[Hotel 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.

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[Hotel 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.

[Hotel 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.

[Hotel 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

 

[Hotel Review] – Aloft Bangkok (Stylish Suite), Bangkok, Thailand (27 Feb – 1 Mar 17)

Signage of Aloft Hotel at the entrance

Location

Aloft Sukhumvit 11 is located on Suhumvit Soi 11 and within 5 mins walk from Nana BTS station. Nana is one stop away from Terminal 21 Shopping Mall and 3 stops away from Central World. There are a couple of 24-hour convenient shops along Soi 11 from the hotel. The hotel is along the street where pubs are located, making it a great place to stay for guests who pubs.

The Suite

I checked into the Stylish Suite in Aloft Bangkok. There are 2 types of suites in Aloft Bangkok, Savvy and Stylish Suite. The expansive Stylish Suite has a total floor space of 62㎡, spreading across the living room, the bedroom and the bathroom.

Living Room

Entering the main entrance to the suite, the living room is the first room that greets guests. A door on the right of the entrance is a door that leads into the bathroom. Directly in front of the main door to the suite sits a round table with 4 chairs. This forms the dinning room to the suite. A little further into the suite, round the corner, the suite opens up into the living room with a couch and a coffee table facing the flat screen TV sitting on a TV console. The mini bar area is built into the wall on the left of the living room, where one can find the fridge nicely tucked away inside a cabinet. On top of the cabinet is a coffee maker and an electric kettle together with some reading materials stowed on the shelving on top of the coffee maker. The right wall features 2 large windows that allows sufficient natural light to shine into the living room of the suite. The suite seem lack of maintenance. The light bulbs in the living room seem to have blown and the door to the bedroom was dislodged.
Dinning table in the living room
Couch in the living room with a coffee table between the couch and the TV. The light bulbs in this suite doesn’t seem to work
Mini fridge (drinks are chargeable)
Mini bar area and a rack with reading materials on top
The door to the bedroom seem dislodged

Bedroom

Through a sliding room, I entered the bedroom of the suite. Sitting in the middle of the bedroom is a King-size bed, placed by the wall that separates the bedroom from the bathroom. The sleep quality of the king bed is excellent, which provided me with a great sleep throughout the night. I am not a fan of soft pillows, and I find the pillows in Aloft Bangkok’s Stylish Suite to be just nice for my liking. The bed is facing another flat screen TV that is mounted on the wall, between yet another 2 large panel windows. The spacious bedroom has a bedside table on either side of the bed that comes with power sockets on both sides for guests to charge their lifestyle devices. Next to the wall mounted TV, along the wall that separates the bedroom from the living is where a small work desk is located. There is a panel on the wall that allows guests to plug in their laptops to the TV between yet another 2 power sockets. The bedroom looks a little bare as there are no furnishings on the other end of the bedroom. The door to the bathroom is found near to the door into the bedroom.

King bed in the bedroom
Flat screen mounted on the wall facing the king bed 
Work desk in the bedroom

Bathroom

Passing through the door to the bathroom, guests will be delighted with the size of the bathroom. Stretching the entire length of the bathroom, the expansive bathroom does not feel cramp. At the furthest end of the bathroom, sits a large bathtub with Jacuzzi jets. Next to the bath tub are 2 cubicles, one being the walk-in shower and another being the toilet. The clever use of glass enclosing these 2 cubicles makes the already large bathroom appear even more spacious. Opposite the door to the bathroom from the bedroom, are a couple of his and hers sink with plenty of counter top space for guests to stow their additional toiletries.
A huge bathroom in the Stylish Suite of Aloft Bangkok
Large Jacuzzi bathtub
Walk-in shower cubicle 
Aloft Bangkok uses Bliss bath amenities
Toilet cubicle
His and hers sink in the bathroom

I like the design of incorporating the closet space as part of the bathroom, which provides not only convenience for guests to dress after a shower, it also makes the entire bathroom bigger. The closet space includes a  wardrobe, which is capable of taking up to 1 week’s clothing for 2 guests and a 6-tiered cabinet space with the lower 2 being drawers. This cabinet space provides alot of storage for guests. The in-room safe is located on the middle shelf space here. Opposite the wardrobe are a couple of ledges for guests to put their luggage on. The other door to the bathroom is located next to the ledges for luggage, which is positioned next to the main entrance to the suite.

Wardrobe is located in the bathroom 
Decent closet space in the suite
Ledges where guests can put their luggage on

Breakfast

Breakfast is served in Crave Restaurant located on level 8 of the Aloft Bangkok. There are a wide selection of Thai and western cuisines for breakfast. The food is delicious and filled me up sufficiently with energy to explore the streets of Bangkok. There is even an egg station, where the chef would cook up a variety of ways to cook eggs, according to the liking of guests. There are juices and a selection of coffees from cappuccino to lattes to brewed coffee. Guests would have to specify latte or cappuccino in order to be served those, otherwise the waiting staff will serve brewed coffee.

Breakfast is serve in Crave Restaurant on level 8 
Entrance to Crave Restaurant
Crave Restaurant
Breakfast is served in Crave Restaurant

Swimming Pool

The Swimming pool is located on level 10 of Aloft Bangkok. The infinity pool is rather small, but sufficient for one to do a few decent laps in. There are a number of sun beds for guests to tan on. There is also a wading pool for junior guests to cool off the hot climate of Bangkok.

