Monday, February 15, 2016

Hotel Reviews International - Asia & Pacific Region

the good, bad, & 'what' across the world! = Asia-Pacific
comment below and let me know your thoughts :)

As I have traveled the world, I have gotten to visit many cities.  Within these cities, I have stayed at many different hotels - some good, some great, and others not so much.  Hopefully my reviews will help you enjoy your travels in the good hotels and avoid the band ones.  Happy (and safe) travels!
Hilton Singapore – August 2015
for pictures and additional comments on this hotel, visit my 
tripadvisor page:

The main boulevard in Singapore is Orchard Road, so when booking a hotel you want to stay near the heart of the city. The Hilton Singapore provides a nice hotel right off of Orchard Road, so still accessible to everything but a bit quieter. The hotel is about a 2-3 minute walk from the Orchard Road MRT station, and is not connected to the station.

The hotel itself is grand. As you enter, on the right hand side is the lobby and the left hand side is a high-end mall. Beyond the lobby is a sitting area which houses the 'business center' (2 computer stands) and beyond that is the restaurant and bar.

The rooms themselves are decent size - not too big but not too small either. We had booked a room with two beds and the beds were decent size, enough for 1 person each. The room had the standard features of a closet, a desk, a TV, and a chest. The room also had a window that looked out onto Orchard Road and this provided some nice views. 

The bathroom was also decent with enough room for two people. The only negative was a smell which seemed to indicate that the hotel was a bit older - the hotel was updated with modern Hilton amenities so looked updated.  As HiltonHHonors members, wifi was complimentary and of decent speed. 

The hotel provided easy access to Orchard Road as it is about a 1-2 block away from the Orchard Road Metro.  Overall, it was a good night stay near Orchard Road.

Le Meridien Jakarta – October 2013
for pictures and additional comments on this hotel, visit my 
tripadvisor page:

photo courtesy of Le Meridien
I spent 4 nights at the Le Meridien, and they were very comfortable nights. The hotel is located on the corner of a major street and a side street, with the major streets having shops and restaurants.  There are a couple of shops and restaurant that are about a 5-10 – drive, but most of the other sights and shops require transportation.   Either through the hotel or right outside the hotel there are plenty of taxis (motorcycle and regulars) to take you wherever you go.  The hotel looks very grandiose from the outside.  As you enter into the hotel, the grandeur continues.  As you enter, on one side of the lobby is the check-in desk while on the other side is a restaurant and access to the pool, spa, and fitness center.  The lobby of the hotel is decorated very nicely, a mixture between modern and grandeur.  

The rooms are equally nice and spacious.  I had large room with a king-size bed.   When you entered into the room, you entered into a hallway that had closets and storage on the left hand side.  At the end of the hallway you entered into the actual room.  The room consisted of a large sitting area with two couches, a TV set in an armoire, and nice and comfortable king-size bed.   On either side of the bed were night stands which contain plugs for all your electronic devices.  The bathroom was equally as large and it contained a double sink, a Jacuzzi, and a stand-up shower.  The bathroom was very spacious and extremely comfortable. Next to the bed, and going across the entire wall, was a nice window which faced the main street and the shops and provided a nice view of Jakarta.    

The service at the Le Meridien was also excellent. They were attentive, provided great customer service, and were smiling and pleasant always. Free wifi was welcome plus.

Overall, the Le Meridien is a nice place to stay – as long as you are comfortable with taxis and staying outside the hustle – but in return you get a hotel with a spacious room, comfortable bed, and good customer service.  

Holiday Inn Auckland Airport 
Note: this review is based on my stay which took place in April 2013

I was going to be in Auckland for a couple of days, and when looking for a hotel I had two choices.  There was a nice, lower-priced option near the airport or I could spend a lot more and stay within the city center.  I decided I wanted to stay near the airport for two reasons: 1) because of cost as I was saving a lot by staying near the airport and 2) because I was staying in Auckland for a couple of days, then departing to Christchurch, and then back to Auckland so it made more sense to stay near the airport.  While I gained in savings, I did have to budget more time to access downtown and I also had to ensure my hotel had access to the airport so that I could access downtown.  I decided to stay at the Holiday Inn Auckland Airport and overall it was a decent hotel with nice amenities.  While the outside looked very old, the inside had been updated and had enough amenities to provide a decent stay outside of Auckland.

The hotel is located about 10-15 minutes away from the airport, so it is a very convenient transit hotel.  The hotel does offer a shuttle to and from the airport – this shuttle is a hybrid public and hotel shuttle as it transports both hotel guests as well as regular commuters to the airport.  Because of this system, the bus sometimes requires a ticket from the hotel for guest to ride for free (the ticket policy was not always implemented, especially if you were picked up from the hotel or were known to the driver).   From the airport, there is a paid bus that shuttles passengers to downtown (there is apparently a train that runs near downtown but that was under construction or was undergoing maintenance while I was there).  The roundtrip ticket from the airport to downtown and back is about 30NZD.

