Sutera Harbour Resort & Spa Kota Kinabalu (Malaysia)
I stayed at the Pacific Sutera Hotel from October 3rd until October 14th in 2006. The Pacific Sutera hotel is built within the The Sutera Harbour Resort which included another hotel named The Magellan and also a Health Spa. The resort is surrounded by the Harbour which gives you easy access to explore some of the surrounding islands that ... are a short boat journey away.
This hotel was in a perfect location for us. The flight to Borneo was 13 hours in total and when we arrived, we were pleased to find that the hotel was 10 minutes away from the airport by taxi which are very cheap; you shouldn't need to pay more than 10 ringetts (£1.70)
Arrival and check in
Upon arrival, the staff were more than eager to take our cases and escort us to reception. Check it was quick and easy, so this made our first impression very high! The hotel had 12 floors; all with lift access so would be easily accessible for wheelchair users.
When we got to our room, it was very clean and when the porter bought out luggage to the room, he also bought a tray of chocolates and a tray of fruit which was a very nice touch. From our room, we could see the Harbour and surrounding islands and also the other hotel and health spa. We also had a great view of the grounds of the hotel, fish ponds, swimming pool and bars. We did have to ask for a sea view when we booked though. If you get a room the other side of the hotel which over looks a massive golf course. Our room was big, with a massive king size bed! No exaggeration, it was huge!! The room was also air conditioned which you needed with the heat! We had a large bathroom, with a walk in shower and a full size bath. There are shutters next to the bath which open out into the bedroom, which means you are able to watch TV while having a bath or still talk to the other person you are on holiday with while you're having a soak! There was also a large sink area with a large mirror in front of it. On the sink section, was a tray of toiletry items including toothpaste, toothbrush, cotton buds, emery board, moisturiser, comb and a razor with shaving cream. Every time we used one of these items, it was replaced by housekeeping the next day. There is a safe in the room, inside the wardrobe which is great for keeping all your valuables in. There is an ironing board and an iron on one of the cupboards, and a hairdryer on the side. There were two dressing gowns hung up in one of the wardrobes for us to use while we were there. All the plug sockets in the room were three pin so there was no need for an adapter. The room has a medium sized fridge which we found useful for keeping fruit and bottles drinks in. In the room, there were 2 wardrobes so there was plenty of space to unpack all your clothes. There was also a 5 drawer, chest of drawers. The TV was fairly large and you had a selection of local and international channels. A few good film and documentary channels. There were internet points within the room in the officer area, where there is a desk, chair and lamp. There was a phone in the room where you could make calls to reception free and also make calls to home that would then be charged to the room. The hotel offered 24 hour room service and we thought the prices were very reasonable. The food was more based on snack foods than proper meals though. Items like Caesar Salad, Burgers, French Fries and Spring Rolls.
Sister Hotel - The Magellan
As we were staying at this hotel, we were also allowed to use the facilities of the sister hotel The Magellan and the Health Spa in the middle of the hotels. The Health Spa offered a sauna and steam room that are both free of charge, although there are separate rooms for males and females. The Magellan Hotel had a bowling alley on the 2nd floor which cost us £10 for 2 games each and a complimentary soft drink. On the same floor, there was a Billiard Room where there were two tables and it cost about £2 per hour that you play. Next door to Billiard Room was a restaurant called Spice Island which did Indian based food. Men will be asked to wear long trousers as dress code but for women there isn't a dress code! The food was very nice although quite spicy. It was a lot more expensive to eat here than it was in town. Our meal cost us £20 for both of us and in a smaller shop in town nearly the same meal cost us £8 for both. Across from the restaurant there was a cinema although in the time we spent there it never appeared to be open and wasn't showing very up to date films. The Magellan also has a fresh pizza bakery where you can also have a meal. This was also more expensive that in town. There is also a large gift shop selling souvenirs, food, cigarettes, drinks and toiletry items and medication. The Magellan had an Olympic size swimming pool and a smaller kiddie's pool with a couple of waterslides that were free of charge. There was a poolside bar which offered snack type foods and soft and alcoholic drinks.
The Pacific Sutera Hotel Facilities
The Pacific Sutera Hotel had fish ponds on the grounds with hundreds of rather nice Koi Carp! The bridges across the ponds, led you to the swimming pool and bar area. There is also a small Cove area where you can lay on a small section of beach and swim in the sea and snorkel. The pool is large and has an area in the middle that is only about 1.5 feet deep so you can lay on this to keep cool and still sunbathe!
