water every day.

 

Living Room

Mitz’s apartment has a separate living room, which is fantastic for us to put our shopping and pack on the last day. The living has an L-shaped couch that is capable of sitting up to 5 adults comfortably. There is a sizable coffee table in front of the couch which is very useful in putting out stuff onto. There are also 2 power sockets by the wall near the coffee table, which is perfect to charge our lifestyle devices. As the wardrobe in the bedroom was not usable, we used the living room to store our luggage.

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Living room in Mitz’s apartment

Dining Room

The dining room in Mitz’s apartment is in front of the kitchen and beside the living room. There is a dining table good for 4 pax with 4 chairs placed at the dining table. Mitz is very thoughtful as he has placed a box of tissue as well as a box of wet tissues on the dining table. There is a full-length mirror placed by the wall next to the dining table. A TV is placed at the corner of the dining table, which is visible from the dining table as well as the couch in the living room area. A clothing rack is placed at the other corner of the dining room next to the kitchen.

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Dining Room where the TV is placed

Balcony

There is a balcony in Mitz’s apartment where a small table and 2 chairs are placed. This is an area where we can chill out and take in the sights of this area of Osaka City. There are some clothing racks in the balcony where one can hang their clothes to dry.

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Balcony

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View from the Balcony

The Owner – Mitz

Mitz is a wonderful host. He is very responsive when communicating via the Airbnb app and he always responds to my questions within 1 hour of posting. Mitz is very accommodating towards our timing of checking in. We originally agreed to check in at 6pm, however, due to our travels, I arrived at Mitz apartment at 8pm. Mitz is very patient in waiting for my arrival at his apartment. Mitz is also very helpful in offering suggestions on where I can visit in Osaka as well as the amenities in the vicinity of his apartment during our conversation with him when checking into his apartment. Mitz even left a message on Airbnb app asking how was I doing in Osaka and if there is anything he can help to make our stay comfortable.

Overall

Mitz’s apartment is very well appointed. The location is superb, it is within 3 mins walk to the Black Market, and 5 mins walk to the subway station as well as 10 mins walk to Dotonbori. The apartment is very large for Japanese standards, I particularly like the separated bedroom from the living room, which gave me a lot of space. The bathroom is very modern. Mitz’s apartment is a very value for money for its location and the size. We are very comfortable staying in Mitz’s apartment. Highly recommend for anyone coming to Osaka. Link to Mitz’s apartment can be found here: Mitz’s Apartment Listing on Airbnb.

 

[Accommodation Review] – Ryokan Arima Gyoen (Japanese Room), Kansai, Japan (18 – 19 May 18)

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Hotel Signage

Location

Ryokan Arima Gyoen is located in the centre of Arima-onsen town. It is very convenient in visiting the town and the sights around the town. Ryokan Arima Gyoen is right next to the Taikobashi where the river stream park is located. The hotel is located within 2 mins walk from the bus terminal and the bus stop where we took a bus to Shin-Kobe. The train station is also located around 4 mins walk from the hotel. There are shops around the hotel and the only 7-Eleven shop in Arima-onsen is located right across the hotel. The hotel’s location makes it an ideal spot for exploring Arima-onsen town.

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Ryokan Arima Gyeon is located beside Taikobashi, one of the landmarks in Arima-onsen

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Hotel facade next to Taikobashi

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Ryokan Arima Gyeon entrance

The Room

We booked a night’s stay in the Japanese Style room, which comes with breakfast and dinner. Ryokan Arima Gyeon is a modern Ryokan style hotel.

Porch

Entering the room, we were greeted with the front porch, where we took off our shoes. It is customary for guests to take their shoes off when entering a Japanese style room in the hotel. This area is small but functional. There is a shoe rack tucked by the wall, where the staff helped us placed our shoes inside. We wore the slippers that the hotel provides while going to the Onsen in the hotel. The futon closet is found in this part of the room, where such as the futons and blankets are stored in. As with Japanese style rooms, staffs will come into the room and lay the beddings in the evening.

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Porch and entrance to the room

Bathroom

A little further from the porch is where the bathroom is located. The bathroom is rather small, as with most Japanese Hotel standards. Despite its small size, the bathroom is equipped with a bathtub, a sink and a toilet bowl. The standard amenities such as shampoo, conditioner, body wash and hand soap are placed neatly on the sink countertop. However, no toothbrushes are being provided. There is a rack for hanging towels outside the bathroom.

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The bathroom is a tad small but functional

Sleeping Area

A wooden sliding door separates the porch from the sleeping area. The main part of the room doubles up as a lounge area in the day and a sleeping area in the night. To the left from the sliding door, a small table top where the TV and phone are being placed on. There is a 2-panel cabinet at the bottom of this table top. This area is where the hot flask is also located. I find the placement of the TV here a tad off as we were not able to watch the TV when the futons are being laid on the tatami mats. Tucked by the wall along the length of the room until the balcony area is the tokonoma or an alcove where a vase and a painting is placed on to. Between the TV console and the tokonoma is a small area which has sufficient space for us to stow our luggage. As it was still daytime at the time of our checking in, there is 2 knee height coffee table placed in the centre of the sleeping area. 2 legless chairs are being placed on either side of the tables. There are the tea set and snacks placed on this table at the time of our arrival. The sleep quality on the futons is superb. We were able to get a good night sleep on these futons. The pillows are not too soft for my liking.

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The lounging cum sleeping area

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TV console

Balcony

Furthest away from the entrance to the room is a small area. There is another wooden sliding door that separates this area from the sleeping area. Here is where we find a small bar fridge and a couple of armchairs, together with a small coffee table. The closet in the room is also placed here, where we found yukatas as well as the towels. A safe box is hidden inside this closet. A glass door separates this lounge area from the balcony.

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The balcony area

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The fridge is located in the balcony area

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The wardrobe is located in the balcony area and is a tad small

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View of Arima-onsen from the balcony

The Onsen

Ryokan Arima Gyoen has its own onsen, though not very big. Located on the 7th floor, the onsen is in the main building. The onsen is separated by sex and has a small Kinsen and a large Ginsen in the enclosed space. There is an outdoor Ginsen next to the changing room. The changing room has amenities such as body lotion, shavers, combs and cotton buds.

Dining

Dinner

The plan we booked came with dinner and breakfast. The Japanese dinner was served in our room where the staff would show up at the arranged time to set up for dinner. The dinner consists of multiple courses that included sashimi, hot pot and rice to name a few. The dinner was delicious and the sashimi tasted very fresh. From time to time, the hotel staff would come into our room to clear the empty plates and served up the next dish. We were very full after having the dinner.

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Dinner being set up

Breakfast

Breakfast was served in the dining rooms in the annexe building. The breakfast served was Japanese style where we were given rice with fish to grill on amongst other food. I am not very used to the Japanese style breakfast, despite they are delicious.

Service

The service in the hotel is superb. We experienced Japanese hospitality throughout our stay in the hotel. Staffs welcomed us the moment we step into the hotel. The hotel has strict check-in timing hence we were not able to check-in early. However, the staff was happy to look after our luggage while we explored Arima-onsen. The staffs were always wearing their smiles whenever we walk past them or approach them. When we returned later in the afternoon to get our keys, we were surprised that our luggage has already been placed in our room. The staffs were very attentive and would somehow know when to appear, especially during meal time. During dinner, the staff would appear on the dot as we were finishing up our meal and present the next course. After the meal, the staff promptly moved everything to one side and set up the futons in under 10 mins. During breakfast, the staff would sit by the side after bringing us to our table and noticed that our rice bowls were empty and offered to top up the rice without us even asking. Even the cleaning staff in the public area smile and greeted us whenever we bumped into them. The staff at the lobby even gave us sound advice on what to see in Arima-onsen and were never stingy in offering information.

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A staff of the hotel set up for dinner

Overall

Ryokan Arima Gyoen is located in the centre of town and is a good base to explore Arima-onsen. The room is very well laid out and the sleep quality is very good on the futons. The service we had received at the hotel is nothing short of excellence, every staff in the hotel made us feel welcome. I would come back here to stay the next time I visit Arima-onsen.