The hotel itself looks very old from the outside.  From the construction and the look, it seems to have been built in the 1970 or 1980s and spread out in a double-story fashion.  The hotel is shaped in a U-fashion, with the check-in desk and lobby at the bottom of the U and blocks of room on either side.  As you enter into the hotel lobby, in front is the check-in desk while on the side are some couches and a sitting area.  On either side of the check-in desks were hallways which lead to the rooms (and eventually the two hallways connected).    My room was on the left-side hallway, so after an efficient check-in I went down the hallway to my room.  The hallway was not a straight hallway, but rather one with many twists and turns.  The rooms were further down the hallway, and along the way I passed meeting rooms and facilities, as well as the house bar (which was very lively and had sports games on the TV (which seemed very popular judging by the number of people and amount of noise coming from the bar area).   The meeting rooms and the bar were near the lobby, so I had to go further down the hallway to get to my room.

As you entered the room, on the right hand side was the bathroom while on the left was the closet area with a safe deposit box, a luggage stand, and storage space.  There was also a fridge and coffee maker near the closet area.  The bathroom was nice, updated, and was a decent size.  It had a roomy shower, roomy vanity, and a toilet and the size made it very comfortable.  Further into the room, on the right hand side was the king-size bed with a nightstand on each side of the bed.  Along the wall was the TV, more storage underneath the TV, as well as a desk.  Next to the bed was a chair/couch combo, and this faced out onto the garden.  There were sliding doors that led out onto a garden area – other rooms faced the pool so the sliding doors led out onto the pool area.  Overall, it was an updated, spacious room that provided a comfortable night’s sleep. 

The hotel had many amenities including meeting rooms, hotel bar/restaurant, laundry facility including washer/dryer to do your own laundry, fitness facility, and wifi.  I tried the laundry facility, the fitness center, and the wifi.  The laundry facility was a bit old, but it was very convenient and did the job.  The fitness center was also a bit older but still had decent facilities and so you could get a decent workout.  At the time I stayed at the hotel (in 2013), wifi was only free in the lobby.  In-room wifi had to be paid for and this was very inconvenient (and the wifi in the lobby was decent speed.  As an IHG Rewards member, I also received the paper delivered to my room each morning (a nice welcome).

Overall, the Holiday Inn Auckland Airport provided a nice and comfortable stay in Auckland.   If you are looking for a hotel that is close to downtown, then this is not the hotel for you; however, if you are looking for a hotel that is close to the airport, has upgraded rooms, and had nice amenities to take advantage of then this is the hotel for you.

Thistle Guest House- Christchurch 
Note: this review is based on my stay which took place in April 2013

photo courtesy of Thistle Guest House (NZ)
Christchurch suffered through a devastating earthquake in 2011.  The earthquake devastated a great part of the city, with a majority of the destruction being centered in and around the city center.  Because of the destruction as well as the focus on rebuilding, there were not many places to stay available in Christchurch.   The only places available were B&B’s, and one of the best reviewed places was the Thistle Guest House.

The Thistle Guest House is a small B&B that offers homestyle accommodation in a warm and friendly environment.  The B&B is run by a husband and wife team who live on the property, and they are the ones who pick you up from the airport (pick-up is included in the rate, but drop-off is not).   The place is small with approximately 10 rooms total.  Some of the rooms have a bathroom in them, while others share a bathroom.  There is a communal kitchen to cook and store stuff as well as a parking lot if you are driving.  The hotel is located close to downtown – about a 10-15 minute bus ride away.  The hotel is conveniently located to various bus stops and about a 3 minute walk is a shopping area with some restaurants and a grocery store.  

One of the amenities the hotel provides is airport pick-up.  This is a nice amenity as it takes the worry of the arriving customer.   I had communicated my flight details prior to my arrival, but it still took some time (and calling) for the airport pick-up to take place.  It takes about 30-45 minutes (longer with traffic) to get from the airport tot the hotel, and that provides a nice time to chat with the owner of the B&B.  From the outside, the B&B looks like a regular house on the street.  

You enter the house through the front door and enter into the ‘lobby’ area where is a check-in desk as well as a console for maps and information.  I had coordinated everything with the owners through email, and they were very responsive and accommodating, so everything had been settled prior to my arrival.  To the right of the lobby is a sitting room with books and couches.   Beyond the lobby is a hallway, with the kitchen in front and then down the hallway rooms and stairs.

My room was at the end of this hallway, on the first floor.  Since I wanted a room that contained a bathroom, my options were limited to two rooms and by the time I booked only one room was available.  Overall, the room looked like a regular room in someone’s house – with some amenities.    You entered the room on one side of the square, and straight ahead on the right was the entrance to the bathroom – which contained a toilet, a sink, and a shower (with hot water).  The queen-size bed was against the back wall and on either side of the beds were night stands.  Against the side wall was a set of drawers, and in front of the bed was a fridge with coffee/tea kettle on top of it, another set of drawers, and a TV in the corner that had cable.