There were lots of sun beds, all with soft mattresses on them and a small table between the beds. There was a small poolside bar, you could swim up to it one side, or walk up to it the other. This bar serves alcoholic drinks such as beer and cocktails and also did some snack type foods. These are also large than our type of snacks though. For example, I had a tuna baguette and it came with two medium sized baguettes stuffed full with tuna, cheese, egg, salad and mayo and also a large portion of chips. The average price of the snacks is about £3. A can of coke was £1.50 which we thought was quite expensive for a can of drink. Beer was £3 for half a pint and cocktails were the same price! They also served some gorgeous smoothies, banana, mango and other varieties of fruit which were also £3. The bar had waitresses which would come around the sun beds, regularly and ask if you would like more drinks, we found this very useful as we were getting far too lazy in all the sunshine! The waitresses also bought round flannels that had been in the fridge and were ice cold. This was lovely as it gets very hot out there!
Adjacent to this area is a Diving Centre where you can take part in Scuba Diving and Snorkelling on a neighbouring island. We did an intro dive with this school and it cost us about £20 each. This included a briefing, try dive and then an actual dive that lasts about 1 hour. The price also included a return trip to the island you were diving from and hire of all scuba equipment and a BBQ lunch with tea and coffee.
Food and Drink
We stayed on a Bed and Breakfast basis. Breakfast was served from 06.30 - 10.00 every day. The breakfast was a buffet and had lots of variety. It offered cereal and milk, croissants, waffles, pancakes, bacon, scrambled eggs, fresh made omelettes and lots more. You also got Tea, Coffee, Apple Juice, Orange Juice and Pineapple Juice. The restaurant that served breakfast was large and had an outside area and well as a downstairs section. The food was served from metal containers, all with lids so the flies couldn't get to the food. It was all very clean and hygienic. There is also a waitress service in the hotel and then seat you once you arrive at the restaurant and then offer you tea and coffee throughout your breakfast
Spa / Gift Shop
On the ground floor, there was a Spa where you could buy various massages. A small massage i.e., head would cost about £10. The full body and specialised massages were about £30 and lasted 90 minutes. Next to the Spa there was a medium sized gym, although we never used it, it looked very clean. On the other side of the Spa, there was a small gift shop that sold souvenirs. One half of the gift shop had a rep from a local company who you could book various trips with. You could book monkey watching, helicopter rides and to climb Mount Kinabalu. We had all our trips booked so didn't bother with looking at the prices for this.
Pubs / Clubs
Out the front of a hotel and down a flight of stairs, there is a pub/nightclub called Jugs. The hotel holds a special evening i.e., Friday night is Girl's Night and all girls get drinks such as Wine, Beer and Tequila free all night! The nightclub was a fair size, with a couple of pool tables which cost 50p a game. The nightclub also played English music but not so loud that you cannot talk to one another. They had a good selection of International named brands. The nightclub is air conditioned which was lovely!
The Hotel Reception Area
The reception area of the hotel was pretty big and had seated areas, where you could enjoy a few drinks for the evening as there was a small bar in one corner. There were 3 women who sang at the hotel in this area, every night. They sang easy listening British songs and it was nice as background music. The reception was large with 10 counters so service was always very efficient. The hotel could change your currency fro you which was very useful to have. Also there was a Concierge section where you could book yourself on a free shuttle bus into town (which is about 10 minutes away) and ran every hour. You had to book yourself on the bus 15 minutes before you wanted to go into town. The busses drop you off at several main points in town. There is no need to book yourself onto the bus going back to the hotel; you just wait at one of the points at whatever time you want to go home according to the times the busses run. Also at the Concierge section you could order a taxi. There was a taxi rank in the basement of the hotel so a taxi literally took 2 minutes to pick you up which was great! The taxi to town cost us £1.50 each way but you can also use the free shuttle service. There is also a smaller gift shop on the 2nd floor which sold cigarettes, food item, toiletries and souvenirs.
On the top floor of the hotel there was a Club Lounge where you could get alcoholic and soft drinks. Again you could get snack food here. We found that this was normally full of business people and golfers so we tended to stick to the downstairs drink area.
Trips To Other Islands
As I mentioned earlier, we had a Harbour outside our hotel and we booked a few trips to surrounding islands. The islands were between 10 - 30 minutes away and cost £5 each person for a return trip. The other islands were great for Snorkelling from. You could book these trips from a little booth that was on the corner of the Harbour. Along the Harbour, you could see a lovely selection of fish as the water was so clear! You could also see some crabs sneaking around between their hiding places!
The hotel also had a 18 hole gold course in its grounds. They also offered night time Golf as the course was always lit but not enough to annoy people staying in that half of the hotel. We enquired about Golf and it would have cost us around £50 each for 9 holes so we gave it a miss. Although that price did include the hire of everything, clubs, shoes, buggy etc.
Charging Items To The Room
Throughout the hotel, in all restaurants, shops etc, you had the option to charge everything to your room and then pay it at the end when you checkout. We found this useful as sometimes we found ourselves with a small amount of money and we couldn't be bothered to get the taxi into town so we just charged items for that evening to our room.
We stayed at this hotel for 5 nights and then we went away to another area of Borneo to go Turtle Watching and Monkey Watching. The hotel very kindly stored all our luggage that we didn't take free of charge, and were very efficient in getting our luggage back to us when we returned from our trip.
All the staff at the hotel exceeded our expectations. They were extremely helpful and very well mannered. They where very smart Malaysian uniforms and always look very well presented. They all speak a high level of English so there is no language barrier.
Our rep told us when we first arrived that this hotel was used mainly by business type people and I must admit that there were not that many English people staying at the hotel. There were a few Australians also and the rest were Koreans, Chinese and Malaysian's on holiday.
This hotel is rated as a four star but it definately lives up to what you would expect from a five star hotel. I would highly recommend this hotel to anyone wanting to go to Kota Kinabalu!
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Hotel Kronprinz (Emden, Germany)
I can't remember why I chose the Hotel Kronprinz (Crown Prince) for my one-night stay in Emden. The town is small and has only few hotels, maybe the others were all full or out of my price range. I knew that the hotel wasn't near the station but couldn't find out on the net how far it was to walk. I called the reception and ... learnt that I would probably reach it in a quarter of an hour. With a trolley whose handle is too short for me and which therefore always hits the back of my heels this was not appealing, so I decided to take a taxi. This cost 6 Euro. As I also had to take one back to the station the next day, the price for the room wasn't only 55 Euro but actually 67, too much for what I found.
From the net: "Reception open from 7 am to 9 pm (weekdays); up to 10 pm (weekend)"
I arrived in front of the hotel some minutes before 8 pm. The building has two entrances, the right one leads to a Greek restaurant, the left one to the hotel. I climbed up some stairs, opened the door and stood in a long hallway. The first door to the left is the breakfast room with the inviting sign 'Vips only' . Then comes the staircase leading up to the three floors on which the twelve rooms are situated. Beyond the staircase I saw a closed window behind which is a tiny room serving as the reception. Nobody in. At the back of the hallway a door opens onto the parking area of the hotel. A man was standing in the door smiling at me in a friendly way. When I asked him if he was the receptionist, he declined, but he said the man I was looking for was probably still on the premises as his car was still outside. I waited for some time but nobody came. I started to panic, how would I get to my room? The noise from the Greek restaurant behind the right wall of the hallway set a train of thoughts in motion. When I had called, the man had said something about the key to be got at . . . I couldn't get the rest of the sentence then but gathered that he might have meant 'the Greek restaurant'. I asked the friendly man if it was possible that I had to fetch my key next door. He said he wouldn't know. So I went to the Greek restaurant where a waiter did indeed fish my key out of a basket.
So much for the opening time of the reception. What if I hadn't called at all? Would it be too much to ask to pin a sheet of paper onto the window of the reception directing the guests to the Greek restaurant?
My room was on the second floor, the hotel has no lift, the friendly man had disappeared meanwhile and I had to schlepp my suitcase up myself. Fortunately, I always travel light. When I opened the door, my first impression was, "Small and dark". The hotel was built in 1904 but was renovated the last time in 2006. I wonder why the interior decorator decided to put heavy, dark curtains on either side of the window and choose furniture in dark wood. The double bed nearly occupies the whole room, if the door didn't open into the corridor, it wouldn't be possible to get the suitcase(s) inside. Many tourists going to one of the East Frisian islands in the North Sea use Emden as a stop-over before they take the ferry, I can't imagine how they get enormous suitcases full of holiday stuff in.