[Accommodation Review] – Dusit D2 (Studio Suite), Chiang Mai, Thailand​ (9 – 12 Nov 17)

Location

Dusit D2 Chiang Mai is located just outside the East of the Old City of Chiang Mai, within 15 min walk to the eastern Tha Phae Gate. The hotel’s location is nearby 2 night markets in the vicinity. Dusit D2 Chiang Mai is 2 min walk from the Night Bazaar and 5 min walk from the Night Market. It is 10 min away from the Ping River. However, the hotel is rather far from shopping malls in the city such as Maya Lifestyle Shopping Mall and Central Festival Chiang Mai. One point to note, Central Festival Chiang Mai offers shuttle bus service that stops by Dusit D2 Chiang Mai at scheduled timing.
Dusit D2 Chiang Mai Signage
Hotel Facade
Dusit D2 Chiang Mai Reception

The Suite

There are 2 types of suites in Dusit D2 Chiang Mai, namely Studio Suite and the larger D’Suite. I stayed in the Studio Suite which has a total room size of  64㎡ . The Studio Suite in Dusit D2 Chiang Mai has 3 sections to the suite, namely Living Room, Bedroom, and Bathroom.

Living Room

Entering the suite in Dusit D2 Chiang Mai, the minibar is hidden in the wooden cabinet to the right of the main entrance. Here is where one would find the mini fridge, electric kettle and glasses. Opposite the minibar, a door leads to the walk-in wardrobe, which is also linked to the bathroom (more about the walk-in wardrobe later). Further into the little corridor from the main entrance, the suite opens up to a spacious living room. The decoration in the living room is contemporary yet exudes a Thai flavour,. The choice of colour in the suite is also in line with the familiar bright orange we have seen in the hotel lobby, extending the vibrant and energetic spirit into the suite. The furnishings in the living are stylish yet functional. A large work desk, tucked into the wall of the living room on the right side, extends from the hidden minibar to the midpoint in the living room. This large work desk serves as an alternate space for me to put my things onto. There are a few power sockets on the wall, which makes it an excellent place to work and to charge my lifestyle devices.

Entrance to Dusit D2 Chiang Mai Studio Suite
Mini bar is tucked inside the cabinet next to the main entrance to the suite
Work desk with plenty of space

A small table built into the wall next to the work desk functions as extra space which is perfect for me to place my shopping. A curved couch, capable of sitting 4 persons wraps around the corner of the living room all the way to the wall separating the living room from the bedroom. At the end of the couch is where one would find complimentary beverages such as coffee, tea and bottled water with a coffee machine nicely tucked in the corner of the living room. A couple of wall lights on either side of the wall, in front of the large panel window that looks out into Doi Suthep, provides additional lighting in the living room of the suite. Across the curved couch is a large LED TV mounted onto the angled wall, which is perfectly angled for watching TV. A small glass top coffee table is placed between the TV and the couch. There is a single seat orange couch chair placed at the corner of the living room, providing the additional seat for guests to entertain their guests. The entire living room did not feel cramp and has loads of space to move around, as the furniture is arranged flushed to the wall around the living room.

Couch in the living room with a glass top coffee table
Coffee and tea area
Living room in Dusit D2 Chiang Mai Studio Suite
TV in the living room
View of Doi Suthep from the suite

Bedroom

A large wooden sliding door serves as the entrance to the bedroom from the living room. The bedroom is also heavily decorated with a Thai theme, together with the bright orange colour theme that is seen throughout Dusit D2 Chiang Mai. The bedroom feels cosy due to the colour scheme used and the lighting, making the entire bedroom feels very comfortable visually. Entering the bedroom, a wooden-framed king bed sits in the centre of the room. The height of the bed is a tad high, nonetheless, the sleep quality is excellent on the bed. However, I find the pillows too soft to my liking. On either side of the bed are bedside tables, but only the table nearer to the window has power sockets. Tucked by the large window panel on the right side of the bed is a couch, perfect for watching the TV in the bedroom or just for relaxing and enjoy the views of the mountain from the bedroom. Opposite the king bed, mounted on the wall, is a small TV. Despite the placement of this TV is a little off, guests are still able to watch the TV from the comforts of the king bed.

King bed in bedroom
One of the bedside table in the bedroom
Couch inside the bedroom
Couch and a small TV in the bedroom

Bathroom

Dusit D2 Chiang Mai Studio Suite has a large bathroom. The bathroom is accessible from the bedroom and the living room. Entering the bathroom from the bedroom, a shower cubicle sits opposite the door. Only regular shower head is found in the shower cubicle, however, the pressure from the shower head is great. The sink is located next to the shower cubicle where one can find ample space to put additional toiletries on the sink countertop. To the right of the sink, tucked into the corner of the bathroom is where the toilet is located. Opposite the sink, next to the large panel window that looks out into the bedroom is the bathtub. The bathtub seems to be tucked in a corner, making getting in and out of the bathtub difficult. I appreciate the window panel as it allows guests to watch TV from the bathtub. The sound from the TV in the bedroom is also piped into the bathroom, making it ideal to watch TV while relaxing in the bathtub. Dusit D2 Chiang Mai provides their house brand bath amenities, which is both of good quality and feels luxurious.
Shower cubicle in the bathroom
Sink in the bathroom
The toilet is located beside the sink area
Bathtub is placed next to a large window that looks into the bedroom
Bathroom amenities
Dusit D2 uses their in-house brand bath amenities which feels luxurious
Bathroom Amenities

Walk-in Wardrobe

The walk-in wardrobe is found in between the bathroom and the living room. Dusit D2 Chiang Mai employs an open concept for their walk-in wardrobe. Other than the 2 doors accessing the wardrobe, there are no wardrobe doors. The wardrobe space is large, allowing guests to change up after their shower. Next to the door to the bathroom, is where a 3 tiered drawer is located. These drawers provided additional storage space for small personal items. On top of the drawer is the in-room safe. A large ledge for guests to put their luggage on is located opposite the wardrobe.

Walk-in wardrobe where we stow our luggage
Wardrobe in the suite
There are places to put one’s luggage in the walk-in wardrobe

Club Lounge

The Club Lounge in Dusit D2 Chiang Mai is located on level 7 of the hotel. There are armchairs for smaller groups and several dining tables capable of sitting up to 6 guests for larger groups. Guests staying in Club rooms and suites can check in and out from the Club Lounge. Guests can walk in during the opening hours for complimentary drinks. Hors-d’oeuvre are served every evening in the Club lounge, where guests staying a club room and suites in Dusit D2 Chiang Mai can enjoy. The selection for Hors-d’oevure in the Club Lounge is, however, limited.

Sitting area in the club lounge
Hors d’oevure served in the evening

Swimming Pool

The swimming pool in Dusit D2 Chiang Mai is located on level 1M. The freeform swimming pool is a little small but is still capable of letting guests to swim a few laps in. There is a limited number of suntan chairs at the pool area.

The free-form swimming pool is rather small

Gym

D:Fit is the gym in Dusit D2 Chiang Mai. The gym is located on the 10th floor of the hotel, with the entire floor dedicated to the gym. There are the standard treadmills and elliptical machines in the gym. which allows guests to do a decent workout. There are also some weight machines in the gym. There is a steam room inside the toilet in the gym.

Entrance to D:Fit, the gym in the Dusit D2 Chiang Mai
Gym in Dusit D2 Chiang Mai
The gym is well equipped with exercise machines
Weight area in the gym

Soi Cafe

The package that we booked includes breakfast and dinner. Both meals are served in Soi Cafe, located on the ground floor, next to the lift lobby in Dusit D2 Chiang Mai. Similar to many hotels, buffet breakfast was served in Dusit D2 Chiang Mai. Breakfast includes both oriental and western options, such as porridge, salad, bread to name a few. There is also a small selection of Thai food available during breakfast. There is a hot counter which prepares eggs, chicken noodles, pancakes and waffles that are prepared a la minute. Food on offer during breakfast is fresh and delicious. There are some variations in the breakfast served daily.

Soi Cafe signage
Cold bar in Soi Cafe during breakfast
There are cooked food which changes every day during breakfast
Cooking station where noodles and eggs are cooked a la minute

Dinner was served in Soi Cafe as well. During our first night there, we were given options of Thai cuisine (fish in black pepper sauce) and western cuisine (chicken steak). We opted for the Thai cuisine. The food was delicious and flavourful. During the subsequent 2 nights, instead of set dinner, Dusit D2 Chiang Mai offered us seafood buffet dinner. There was a good spread of food during dinner service. Cold dishes are placed in the centre of the restaurant, with options such as sea snails, cockles, cold soba shots and salads made available to guests. There is a section where guests can choose from a range of raw meats such as pork, pork ribs, chicken, salmon and dory fish, where the chefs will barbecue for guests. There are also cooked sections with fried rice, noodles, pizza available. As with breakfast, there is a minor variation during dinner service to the cooked food. The food on offer was delicious, with the right amount of flavouring to them.

Thai set dinner that we had on the first night
Cooked food served during buffet dinner
Cold bar during dinner where calms and sea snails are served on top of many other dishes
Barbecue station with numerous options
Cooked food options
Cooked food options
Pizzas as part of the buffet dinner
Desserts are tasty

Service

The service we received in Dusit D2 Chiang Mai is impeccable. Every staff who we came across displayed the nature of the Thais that we have all came to know about, hospitable and warm. They seem to go all out to ensure we feel comfortable in Dusit D2 Chiang Mai and our requests are being met with. The excellent service came weeks before we even departed for Chiang Mai when I coordinated with the hotel via email. The reservation supervisor, Panatsaya, was very prompt in her replies and gave us assurance that our requests are being captured. As the package we booked comes with return airport transfer and a vehicle for us to use for 8 hours, Panatsaya was able to quickly coordinated our requests and our flight details to arrange for the drivers to pick us up. During her absence, the coordination continued with her colleagues, Preenan and Pennapa. We were being picked up by the hotel staff the moment we walked out of the restricted area in Chiang Mai airport upon our arrival.

The staff at the main entrance, Young, welcomed us and quickly unloaded our luggage when we reached the hotel. By the time we were done with the check-in procedures and proceeded to our suites, our luggage was already waiting for us in our suites. When Young saw us heading out and helped us hail a taxi. He helped us translate to the cabby on our destination and even ensured that we were not overcharged. Young is always very welcoming and gave us the warmest smile whenever we bumped into him at the entrance to the hotel. Young drove us to the airport during our departure and refused to let us handle our luggage. At the airport, he even took the initiative to help us get trolleys and loaded our luggage onto them.

The staffs at Soi Cafe did a tremendous job in making us feel welcome. Phet showed us to tour table on the first night we had dinner. She was welcoming and made us feel like VIP. We requested for warm water from Phet during our dinner. 2 nights later, we met Phet again at Soi Cafe. After showing us to our table, she asked if we prefer to have warm water. Such observant and taking the extra mile in remembering our preference, despite being 2 days ago goes to show that the level of service rendered by Phet was impeccable. I don’t even remember what I had eaten the night before, let alone expecting Phet to remember our preference for small items such as water. I was pleasantly surprised by Phet.

Poy is another staff working in Soi Cafe in Dusit D2 Chiang Mai. We would see her every morning during breakfast service, standing at the entrance to the restaurant welcoming guests. I am glad to find that we only have to mention our room number on the first day during breakfast and Poy took the effort to remember our room numbers. During subsequent days, Poy did not even asked our room numbers and showed us to our table without delay. As one of the members of our group is a vegetarian due to religious reasons, I requested to Poy if the kitchen was able to prepare some vegetarian meal for my friend. To my surprise, instead of rejecting us, Poy got the kitchen to whip up a vegetarian meal and even checked if my friend like the taste. Subsequent mornings during breakfast, Poy would sit us at a table and quickly went into the kitchen to place the vegetarian meal order without us reminding her. She would never fail to check if the meal was sufficient for my friend.

Puchong is another staff working at Soi Cafe. During one of the dinner service, Puchong showed us around on the food options for the buffet dinner. He recommended us to try out the barbecue ala minute and would help us take our order and brought the cooked food to us. Puchong even took the initiative to bring us some sauces which he had recommended us to try with which food. Indeed, the sauces did make the food taste better (not as though the food is not good enough). Puchong would always check on us and ensured that empty plates are cleared and our water is being topped up.

There are still many unsung heroes, who either work in the background (such as the housekeepers) or whose name I did not manage to get. They made us feel welcomed in Dusit D2 Chiang Mai and portrayed the traits of Thais that the world has come to know of. I have travelled to Thailand many times a year and this is the first time I experienced the warmness and hospitality of the Thai people in Thailand.

 

A very nice touch in Dusit D2 Chiang Mai. The housekeeper would place a different souvenir every day for guests to bring home
Welcome drink served in the bar at Dusit D2 Chiang Mai

Overall

I highly recommend one to come stay in Dusit D2 Chiang Mai should one visits this Northen Thailand City. The Studio Suite in the hotel is very spacious and comfortable. The design of the suite is functional and the infusion of Thai elements and contemporary decor makes the suite feel very cosy. The location of Dusit D2 Chiang Mai is excellent to explore the daily night markets and the rest of Chiang Mai. What left a good impression on us was the impeccable service. Every staff member truly embraced customer-centric and displayed the hospitality and the warmness that the Thais came to be known about. The staffs always saw with a smile and are very welcoming. I would come back to Dusit D2 Chiang Mai the next time I return to the city.

[Accommodation Review] – Hatten Hotel (Hatten Suite), Melaka, Malaysia (30 Sep – 1 Oct 17)

Location

Hatten Hotel is located in the middle of Melaka, where the only shopping malls are located in the town. The hotel sits on top of Hatten Square a shopping mall that is also linked to the rest of the shopping malls. Hatten Hotel is a mere 7 mins walk from Jonker Street and 5 mins walk from St Paul’s Church, making it a great place to explore the foodie scene and the major sights of Melaka.

Hotel Signage

Hotel lobby on the ground floor

The Suite

Hatten Hotel is an all suites hotel, offering minimally a Junior Suite. Guests staying in the Hatten Suite can check-in at the Premier Lounge located on the 12th floor of the hotel. There are no queues at the lounge at the time of my check-in. I checked into the large 74㎡ Hatten Suite, a 1 bedroom suite. The hotel has very limited Hatten Suites, with 1 on each floor a few more on its top level. The Hatten Suite is contemporary and in its decor and feels very comfortable once I entered the suite.

Living Room

Entering the suite, one would come across a toilet before the mini bar area. The toilet has only a sink and toilet bowl, which is perfect for guests to use without having to enter the bedroom. The placement of the minibar area next to the toilet in the living room makes total sense as guests in the suite can obtain water and wash their mugs without having to enter the bedroom.

Main entrance to Hatten Suite in Hatten Hotel. A small plate of welcome fruit consisted of an apple, orange and pear is placed on the ledge by the entrance.

The corridor inside the suite that leads to the living room. The toilet in the living  room is the first door on the right

The toilet in the living room

Mini bar area, located next to the toilet in the living room

Drinks in the fridge are complementary in Hatten Suite

Passing the toilet and the minibar area, the space opens up to the living room. Placed near the wall is a decent sized dark brown wooden dinning table with 2 chairs. One can have a decent meal at the dinning table. Further into the spacious living is where one can find a large comfortable 3 seater couch, facing a 32″ LED TV that is mounted on the wall. A coffee matching coffee table is placed between the couch and the TV. There are 2 single seat chair and a small side table placed at the end of the living room, right in front of the floor to ceiling windows looking out into the town of Melaka. I do find the single seat chairs a great place to relax and do some work in the living room. The entire living room feels very cozy and comfortable.

View of the dinning area in the Hatten Suite

Dinning table in the living room is of a decent size for 2 pax in the suite

The living room feels luxurious and is a very comfortable and cozy place to laze in while not exploring the streets of Melaka

The use of floor to ceiling window allows a great amount of natural light in and also make the living room look bigger

TV in the living room mounted on the wall opposite the couch

View of Melaka from the living room

View of Melaka from the other window in the living room

Bedroom

The door to the bedroom sits between the dinning table and the couch. A huge king size bed sits in the centre of the bedroom greeting guests. The bedroom decor looks simple yet elegant, with the luxurious feel from the headboard of the king bed. The sleep quality on the king bed is excellent, I feel recharged after a night’s shopping. However the bedsheets are badly stained. The worst stain are found on quilt cover that is facing down, where there seem to be blood stains on them that seem to make the quilt cover look unwashed!

The king bed in the bedroom that provided excellent sleep quality

Stains found on the bedsheet of the king bed

There is a patch of red stain on the quilt cover that faces down

Spot stains that look like blood stains found on quilt cover

More stains on the bedsheet

Opposite the king bed is a elongated dressing table, which provided additional space for guests to place their small items on. I find the placement of the mirror on the wall here a little odd as the table lamp was blocking the mirror, meaning guests will find it challenging using the mirror while seated on the chair that is by the table. Another LED TV is mounted beside the mirror, facing the bed. The wardrobe is found at the end of the walkway in the bedroom next to the bathroom door. The wardrobe is of a decent size, sufficient for guests to hang their clothing. There is a 4 tiered cabinet inside the wardrobe as well as an in-room safe.

Dressing table and the TV opposite the king bed

Bedside table and the use of these bedside lamps gives the bedroom a luxurious vibe

Mirror and a stool where I placed my backpack on opposite the entrance to the bedroom

A decent sized wardrobe in the bedroom, next to the entrance to the bathroom

Bathroom

The bathroom of the Hatten Suite is located inside the bedroom. The marble laid bathroom gives it a opulent feel. As soon as I entered the bathroom, a large sink on a elongated sink counter top tucked to the wall of the bathroom was in sight. The clever use of the mirror that fills up the entire length of the wall in the bathroom makes it look larger. Bathroom amenities are being placed by the hotel staff on the right side of the sink counter top. However do check the labels on the bath amenities as I received 2 shampoos and no shower gel. A hug bathtub sits on the left side of the sink area, tucked by the wall of the bathroom. There is a glass (with curtain for privacy) that looks out into the bedroom, which is ideal for guests to watch the TV from the bathtub while getting a soak. On the right side of the sink is a walk-in shower cubicle, that has both a rain shower head and a regular shower head. The shower cubicle in the suite that was assigned to me smelled mouldy, especially when enclosed. The toilet bowl can be found on the right side of the door to the bathroom.

Sink area in the bathroom of Hatten Suite

Bath amenities in Hatten Suite

The bathtub is located beside the sink area

A large bathtub by the window in the bathroom, where guests can soak and watch TV at the same time

Separate walk-in shower cubicle

There are rain shower and regular shower head in the shower cubicle

Toilet bowl is tucked in a corner to the right of the entrance to the bathroom

Premier Lounge

Guests staying in the Hatten Suite can gain access to the Premier Lounge. The Premier Lounge is nested on the 12th floor of Hatten Hotel and faces Melaka Straits. It is a perfect place to chill out and watch sunset over Melaka Straits. The lounge is empty most of the time at the time of my visit, making it a great place to enjoy some quiet time. I did not see any snacks or finger food being placed in the Premier Lounge, however guests can request for coffee or tea, which the staffs will be happy to serve up. Guests staying in the Hatten Suite can opt to check-in at Premier Lounge, which I highly recommend to do so as there are no queues at the time of my check-in.

Premier Lounge is located on the 12th floor in Hatten Hotel

Reception at the Premier Lounge

The Premier Lounge is a great place to chill in and is empty most of the time

Swimming Pool

The swimming pool in Hatten Hotel is located on 12th floor of the hotel. There are 2 pools in Hatten Hotel, the larger deeper pool and a very small wadding pool with a slide for young guests to play in. The larger pool though is of a decent size capable to allowing guests to swim some laps in, however the swimming pool is usually very crowded making swimming laps a challenge. The swimming pool is tad small for the number of guests that the hotel can accommodate. There are also limited amount of furniture in the pool area for guests to even leave their towels around. Nonetheless the infinity swimming pool, sitting on top of the roof gives great view of Melaka at the edge.

Swimming pool view from my suite

View of the pool

Swimming pool in Hatten Hotel

There is a large sauna room in the toilet next to the swimming pool

There is also a steam room beside the sauna in the toilet next to the swimming pool

Gym

The gym is located on the 12th floor of Hatten Hotel, with the entrance located at the side of the swimming pool. The gym is rather small, however it is well equipped with treadmills, elliptical machines and some weight machines which is capable of providing guests with a decent workout. The drawing point of the gym is the floor to ceiling window which the treadmills are placed, providing a stunting view of Melaka and Melaka Straits while guests are jogging on them.

Entrance to the gym is next to the swimming pool
Some of the gym equipment
Gym equipment
Guests can enjoy the stunning view of Melaka and Melaka Straits working out in the treadmills and elliptical machines in the gym

Breakfast

Breakfast is served in the Chatterz restaurant located on 11th floor of the hotel. Chatterz has a large dinning area, capable of hosting a large number of guests dinning at one time. There are a huge variety of local and western food for breakfast. The food served during breakfast is very tasty. Guests staying in the Hatten Suite can also opt to consume their breakfast at the Alto Restaurant, located on the top floor of Hatten Hotel. The number of guests coming up here is far lesser compared to those heading for Chatterz for breakfast. This means guests can enjoy a peaceful breakfast while treated to the view of Melaka. The food options are lesser in Alto compared to those served in Chatterz.

Some of the many food served during breakfast

Some of the many food served during breakfast

Service

Overall the service in Hatten Hotel is good. Most of the time I met with very polite staffs that makes me feel welcome Hatten Hotel. The good service started at the point of my check-in, where I was made welcome by the staff in the Premier lounge processing my check-in. The staff processed my check-in with speed and briefed me on the privileges that I am entitled as a guest in the Hatten Suite. However during my booking of the suite on the hotel website, I indicated that I prefer a high floor suite. This remark seemed to be overlooked by the staff, making me feel if anyone bother to read the comments left by guests during booking. The staff even asked if I made my booking through their website despite showing her the email printout sent by the hotel. Nonetheless, the staff processing my check-in was patient and made me feel welcome to the hotel.

I find the staffs at the reception on the ground floor are very observant. I returned to the hotel late at night and had left my key card in the suite. As I was approaching the reception counter, the 3 staffs were seen talking to each other initially. One of the staffs saw me approaching the reception counter and prompted the other staffs. They were ready to serve me by the time I reached the reception counter.

Reception staffs on the ground floor

The housekeeping staffs were exemplary as well. I called reception to inform them about the stained bedsheets on my bed and it was already past midnight. Despite taking about 30 mins for someone to come to my suite and change the sheet (which is understandable), the housekeeping staffs first apologized for the stain bedsheets and proceeded to change the sheets swiftly so that I can rest sooner.

The good service in Hatten Hotel is smeared by the staffs at Chatterz Restaurant. I encountered what appeared to be racists behaviour from the security staff at the entrance of the restaurant. As I was queuing up for my turn to be shown to a table at the entrance of the restaurant, a group of Caucasian guests were chatting among themselves at the entrance. Instead of asking the Caucasian guests to move to aside to continue their chat, the security staff instructed me (yes in a very rude manner) to form the queue around them. I told the staff that he should have asked the Caucasian guests to move instead of instructing the queue to be formed around them, however this was turned to deaf ears. When I raised my unhappiness to another staff who showed me to my table, she gave me the look of “not my problem”. After settling on my table and grabbed some food, I returned to an empty table. The container of sugar that was on the table was being cleared and there are no cutlery placed on the table. I had to signal a staff member to bring a set of cutlery. Most of the staff inside Chatterz Restaurant are seen to be standing in one corner and chat among themselves. Plates are seen uncleared on the tables around as though they are not interested in doing their job.

Overall

Hatten Hotel is well located in Melaka and is very accessible in the town of Melaka. Hatten Suite in Hatten Hotel is very comfortable room to stay in. The space is large and yet the furnishing does not make the suite look empty. The Suite has a very comfortable vibe. The sleep quality on the bed is excellent. The service is generally good, but the service standards in Chatterz Restaurant is the black sheep that brought the service standards down.

[Accommodation Review] – Holiday Inn Resorts (1 Bedroom Suite), Batam, Indonesia (26 – 27 Aug 17)

I recently received an offer email from Holiday Inn Resorts Batam. The offer is a value for money, which includes ferry tickets for 2 pax, 1 night stay in a 1 bedroom suite with breakfast for 2, a 60-min message in the Tea Tree Spa in the resort grounds and return land transfer from ferry terminal to the resort for the price of SGD240 nett.

Hotel signage at the entrance

Location

Holiday Inn Resorts Batam is located on the western part of the island, in a rather isolated part of Batam. The resort is about 30 mins drive from the shopping district of Nagoya Hill. Other than Waterfront City Ferry Terminal and a sleepy town of Waterfront City, which is just opposite the resort, there are not much happening in the vicinity of Holiday Inn Batam. Patrons can forget about shopping options around the resort. However the Holiday Inn Resort Batam provides complementary shuttle transfers to and from the resort to Nagoya Hill City from 6am till 10 pm daily. The hotel also provides regular shuttle service to the 2 nearby ferry terminals of Waterfront City and Sekupang. These shuttle services are tied to the departure timings of ferries.

Complementary shuttle service from the ferry terminal as well as to Nagoya Hill shopping district
Reception building in Holiday Inn Resorts Batam

The Suite

Dinning Area

As I entered the 60㎡suite, I immediately entered into the dinning area. The dinning area of the suite is simply furnished with a round table with 4 chairs. A small kitchenette, built by the walls of the suite is found behind the table, next to the main entrance of the suite. Rather than calling it a kitchenette, this area serves more like a pantry where one can find an electric kettle and a container where complementary drinks such as coffee, tea and a couple of drinking water welcomed guests. The mini fridge is well hidden inside one of the cabinets here. There are a number of cabinets in the pantry area, however these cabinets are empty, which makes this area seem poorly furnished.

Dinning table in the suite
Sparsely furnished kitchenette
These are the only items found in the kitchenette on top of the mini fridge
Main entrance to the suite and the dinning area

Living Room

Connected to the dinning area further into the suite, is where one will land into the living area. The living area is furnished with a 2 seater couch. A coffee table is placed in front of the couch. Tucked in one corner is where one can find a 32″ LCD TV placed on the TV console. There are no ceiling lightings in the living room, rather it is lighted with a couple of floor lamps, which gave me a warm and cosy feeling in the night with the lights turned on. Similar to the dinning area, the living area is  furnished with very minimal number of furniture, making entertaining guests a tad difficult due to the lack of sitting area. The plus side of having only the essential furniture makes the living room look large.

A cosy 2-seater couch and a coffee table in the living room
The TV is placed in one corner of the living room, next to the entrance to the bedroom

Balcony

Beyond the living room is a small balcony that overlooks the main swimming pool in Holiday Inn Resort Batam. The balcony is furnished with 2 wooden chairs and a wooden table. The balcony is great place to hang out and relax.

Wooden chairs are found in the balcony

Bedroom

Opposite the 2-seater couch in the living room is the entrance to the bedroom. The bedroom is separated from the living room with a 2-panel sliding wooden door. Inside, the bedroom is furnished with a queen size bed, placed by the wall. A couple of bedside tables provides space for guests to place some small items onto. A dressing table is placed in one corner of the bedroom, next to the windows. There is a small table placed next to the bed for guests to put their luggage onto.

The bedroom is fairly large with the Queen bed and side tables
Desk in the bedroom, there are no TV in the bedroom of the suite
Table for guests to put their luggage on is found in the bedroom

Bathroom

Inside the bedroom, one can find a small corridor that leads to the wardrobe. The wooden wardrobe looks worn, but still serves its intended function of allowing guests to hand their clothing onto. The suite that I stayed does not come with bathrobe. Other than places to hand clothing, an in-room safe is also found inside the wardrobe.

The corridor that leads to the wardrobe and the bathroom inside the bedroom of the suite
A rather small wardrobe with in-room safe

The entrance to the bathroom is located next to the wardrobe. The bathroom is rather small for a suite. The toilet bowl seem to cramp beside the bathtub, which is also where guests would take their shower in. There are no separate walk-in shower stalls. Opposite the toilet bowl is where one would find the sink. The sink area provides sufficient space for guests to stow their toiletries. There are no power sockets in the bathroom for guests to charge their shaver. The hotel seem to undergo some form of cost cutting measures. Holiday Inn uses a standard house brand toiletries throughout the world. However during my stay only a single bottle of shampoo is their house brand, the other bath amenities are not that of the Holiday Inn brand amenities.

Bathroom with bathtub. There are no separate walk-in showers
Shower in the bathtub
Sink area in the bathroom

Swimming Pool

The centre piece of Holiday Inn resort is the large free form swimming pool, located in the centre of the resort. The swimming pool is a great place to get a tan or relax by. There are a number of suntan chairs by the pool for guests to tan on. There is also a jacuzzi area by the side of the pool. Beside the swimming pool is another pool area for children. There is a slide and a small river structure to ensure young guests have a great time in.

View of the free form pool from the balcony
Part of the children pool
Swimming pool in the evening

There is another lap pool in the hotel premises. The in-door lap pool is located beside the only Chinese Restaurant, Dragon Inn in the hotel. The pool was still in good condition and is functional during my last stay. However this time round, the pool seem abandoned. Even the towel counter beside the pool is covered with a layer of dust.

The disused and poorly maintained lap pool in the resort premises

Gym

The resort has a functional gym, located behind the blocks where the rooms are. The gym occupies the entire single-level building, and is rather spacious. There are equipment such as treadmills and a weight machine that allows guests to get a decent, but limited workout. The equipment, however looks poorly maintained as there are rusts on the weight machine.

The gym
There are limited equipment in the gym
Some of the equipment in the gym

Tea Tree Spa

Tea Tree Spa is Holiday Inn Resort Batam’s in-house spa facilities. There are numerous spa villas that will be assigned to patrons who come here for a massage. The villas have a Balinese feel to it and one will definitely feel relaxed when entering the spa premises. Walk pass the reception, one would come to a Balinese gateway to enter into the spa premises. A large straw hut Jacuzzi welcomes patrons and hotel guests to soak their tired bodies away. Entering into the spa villa, one is immediately being transported to Bali, a sense of zen and tranquility plus the use of aromatherapy oil during massage, guarantees to wisp whatever fatigue one might have away. After the massage, one would be given options of ginger tea or lemongrass tea to complete the massage session. I always enjoy the top notch spa massages in Tea Tree Spa, the masseuse whom was assigned to me, though petite in size, she applied great strength when giving me the massage, while constantly asking if the strength is okay. Do come here and book your session early, as they are always fully booked.

Tea Tree Spa
Massage menu
Massage Menu
Entrance to Tea Tree Spa
Jacuzzi inside Tea Tree Spa grounds
The massage villas have a Balinese feel to it
Sauna in Tea Tree Spa
Bathtub in the massage villa
Inside the massage villa

Breakfast

Breakfast is served at the Terrace Cafe, located on the first floor in the building where the reception is. The breakfast served is rather standard, similar to those that one can find in any other hotels. Other than the usual pastries and the continental choices, there are also some local delights. The food tasted decent and nothing impressive, although it does the job of giving me the energy to get the day going.

Indoor seating in Terrace Cafe
Outdoor seating in Terrace Cafe where breakfast is served

Service

The service in Holiday Inn Resorts Batam is exceptional. Upon our arrival, the hotel staff checked us in promptly. They took note of my IHG membership and welcomed me as a IHG member. I was given a letter that comes with the perks exclusively for IHG members staying in the hotel. However when asked if I could have a higher floor suite as stated in my preference when I booked the package, I was met with a cold answer that the hotel was fully booked, with the staff did not even appear to be checking the system to see if a suite has opened up. Other than this little incident, staffs around in the hotel are generally quite welcoming.

The good service at the reception continued the next day when I was enquiring about the shuttle service to the ferry terminal. I was well advised on the timing of the shuttle that I should be catching in order for us to make it in time for our ferry back to Singapore. I called the reception from the suite when I realised that I have mistaken the timing, the staff at the other end of the line replied very politely about my need to change the timing of the shuttle and gave advise on the time I should be at the lobby to process the check-out procedures and make it in time for the shuttle. Upon check-out I was handed a small moment from the hotel with products from Tea Tree Spa in recognition of me being an IHG member. This thoughtful gesture is welcomed and goes to show that the hotel paid particular attention to IHG members.

The staffs at Tea Tree Spa is forever welcoming.  I was there on 2 occasions, once when booking a time slot for the complementary message and the other time for the massage. Both times the staff ensured that  I was made to feel welcome and attended to me promptly. I was offered tea where the staff took prepared without letting me wait for longer than it is necessary. The masseuse at the spa was excellent, not only with their skill of massage but also with their service. They introduced themselves and welcomed us to Tea Tree Spa. Before any procedures, they would take the time to give a brief introduction of the materials being used for the massage. Every now and then, they would always check if the strength used was okay.