The B&B also offered a lot of amenities including free wifi (which was decent speed); a large full-size kitchen and access to pots, pans, dishes, and any leftover food that previous guest had left to share; as well as laundry facility.

Overall, it was a nice and pleasant stay in the Thistle Guest House which provided a nice clean and comfortable room, a decent price, good location and nice amenities.

Aston Jayapura Hotel - Jayapura Indonesia
Note: this review is based on my stay which took place in 2012

photo courtesy of Aston-International
Jayapura is the provincial capital of Papua, Indonesia and with being the capital, has a lot of services and amenities, including many places to stay.  A hotel that was comparable to international standards was the Aston Jayapura, part of the Aston-International group of hotels which has hotels all across Indonesia.  Overall, the Aston Jayapura provided a nice hotel with comfortable rooms and nice amenities.

The hotel is located near the heart of Jayapura, so the location provides easy, walkable access to many sights and services.  The hotel is located on the main street, and there is a small circular driveway that separates the hotel from the main street.  As you enter into the lobby, on the left hand side is the check-in counter and right next to those are the elevators to the guest rooms.  Straight ahead are a lounge, chairs and couches to relax, as well as the restaurant where breakfast is served.   Check-in went smoothly and I received my key and went directly to my room.

First impressions of the room were that it was very nice, modern, and comfortable.  As you entered into the room, on the left hand side was the bathroom while on the right was the closet and storage area.  The bathroom was nice and comfortable with a tub, a toilet and a sink.  The closet and storage area was nice and large, and slippers were provided (a nice touch).   Further into the room was the Queen-size bed, which was big (but not grand) and comfortable enough to provide a good night’s sleep.  On either side of the bed was a night stand with lamps.  Across from the bed was the TV with storage underneath, and next to that was desk.  There was also a window across the wall that provided a decent view of the city.  Overall, the room was not spacious but a decent size.  It was comfortable, had all the amenities needed, and felt modern and updated. 

The hotel itself is a full service hotel so they have lots of amenities including meeting rooms, breakfast buffet, wifi, a spa with a fitness center and sauna, as well as a karaoke club.  I tried a massage from the spa, the wifi, and my room came with free breakfast so I tried that as well.  The massage was nice and the room setup for the spa and sauna was also nice and soothing.  The wifi was decent to check email and do basic internet searches.  The breakfast that accompanied the room was a buffet-style breakfast that provided a lot of options including both Indonesian and Western options.

Overall, central location with comfortable rooms and nice amenities is what one can expect from the Aston Jayapura. 

Hilton Brisbane (Elizabeth Street)
Note: this review is based on my stay which took place in 2012

view from room
I only had a little while in Brisbane, so I was looking for a hotel that was central to the sights and attractions I was interested in visiting (this coupled with that there are no hotels located at the airport).  Overall, the Hilton Brisbane on Elizabeth Street provided a nice, comfortable room in the middle of downtown that was easily walkable and accessible to the various sights and attractions.

To get from the airport to downtown Brisbane, there is either a train or taxi.  The train takes approximately 30-45 minutes while the taxi depends on traffic.  I choose to take the train so I boarded the train at the airport and got off Central Station, which was the closest station the train stops at to the hotel.  The station is about a 10-15 minute walk, which is alright without luggage but can be a struggle with luggage.  The hotel itself is located right on Elizabeth Street, and this seems to be one of the major, pedestrian thoroughfares in downtown Brisbane.  You can access the hotel directly from the street – sometimes with the use of a keycard and sometimes without.  The elevators from the street level take you to the lobby level, and from there you can access the hotel.

When you exit these set of elevators, you are next to the hotel restaurant.  If you walk further down, you enter into a square.  In front of you are the elevators to the guest rooms.  Down the hallway, past the elevators, and the left all the down are the check-in desks.  In the middle of the square is an open-atrium which creates a sense of openness and largeness to the hotel.  While the elevators were convenient to access the outside once you have checked-in, they were a bit oddly placed for check-in and check-out.   Check-in was efficient and I received the room to my key.  I walked back down the hallway to the elevators and went up to my room.  The rooms surrounded the atrium, with the entrances to the rooms from the hallways next to the atrium.

First impressions of the room were that is was big, modern, and had great views from the large window.  As you entered the room, on the left hand side was the bathroom while on the right was the closet and storage area.  The bathroom was spacious and modern.  Further inside was the king-size bed, which was big, plush, and comfortable.  On either side of the bed was a nightstand with plenty of outlets to charge all the electronic devices.  Across from the bed was a TV with storage underneath and next to that was the desk.  Next to the desk were windows that stretched along the wall, and these provided a great view of the city and let in a lot of light during the day (thick curtains blocked out all noise at night)

Hotel amenities include an outdoor pool and tennis court, a fitness center, a business center, meeting rooms, as well as wifi.  The only amenity I was able to take advantage of was the in-room wifi, which was decent for email and internet searches.  The best aspect of the hotel is the location, as it is centrally located and within walking distance to many of the sights and attractions of Brisbane.   As soon as you go down to Elizabeth Street, you are in the heart of downtown with multiple restaurants and shops and attractions around you.  While it is expensive, you pay for great location and a nice, comfortable room.