A dark desk, dim lights, why was I not surprised? The clou of the room, however, is the 'wardrobe'. As I've already mentioned, the room is rather small (~ 3,5 m x 2,5 m), so why stuff it with a wardrobe? Beside the door to the bathroom two boards are nailed to the wall, a long one vertically and a short one at the top horizontally thus forming a right angle. Under the short horizontal one a metal bar is fixed with some wire coat hangers one gets at the dry cleaner's. I found that so depressing. I had to think of representatives of cheap enterprises who have to travel through the country and spend their nights in such grotty rooms. Who knows how many have ended depressed or have ended their lives prematurely? I don't know if the room was clean, I didn't check, it would have been to dark to do so anyway. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn't.
The bathroom is surprisingly light and spacious but as I didn't spend my time there, my spirits didn't lift. Room and bathroom face the street, I can't say that it's a very loud one, but as we don't have traffic at night in front of our house, I'm not used to noise from the street. Good that I had packed earplugs.
From the net: "This hotel is located in the heart of Emden."
As Emden is a small town, the heart is also small. The hotel is definitely too far away from it to allow such a remark. If anything, it's in the liver or somewhere in this region. I strolled down the street for a short while but didn't reach anything interesting and as it was getting dark, I went back to the hotel. I didn't feel like eating Greek food, but there is no other eatery nearby, so I went back to my room hungry, drank the complimentary tiny bottle of water and watched TV until my eyes closed.
From the net: "Begin your day with a delicious breakfast buffet".
When I entered the breakfast room 'Vips only' (Ha!), I found four other guests there, but again no one from the staff showed up. I'm a very modest breakfaster and can't complain about the quantity on offer, it certainly was enough for me. But it was all presented without love if you know what I mean. For example, jam or soft cheese which is sold in plastic containers was not filled into glass or porcelain bowls, the lids of the plastic containers were opened and that was it. The buffet looked as if someone had prepared it who doesn't know a thing about making guests feel good and doesn't care.
From the net: "The following credit cards are accepted: American Express, Visa, Euro/Mastercard, Maestro".
When I had finished breakfast, I went to the reception which was open, hooray, and a man was sitting behind the window, hooray again. But I also spotted a sign, 'No credit cards accepted'. I asked if that was indeed the case and he said, "Yes, cash only." Fortunately I had enough with me, otherwise I would have had to make an excursion into the town to find a bank.
Interestingly, the comments on the net range from enthusiasm to utter damnation. My verdict is that two stars are just right. There is still room below it, for one star or none at all, but there is much, much room above it.
From the receipt: "We'd be glad if we could welcome you soon again in our hotel."
No, I don't think so.
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City Inn Hotel Prague (Czech Republic)
One thing that Prague is certainly not short of is hotels; whether you're looking for a dorm bed in a cheap and cheerful hostel or a swanky five star in a restored art deco mansion, you'll find plenty of choice in most parts of the city. We were only in Prague for one night and wanted to be fairly close to the old town and near to the ... main train station as we'd be leaving for Salzburg on an early train. There are partner hotels of the Hotel City Inn Prague (for example Hotel City-Centre or Hotel City-Club) all over the city but we booked a double room in the one on Hybernska, right beside Masarykovo station * and a five minute walk from the main station; it was a five minute walk from Wenceslas Square and another five to the old town. We booked through hotelopia.com and paid approximately Euro40 for one night including breakfast. (I believe that was discounted for booking in advance and usually the price would be around Euro49)
(* Leave behind your ideas that hotels near stations are always best avoided. This area seemed safe and I would have had no reservations about walking alone here at night)
We had checked the proximity of the hotel to the main train station but hadn't realised how close it was to a smaller station until we arrived; had we known this before booking we'd probably have avoided this hotel but in the end we heard no noise at all from the station. To our delight the hotel is situated across the road from one of the bus stops for the airport shuttle bus so we had door to door transport on our arrival. The hotel does not have its own car-park and I would say that it's not really suitable for those who are driving or who intend to hire a car; on the other hand the good price combined with the reasonable location make it ideal for those happy to set out to explore on foot.
The original building is now looking a little tired, blighted by some minor graffiti but mainly because the exterior could do with a good sandblasting to remove grime from traffic pollution. With some attention it could look quite handsome; perhaps now that the station interior is being renovated, the exterior might be done too. Although there is a lift in the building, there are several steps at the entrance to gain access to the building; there were also a couple of steps from the doorway and bathroom of our room to the main sleeping area so I would advise that the rooms are not wheelchair friendly. As this is an old building the lift is very small and not suitable for most modern wheelchairs.