Swimming pool is located on level 10 of the hotel

Service

Service in Aloft Bangkok is mostly good. My first interaction with the staff in Aloft Bangkok starts when the friendly bellboy assisted me with my luggage the moment I alighted from the cab. They took great care of my luggage so that I do not have to lug it up the flight of staircase into the lobby of the hotel.

The staffs at the reception were a gem in the hotel. I felt welcome immediately with my first interaction with the lady whom processed my check-in. The lady, greeted me with the signature Thai “wai”, is always wearing a smile. She checked me in swiftly and gotten another staff to help me with my luggage to my suite.

Staffs at the reception took alot of initiative to help me resolve my damaged luggage issue with the airlines. They provided me with excellent advise and took the initiative to help me call the airlines and the luggage repair company. One of them even used his personal mobile phone and took pictures of my luggage in case I hadn’t done that. The staff have gone above and beyond his call of duty to help me resolve my luggage issue.

The service at Crave restaurant  was a stark difference from that at the reception area. The service was mediocre with staffs appearing to be not interested in providing good service. The staff at the door, did not have a smile on her face and was seen talking to her colleagues most of the time. Empty plates on the table was not cleared, until I had to stack 3 plates than would someone come to clear the plate. The chef at the egg station seem to be in a foul mood on both mornings when I was at Crave for breakfast.

Overall

The expansive suite has a lot of space for guests. The suite is huge and the sleep quality on the bed is excellent. I had a comfortable stay in the suite. The service is generally positive with the staffs at the reception area providing the best service. These staffs were always seen smiling and went their way to help me. The service rendered by the staff at Crave Restaurant was mediocre, however this did not deter me from returning to the hotel.

[Hotel Review] – Kohan Tei (Japanese Style Room), Lake Toya, Hokkaido, Japan (22 – 24 Feb 17)

Kohan Tei in Toyako Onsen

Location

Kohan Tei is located in the East part of Tokyoka Onsen, which is about 25 mins bus ride from Toya JR Station. There is a bus stop, Moto-machi where buses run from Toya JR Station, right in front of the hotel. Kohan Tei is situated right in front of Lake Toya, and has a 24-hour convenient shop within 2 mins walk from the hotel. However there are not many restaurants around the hotel. Most of the restaurants are located near Toyako Bus Terminal, about 15 mins walk from the hotel.
Reception at Kohan Tei

The Room

Porch

A common feature with Japanese style rooms in most hotels, the porch is the first thing I came across inside the 15㎡ Japanese Style Room in Kohan Tei. This is an area where shoes are to be removed before entering the room through another Japanese style door. The futons are kept in the cabinet on the left of the porch, while the bathroom is located on the right side from of the porch. There are no shoe ranks for us to put our shoes.
Porch area of the room in Kohan Tei

Sleeping Area

Passing through the Japanese style door, a small knee height table with 2 chairs are placed in the middle of the sleeping area. The wardrobe is built into the wall on the left after passing through the Japanese style door. The cabinet is rather small which can only hold up to 4 winter jackets. The yukatas are found in the wardrobe. To the right of the inner Japanese style door, the in-room safe sits  in an open space in one corner of the room. The TV console is placed along the wall on the right side of the room with a old school dial in-room phone. There are only 4 power sockets in the entire room, 2 are located in the sleeping area, where one of which is used for the TV. There is another door separating the lounge area from the sleeping area.
The sleeping area
Futons set up for sleeping at night. The futons were left there throughout our stay. The staffs did not keep it away
A small wardrobe where one can find yukatas
TV console and safe in one corner
Tea set for guests to enjoy

Lounge Area

The lounge area overlooks Lake Toya with the floor to ceiling glass door that opens into the small balcony. There are 2 arm chairs and a coffee table placed here. The in-room fridge is placed in the lounge area, behind one of the armchairs, along the wall on the right side of the room. The lounge area is a great place to relax in as it looks out into the beautiful Lake Toya. There are 2 more power outlets here, one of which is used for the fridge.
Lounge area over looking Lake Toya. The fridge is placed behind 1 of the 2 armchairs
View of Lake Toya from the lounge area

Bathroom

The bathroom in Kohan Tei very small and looks like it needed an updating. There are no washlet toilet bowl, just regular toilet bowl which is very cold to sit on in the cold winter. The sink is located next to the toilet bowl and the panel on the sink looks as if it is going to fall off any moment. The bathtub is next to the sink, where showering is to be done with the only shower head in the bathroom.
Small bathroom in the room

Dinning

The rate that I booked included breakfast and dinner is served at either the buffet hall on level 2 or the restaurant at level B1. We were initially assigned the buffet hall at level 2, where the hotel caters mainly to tour groups or non-Japanese independent travellers. There is a large variety of Japanese and Chinese food served in the restaurant at level 2. Tempuras are freshly fried in the buffet hall, which makes it rather smokey and clothing will rake of fried smell. The food is good but due to the hordes of Chinese tourists assigned to this hall, dinning here feels like a race. Forget about obeying the queue as the tourists tend to cut queue and shove themselves to get the food they want.

Buffet hall has a great selection of food for dinner. However our visit was marred by the staff from China at the front of the dinning area and the hordes of tourists from China whom cut queues and shove their way to grab food

We were subsequently assigned to the restaurant in B1 due to service we received at the buffet hall (read about it below), which serves mainly Japanese guests. The restaurant is smaller in size but the variety of food is generally similar to that served in the buffet hall. Food are fresh and delicious.

Restaurant at B1 that mainly serves Japanese guests. The food offering is the same as that in the buffet hall, but tastes better due to the more “cultured” patrons in this restaurant
Restaurant at B1

Facilities

Onsen

The gender separated onsen in the hotel is located on 9th floor. The onsen water come from the nearby hot spring around Lake Toya and has a mixture of Chloride Spring, Sulfate Spring and Hydrogen Carbonate Spring, effective for skin conditioning and cuts and burns. There are a total of 5 onsen pools, 2 of which are outdoor. All the onsen pools faces Lake Toya. The largest onsen pool is indoors. The outdoor onsen pools are placed in a balcony of some sort, which don’t really feel outdoor to me.

Onsen in Kohan Tei is located on the 9th floor
Waiting area outside the onsen
Male onsen
Corridor that leads to the onsen in Kohan Tei

Souvenir Shop

There is a souvenir shop in Kohan Tei on 1st floor, next to the reception. There is a good selection of souvenirs from the local area, but mainly from all around Hokkaido, which can be gotten from elsewhere.

Souvenir shop that is closed at the time we arrived at Kohan Tei

Service

Service was more negative than positive. As I arrived earlier than the check-in timing, the staff at the reception appeared irritated when seeing me at the reception trying to check if I can check-in. Without a smile and without checking, she stuck to the policy of checking-in at 2pm. When I checked with her regarding the nearby sights, she merely said she don’t know. When asked if we can leave our luggage at the reception until we come back later, the staff at the reception told us to bring our luggage to the end of the counter and just leave it there. No one attempted to bring our luggage and store it securely. When returning some hours later, our luggage is still outside the reception counter. There is no attempt to help guests secure their luggage by the hotel.

There are staffs knocking on our door at around 6pm asking to set up the futons for us. As we were preparing to head out for dinner, we told the staff to give us 5 mins. Before we leave the room, we approached the staff to get him to help us set up the futons in our room. We got the signal from the staff that he will set it up later. However when we returned to our room later at night, our room was not ready for sleeping. Futons were not set up and everything was in its “day time mode”. We called the reception, somehow the staff at the other end of the line did not seem to understand us. My friend and I headed to the reception and told the staff our situation. The staff left the reception and set up the futons for us, which was supposed to be set up some 3 hours ago. The next day after returning from our travels in Toyako Onsen, we were shocked that our futons were not put away, as though no one has came to make up our room. The futon was left at the room for the rest of our stay, signalling that no one bother to clean up our room.

The worst service I have gotten in Kohan Tei is the staff from China at the buffet hall. We were not made known that the meal coupons will be replaced the next day (the staff at the reception did not brief us about it), we surrendered one meal coupon. The staff from China shouted at us and told us there should be 2. When showed her both coupon and explained our assumptions, she shouted at us again and told us the coupons will be replaced the next day and told me to check my facts with the reception. Before we were granted entry into the buffet hall, she shouted at us again and told us to take off our shoes before entering. I raised this issue with the reception and wanted to speak to the duty manager of the hotel, but was told that there are no duty managers in the hotel. Instead she got the restaurant manager to speak to me, with another staff from China acting as translator. Before the manager came, the staff from China questioned me in a hostile manner why do I want to complain, but her attitude changed when the duty manager came.

The only good service I have gotten in the hotel are from the restaurant manager. When made known what had happened, she apologised profusely and instructed the reception to change the place we would dine for the rest of our stay immediately. The staff at the restaurant in B1 was amazing and welcoming. They were very friendly and greeted us as well as bid us farewell whenever we enter or leave the restaurant. The service in this restaurant is heaven and earth from that in the buffet hall.

Overall

The rooms in Kohan Tei are aging and the toilet is very dated and small. The sleep quality on the futon laden tatami floor is good, and the views from the room is excellent. Other than that the hotel is the worst I have been in Hokkaido. The service is horrid except for a handful of staffs, the futon were not set up at night and not kept away in the day. The onsen is rather small, despite boasting to have a roof top outdoor onsen, the outdoor onsens for males are merely placed in a balcony. I would avoid this hotel at all cost.

 

[Hotel Review] – Dai-ichi Takamotokan (Japanese Style Room – West Wing), Noboribetsu, Hokkaido, Japan (20 – 22 Feb 17)

Dai-ichi Takamotokan

Location

Dai-ichi Takamotokan is about 1 hour bus ride from New Chitose Airport and about 20 mins bus ride from Noboribetsu JR Station. The hotel located at the end of Gokuraku Shopping Street in Noboribetsu Onsen. It is the closest hotel in town to Jigokudani or Hell Valley sitting right at its entrance. Noboribetse Onsen is a very small town, walking from on end to the other along Gokuraku Shopping Street takes mere minutes.
Lobby of Dai-ichi Takamotokan
Dai-ichi Takamotokan is a large hotel and has a few  wings. The west wing is the closest to the onsen

The Room

Porch

We checked into the 27㎡ Japanese style room in Dai-ichi Takamotokan in its west wing. The hotel is a large hotel with several wings, west wing is the building closest to the onsen in the hotel. As with most Japanese style rooms in other hotels, there is a small porch area when we entered the room. This is where we take off our shoes. There is a 3 tiered shoe rack stocked with sandals that we used while in the hotel grounds when we were in our yukatas. The bathroom is on the right side of the porch. Further into the porch, before the Japanese style doors, is where the mini bar and wardrobe is located. Other than the mini fridge, the room is stocked with kettle and green tea at the mini bar area. The wardrobe is rather small, which can only hold 4 pieces of winter jackets. The in-room safe is found in at the bottom rack of the wardrobe.
View of the porch area from the entrance to the room
Shoe rack at the porch, next to the entrance to the room. We used these sandals while walking in the hotel in our yukatas
The mini bar is located at the porch area, next to the bathroom
The wardrobe is rather small and this is where the yukata are found. The in room safe is found at the bottom rack of the wardrobe

Sleeping Area

Passing the inner Japanese door inside the room, we entered the sleeping area. The tatami floor is furnished with a short table and a couple of chairs in the middle of the room. At the side, placed by the wall is a small cabinet which guests can use to store some small items on one side and a 2-tier TV console with a LED TV placed on top facing the small table. The Japanese style room feels spacious due to the use of futons instead of beddings. In the evening, staffs of the hotel would come into the room (while we were out for dinner) to set up the futons, converting the space for sleeping. The small table is being shifted to near the lounging area to create the space. The futons will be kept away in the day. The sleep quality on the futon over the tatami floor is excellent, I got great rest at night and woke up feeling refreshed. However I do find the pillow a tad too soft for my liking and had to request for additional pillows.

The sleeping area in the room
TV console at the side of the room
Futon being set up at night for sleeping
Snacks placed on the small table at the time we entered the room

Lounging Area

The lounging area is a small area at the far end of the room, just by the window, with 2 armchairs and a coffee table. Dai-ichi Takamotokan thoughfully placed a neck and head massager here for guests to relive any aches. The lounging area is a great place to sit by with a cup of hot green tea in the cold winter especially at night when the futons were set up. The view of Noboribetsu overlooking the mountains is beautiful.
The lounge area is at the end of the room right by the window
View from our room

Bathroom

As with most Japanese hotel, the bathroom is small but functional. It has all the essentials that is needed for one’s bathing. The toilet bowl with washlet, sink and a bathtub is tightly fitted into the bathroom. Despite the small size, there are still space for one to move around in the bathroom. Showering has to be done in the bathtub as there are no separate walk-in showers. Dai-ichi Takamotokan provides the essential bathing amenities for the convenience of guests.
The space in the bathroom is very small but large enough for one to move around

Onsen

Dai-ichi Takamotokan has one of the largest onsen in Noboribetsu Onsen. Due to its proximity to Hell Valley, the onsens here offers one of the best view in town. Dai-ichi Takamotokan has a total of 7 different type of onsens spread over more than 10 onsen baths. All 7 different onsens have different properties that promote good health and blood circulation. The onsen water mainly has sulphuric properties, a signature of Hell Valley.
Entrance to Male Onsen
Map of the onsens in Dai-ichi Takamotokan

Breakfast Service

Breakfast is served in Gensirin Restaurant on level 3 of the main building. This dinning hall is large enough to cater to a large crowd. There is a good mix of Japanese and Western cuisine for breakfast. Despite having to cater for a large crowd, the quality of food is good.

Breakfast served in Gensirin Restaurant 
There are quite a huge choice for breakfast at Gensirin
Japanese cuisine for breakfast at Gensirin

Dinner Service

Our room rate includes dinner at Yunosato Restaurant located on the 5th floor in the main building. Each meal is 10 course and the menu varies from day to day. The food quality is excellent and the sashimi are very fresh. Guests are brought to a semi-private room to have their set dinner served to them course by course. Dinning in Yunosato Restaurant makes one feel pampered.
Entrance to Yunosato Restaurant
Menu for the first night of my dinning at Yunosato
Sumptuous dinner served in Yunosato
Menu for dinner served on the second night
Menu differs each night when I dined at Yunosato

Facilities

Dai-ichi Takamotokan is a huge and self contained hotel. Other than having 3 restaurants, the hotel has a souvenir shop that sells a huge variety of local produce guests do not have to leave the hotel to get souvenirs. The shops here offers tax rebate to tourists. There is also a karaoke and a game centre for children to entertain at the basement. At certain timing of the day, a huge 2 storey statue will come to life with musics and dolls singing and dancing to entertain guests.

Yunomachi Gift shop where guests can get souvenirs without having to leave the hotel
Entrance to Yunomachi Gift shop
The 2 storey high statue that comes to life at certain time of the day to entertain guests

Service

The service in Dai-ichi Takamotokan is nothing short of excellent. I was made to feel welcome the moment I stepped into the hotel. The staffs I met will always smile and greet me “Konichiwa”. Check-in was very efficient and the staff ensured that I do not have to wait longer than necessary to hand over the keys to my room. I was escorted by another staff to my room and along the way she gave me an orientation of the facilities around the hotel.

Service at Yunosato is exemplary. I was warmly greeted every time I went there for dinner. The manager at the front desk saw me once and can remember which room I was from the next day. The staff serving me food introduced every dish that was being brought to me with a smile. At the end of the dinner each night, the staffs asked how the dinner was and even thanked me for having dinner there.

Check-out was done in an efficient manner, without much delay. Before I depart the hotel, the staff checked if I needed help with my luggages. The staffs at the entrance of the hotel bowed and thanked me for staying with Dai-ichi Takamotokan.