Courtyard Hong Kong
Note: this review is based on my stay which took place in 2012

I was flying through Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific so decided to spend some time in the city.  Through Cathay Pacific Holidays, they have some great deals on hotels and tours within Hong Kong.  In addition to the room, the packages for hotels include transportation to/from the airport as well as breakfast (a nice deal in my opinion.  In looking through their list of hotels, I wanted something that was affordable and nice but also had access to transportation and services - I found all of that in the Courtyard Hong Kong.

photo courtesy of Courtyard Marriott Hong Kong
The Courtyard Hong Kong is located on Hong Kong Island and is located near the business district and the wharf.  The hotel is walking distance to the trams that run across the island and is also walking distance to the metro station.  There are also many shops and restaurants close to the hotel.  Additionally, the hotel offers a complimentary shuttle to some of the business and shopping district (within a certain radius). 

The hotel itself looks modern and nice.  The entrance is located on the first floor, carved out of the building.  As you enter the lobby, on the left hand side is the small check-in desk while straight ahead is a column with the elevators.  The lobby is not that big, as the bottom floor is taking up mostly by the drive-up entrance and the tiny lobby.  There are some chairs to sit against the wall as you wait for your bus or transportation.   Check-in was efficient and I took the elevator up to my room.

My room was on a high floor, was comfortable, spacious, and had a nice view.  As you entered into the room, on the left hand side was the closet and storage space.  This area also included a safe for your personal valuables.  On the right hand side was the bathroom, which was nicely decorated and was a good size (not too big but not compact).

The most interesting feature of the bathroom was the glass wall which faced out of the bathroom and into the bedroom and then into the window so you a nice view of the outside from the bathroom.  There were shades that came down in case you wanted privacy in the bathroom. 

Next to the bathroom was the king-size bed, which was comfortable and very spacious and provided a good night sleep.  On either side of the bed were nightstands.  Across from the bed was a TV with storage underneath and a desk that face towards the room.  Between the bed and the window was a chair to sit and enjoy the views from the window.   The window span across the wall and provided great views of the city down below as well as the river and the ships.  While this was a nice view, the hotel also provided black-out curtains to block out the su and noise to get a good sleep.  

I spent most of my time exploring the city so I did not get a chance to explore the hotel facilities such as the fitness center or the Café.  I did experience the wifi, which was free and a decent speed, and the free breakfast.  The breakfast was in the restaurant on the 2nd floor and it was buffet that had a nice spread that was extremely filling and delicious.  Local newspapers were also available to read. 

Overall, the hotel provided a very nice room with modern amenities, a comfortable bed, convenient access, and an overall enjoyable stay.  What made the stay great was the customer service, as the hotel provided great overall service.  One example of the excellent service happened on the day of my departure.  My flight was in the morning so the bus was coming early take me to the airport and this meant I would mix the free breakfast, so the hotel asked me what I wanted and made me a breakfast/snack bag to take with me so that I could it eat at the airport.  This was extremely thoughtful and provided the extra touch which made the stay even more pleasant.

Marriott Sydney Hyde Park (now the Pullman Hyde Park)
Note: this review is based on my stay which took place in 2012

The rooms themselves are decent size - not too big but not too small either. We had booked a room with two beds and the beds were decen

photo courtesy of Pullman Hotels
In looking for a hotel in Sydney, I was looking for a comfortable room that had easy access to transportation and was not too far away from the city center.  In doing research, I came across the Marriott Sydney Hyde Park (which has now become the Pullman Hyde Park).  This hotel overlooks Hyde Park and provides a nice, comfortable room in a location that is quiet but is connected to transportation and services. 

The hotel is located directly across from Hyde Park – there is an entrance to the underground (Museum Station) on one side of the park, and on the other side of the park is the entrance to the hotel.  It’s a 2-minute walk across the park as the park is not wide.  Depending on how high your room is located, you can see the entrance to the underground from your room.  The hotel entrance faces the park, and as you enter into the hotel you pass by two lounges to get to the check-in desk straight ahead of you.  On either side of the entrance, they have small lounges where you can sit and relax and enjoy the nice park views.  Further up the stairs, on one side is the bar/restaurant while on the other side is a larger relaxing area/lounge and in between is the check-in desk.  The lobby is large and open and feels relaxing.  Check-in was efficient and I proceeded to my room.  The elevators are located to the left of the check-in desk, behind the large relaxing area. 

photo courtesy of Pullman Hotels
The rooms of the hotel are very large and spacious, and the view of the park adds to the comfort of the room.  As you enter the room, on the right hand side is the bathroom while on the left is the closet and storage area.  As you enter into the room, on the right hand side is the TV with storage underneath and a fridge and next to that is a desk.  On the other side are the two double beds with a desk on either side of the bed.  The beds are very spacious and comfortable, and provide a nice sleep.  Across the wall is a large window which allows for nice views over Hyde Park.  The room is nicely sized and allows for decent movement, it’s not too big but you are not cramped in.  The bathroom is very spacious and allows for a lot of room.  Both the bathroom and the room were nicely decorated, but did not look updated.  While the rooms did not look old or worn out, they were not updated either so it was in the middle.  Overall, it was a comfortable room to stay in.