The service at Terrace Cafe is good as well. Staffs were seen clearing the plates promptly and would promptly attend to our requests while having breakfast.

Reception in Holiday Inn Resorts Batam
Welcome gift for IHG members

Overall

Holiday Inn Resort Batam is a great place to unwind and relax, especially so with the package that they offer through email (it is not available on their website). The lack of amenities outside the hotel and the distance from shopping belt in Batam did not bother me as I was expecting to stay in the resort premises throughout my stay. The suite, however feels dated and maintenance could be better, nonetheless, I had a relaxing time lazing around the suite. There are signs around Holiday Inn Resorts Batam that goes to show the lack of maintenance, however the main pool is well maintained. Service is good with staffs that are always welcoming and smiling at guests, even when one walks pass the reception. I would recommend Holiday Inn Batam for those of us who just want to stay in the resort, make use of the facilities and have a massage session with the Tea Tree Spa.

[Accommodation Review] – Anantara Baan Rajprasong (2 Bedroom Superior Suite), Bangkok, Thailand (21 – 23 Jul 17)

Location

Anantara Baan Rajprasong is a service apartment under the Anantara group, a Thai hotel chain group. The location of Anantara Baan Rajprasong is very central, located next to Lumpini Park. It is within 10 mins walk from the famed Erawan Shrine and within 15 mins walk from Central World. There are 2 BTS stations that provides excellent accessibility to the service apartment. The nearer Ratchadamri BTS station is 5 mins walk from the service apartment. This BTS station is one stop from Patpong and also one station away from Siam Interchange Station, where Siam Square and Siam Paragon is located.

Hotel Signage

Facade of the hotel

Fountain at the entrance of the hotel

Reception in the hotel lobby

Hotel lobby

The Suite

Kitchen

We checked into the 127㎡ 2 bedroom suite in Anantara Bann Rajprasong. Entering the main door to the corner suite, the kitchen to the suite is located to the right of the entrance to the suite. The kitchen is well equipped with a stove, a microwave oven and a full size fridge, allowing guests to do some cooking. There are utensils and cutlery, together with dinner wares for 4 stowed in the various cabinets in the kitchen area. There is a coffee machine as well as a electric kettle placed on the counter top of the kitchen area. A washing machine is also found under the sink in the kitchen area.

Fully equipped kitchen in the suite
The kitchen in Anantara Baan Rajprasong is furnished with a full sized fridge
Kitchen area in the suite. This door leads to the bathroom in the second bedroom
The kitchen is well equipped that it allows guests to do some cooking in the suite
Kitchen washing gears, that also comes with detergent for the washing machine
Mini bar amenities with complementary water, coffee and tea

Living Room

Further into the suite, pass the kitchen area is where the living room is located. Just behind the counter that separates the kitchen from the living room is a small dining table with 2 chairs. I particularly find it weird that only 2 chairs are furnished despite the suite being a 2 bedroom suite and can accommodate 4 adults. Further into the suite is where one can find the lounge area, decked with a 3 seater L-shape couch that faces the 42″ LED TV. There are no lack of international channels being played on the TV. The TV is placed on top of the TV console that stretches to the end of the room, extending into the work desk tucked by the wall of the living room. A little further into the suite, is where the balcony of the living room is located. The balcony is furnished with 2 chairs and a table, which makes it a great place to hang out. The view from the balcony here is not that great as it faces an office building.

Dinning table for 2 pax only in the suite
Couch in the living room of the suite
TV console and work desk in the living room of the suite
Air conditioner controls in the suite
The balcony in the living room is furnished with 2 chairs and a small table for guests to chill out

Bedrooms

Master Bedroom

The bedrooms are located on either side of the living room. To the left of the living room, from the main entrance is where the Master Bedroom is located. The Master bedroom is significantly larger than the second bedroom. The Master bedroom is furnished with a super king size bed, that can sleep 3 adults comfortably. The king bed is placed by the wall, next to the entrance to the bedroom. A couple of side tables are placed on either side of the bed. To the right of the entrance to the Master bedroom is where a couple of wardrobes are located. These large wardrobes provides ample space for guests to store their clothing. There is an in-room safe placed inside the wardrobe next to the make-up table. The make-up table is placed on the left corner of the bedroom, with a large mirror and a chair, the make-up table provides space for guests to place their cosmetics on. At the other corner, to the right side of the king bed is where the TV placed on the console is located. The placement of the TV console and the make-up table provides ample space for guests to walk inside the Master bedroom. The King bed is placed opposite a floor to ceiling window, allowing guests to lie on the king bed and peep into the scenery outside the room. The balcony in the Master bedroom is the biggest in the entire suite. The balcony wraps around the parameter of the bedroom and provides a great view of the swimming pool below.

King bed in the master bedroom. The TV console is nicely tucked in a corner so not to obstruct the view outside from the bed
Dressing table
TV console in the master bedroom
Wardrobe in the master bedroom
Another wardrobe in the master bedroom with in-room safe
A large balcony in the master bedroom that wraps around the perimeter of the room

Second Bedroom

To the right of the living room, from the main entrance, is where the second bedroom is located. The second bedroom is significantly smaller than then Master bedroom and there are limited walking space in the second bedroom. Furnished with 2 super single bed with a bedside table between the 2 beds, the second bedroom feels a lot more cluttered compared to the Master bedroom. Opposite the beds here is where a third TV placed onto the cabinet that stretches the entire length of the second bedroom is located. There is another make up desk at the end of the cabinet with a large mirror hung onto the wall, next to the entrance to the balcony in the bedroom. The cabinet provides ample storage space in the second bedroom. There are 2 small wardrobes placed on either side of the entrance to the bathroom here. There is also another in-room safe being placed inside the wardrobe. The balcony here is the smallest in the entire suite and it is not furnished with any furniture.

2 super single beds in the second bedroom
TV console and dressing table in the second bedroom
The wardrobe is a lot smaller than that in the master bedroom.
Wardrobe in the second bedroom with in-room safe
Wardrobe in the second bedroom
The bedside table is placed between the 2 beds in the second bedroom

Bathroom

Master Bathroom

What I like about the 2 bedroom suite in Anantara Baan Rajprasong is there are 2 bathrooms inside both the bedrooms. The bathroom in the Master bedroom is very big. The walk-in shower, enclosed in a glass cubicle is tucked in one corner of the bathroom, with the toilet bowl opposite the entrance to the bathroom. To the left of the entrance is where one can find the sink area, which does provide sufficient space for guests to stow their toiletries. A huge bathtub is placed on the right of the entrance to the bathroom. Anantara Baan Rajprasong provides 3 types of bathsalt, each with different healing properties for guests to soak in. Anantara Baan Rajprasong does not provide toothbrush as part of their bathroom amenities.

Walk-in shower and toilet in the master bathroom
Sink in master bathroom
A large bathtub only found in the master bathroom

Second Bathroom

The bathroom in the second bedroom is a lot smaller as compared to that in the Master bedroom. Unlike the bathroom in the Master bedroom, the bathroom here does not have a bathtub. Entering this bathroom, the first thing one would see is the walk-in shower. Compared to that in the Master bedroom, the walk-in shower in this bathroom is bigger. The toilet bowl is located to the left of the bathroom, while the sink area is located to the right of the entrance to this bathroom. A second entrance in this bathroom leads to the kitchen.

Sink area in the second bathroom, exactly the same as the one found in the master bathroom
Toilet with bidet
The walk-in shower in the second bathroom is bigger than the one found in the master bathroom

Swimming Pool

Anantara Bann Rajprasong features a freeform swimming pool located on 3rd floor of the hotel. The swimming pool is fun for both adults and children. For the adults, the swimming pool allows guests to get a decent swim. For the children, the freeform pool is a great place to play in the water. There is a wading pool that is separated from the main pool for the children. There are plenty floats around at the swimming pool for both adults and children. There are no lack of suntan chairs around the swimming pool. There are more of these chairs on the second level of the pool, allowing suntanners to get a great tan. Inside the toilet by the pool, guests can enjoy the sauna and steam room facilities. The swimming pool is a great place for guests to escape the heat in Bangkok, however the water temperature can be a tad too cold for some.