Overall

Dai-ichi Takamotokan is a great place to stay in Noboribetsu Onsen. It has the largest onsen bath and is right at the entrance of Jigokudani or Hell Valley. Dai-ichi Takamotokan is conveniently located at the end of Gokuraku Shopping Street in town. The room is of decent size and the sleep quality on the futon over the tatami floor is excellent. The staffs made me feel welcome and is always smiling and helping guests. I would return to this hotel the next time I visit Noboribetsu Onsen

 

[Hotel Review] – Hotel Route-Inn Abashiri Ekimae (Double Room), Abashiri, Hokkaido, Japan (18 – 20 Feb 17)

Hotel Route-Inn Abashiri Ekimae viewed from Abashiri JR Station

Location

Hotel Route-Inn Abashiri Ekimae is located directly across Abashiri JR Station, where most of visitors coming to Abashiri will step through. There are bus stops around that brings visitors to the major sights in Abashiri. The hotel is within 15 mins from Abashiri city centre by foot and 5 mins by bus to the Ice-breaker cruise terminal. There are some food options around the hotel and one of them operates 24 hours. There is also a 24-hour convenient shop opposite the hotel.
Abashiri JR Station is directly opposite Hotel Route-Inn Abashiri Ekimae
There is a bus stop opposite Hotel Route-Inn Abashiri Ekimae which terminates at Abashiri Ice-Breaker Cruise Terminal
Hotel Route-Inn Abashiri Ekimae signage

The Room

Sleeping Area

The double room I checked into Hotel Route-Inn Abashiri Ekimae is very small, measuring 12㎡. Entering the room a small passageway with the bathroom on the left, leads into the room. The room is very simply furnished. A double bed placed by the wall to the left, facing a 2-panel window, took up most of the space in the room. There is a small table placed by the window. Along the wall on the right side of the room placed a small dressing table with a mirror hung on the wall. This 2-tiered table has a lot of stuff placed on it. The in-room telephone and a small TV is placed on this table together with some brochures on Abashiri City. There is a vending machine in front of the lift on the level our room was assigned selling pay-per-view outdated Hollywood movies. There is a hairdryer mounted on the wall, between the TV and the mirror. Electric kettle and tea are placed on the lower tier of this table. At the end of the table, placed on the floor is a small mini fridge. A small wardrobe, which can only fit 2 large winter jackets, is found sitting in the corner after the table. There are not much space for us to stow our 28″ luggage, we had to shift the small table beside the bed to make space. There are no in-room safe in the double room.
A small passageway leading into the room
Double bed in the room
Dressing table which doubles up as a TV console. Mini bar is found here as well
Small wardrobe that can only hold 2 winter jackets placed in one corner of the room
View of Abashiri from the room

Bathroom

The bathroom in Hotel Route-Inn Abashiri Ekimae is very small. The toilet bowl with washlet function is located right at the entrance to the bathroom, with sink beside it. Further into the small bathroom is a bathtub where one would have shower in. The tap and the shower head shares the same pipe, one would need to flip the switch in order for water to flow out of the shower head or the tap. There isn’t much space for one to put much toiletries. Despite the small bathroom space, Hotel Route-Inn Abashiri Ekimae provides the essential bathing amenities.
Bathroom in the double room

Breakfast

The rate I booked includes breakfast in the hotel. The restaurant that serves breakfast is very small. As we arrived at the restaurant 30 mins to the end of breakfast service on the first day, my friend and I had a hard time looking for an empty table and had to eat whatever was leftover as the food was not replenished perhaps due to nearing the end of breakfast service. On the second day, we arrived early and had no problems looking for seats. My advise is to arrive the restaurant for breakfast early. The food was mediocre and the selection is limited. Most of the food served are Japanese cuisine and the only western food are the assorted bread and some salads but it does the job of filling my stomach.
The restaurant serving breakfast has limited seats
Some of the food served during breakfast

Facilities

There are very limited facilities in Hotel Route-Inn Abashiri Ekimae. As the rooms in the hotel are non-smoking, the only place to smoke in the hotel is in the smoking room on the 2nd floor, where the reception is located. There is a coffee machine in the hotel lobby, providing complementary coffee to hotel guests. The public bath is located on 2nd floor as well, past the reception. Due to the small public bath (can take up to 6 person at any one time), I did not use the public bath here. There are laundary facilities in the hotel, located outside the public bath.
Complementary coffee provided by the hotel

Service

Service is a mix at the hotel but still acceptable. Generally the staff at the reception are welcoming. As I arrived in the hotel 2 hours earlier than the check-in timing. I was not allowed to check-in and was told to come back at the check-in timing. However the staff took the initiative to suggest some sights I can visit in Abashiri and provided me with some brochures. The staff offered to take care our luggage. We were greeted with a smile at times when we walk past the reception. Checking-in was done efficiently, however we were required to pay the room charges at the time of check-in. Check-out is a breeze at the hotel.
There are hardly any staff at the restaurant, except for one who appears to be coordinating the food and another busy replenishing the food. Empty plates were not cleared and guests are expected to place their empty plates in a trolley in the restaurant. The housekeeping staffs were very friendly and greeted us on occasions we past by them. These industrious staffs kept our room clean and tidy.
The reception was not manned at the time of our arrival at the hotel.