The hotel provides a couple of facilities that I was able to take advantage of.  On the second floor of the garage, they have laundry facilities available where you can do your own washing.  This was very convenient, especially for long-term travelers.  There was also free wifi – both in the room and better wifi in the lobby – which was decent speed as well as a decent fitness facility.  The hotel also provided a restaurant and a pool, but I was unable to try these. 

Overall, it was a nice stay at the Marriott Sydney Hyde Park (now the Pullman Hyde Park).  The hotel provided a spacious room, with comfortable beds, a nice view of the park, good customer service, and easy access to transportation services.    

Quality Hotel Cambridge, Sydney
Note: this review is based on my stay which took place in 2012

While researching hotels in Sydney, I noticed how expensive the hotel rates were (this is in early 2012).  Given I was going to be staying in Sydney for at least 5 days, I decided to break my stay into two places – with one that was going to help my budget.  Since I was arriving late at night, I spent the first night at the budget hotel and the other nights at the standard hotel (Marriott Sydney Hyde Park – see review below).  The only hotel I could find, that was both in my budget and close to services and transportation, was the Quality Hotel Cambridge.  This hotel is located in the Surrey Hills neighborhood of Sydney and has shops and restaurants within walking distance.  A bit further away, so about a 10-15 minute walk, is the access to underground.  The hotel is located off the main street so while you have access to the services, you also have a quiet hotel.

photo courtesy of
As you enter the hotel, straight-ahead is the check-in desk while on the left is a lounge and on the right is the business center with computers for internet access.  Check-in was done efficiently and right behind the check-in desks are the elevators to the rooms.  The rooms are spaced in a U-style fashion with an indoor pool in the middle of the U.  The pool is open to the public so if you open your front door, you are staring at the pool.  It is an odd design.  My room was at the end of the U so I basically walked around the pool to access my room.

The rooms themselves were standard budget rooms.  As you enter, on the left was the bathroom and on the right was closet and storage area.  The bathroom was standard, but was a bit on the tiny side; not too tiny but definitely not spacious either.  As you progressed into the room, on the right was the bed while on the left was a TV and chest for additional storage.  The bed provided an alright sleep – I have slept on more comfortable and less comfortable beds, and while this was on the left comfortable side it did provide an alright nigh sleep.

In addition to the pool, the hotel also offers free wifi, a restaurant for breakfast and dinner, as well as a laundry facility.  Out of these, I only tried the free wifi which was decent speed.  I did go past both the pool and the laundry facility, and both were decent and alright – not the best but not the worst.  Neither was fancy, but both were decent and clean.

Overall, it was a decent stay at a budget hotel.  The hotel was close to services and transportation and provided a clean room.  While the room was neither updated nor provided a comfortable feeling, it did provide a average night sleep.

Travelodge Southbank - Melbourne
Note: this review is based on my stay which took place in 2012

I was planning my trip to Melbourne and the hotel prices there were very expensive, no matter what type of hotel you were looking for.  The prices were so high that I decided to save myself some money – we were going to arrive into Melbourne in the evening, so instead of paying for that first night at the Holiday Inn (which was more expensive) I decided to stay one night at Travelodge Southbank.  This property was located across the bridge from the Holiday Inn so it provided easy access to the hotel I wanted to stay at, and it was less expensive so I would save some funds. 

photo courtesy of
This property was located across the bridge from the Holiday Inn so it provided easy access to the hotel I wanted to stay at, and it was less expensive so I would save some funds.  The Travelodge is a budget hotel and you get a budget experience.  The rooms are nice and decent, but the bed is not as comfortable, nor spacious, as a standard hotel.  The property is located in what looks like an office park so there are not many services around it, except for convenience stores.  As you enter into the building, straight ahead is the check-in desks and to the left are the elevators to the guest rooms.  To the right are chairs for sitting and relaxing, the business center, as well as a restaurant.  The restaurant was mainly open for breakfast only, and had vending machines if items were needed at other times.

Check-in was efficient and I took my key and went to my room.  The room was basic but provided all the standard details of a hotel room.   Some of the Travelodge rooms had been updated, but this room had not been updated and look a bit dated – both the furniture and the look.  As you enter the room, on the left was the bathroom.  The bathroom was standard and provided basic amenities and was of decent size.  On the right was a closet, storage area, as well as a kitchen area.  The kitchen area included a sink, a fridge on the bottom and a microwave on top.  This was very convenient and added to the economical value of the room.  Next to the kitchen area was a TV with storage underneath and a desk next to it.  Across from the TV were the beds.  This is where the hotel felt very economical, as the beds were not that comfortable and the blanket and comforter on the bed were equally as uncomfortable.  A plus point of the room were the windows which stretched across the wall, and these provided light into the room and also provided a nice view of the town.

