Helen Oon reviews this quaint and bijou boutique hotel, in the center of Kuching, the capital of Sarawak in Malaysian Borneo.
24 October 2012
I may have been living in the "wilds" of Surrey for the past 34 years but my native land in the wilds of Borneo will always have a special place in my heart. When I left Kuching, the capital of Sarawak in Malaysian Borneo, in the early 70s in the last century literally, there was just a small airfield for domestic flights and Aurora Hotel, a local outfit, was the only decent hotel in town.
Fast forward over three decades later, Kuching is now a thriving metropolis with an international airport and many hotels have sprouted up around the city such as Batik Boutique Hotel, quaint and bijou and packed full of edgy character. Here guests are treated as friends and informality is the order of the day.
Jo-Lyn welcomed me like an old friend with a glass of ice-cold tuak, a local rice wine, and a slice of cheesecake and checked me in at the hotel bar doubling up as a reception desk with the least fuss and formality. Instead of a formal uniform, Jo-Lyn was wearing a T-shirt and a pair of shorts and a jaunty little cap perched on her head.
Converted from two old shophouses in Padungan, the Chinatown of the city, this 15-room hotel stands out from all the conventional hotels in the city where each room is individually designed.
It lives up to its tagline – "classy, chic and cosy" when I entered my room. Surprisingly spacious for a boutique hotel, the room is bright and cheerful with white walls accented with a large mural of swirling designs depicting modern batik art over the bed.
The simplicity of the white room with the striking mural complete with sparse furnishings is what makes the room chic and contemporary, not too edgy for business clients yet not too stiff for leisure guests.
There is free Wifi in the room and within the hotel premise, ipod station, a safe, a mini bar with two cans of free soft drinks and bottled water, tea and coffee making facility and an ironing board and iron stored in the wardrobe, a godsend when I need to press my crumpled clothes after unpacking. The bathroom is spacious with rain shower head and Tanemera all-natural shampoo and body lotion. It ticks all the boxes of a great hotel.
The operation of the hotel is simple – no tedious formality in checking in or checking out, all rooms are charged the same rates, as unlike ordinary hotels, each room is unique and enjoys the same facilities. The rates (MYR 250 – approx £51/€63/$82 – per night per room) include breakfast and as a favour, they will include free airport transfer if the hotel van and driver are available. Visits to local attractions and tribal villages can be arranged and often escorted by one of the crews as a personal service. It is no small wonder that despite being a new kid on the block, Batik Boutique has already won many accolades and coverage in the media and a reputation as the best place to stay in Kuching.
The hotel is 30-minute drive from Kuching International Airport. Find flights to Kuching: