Osaka: Home Hostel

Can’t fit in the whole building here but Home Hostel truly stood out amongst the gaudy loud buildings in Sinsekai.

The reason why I picked this spot instead of the more popular areas like Namba is because Home Hostel is a skip away from Spa World, Don Quixote (for snacks to bring home) and has a train station with direct train to Kansai International Airport.

Sinsekai is the “New World” town of Osaka. On first look, the vibe is gaudy, almost like Gayworld in Singapore. The area is filled with Kushikatsu restaurants (fried skewers) that arose due to the huge Pachinko (arcade and slot machine centres) and Spa World (onsen theme park).  The buildings are adorned with huge lanterns, vibrant colours and gaming machines.

Due to its nature of the activity – the crowds veer towards the middle-aged men but there really isn’t anything to worry about!

Enter the building and you spy beautiful wall murals all around. The left is the wall of shoe lockers. One of their staff members is an artist.

This is a family-run hostel which explains their cosy vibes. The owner often brings his child to the hostel.

Continue reading “Osaka: Home Hostel”

Johor Bahru 2016: Bello Hotel

After I had discovered the Transtar Cross Border service, I am a changed woman when it comes to Johor Bahru day trips.

Instead of squeezing all activities into a day and hiking in the hot heat, I’m all for staying over in JB and enjoying more meals across the causeway.

If you only need a clean and comfortable place to sleep that is a skip and a hop away from City Square, Bello Hotel is your man.

One of the new kids on the block, Bello Hotel only started operations in June 2015. There are only 50 rooms across six floors and yes, there is a lift.

We stayed in a twin room that was small and cosy. The room was quite far away from the lifts so we were spared from the noise.

For the price we paid, approx S$76 for a twin room, I think the hotel is value for money. You get a comfortable bed, air conditioning, rain shower and okay wifi. I’d definitely stay here again if I am staying over in JB.

The Good

  • Superb location: The hotel is just behind City Square, you can pop by for an afternoon nap if you are tired. After a night’s shopping, you are reassured that the hotel is nearby.
  • There is a 7/11 next to the hotel, night hawkers and a few coffee shops in front of the hotel.
  • The staff is warm and friendly, there is a leave luggage option if you want to do more shopping or cafe hopping the next day.

The Not So Good

  • The bed is not a standard hotel issue bed – it is on the softer side and you feel like you sink into clouds.
  • Jalan Meldrum is quite a busy area, plenty of people (esp middle-old aged men) gather in the coffee shops to watch soccer. Think of it as your Chinatown. I don’t feel that this is an issue but plenty of reviewers pointed this out.
  • We found a dead cockroach in our shower. No big deal for us, I just picked it up with a tissue paper and flushed it down.
Hotel Bello Hotel
Address 21 Jalan Meldrum, 80000 Johor Bahru, Malaysia
Opening hours Check in: 2pm, Check out: 12 noon
How to get there Walk from City Square
Google Map Bello Hotel

Bangkok 2016: The Cube Hostel

My accommodation pick used to be First House but after the endless walking to MRT or BTS in the hot Bangkok sun, I wasn’t going to do the long walks anymore.

Enter The Cube Hostel.

The best thing about the hostel has got to be its prime location. Stroll out Sala Daeng Road, turn left for BTS and right for MRT. Both are approximately 5 minutes walk away.

Image Credit: Google Map

Let’s jump straight to the rooms because that’s what you’re concerned with most right?

Dorms are accessible via key card only

I stayed in an 8-bed female dormitory. 4 nights cost me approximately S$80.

The facilities include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Personal + luggage (mid-sized) lockers
  • Towels
  • Toiletries (Shower gel + shampoo)
  • Free wifi in all areas (but don’t expect fibre speed)

Each dorm requires a key card access. But this does not mean absolute safety – read on to understand why.

Continue reading “Bangkok 2016: The Cube Hostel”

Kyoto: Khaosan Kyoto Theater (Hostel)

Me – I’m determined to stretch out my hostel years as far as it goes. I recognise that soon, in a couple of years, I would probably have grown out of communal living.

The first time I stayed in Khaosan Kyoto Theater was in September 2014 and then again in May 2015. Both of my stays were great and enjoyable! Then, in September, the hostel was just about done. The hostel is smack in the heart of Kyoto, right where all exciting things are.

We stayed in an 8-bed all female, Kimono-wrapped beds.

Second skinny and tall hostel I’m at.

The reception as you walk in

Let’s fast forward this entry right to the dorms. Continue reading “Kyoto: Khaosan Kyoto Theater (Hostel)”

Osaka: Hostel 64 Osaka

When I was booking accommodation in Osaka this time, I had initially wanted to go with my first choice, Osaka Hana Hostel. The rooms that I wanted (female dorms or private rooms) were fully booked, perhaps two months before our trip. Yes, I am serious. That’s Japan for you. Hostel 64 Osaka wasn’t my initial top choice but I’m glad I went with it. Massive pic spam, my comments in between. End of post for review!

Hostel 64 Osaka is an entire short building

I totally forgot to take a picture of the steep stairs – there are no lifts in this gentrified building. * Insert horror face at lugging your luggage up the stairs* Continue reading “Osaka: Hostel 64 Osaka”

Bangkok 2015: Airbnb review

I usually stay at First House Hotel when I’m in Bangkok but seeing that I’m heading there with Bestie + BF, I suggested for us to stay in an apartment instead. I looked for a 2 bedroom and 2 baths apartment.

I enjoy the freedom and independence of staying in my own bedroom and toilet which means I can be the first to shower yay!

We stayed near Ploen Chit BTS.

The condo that the apartment was situated in.

The check in process was much like a hotel. The owner arranged for the condo office to pass us the key cards. Basically, you show the condo office your Airbnb booking and tadahhh your key cards come.

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Bali (Legian): Kubu Kauh Beach Inn

If you’re in Bali for a happening beach holiday, tourists typically veer towards Kuta or Seminyak  for their hotel. Since I was on an extended two-week trip and I’m not a picky person, I don’t have to stay in a nice hotel. My picks usually lean towards flashpacking (which is sort of a more upscale backpacking) or boutique hotels.

There are some hostels in Kuta and Seminyak that go quite cheaply but they weren’t an option for me because I wanted my own room and didn’t want to deal with noise or party-goers. Man, I’m on holiday. So Legian which was smack between Kuta and Seminyak sounded like a perfect spot for me. It’s easily accessible to both areas and sounded more laid back.

It took a lot of Googling and research before I found Kubu Kauh Beach Inn. On TripAdvisor, the Inn does not have a lot of recent reviews and seemed to have just gone through an overhaul. The inn is more like a home stay as compared to a boutique hotel as it is operated by a local family.

Initially when I arrived, I had some issues with room availability because I had my dates swopped around. Thankfully, they managed to sort things out. If you’re heading to Kubu Kauh, here’s a guide to walking into the place because even after staying for 4/5 nights, I still get lost in this maze.

You start at this lane, to the right, is a provision shop of sorts, walk straight down

Walk straight down

You will see this marking on your left, turn in here

Spy the sign?

Congratulations on navigating the maze!

The reception/check in to your right

Continue reading “Bali (Legian): Kubu Kauh Beach Inn”

Ubud, Bali: Jangkrik Homestay

In Ubud, the most common and cheapest option for accommodation is to stay in a homestay. Typically, a Balinese family will own a compound where they rent out rooms to tourists. In central Ubud, there are so many options out there. A slightly pricier option will be staying in bungalows. There are numerous bungalow options, some come with the entire bungalow, others rooms but mostly with more facilities such as restaurants and pool.

However… please don’t trust a pool too much when you’re in Bali.

Before deciding on your accommodation, do hell lots of research and don’t rely on one review site only. Also, do note the dates of the reviews as the reviews could be outdated. Blog posts/reviews are also a great method of sussing the option out.

My criteria for my accommodation was:

  1. Relatively near to Yoga Barn (where I’ll be taking classes)
  2. Near a supermarket and Danamon ATM (My local bank has a partnership with Danamon, hence, lower overseas fee)
  3. Food options nearby
  4. Good and recent reviews everywhere (such as TripAdvisor and and blog reviews (I believe that if a place is good, people will write about it)
  5. Breakfast will be nice but it is not a must
  6. I can do without air conditioning but I cannot do without no wifi

I was glad to find Jangkrik Homestay and mostly, fitted into my requirements. I enjoyed my stay with the Balinese host family, Made, Kadek and their daughter, Nita (I think) and their pets.

How each homestay usually looks like, you enter through a tiny door with steep steps

Jangkrik Homestay shares the same compound with another homestay. If you book Jangkrik, the confirmation email will give you directions accordingly.

Jangkrik compound starts when you see the statue of Ganesha

There’s a gazebo on the left where you can have your breakfast or chill out for a smoke

Continue reading “Ubud, Bali: Jangkrik Homestay”

Seattle: Hotel Monaco

If you’re traveling to Seattle for business trips (I’m guessing Microsoft?) and you’re the kind who like a little more life/buzz, I would suggest for you to room in one of the Kimpton Hotels in downtown Seattle instead of Bellevue where most of the offices are located. Kimpton Hotels own a chain of boutique hotels in Seattle.

Staying in downtown simply offers way more options in terms of shopping, necessities and food. The trip from downtown Seattle to Bellevue is a relatively easy one by bus or taxi. If you’re a survivor of Asian traffic,  Seattle public transport is peanuts to navigate. I had initially opt for Alexis Hotel but ended up at Hotel Monaco as the former sold out on the basic room. Alexis Hotel was closer to the city centre and Pike’s Place but Hotel Monaco was merely a couple of blocks down. I believe the features of both hotel are similar.

I stayed in the Queen Room, the most basic room but even the most basic room is a 1-room suite.

The view once you step into the room

The work desk area for me

The sleeping portion

Each room gets a leopard-print and/or zebra print robe

No breakfast in the morning but there is free Starbucks basic brew with various options of milk and sugar

I remember my stay being enjoyable and pleasant!

Plus points:

  1. Register ahead before you book your hotel stay as a Kimpton InTouch member, this will give you free wireless and $10 mini bar credit.
  2. Comfortable plush bed with different options of pillows.
  3. Central location with a bus stop nearby for travel into Bellevue, it took me approx 30 minutes to travel into Bellevue from downtown Seattle. The bus ride is quite okay since not a lot of people take public transport in Seattle, you’re almost certain to get a seat. The Seattle public library, downtown malls, Target and Pike’s Place is merely a walk away.
  4. There was a recycling programme, if you don’t need your linens changed, I think they provided a coupon ($5 or $10) which you can redeem at the hotel restaurant.
  5. There’s a evening wine hour from 5-6pm where you get to sample a few types of wines
  6. There’s a gym onsite but quite minimal so don’t expect too much.

There wasn’t a free breakfast option but free breakfasts don’t appear to be common in Seattle. There were morning tea and coffee from Starbucks.

If I have the chance to travel for business again, I’ll probably go for Hotel Alexis for closer proximity to sights.