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Monday, March 17, 2008


Traveller's tip: Tune Hotel, KL

As a perpetual traveller it is necessary that I find accommodation within my budget. I live on a small pension. I live simply. I can keep up this lifestyle so long as I can find accommodation that won't break my budget. I can splurge occassionally but I can't afford to stay in four star hotels all the time.

In countries such as Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and in many parts of Malaysia I can find guesthouses and the occasional hotel with rates that are under $A10 per night. While these are certainly not luxurious I expect them to be clean and have basic comforts. In Singapore such rates are impossible so I simply don't stay there long. In Kuala Lumpur I either have to pay a little more or settle for something less than I like. In the past in Kuala Lumpur I have stayed in Wheelers Guesthouse. It scrapes through on price and barely scrapes through on standards.

Last year Tune Hotel opened in Kuala Lumpur. It has connections with AirAsia and has been promoting itself on the internet. AirAsia is a successful budget airline that I use often for getting around Asia. If I book early enough or am flexible about dates and flight times I can usually get a pretty cheap fare. Why spend a day sitting on a bus when for only a few dollars more you can fly?

Tune Hotel has similar promotional methods. If you book early enough and are prepared to pay in advance you can pick up some pretty good rates. They advertise rates as low as RM10 per night. That's about $A3. For special promotions they even advertise as low as 1 cent a night. To clarify this, advertising in Malaysia is not subject to the trade practices laws that protect us in Australia. As with AirAsia, advertised rates are not what you actually pay. There are a few extras that are added on. But it can still work out as a pretty good deal.

On my previous trip to KL, I tried to book for some particular dates but couldn't get a suitable rate. It was back to Wheeler's Guesthouse. This time I had a little more flexibility. After four months in Cambodia my budget is looking pretty good. Besides I was only staying for eight nights. I was able to get in at about $A24 per night all up.

Initially, I only booked one night. Having never stayed there before, I wasn't prepared to lay my money down and then find after the first night that I hated the place. Nor had I been able to find a review on the net. Hopefully this blog will remedy that situation for other travellers. Tune Hotel is on a very busy intersection close to the centre of KL. The traffic rarely stops and the monorail runs right past. I pictured myself spending a sleepless night with the traffic noise. So, how was it? Read on.

Reaching the hotel is quite easy. Unless you're loaded down with luggage you can reach it on public transport. You'll find the directions on the Tune website so I won't repeat them here.
Staff are very professional and helpful. I give them full marks. Before I went to my room I asked about the rate if I decided to extend my stay. Fortunately it was under the amount I mentioned above.

Travellers from Western countries might be surprised by how small the rooms are. I've stayed in a similar hotel before so knew what to expect. BTW, I took a double room. It was only a couple of ringgit more for that than a single so why not? The room itself was only just a little bigger than the bed, ie there was room to walk around the bed. There are no chairs. There was simply no space for chairs. There is an entrance hallway and alongside that a bathroom. I was able to put my backpack in a corner where it wasn't in the way. I thought about a couple travelling with several suitcases. They might find it a bit tight. There are no wardrobes, just a couple of hooks on the wall and a shelf above the head of the bed.

Rooms either have a window opening onto the street or onto a void in the middle of the building. I got one of the middle rooms. Yes, it's boring not having a view but if you want somewhere to sit around and relax go a bit more upmarket. Tune is for people who just want somewhere to dump their stuff while they explore the city and come back to sleep. This outlook turned out to be a blessing for me. I could hardly hear any noise from the road. I could open the window and still get a good night's sleep. There was occasionally a little noise coming from other rooms but not so much that it was an issue. Once I realised this I booked the room for the rest of my stay.

Tune took over this building last year and refurbished it. It was previously another hotel. Generally everything is new and works. Unfortunately they've economised on one or two fittings that were perhaps there previously and this is a weakpoint but generally the standard of fittings and decoration is excellent. My room was tastefully decorated with a mural that was pleasant to my eyes. The walls both inside and outside the room are also adorned with advertisements. A fold-down table has been fitted to the wall at the end of the bed. It's been carefully designed so you can sit on the bed while using it as a desk or to eat a meal.

About the bed—the Tune website calls it a five-star queen-size bed. I don't agree. Maybe Asian queens are smaller than Westerners. I think in Australia the bed would barely be able to be called double. I slept diagonally. If two six footers slept in it their feet might hang over the end. The bed has plenty of comfort padding. This probably would suit most Westerners but in this regard I'm more like an Asian and prefer a really firm bed.

The room has several choices of lighting that can be adapted to suit your needs. There is one power point that takes a variety of plugs. I usually buy an adaptor plug in each country I visit. It was not necessary this time. I have several types of plugs that I've picked up in various parts of Asia and they all fitted. The room has four largish mirrors so there's no excuse for walking out looking scruffy (unless that happens to be your style).

The bathroom is adequate with hot and cold water and a shower with an excellent flow. It has an exhaust fan that comes on with the light. Towels are not provided but are available as an optional extra. There's a team of cleaners who do a good job.

Entry to the room is by electronic card that also controls the power once you are inside. If you don't close the door properly it beeps a friendly reminder. I found security to be quite good. There are also security staff on duty in the lobby.

Free internet access is available in a little internet 'cafe' in a room off the lobby. There are only five computers and occassionally they were all busy. Download speeds are reasonable. The computers appear to have no software installed other than Explorer. Other guest facilities include a coin-op laundry. There's a convenience store and couple of eateries in the lobby area.

If you are looking for some variety in food, there are plenty of eating places in the general area but they are limited. You have a choice of Western fast food, Malay or Indian.

That's about it. I found Tune met my needs for this stay. I'll probably return. Not sure when. They also have branches opening within the next year in other parts of Malaysia. Check out their website for details.

Footnote 28/12/08:
I've returned again to Tune Hotel and have updated this post: here.

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