Overall

Hotel Route-Inn Abashiri Ekimae is a business hotel and does the job of providing guests with a place to rest at night. The room I checked into is very small, but functional. Sleep quality in the hotel is decent. The service is a mix in the hotel, with the friendliest staff found in the reception. Having said that, Hotel Route-Inn Abashiri Ekimae is one of the better hotels in Abashiri City that is close to Abashiri JR Station.

[Hotel Review] – Lake Akan Tsuruga Wings (Japanese Style Room), Lake Akan, Hokkaido, Japan (16 – 18 Feb 17)

Lake Akan Tsuruga Wings Hotel in Akanko Onsen

Location

Lake Akan Tsuruga Wings Hotel is located at the west of Akanko Onsen Town, by the shore of Lake Akan. The hotel is conveniently located in Akanko Onsen with numerous souvenir shops right opposite the hotel. There are a couple of 24-hour convenient shops opposite the hotel. It would take one 5 mins to walk to Ainu Village and 7 mins to the Akan Tourist Information Centre from Lake Akan Tsuruga Wings Hotel. Akanko Bus Centre is 10 mins walk from the hotel.
Ainu sculptures placed in the lobby of Lake Akan Tsuruga Wings
Ainu artefact on ground floor of Lake Akan Tsuruga Wings
More Ainu artefacts on the ground floor of Lake Akan Tsuruga Wings
Entrance to the smoking room on ground floor of Lake Akan Tsuruga Wings
There is a large TV inside the smoking room for guests to enjoy

The Room

Sleeping Area

I checked into the Japanese style room in the hotel, instead of sleeping on a bed guests will sleep on the futon over the tatami floor. A small front porch greets guests when entering the 30㎡ Japanese style room. As the futon will be laid over the floor in the evening, guests are expected to remove their shoes before entering the room. To the left of the porch is a row of large cabinets where the bedding items are being stowed, and the toilet is to the right of the porch. A Japanese style door separates the sleeping area from the porch. Passing through the Japanese style door from the porch, guests enters into the room sleeping area. The light brown woven tatami floor looks very traditional and clean.

Corridor outside my room
I like the use of the Japanese style wooden gate outside the room, with the wooden roof, gives the room a zen and Japanese feel
View of the room from the lounge. From this angle, the front porch of the room can be seen

To the right from the Japanese style door, placed next to the wall is a built in wardrobe where one can hang some clothing. As the wardrobe is rather small, it is full when 2 winter jackets are being hung. The in-room safe is tucked into the bottom of the wardrobe.

Wardrobe in the room

Further into the room, a small knee height table and a couple of chairs are being placed in the middle of the room. Along the wall to the left of the room is where one can find a small table. There are a couple of power point outlet by the wall, making this table a great place to charge mobile phones. The TV console is further down the wall to the left of the room.

The empty space along the left wall of the room provided me with a place to stow my luggage
TV console where the phone is located

In the day, only the table and the chairs will be in the room. In the evening, hotel staffs will come into the room and set up the room for sleeping. The small table will be shifted neatly to one side and the futons are being laid over the tatami floor. The sleep quality on the futons are excellent. I was able to get a great night sleep at night. The pillows are perfect to my liking as it is not too soft.

The sleeping in the day is furnished with a short knee height table and 2 chairs for guests to relax
The table is pushed to the side of the room and futons are laid over the tatami every night for guests to sleep

Lounge Area

Further into the room, next to the windows is a 3 seater L shaped couch. This is a great area to rest in the day and provided extra space to stow one’s day bag. There is a small coffee table placed in this area. A cabinet, where the mini fridge is tucked, is located opposite the couch. This is where one will find the kettle and tea. The hotel placed some sweets on top of the cabinet.
The couch area at the end of the room next to the window
Mini bar area where the fridge and tea making facilities can be found
Tea cups and tea together with some snacks that the hotel places for guests to enjoy
View of the frozen Lake Akan from my room

Bathroom

The bathroom inside the Japanese style room in Lake Akan Tsuruga Wings Hotel is rather small, much to the Japanese standard. From the entrance of the bathroom, at one glance, one can see the entire bathroom. Despite being small, it has all the essentials of a bathroom such as a toilet bowl with washout, a sink and a bathtub. There are no separate walk-in showers, guests would have to shower in the bathtub. Lake Akan Tsuruga Wings Hotel stocked its bathroom well despite the size, it has all the standard bathing amenities that one would find in a 5-star hotel.
The bathroom is rather small

Onsen

Onsen is located on the 3rd floor for male guests and 2nd floor for female guests. The onsen is rather small in Lake Akan Tsuruga Wings Hotel. In the male onsen, there are 6 onsen pools with temperatures varying from 38.5 ℃ to 40.5℃. A steam room and sauna is built in the onsen area. Guests in the hotel can also use the onsen in the sister hotel next door. The onsen in the hotel next door is bigger and has more onsen baths, located on B1 and 8th floor.
Information on the onsen found in the lift of  Lake Akan Tsuruga Wings Hotel. I did not manage to take photos of the onsen due to the no cameras allowed in the onsen area policy.

Breakfast and Dinning

Meals are served in Hapo Restaurant next to the lift lobby of Lake Akan Tsuruga Wings Hotel. The restaurant is very big and seem to be able to cater to all the guests in the hotel at one go. There are Japanese and western options for both breakfast and dinner. For breakfast, there are the standard american style with dishes like croissant, danish, and assorted bread. There are also things like eggs on offer for breakfast. Japanese options such as sushi, miso soup, rice and onigari etc are available. The spread for dinner is even more lavish. Other than cooked dishes, there is an area serving cook to order dishes and a sushi station. There are Japanese options for dinner as well. There is also another station with waffles and ice-cream. The food is delicious and the sushi tastes fresh in Hapo.