View of the swimming pool from the balcony in the suite
There are 2 sections to the swimming pool, the smaller wading pool in the foreground and the main swimming pool in the back
Free form pool is located on level 3 in Anantara Baan Rajprasong
Floats are provided in the pool area for patrons to use
Sauna inside the toilet at the swimming pool
Steam room inside the toilet at the swimming pool

Gym

Located next to the swimming pool is where a small gym can be found. Despite its small size, the gym still allow guests to get a decent work out. Treadmills, stationary bicycles and weights can be found inside the gym.

The gym is located next to the swimming pool on level 3 in Anantara Baan Rajprasong
Small gym which has the basic equipment for guests to do a decent workout
Inside the gym in Anantara Baan Rajprasong

Breakfast

As I booked my stay directly on the Anantara website, the hotel gives guests a choice of opting for complementary breakfast or 1-day BTS ticket. We opted for the breakfast. The breakfast is served in the Coffee Club located on the first floor of the hotel. The hotel does not provide buffet for breakfast, instead we were given an option to choose from the various breakfast sets from the menu. The breakfast was decent, sufficient to fill guests for the start of their day exploring Bangkok.

The Coffee Club on ground floor behind the reception where breakfast is served daily
Fruits were served as part of the breakfast set
One of the choices of breakfast set

Service

The good service started even before our stay in Anantara Baan Rajprasong. I emailed the hotel several times to make arrangements for our stay, the staffs were very prompt and replied to my emails  acknowledging my requests within minutes of sending these emails.

Whenever we walked past the reception, the staff will never fail to greet us with the signature friendliness that the Thais has come to known for. During check-in and check-out, we were offered drinks and cold towels. We were warmly welcomed by Vincent and Kwan at the reception at our arrival. Their friendly smiles gave us a feeling of familiarity, very much like friends welcoming us to their homes as guests. Both Vincent and Kwan processed our check-in swiftly to ensure that we do not need to wait longer than necessary despite our arrival at the hotel earlier than the stipulated check-in timing. Vincent took the chance to find out what we wanted to see in Bangkok and was not stingy in recommending other places of attractions and how to get there by BTS. Kwan brought us to our suite, explaining the locations of the various facilities in the hotel. She also took the time to explain the features of the suite to us and assured us we could call the reception at anytime if we needed help.

The bellboys in the hotel were excellent in service as well. They promptly helped us unload our luggage from the cab and brought our luggage to the suite without any delay. These very observant members of the hotel never failed to open the door for us whenever we enter or leave the hotel lobby. They took great care of our luggage when we were out spending our last few hours in Bangkok and ensured that the cabby took us to the correct airport in Bangkok. The bellboys were never stingy with their smiles and “wais” whenever we walked past them.

The exemplary service was also received by members of the housekeeping team. As I had requested for a baby cot and baby bathtub, shortly after our luggage were being brought to our suite, a member of the housekeeping team knocked on our door and brought us the baby bathtub. He also explained that he will be bringing up the baby cot soon upon confirming that we indeed requested for one. The housekeeping staff even checked with us if everything in the suite was fine and informed us to notify them at anytime should we need anything else.

Welcome tropical fruits are found in the suite adds to the thoughtfulness of the hotel

Towel origami found in the Master bedroom is a delightful sight when we enter the room

Overall

I had a wonderful stay in Anantara Baan Rajprasong Bangkok. The suite was terrific and well appointed to provide us with a comfortable stay during our time in Bangkok. The air-conditioning was very powerful to dispel the heat in Bangkok during the time of our visit. The bedrooms were functional and the beds provided us with excellent sleep quality, ensuring that we wake up afresh the next day. The freeform pool ensured that children can have fun and was decent for adult patrons to swim their laps. The service provided by the staff is top notch, making us feel welcomed and we were treated with smiles and “wais” by the staff. I would highly recommend for visitors to Bangkok for this hotel, given its central location and the excellent hardware and heartware.

[Accommodation Review] – Marina Mandarin (Marina Bay Suite), Singapore (24 – 26 Mar 17)

Facade of Marina Mandarin

Location

Marina Mandarin Singapore is located in Marina Centre, right in the centre of Singapore. The hotel is connected to the Marina Square Shopping Mall and is also well connected to other nearby shopping malls such as Suntec City and Raffles City. Marina Mandarin is situated right in front of Marina Bay area, next to the Esplanade Theatre. The hotel is accessible to 2 MRT stations, making it convenient to access anywhere else in Singapore.
Interior of Marina Mandarin Hotel
Marina Mandarin Singapore is located above Marina Square Shopping Mall

The Suite

I checked into the Marina Bay Suite, which is facing the Marina Bay area. The expansive 66㎡ suite is the 2nd most luxurious suite in Marina Mandarin, just one category below the President Suite. The suite make up of a living room, a bedroom and a bathroom.

Living Room

Guests  would find themselves in a large living room upon entering the Marina Bay Suite in Marina Mandarin Singapore. Immediate to the left side of the spacious living room is the dinning area. Designed by the wall is the mini bar, where guests would be able to enjoy complementary drinks and snacks, topped up daily. There are no lack of storage space for guests who prefer to bring their own snacks. However there is only one power socket at the mini bar area which is to be shared between the Nespresso Coffee Machine and the electric kettle. The glasses and mugs are found in the right most cabinet in the mini bar area. The fridge is found inside the left most frosted glass cabinet in the mini bar area. There is a small glass round table with 3 chairs, serving as the dinning table by the mini bar area.
Dining area of the Marina Bay Suite
Mini bar area in the Marina Bay Suite
All the contents in the fridge are complementary and are topped up daily
Complementary snacks
The hotel even gives complementary signature pineapple tarts, but these are not topped up daily

Further into the classy decorated living room is the couch area. There is a generous 3 seater couch placed close to the balcony in the living room. A single seater arm chair is placed next to the 3 seater couch. Diagonally opposite the couch is a large flat screen TV, placed on top of a TV console. As the TV console is placed on the TV console, there are no swivel function on the TV and guests would have to shift the TV to angle it to face the couch. There is a glass top coffee table placed between the couch and the TV console.

Spacious living room in Marina Bay Suite
TV console and the entrance to the bedroom from the 3 seater couch in the living room of Marina Bay Suite
Armchair in the living room, next to the 3 seater couch
The interior of the Marina Bay Suite seem a little dated with the analogue switches for air conditioning
Living room in Marina Bay Suite

Further into the Marina Bay Suite, placed in front of the floor to ceiling glass panels separating the living room and the balcony is a work desk. The work desk is of a fair size, sufficient for one to do some decent work on. There is a small cabinet tucked by the wall side where one can find the telephone and a complementary mobile phone on top of this cabinet. There are 2 power sockets hidden in a ledge on the work desk. However these sockets are used to power the table lamp on the study table and the charger of the mobile phone. There are no additional power sockets in the entire suite.

Work desk in the living room, just before the balcony in Marina Bay Suite
The work desk is rather big. A copy of the newspaper was placed on the table when I checked in. Newspaper was not replaced daily
There are limited power sockets in the entire suite. There are only 2 power sockets at the  work desk but both are used for the desk lamp and the complementary mobile phone in the suite
Telephone and a side cabinet at the work desk
Marina Bay Suite guests are provided with a  mobile phone that one can make complementary calls locally and selected countries. Guests can also enjoy 4G network on this phone

Balcony

The Marina Bay Suite in Marina Mandarin Hotel has 2 balconies, one of which is located in the living room and the other is located in the bedroom. Despite being next to each other, these balconies are separated by a solid wall, which means there are no access from the balcony in the living room to that in the bedroom. The balcony in the living room faces Marina Square Shopping Mall and one will be treated to views of Marina Bay from the balcony. The balcony in the living room is decked with 2 chairs and a table, whilst the balcony in the bedroom has no furniture placed in it.
Balcony at the living room with chairs and table
View of Marina Bay area from the balcony
Balcony in the bedroom, which is bare and has no furnitures

Bedroom

The double panel large wooden door opposite the 3 seater couch separates the living room from the bedroom. Entering the bedroom, guests will be greeted by a large King-size bed with a bedside table on both sides of the bed. The king bed is very comfortable to sleep on and I fell asleep shortly after lying on the bed and felt very refreshed the next day. The sleep quality is excellent and the pillow is of the right firmness. There is a armchair placed next to the king bed, in front of the floor to ceiling glass panel that separates the bedroom from the balcony. Diagonally opposite the bed is another TV console with large flat screen TV on top. Left from the entrance to the bedroom is where one will find the bathroom and a dressing area. A 2 panel wardrobe is placed opposite the entrance to the bathroom. The wardrobe is a tad small for travellers who prefer to hang their clothing and will be staying here for more than 1 week, as the capacity is rather small. There is a cabinets with 3 glass drawers on the left panel of the wardrobe, capable of storing more clothing folded up. An in-room safe is placed on top of the 3 drawer cabinets. Further into the suite, next to the wardrobe is a small power area. Here is where one can find a huge ledge for one to place a large luggage on. There are 4 large drawers beneath the ledge. In the corner is where one can find the dressing cum power table.
King bed in the bedroom
TV console in the bedroom
Armchair in the bedroom by the balcony
Phone and clock by the bedside in the bedroom of Marina Bay Suite
Wardrobe and powder area in the bedroom
The right closet is for hanging of cloths. The space is rather limited
The right closet has more storage and an in-room safe
Powder area in the bedroom

Bathroom

The spacious white marble laden bathroom is enclosed with frosted glass, giving it a very clean and bright feel. Entering the bathroom, the walk-in shower separated by glass is the first thing that greets guests in the Marina Bay Suite. There is only a regular shower head in the walk-in shower. Next to the entrance of the bathroom is a single sink with loads of storage area for additional toiletries that guests might bring with them. A bathtub sits next to the sink, in the furthest end of the bathroom. The bathtub seem rather low, however when soaked in it, one would find it rather spacious. The toilet bowl is located next to the bathtub and opposite the sink. Even the toilet bowl seem a tad low.
Entrance to the bathroom
Walk-in Shower
Sink area
Bathtub and toilet bowl
Marina Mandarin provides quality bathing amenities for their suite guests

Meritus Club

Guests staying in Marina Bay Suites in Marina Mandarin Hotel are entitled to visit the Meritus Club lounge located on 21 floor of the hotel. The dark wooden themed lounge is a rather comfortable place to hang out. The lounge maximises the use of window to allow guests to sit by and relax. There is a substantial amount of dinning and sitting area in the lounge. Guests get to enjoy breakfast, afternoon tea and evening cocktails in the Meritus Club. As the lounge has a no children policy, the lounge is exceptionally quiet and a great place to chill. The food served during breakfast is a scaled down version of what is being served in the breakfast restaurant, however guests get to enjoy the breakfast without crazy queue and at a peaceful environment. The hotel serves sandwiches and pastries during their afternoon tea time and a selection of local food as well as some finger food together with wine and beer are available for guests during the evening cocktail at the lounge.

Meritus Club is located on 21st floor of Marina Mandarin Hotel
Plenty of seating in Meritus Club
More dinning area in Meritus Club
Snacks are available all day
More snacks for guests in Meritus Club
Afternoon tea
Evening cocktail
Evening cocktail
Evening cocktail
Buffet area in Meritus Club

Swimming Pool

The swimming pool in Marina Mandarin is located on the 5th floor of the hotel. The hotel has a mineral pool, which means the chlorine content in the pool is rather low. This is a great place to swim, with the amount of sunlight one can get at the pool and the pool side area. There are a large number of suntan deck chairs around for guests to enjoy themselves at the pool. There are several gazebos by the side of the pool for guests to enjoy at no extra charges. The pool itself is rather big and has a depth of 2.5m at the deepest end of the pool.
Entrance to the swimming pool on 5th floor
Mineral swimming pool
A small pool for children
Great place for suntan at the pool area
Hotel facade at the swimming pool

Gym

Gym in Marina Mandarin is located on the 5th floor of the hotel. The smallish gym has a few treadmills, stationary bicycles and an area for weights. One can still get a decent workout at the gym despite its size. Throughout my stay at the hotel, the gym usage is rather low as it is empty most of the time (including no staff manning the gym).
Entrance to the gym on 5th floor
Gym in Marina Mandarin hotel
Some gym equipment
Weight area in the gym on level 5

Breakfast

Guests in Marina Bay Suite has the option of having breakfast at Aquamarine Restaurant. The restaurant is large with heaps of sitting to cater for the guests in the hotel. There is a huge selection of food from local dishes to the more international dishes available for breakfast in the restaurant. As the restaurant is halal certified, no pork is served in this restaurant. The quality of the food served is good and flavourful, however dinning here for breakfast can be a nightmare due to the amount of guests coming her for breakfast.
Breakfast in Aquamarine Restaurant
There is a huge variety of food for breakfast

Guests staying in Marina Bay Suite also have the option of having their breakfast in the Meritus Club. The variety of food for breakfast is limited in the lounge, however the quality of the food is good. Having breakfast here means one do not have to crowd with the rest of the guests at Aquamarine Restaurant. However the chef at the egg station seem to be producing lacklustre quality of eggs. I ordered pouch eggs with no mushroom, which usually comes with muffin, but was given just the pouch egg with hollandaise sauce. My friend’s sunny side up came with egg yolk that is damaged.

 

Breakfast in Meritus Club
Breakfast in Meritus Club
Badly made eggs by the chef whom do not seem to listen to guests and shabby effort in making eggs

Service

The service in Marina Mandarin is impeccable. The staffs make me feel welcome and are eager to do their best to satisfy my requests. I requested for baby cot and baby bath amenities before my checking into the hotel, these items were already placed in the suite when I enter. When I requested for extra towels from the housekeeping department, the items were brought to my suite without me having to wait for too long. The staff who delivered the items to my suite were always smiling.

The great experience in Marina Mandarin started with the moment I stepped into the hotel for checking in. The staff at the concierge processed my check-in without me having to wait unnecessarily, after which I was escorted by another staff – Vivy to my suite. Vivy was very friendly and introduced me to the various facilities in the hotel. She even recommended me to try out the Meritus Club lounge during evening cocktail time for the food that will be served. At the suite, Vivy introduced the facilities inside the suite.

Whilst at the lounge, I met with one of the staff Maria, whom was as welcoming as anyone else I have met. She kept on checking if I need more food or drinks during afternoon tea. Maria cleared the empty plate on my table as soon as I left my table. Maria was attentive and friendly. She shared with me her experiences working with the hotel and recommended me to return for evening cocktail. Chatting with Maria is like chatting with a friend.

I am surprised by another staff at the lounge, Richie, whom seem to have a photographic memory. My interactions with Richie was minimal and he only asked for my room number. I was surprised the next day, Richie recognised me and even welcomed me back to the lounge despite the short interaction time. This showed that Richie is very observant to all the guests whom come into the Meritus Club lounge.

Nurjarnah the housekeeping staff who made up my suite during my stay is a gem in the hotel. She kept the suite clean and tidy, ensuring that I have a clean and comfortable suite to return back every morning. Nurjarnah also smiled and greeted me whenever I saw her at the corridor. There was a few occasions I went up to her to request for additional bath amenities, despite her being busy cleaning up another room, she always smiled and fulfil my requests. When I apologised for disturbing her work, Nurjarnah assured me that I wasn’t disturbing her at all.

The star of the hotel during my stay got to be Vignes, the Duty Manager. Vignes was very welcoming and went all out to ensure that my stay was comfortable and without incident. Vignes will always come up to me and chat whenever he saw me around in the hotel. Chatting with Vignes is like chatting with an old friend. Vignes shared with me his experiences working in the hospitable industry and running a hotel from his perspective. I learnt a lot chatting with Vignes. Vignes never fail to check if everything is okay during my stay in the hotel and would get things sorted out whenever I made requests to him. Vignes even took the trouble to find me in the lounge to check if he can do anything to make my stay at Marina Mandarin more comfortable before he knocks off during my stay in the hotel. On the day of my checking out, Vignes came to my suite and bide me farewell. He personally processed my check out swiftly.

Overall

My stay at Marina Bay Suite in Marina Mandarin Hotel is a great experience. Despite showing signs of aging in the suite, the suite is very comfortable and well maintained by the staffs in the hotel. The view from the balcony in the suite is superb, great even when sitting in the balcony relaxing. The suite is very spacious and the sleep quality is excellent on the king bed in the bedroom. The staffs are very friendly and welcoming and they are not stingy with their smiles. My guests and I had a great time in Marina Mandarin and I highly recommend one to check out Marina Mandarin.

Atrium in Marina Mandarin Hotel at night from the floor I was staying