As it is a budget hotel, the were no additional amenities except for the business center and the restaurant.  The business center had computers available, but when I went there was a charge to access the computers.  The hotel did provide free, basic wifi and this was good enough for me.

Overall, the positives of the hotel were the lower price (as compared to other hotels), the free wifi, the ‘kitchen area’ in the room, and the location near downtown.    The negatives included the outdated room and uncomfortable bed.   It was a good sleep for one night, but not sure I would do a longer stay.

Holiday Inn Melbourne on Flinders
Note: this review is based on my stay which took place in 2012

When I was planning my trip, we were going to split our time between Sydney and Melbourne.  Since we were spending most of our time in Sydney, I wanted to find a hotel that was situated in the middle of downtown and had easy access to sites and transportation.  The Holiday In Melbourne on Flinders provided a comfortable bed and an updated room in a convenient location in the middle of downtown, with easy access to sights and transportation. 

photo courtesy of IHG
The hotel is located right in the middle of downtown, and is right next to a streetcar line stop so it provides easy access.  From the outside, the hotel looks very integrated into the downtown landscape, and it looks like an older building that has been renovated into a hotel.  The inside looks modern and updated.  As you enter into the hotel, on the right hand side is the lobby/relaxing area while straight ahead are the check-in desks.  Right next to the check-in desks was a hallway which had a restaurant on the right hand side, meeting rooms straight ahead, a business center on the left hand side, and access to the elevators.  The hotel looked modern and updated, and you felt nice when you stepped inside the hotel.  After a quick and efficient check-in, I received my keys and went to my room.  The modern and updated look continued into the rooms.

The rooms were a bit on the narrow side, not too narrow where you cannot walk but it definitely was not a spacious room.  I had a room with a king size bed and with two people it was getting a bit crowded – I don’t think the room could fit more than 2 people in it.  As you enter the room, on the right was the bathroom while on the left was the closet and storage area.   Straight ahead, on the right was the king size bed with a table on either side.  In front of the bed was the TV with additional storage as well as a desk facing away from the window.   Right in front of the bed was a lounge chair that looked out to the window.  The bed was extremely comfortable and very large – definitely big enough for 2 people and provided a relaxing night sleep. 

As you entered into the room, you saw the window on the wall in front of you, and this window allowed for great views of downtown Melbourne.  The views let in nice sunlight, but the hotel also provided thick curtains if you wanted to get a goodnight sleep.

There was free wifi in the room, and there was also a business center with computers on the first floor next to the check-in desks.  The business center provided high-speed internet service along with printing facilities.  This was the only hotel service I tried, even though the hotel also offers an outdoor pool as well as a fitness center.

Overall, it was a nice and pleasant stay at the Holiday Inn Melbourne of Flinders.  A comfortable sleep in a modern hotel that has a good location and good customer service.

Lamana Hotel Port Moresby
Note: this review is based on my stays which took place in 2011-2013

I have stayed at the Lamana Hotel many times while travelling for business in Port Moresby. Its one of the nicer places in Moresby and is walking distance to a major supermarket, mall, and cinema. 

photo courtesy of
The service for the hotel is also pretty good. I have used the airport pickup and dropoff many times, have left baggage to be picked up later, and have used it as a second home in POM. The staff have always been pleasant and courteous.  There is also a very nice gym on premises. There is a pool but its small and outdoors so dependent on the weather.  The restaurant on site does a very reasonable lunch (36 kina for lunch and includes buffet of salad, pasta, rice, soup and butter). Also thursday night indian buffet is very good along with the moussaka. 

There are two sets of rooms - ones that are updated and ones that are not.  The updated rooms are nice and are comparable to westerny-style hotels.  Some rooms have two beds (bigger than a single but smaller than a double) while other rooms have one bed (bigger than a double but smaller than a king).  The beds are comfortable and you get a decent night sleep.  Both rooms come standard with a a TV, a desk, a closet and some shelves.  The main difference between the two is the decor and feel of the room - the older wing looks very well for 1980's while the updated wing is very modern and nice.  For that reason, the older wing rooms are not as comfortable.   Both rooms also come with bathrooms.  The modern bathroom is very nice with a rain-shower type of shower-head.  The older style rooms have an older style bathroom, which still provide a decent shower but it is not as nice as the rain-shower style. 

The hotel does not provide free wif but you can purchase wifi cards which can access the internet throughout the hotel.  The hotel does provide a business center with 2 computers with free internet for 30 minutes (very convenient)

There is also a very popular nightclub (the Gold Club) on premise and this place is very packed on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. The music can go on until 2am so if noise bother you, ask for a room away from the night club.