Hapo Restaurant where breakfast and dinner are served
Dessert area in Hapo Restaurat
The cook to order section  of Hapo Restaurant
Cook food section in Hapo Restaurant

Service

The service in the hotel is excellent, starting from check-in. Although the staff spoke very little English, this does not seem to be a barrier for them to delivery excellent service. The good service started at the reception during check-in. The staff, always with a smile, expeditiously processed my room and handed over the key to the room without having me staying there for longer than necessary. The staff also carefully brief me on the onsen arrangements and the place for dinner. I requested for extra pillow in the room and the staff responded to my request within minutes. The front desk staff were also seen helping guests with their luggage. After checking out, when boarding the bus arranged by the hotel for my next stop in Hokkaido, staffs were seen braving the cold weather sending guests off with the Japanese bow.

The service at Hapo is excellent as well. The staff at the front of the restaurant, always smiling, quickly got another staff member to show me to my table for dinning. The staff whom showed me to my table took the trouble to explain where various food are located and departed with a bow and a smile. They did this every time I went to the restaurant for food.

The housekeeping team relentlessly prepare the futon in my room every evening, ensuring they are ready by the time I return after dinner. Futons are put away every morning, the room is ready for day lounge mode after I returned from breakfast. Rooms are kept spick and span every day, with bathroom supplies topped up.

Reception area in Lake Akan Tsuruga Wings Hotel

Overall

Lake Akan Tsuruga Wings Hotel is a great place to stay in Akanko Onsen. The hotel lobby is practically an art gallery showcasing Ainu sculptures and Ainu artefacts. The sleep quality is excellent and the room size is great. I particularly like the lounge area in the room, which is a great place to relax in while the view of Lake Akan from the lounge area is fantastic. The service rendered by the staffs is exemplary. They made me feel very welcome in the hotel. Despite the small onsen in Lake Akan Tsuruga Wings Hotel, guests are welcome to use the onsen facilities in the sister hotel next door, giving guests more than 20 onsen baths to enjoy. At the price, with the half boarding arrangement, Lake Akan Tsuruga Wings Hotel is a value for money stay in Akanko Onsen.

 

[Hotel Review] – Tomamu The Tower – Hoshino Resorts (Standard Fourth Room), Tomamu, Hokkaido, Japan (14 – 16 Feb 17)

Hoshino Resorts – The Tower in Tomamu

Location

Tomamu Ski Resort is located about 2 hours East of New Chitose Airport via JR Train. To get there, hope on the JR heading towards Kushiro from Minami Chitose Station (one station from New Chitose Airport) and alight at Tomamu Station. From the JR station, there are complementary buses provided by the resort to pick guests up. Shuttle buses are timed according to the arrival and departure of JR Trains. No pre-booking for these complementary shuttles are needed. Hoshino Resorts has 2 properties in Tomamu Ski Resorts, namely The Tower and Risonare Tomamu. The Tower is located about 5 mins bus ride from Tomamu JR Station and is at the heart of the resort. It is conveniently located with access to restaurants and other facilities in the resort. The only supermarket in the resort as well as the Ski Academy is located on the ground floor of The Tower.
Hotel Signage
Wooden Carvings at the hotel lobby
Map of the entire Tomamu Ski Resort
Lift lobby in Tower 1

The Room

We booked a twin room and were given an upgrade to the Standard Fourth Room. The 50㎡ contemporary room is very spacious with 4 single beds for 4 adults, and comes equip with 2 toilets. There are sufficient space for guests to open up their luggage on the floor. Entering the room, the first toilet is immediate to the right of the entrance (more on the toilet below), to the left, flushed into the wall is a cabinet that guests can hang up their clothing. Alongside the wall next to the cabinet are 4 mounted hooks, great for hanging winter jackets.

One of the 2 cabinet space for guests to hang their clothing 
Entrance to the room. The hooks on the wall for guests to hang their winter jackets

Bedding Areas

There are 2 bedding areas in this room. One of them is immediate to the right of the entrance to the room, after the toilet. 2 single beds are placed in a corner, next to the large window that looks out into the ski resort below. This bedding area is brighter due to the proximity to the window in the day. There is a small powder table beside one of the beds. The sleep quality on the bed is excellent, I always have a great nights sleep resting on them. The pillows are not too soft, to my liking.

2 single beds immediately next to the large window
We got exceptional views from the room that we were assigned

The other bedding area is tucked further into the room, at the corner behind the living area. There are another 2 single beds placed next to each other here. The bedding area benefit from being directly facing the TV, however due to the distance from the window, it lacks the natural light in the day. The lightings in the room sufficiently brightens this area. There is another wardrobe beside this bedding area creating more space for guests to hang their clothing.

Second bedding area

Living Area

Further into the room between the 2 sleeping areas is the living area. A stand alone cabinet forms a separation to the living area. The mini fridge (which is empty) and complementary tea and coffee is well hidden in the compartments of the cabinet. A large LED TV is found on top of this cabinet. There is another table placed behind the cabinet, which can be used as a place to charge one’s lifestyle devices. There are 2 power outlets (Japanese plug) at the side of the cabinet.