Reception is on the second floor, the bedrooms are a floor below. We were checked in without fuss and given our keycards. The hotel is staffed twenty-four hours a day and entry to the building is by buzzer. All of the reception staff we came into contact with spoke excellent English. We were advised that breakfast is served between eight and ten but as we had an early train we asked if something could be prepared for us to pick up and take away; the receptionist told us straightaway that if we were outside the breakfast room at 6.30am we could get breakfast then (as it turned out, several other guests had also been similarly advised).
While waiting to check in the receptionist was helping some other guests with some local information; I was impressed by how she handled their enquiries and noticed that she had a good local knowledge and was able to make suggestions as well as answer questions put directly to her. As well as free city plans of Prague, there are plenty of leaflets about tours and visitor attractions both in the city and in the country in general. There's also a vending machine and a small selection of souvenirs (though, obviously you'd do better to buy these items elsewhere).
Our room was surprisingly large, not that we expected to be spending much time there, however it's always preferable to have room to move around. I liked the way the rooms were arranged so that they were clustered in two or threes rather than all running off one long corridor; only the people in the neighbouring rooms had to come into our section and a door at the end of each group of rooms separated them from the main landing reducing noise.
The bathroom was just inside the door to the room and then the main sleeping area was down three steps, another good way to reduce noise from outside the room. There was what appeared to be a place for storing a bag or suitcase just outside the bathroom, fine if you unpacked completely but not so good if you wanted to live out of your bag; however, there was plenty of space in the main area of the room to tuck away a case.
We had what appeared to be a double bed but it had two separate mattresses and two quilts. The pillows were synthetic, much to my delight, and we found we had a comfortable night's sleep in spite of the fact it was quite warm. The rooms don't have air conditioning which is a disadvantage but there was a free standing electric fan that could be moved around the room. The room had a large window and once the evening rush was done there was very little traffic passing outside so it was good to have the window open. There is, however, a pedestrian crossing nearby and the persistent clicking as the lights counted down and the bleeps when it was time to cross were quite noticeable at night; a pair of earplugs should help muffle this adequately if you're a light sleeper.
Although there was no central overhead light the bedside lamps were adequate for our needs; there was a desk but this isn't really the sort of hotel I'd envisage you doing any work and it doesn't have wireless internet access in the rooms (but you can use the wi-fi access free of charge in reception if you wish to). The television set had a handful of channels, a mixture of sport, entertainment and news but nothing in English. The furniture was pretty cheap looking but in good condition and although things were perhaps a little tired, i wouldn't go as far as shabby.
The bathroom was very small: a shower cubicle, washbasin and toilet crammed in to a tiny space but it was all immaculately clean and appeared to have been fairly recently renovated. There were no broken or cracked tiles, no damp patches and no mildewy, grey grouting. The towels were clean and fresh smelling and were a decent, usable size.
The rooms don't have a safe but we did leave our electronic items in the hotel safe while we were out. It cost the equivalent of about £2. We were given a large envelope in which to seal our belongings before the receptionist locked them away. I didn't feel that the security was a particular concern but we did have a fair bit of stuff with us that we really wouldn't want to have lost.
As promised breakfast was available at 6.30am on the dot and although the staff were still bringing out jugs of milk and trays of cooked meats, we were able to enjoy a good breakfast. Although they could have been better there were at least several varieties of juice, fresh milk, a coffee machine and hot water for a good number of different types of tea. There were several kinds of tasty bread rolls and sliced bread, sliced cheeses and meats, and different kinds of preserves and honey. There were eggs and sausages if you wanted something hot. We filled up as we had a long train journey ahead. You couldn't say it was an exciting breakfast but nobody would have starved at this hotel and for the price it was a fair spread.
For the price it's hard to fault this hotel. It's a step or two up from hostel although it's still quite basic but the rooms are clean and comfortable. If you're not looking for luxury and expect to use the room only for sleeping and washing, then this is a hotel I wouldn't hesitate to recommend.
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2 Stars Hotel International
Bundesland: Berlin / Hotel International / Stadt: Berlin / Kategorie: 2 Sterne oder mehr / Stadtteil: Friedrichshain
Hotel International / Address: 442 Orchard Road
Address: Avda. Kansas City
Address: 122 Lake Street
Cairns / QLD 4870
Address: 585 La Trobe Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
Address: Vasaplan 4 / Hotel International / Stockholm / 10137
Address: Vasaplan 7 / Hotel International / Box 884 / Stockholm / 10137
Address: 26 Noosa Drive
Noosa Heads QLD 4567
Address: 16 Noosa Drive
Noosa Heads QLD 4567
Address: Karasuma Takatsuji Higashi-iru
Kyoto / 600-8096
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