Caution: The area is located near the Holiday Inn (which a colleague said had better beds but worse food and ok customer service). The area is far from downtown (there are cabs available) but close to embassies and parliament.  It is also walking distance to the biggest mall and grocery store in Port Moresby, Vision City.  Overall, it was a pleasant stay and a nice relaxing time at the Lamana in Moresby.

Ibis Budget Brisbane Airport
Note: this review is based on my stays which took place in 2012 &2013

I once had a 10-hour transit in Brisbane in which I get in very late in the night and had to leave early the next morning so I decided to sleep at the airport – while it was alright and they had long couches on which to sleep on – I decided the next time to try and find a hotel which was close to the airport for a more comfortable sleep, but also wasn’t too expensive (as it would only a nights sleep).  Ibis Brisbane Airport is a perfect transit hotel as it cost-effective but also provides a comfortable sleep.  The only downside is the location – it is not connected to the airport and in fact is about a 10-15 minutes by car from the airport with no hotel shuttle available. 

photo courtesy of Ibis
As I had said, I had previously spent the night at Brisbane Airport while in transit and while it was alright, I decided to see if I could find a nice hotel that was close to the airport but also wasn’t too expensive.  During my search I found the Ibis Budget Brisbane Airport.  I had never stayed at an ibis before so had no idea what to expect but the price and the proximity is what drew me to the hotel.  To get the best rates, its best to book online and well in advance (as better prices are available in advance online, and sometimes the hotel is sold out).  Booking online was easy and efficient and I booked myself into a standard room for one night.
When you arrive at the hotel, from the outside it looks like an old motel from the 1980’s so first impressions aren’t great; however, they say don’t always judge a book by the cover so while the outside may be outdated, the inside has been renovated.  As you enter inside, on the left hand side is the check-in desk.  This is where you can collect your key as well as purchase extras, including breakfast.  Across from the check-in desk is the restaurant/sitting area where there are tables and chairs (decorated with Ikea-like chairs and tables) and this is where breakfast can be purchased. There are also vending machines available with drinks and food so these can also be purchased and consumed in the sitting area.

The hotel provides free wifi – it is basic but decent enough to check and send emails.  You can pay for faster internet, or if you do not have a smartphone or computer, there are computers downstairs which you have to pay for access.

The hotel consists of two floors with a stairs in the middle and two long hallways on opposite sides of the stairs.  There is no elevator to get to level 2 so if you have a lot of luggage or do not climbing stairs, request a 1st floor room.  The hallways and the stairs also have the ‘outdated’ look as well, but luckily the rooms have been updated.

I have stayed at two types of rooms – the first room had two single beds while the second room had a double bed underneath a bunk bed that was on top.  Both rooms are tiny, these are not plush rooms, but they are nicely decorated (again with Ikea-esque furniture) and looked updated.

For the 2 twin bed, as you entered the door on the left was the basic bathroom (more about that below).  Right next to the bathroom was the first twin bed, a night stand, and then the second twin bed (with very little room between the beds so I doubt both people could stand up in the middle of the beds at the same time).  Across from the beds was a desk and in the corner was a nice, raised TV that provided a lot of channels and in which you could plug your USB cable into.  Overall, while it was a plain and small room it provided all the basic amenities you could need.  What the rooms also provided were comfortable beds.  I did not expect the beds to be comfortable (given the price and size of the room) but they were actually very nice and very comfortable (in fact more comfortable than some of the American hotels I have stayed in). 
The second room had the same basic set up but was arranged differently.  As you entered, on right was the bathroom and beyond the bathroom was the double bed underneath a bunkbed.  Next to the beds was the desk which faced a window that looked out onto a parking lot.  Against the other wall, across from the beds, was the TV.  The room size was only slightly bigger than the one with the twin beds.

The bathroom was very compact with a stand-up shower whose only separation from the toilet was a shower curtain - but you can touch the sink from the shower.  The hotel provides a bar of soap and a very thin towel, other amenities such as shampoo and conditioner need to be provided by you (also, bring a better towel if that is important to you.

Overall, booking in advance provided the best deals and it provided a decent night sleep in an updated room.  The beds and furnishings had all been updated – in an Ikea-like style – and the TV was also updated so that you can attach USB’s and other devices to the TV.   Without a car, and only access to shuttle, the hotel provides a nice transit sleep (but bring your own food and water)

Marriott Tang Plaza Hotel (Orchard Road) - Singapore
Note: this review is based on my stay which took place in 2011

When I was travelling to Singapore, it was for a short-period of time so I wanted to stay at a central location that was close to the sights and activities.  The Marriott Orchard Road fits that description and seems to be on the iconic hotels of Singapore – iconic for its design and location.

photo courtesy of Marriott
The hotel is located towards the end of Orchard Road, but is right above one of the entrances to the Orchard Road MRT system.  The hotel lobby is on the street level, and in the basement level are shops and food stalls as well as the access to the MRT system.  The hotel’s location provides convenient access to transportation and services.  The design of the hotel is very iconic and can be identified from the tall, Chinese-inspired tower.  

