From Starlets to Starless

Hotels differentiate office budget and your own pocket

I bet many of you have experienced this: moving from a five-star hotel to a no-star or budget hotel, maybe youth hostel or event a backpacker lodge. And certainly I have. Several times.

Usually this begins with a business trip – workshop or meetings, fancy luggage, high heels and make ups, every little thing that I dislike – continued with a short holiday at your own expense.

A drive from the airport to the five stars hotel is most probably taken on a taxi – some people use one of those Chrysler thingy, but soon after the office business is over, you’d start looking for any cheapest means to get around. Whether it’s a bus, MRT, autorickshaw, jeepney, tuk-tuk, anything.

And these are some of my experiences….


I had this 3-day workshop held at Amari Watergate Hotel, in Pratunam area in the heart of Bangkok. Luckily since the beginning, I managed to resist the temptation of bringing suitcase (can be suitcases if you wish). Instead, I packed everything including my laptop, kamera, business clothes, shoes, shorts, into my 55-litres Deuter. And yes I wore my Teva for the trip from Jakarta to Bangkok. This is because I had the plan to skip to Luang Prabang in Laos after the workshop.

The Workshop with multicultural faces

So then the workshop finished. My international friends started to leave the country and I packed my backpack to move to a budget hotel in Khao San Road – famous for backpackers as KSR. I caught a motorcycle taxi just in front of Amari Watergate and bargained it down, hopped on, and there you go…to the first starless followed by another starless in Laos.

The cost of a night stay in Amari Watergate is around USD 80-90, not very expensive but definitely not my choice to stay alone in my own expense. My hotel in KSR, I don’t remember the name cost USD 20. It did not offer a wide range of brekkie as in Amari, but it’s definitely worth the price. You simply get what you pay for.

It was continued with another budget hotel staying in Luang Prabang. Sayo River Guesthouse is not actually a bad choice, since it has Mekong view, a decent room and shower, a veranda and free coffee and tea anytime of the day. It cost around USD 25/night.

Sayo River Guest House


Another story was in Singapore when my husband got a chance to do training in Singapore. He is very lucky since his company allows the staff to choose the hotel, doesn’t matter how much it costs. Marina Bay Sand was fully booked. Raffles was fully booked. So The Fullerton Hotel it was…

The Fullerton

The Hotel once used to be a general post office, so you can wonder how antique and beautiful the building is. It’s overlooking Singapore River and two country’s oldest bridges, the Cavenagh bridge and Anderson bridge. The interior was luxurious so was the heritage room where we were staying in. Banquet was excellent as so was the price, approximately SGD 700-800 for one night. It costs SGD 6 to laundy a pair of panties. But they do have the best hotel toiletries!

Time is up and the story continued with a search of much cheaper hotel. It was NOT very easy to look for a cheap hotel in Singapore especially because we decided not to go to Geylang. We tried one of this chain hotel, 81, that has over 15 hotels all over Singapore. Searched over the Google and booked it over the phone, we jumped on to MRT (yes MRT, no more taxi) to Little India station. The street to the hotel was Indianish…the smell of onions, masala, flowers…

Hotel 81 Dickson is pretty good. A budget (SGD 100) – those kinds of budget will get you to at least a 3-star in Jakarta – it was clean and got newish look. I think it was a newly-built hotel. Compared to the Fullerton (how dare me!), the room was very small but decent and clean enough. It was definitely sufficient for us to have a good night sleep after one day in IKEA Alexandra.

Hotel 81 Dickson

Kuala Lumpur

A recent trip, about a week ago, brought me and my 28-weeks preggy belly to the capital of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur. Another “nebeng” trip of my husband’s business trip. Flying in with AirAsia, I got to LCCT at midnight. Because my dear beloved husband disregarded my wish to pick me up at the airport, I had to catch SkyBus from LCCT to KL Sentral. He waited me there.

As most of you know, the distance between airport and KL Sentral is around 60 km. I got to the station at almost 2am. My phone was off so I got to walk around (yes with bulging belly and bulging backpack) around the dark and deserted station to look for my husband. There he was reading a magazine with red eyes in McDonald’s.

Jumping on a cab, we drove to Intercontinental Hotel (still famously as Nikko Hotel) in KLCC area. A five-star, I think it has the biggest hotel bathroom I’ve ever seen. But the rest is just like another normal four or five-star with free fruit everyday, two bottles of water, Herald Tribune and so on. It cost around USD 130-150/night.

After a more-than-fulfilling breakfast, we drag the (his) luggage to an LRT station nearby, I think it was Ampang Park. Taking Ampang line to Masjid Jamek, we took a different route and got off in Sultan Ismail station. And there was our new hotel. Tune Hotel.

We had to wait until 2pm because that is the check in time. And Tune sort of has the earliest check out time, 10am. A bunch of not-very-rich tourists from the West, China, and Indonesia were waiting until 2pm.

When we got to our room, my husband said, “It’s so small.” In fact it was tiny. I once stayed here about 3 years ago, it was as tiny but this time it’s not only tiny but needed renovation. For a one night stay, it’s alright, but I think no more than that. It cost RM 95 per night for two. The best feature of Tune Hotel Downtown KL is its location, in between a monorail station and an LRT station. Bus stop is just around the corner. And KLCC, Petronas Tower is just a stone throw away.

So, whether you want to save or splurge, it’s your choice!

3 thoughts on “From Starlets to Starless”

  1. nasib kita sama… hubby 2 minggu di London, nginep di Hyatt.. level kita mah Haiyaaa lah yaww 🙂

    Tapi biar nginep di starless tetap dong gw starlet. A starlet in a starless.. hehehe.

    Tp klo cari penginapan gw emg lbh suka hunting yg bukan chain hotels, kalo dapet yg terpencil murah, bersih, kekeluargaan, dan ga banyak yg tau rasanya puas sudah nemu hidden gem gituu. Jd biasanya gw avoid 81 ato fragrance gitu di SG.


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