The cabinet where one can find the fridge and coffee and tea. The TV is placed on this cabinet

Behind the cabinet is where the living area is located. A 3 seater couch facing the TV and another large window with a small coffee table allows occupants of the room to sit around and mingle. There is a 2 seater stool placed by the window.

Living area in the room. A perfect place to hangout and mingle

Bathrooms

The 2 bathrooms in the room are identical. The first bathroom is located next to the entrance of the room, while the other is tucked into a corner of the room beside the second bedding area. Both bathrooms are large in Japanese standards. Entering the bathroom, the sink area, which is large enough for 2 guests to put their toiletries on (depending on how much toiletries one has). The hotel is thoughtful enough to provide 4 different coloured toothbrushes for guests. Next to the sink area is the toilet bowl, which has an automatic washlet, a common feature in Japanese hotels. The seats on the toilet bowl are heated, perfect for cold winter weather.  Next to the toilet bowl is where one can find the bathtub. This bathtub is rather deep, and can provide guests with a good soak in. The bathtub also doubles up as a shower.

Sink in the first bathroom. The amenities are placed in this bathroom
Toilet bowl and bathtub
Second bathroom. Other than hand wash, this toilet has no amenities. However it is still functional
All 4 towels are found in the first bathroom beside the entrance to the room. This second bathroom looks empty but comes with bathing amenities such as shampoo, conditioner and shower gel

Breakfast

Guests who booked the bed and breakfast package were given 1 ticket to breakfast for each day. What I like about the breakfast arrangement is that guests are not restricted to having breakfast in one particular restaurant. We were given the liberty to choose any restaurant that opens for breakfast in the entire resort to have our breakfast. I went to the Mikaku restaurant, which is located below Tower 1 to have breakfast. Although the restaurant is small, there are no lack of quality food here. The food offering is delicious and has both Japanese and the standard western breakfast offering. I tried another restaurant – Nininupuri, which is some 7 mins walk located between The Tower and Risonare Tomamu. This restaurant is bigger and has more food offerings, but I find the food here not as good as Mikaku.

Restaurant Mikaku
Inside Restaurant Mikaku, a small cosy restaurant that serves quality breakfast. Onigari is made on the spot to order
Inside Nininupuri Restaurant. There are more food offerings here for breakfast and a large dinning area

Facilities

Hoshino Tomamu Resorts is built on a ski resort, there are plenty of facilities around to cater for both skiers and non-skiers. For skiers, there are 29 courses catering to all levels of skiers. There is even an academy that offers lessons to non-skiers at a reasonable rate. For non-skiers, there are sights such as the ice-village and Unkai Terrace that will keep on occupied. Non-skiers can also enjoy their time in Tomamu Ski Resort with facilities such as the Mina-Mina Beach, sledging and snowmobiling. I tried skiing here for the very first time and as a non-skier, I do not find the resort boring.

At The Tower, there is the largest retail shop right on the first floor of the hotel, where people all over the resort would congregate to get things from food to ski gears. There is also the Foresta Mall within 3 mins walk from The Tower Hotel, where one can find reasonable priced food.

Gondola Station that brings guests in the resort up to Unkai Terrace
Mina-Mina Beach, one of the largest indoor heated pool in Japan
Ice Village which opens at night where guests can spend their time

Service

The service at Hoshino Resorts The Tower is nothing short of exemplary. There are staffs all over whom are ready to help any guests at any time. The great service started at the check-in. Despite being very busy whenever a shuttle bus pulls into the hotel from the nearby Tomamu JR Station, the staffs handled check-ins with a smile and with the signature Japanese efficiency. Despite being earlier than the check-in timing, we were given our room. The staff at the reception spent some time briefing us the facilities in the resort and how to get there. The hotel took note of my request when I booked my room with them, they assigned me the room that I requested for.

There are staffs placed at the shuttle bus stop in front of the Hoshino Resorts Tomamu The Tower, welcoming guests and helping them with the bus timing despite the cold weather. These staffs are ever so friendly and that smile on their faces never ceases.

The housekeeping staffs were excellent as well. Not only did they did a great job cleaning our room, whenever we bumped into them in the corridor outside our room, they will always greet us with a smile and asked how was our day. There is always at least a staff standing in the lobby, announcing the next shuttle bus to Tomamu JR Station tirelessly. The staff always looked out signs of guests being lost and I witness a staff approaching a guest whom appear lost and helped her.

The staffs at the restaurants throughout the resort were friendly too. During breakfast service, they made me feel welcome and the empty plates on my table were always promptly cleared.

Staffs at reception are very friendly despite being busy with the check-in
Our check-in was very efficient and we did not spend a lot of time before getting our keys to the room

Overall

Hoshino Resorts Tomamu The Tower is a fabulous hotel. The room was very well designed and is fairly large. The sleep quality in the room is excellent and provided me with a great rest so that I can enjoy my time at the resort. The view from the room I was assigned was great, with views of the ski area and Mt Tomamu. The resort is built for skiers with the large number of ski slopes and the soft snow. Non-skiers were not left out as well with the numerous facilities to ensure everyone can enjoy a great time here. Service rendered by the staff were excellent. They always make me feel welcome and every staff were not stingy with their smiles. I would come back to this hotel the next time I visit Tomamu.

View of Hoshino Resorts Tomamu The Tower
The snowscape around the hotel is beautiful