From the street level, you walk down a very long walkway inside a very large and grandiose lobby to get to the check-in desks.  On either side of the walkway are chairs and tables for the restaurant as well as for guest relaxation and leisure.   At the end of the walkway is the check-in desks located behind a large desk and in front of a large wall.  On the other side of the wall are the elevators which take you to the guest rooms.  After a quick and efficient check-in, we went to our room.

The rooms are of decent size, not too big but not cramped.  They are nicely decorated, provide a relaxing atmosphere, and have some amazing views of Singapore and Orchard Road.  For our room, you entered at a diagonal with a wall on your right hand side.  As you continued along the wall, you entered the main part of the room where there was a bathroom on the right hand side and storage plus a TV along with left side of the wall.  In front of the TV was the sitting area with a couch and a desk.  Behind of the couch were the beds, which were comfortable and provided a nice sleep.  Next to the bed, and across the entire wall, were windows which let in natural sun light and provided nice views of Singapore.  The addition of the windows also made the room feel bigger than it actually was.  The bathroom was decent, again not too big but not cramped and had all the basic amenities.

I did not have an opportunity to sample the other services the hotel provides, such as the spa, pool, or fitness center.   Overall, it was a pleasant stay at the Marriott with comfortable rooms, great access, and good customer service.

Renaissance Marriott Kuala Lumpur
Note: this review is based on my stay which took place in 2011

We were going to spend a couple of days in Kuala Lumpur, so I was looking for a nice hotel that was close to the sights and had easy access to transportation.  After some research, I found the Renaissance Marriott and decided to check it out since I have never stayed at a Renaissance property before.  Overall, it was a nice property that was very large and very accessible, but the rooms were average and so was the customer service. 

view of hotel from top of the city
From the outside, the property looks very grand as it has two towers connected on either side of the middle building.  From the street, you walk up steps and enter into a very large lobby.  As you enter, on either side there are small sitting areas where guests can sit and relax.  You walk up additional stairs and into the main lobby and on the left are the many check-in desks, while on the right is the hotel’s restaurant and dining room.   In between the check-in desk and the restaurant is a hallway leading to the elevators to the guest room (for one tower).  Our reservation included complimentary breakfast, and this was served in the vast dining room on the first floor.  The breakfast was nice and had a large spread and provided a nice meal in the morning, but the staff seemed overwhelmed at times.

The average customer service started at check-in, which took longer than expected and was neither warm nor friendly.  After we received our keys, we went up to our room located in the first tower.  Overall, the rooms were a decent size but did not feel updated; rather they looked and felt older and a bit used.  As you enter into the room, on the right was the bathroom and the left was the closet plus storage.  As you entered into the room, on the right were the two double beds while against the wall were the TV, some additional storage, and a desk.  Straight ahead was a window which looked out onto the pool and so provided nice views and good sunlight into the room.  The room size was decent, not grand but definitely not squished together.  The beds were decent, not too comfortable but not too uncomfortable, but did feel a bit older.  The overall décor of the room felt in need of an update.  The bathroom was also a decent size, not too big and not too small, and had the standard amenities. 

We had broken our trip up so we had a couple of days in Kuala Lumpur, went to Singapore, and then returned to Kuala Lumpur.  Because of this travelling, I was not able to experience the other amenities of the hotel including the outdoor pool, fitness center, and spa.  Our room did face the outdoor pool and it looked nice, a bit small given the two towers, but it was definitely being utilized as we always saw people in or around the pool.   

The hotel did allow us to leave our luggage at the hotel, both while we were out of Kuala Lumpur as well as on our last day as our check-out was earlier than our scheduled flight.   The customer service on the check-out was also average, neither friendly nor warm.  One aspect of the customer service which was not good happened to us on our last day - we had left our checked out of our room and had spent the entire day walking around.  As we were heading back to our hotel, it started to rain really hard so we got soaking wet.  When we entered into hotel, we went to the check-in desk, indicated that we had been guests there and were picking up luggage, and asked for a towel to help us dry off.  The representative, at first, just looked at us and then after explaining the situation again, reluctantly gave us one small hand towel.  This hand towel was definitely not going to help as we were completely drenched so I asked for a bigger towel, to which I received the response of ‘we cannot provide anything bigger than this’ and walked away.  The service was not customer-friendly.

Overall, the location of the hotel is good as you are close to the sights and have easy access to transportation; however, the outdated rooms and the lack of customer service did not make this a pleasant stay.  What made the situation even more apparent is that the hotel we stayed in Singapore – also a Marriott property (see review below) – was updated, pleasant, and had amazing customer service even though we were only there for a short period of time.  The hotel where we had stayed longer – this hotel – did not provide the same level of service and thus made our stay not as pleasant. 

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