Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Milford Plaza New York, USA by guest contributor singaporean

For those who have been there during this time, you would probably know that New York over Christmas and the New Year can be a truly amazing experience. New York during this time of the year can also be prohibitively expensive. Which is why I was pleased to have found Milford Plaza (on the edge of 8th Ave and 45th Street) on the Internet when I recently went to New York.
The costs of a standard room with Club lounge access (US$120 or so per night) is one of the most competitive and value-for-money in New York's uber expensive accomodation scene (where $200 and over a night is more the norm). The location of the Hotel is also very much central: being only about 5 minutes walking distance from both Times Square and Broadway, visitors would have quick and easy access to some of New York's most famous landmarks.

When I first arrived at the hotel, I found the room to be functional, if a little antiquated. That said, there was definitely a certain rustic charm to the room. One little matter though was that the walls appeared to be somewhat thin, which allowed me to eavesdrop on conversations that took place in adjoining rooms if the visitors in those rooms were too loud (and presumably, for them to listen in to conversations that I had if I were too loud). This was of course, part of the charm of the place, and can be easily overlooked, though I can imagine how disconcerting that might be if you were attempting to sleep at night and you were beside a particularly noisy neighbour (I was blessed with early sleepers as neighbours). There was a view of New York from my hotel room - while nothing spectacular, it is easy to forget that given the hotel's considerably lower-than-norm charges, the fact that any view is available is, in and of itself, quite a bonus. The lift-allocation-system is also structured in such a way that in most instances, you'd be given a dedicated lift to go to the level that you need - while some find the system inconvenient (and to be sure, it is, to some extent), I loved it since it means there is no need to engage in small talk with other guests.

That is not to say the Hotel is not without its faults. For one, it did appear during my stay that there were too many people who had access to the Club lounge, making it impossible to get seats in the Club lounge if you are not an early riser (whenever I went to the Club lounge at 9:30 am, for example, it was impossible to get seats, though it was much easier to get seats whenever I went earlier than 9 am). The Club lounge is also separate from the level the hotel room is on, which does mean the little inconvenience of taking the lift whenever you needed to go to the club lounge.

In short, Milford Plaza is not perfect, and definitely no big-name 5-star hotel, but for its costs and central location, is extremely value-for-money, especially in the festive season where most other comparable hotels charge almost double what Milford charges.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Reply from Traders Hotel KL

A few weeks back I did a review on Traders Hotel Kuala Lumpur and I did give the management team my honest feedback. Today I receive a reply.

Greetings from Traders Hotel Kuala Lumpur!  Appreciate the feedback provided via our “We Value Your Opinion” feedback form.
It is always encouraging to receive positive feedback about our service and I am indeed very proud of our employees and firmly believe that they are our most important asset.  I have shared your kind compliment with the team and they are most appreciative of this. 
On a separate note, thank you for highlighting the mini bar price list issue to our attention.  Our associate has overlooked this replacement from the previous departure hence our apologies for the lack of attention.  Our Executive Housekeeper has ensured necessary steps are in placed to prevent similar recurrence in the future. 
In any case, we appreciate you taking the time in sharing your insight from a customer perspective.  We greatly appreciate your thoughts and recommendations as it is through such avenues can we further improve and refine our service delivery and product going forward. 
Thanks again for sharing. Hope to see you back in the future and in the meantime wishing you safe travels. 

Best regards 
Ed Brea, General Manager
Traders Hotel Kuala Lumpur, Kuala Lumpur City Centre, 50088 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

I really appreciate when hotels' management actually value customer feedbacks and they make an effort to reply back to the customer. 

Keep it up Traders Hotel KL!!!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Sarawak part3

I am not a fussy traveller. Seriously I am not.
I do not demand exceptional service and never have I asked for a complimentary upgrade in any hotel that I have stayed. Basically I am a fuss free nice traveller.
But when a restaurant/service/product really disappoint you - you just have to blog about it so others who have tried/used it can agree or disagree and others about to try can have the choice to attempt it or otherwise - do I make sense?
Anyway, since my travel in Sarawak consisted of only the city of Kuching - it will be helpful for you if you happen to have a map in which case I do have a link for it - its in pdf and accurate by the time of this blog write up.
Now, the thing I am upset is in regards to a restaurant in Kuching(City Centre) Sarawak called Moly's Place. It is located behind Harbour View Hotel which you can find on the above map. Why am I telling you the location of the restaurant if I am upset with it? - The answer is simple - you may or may not agree with my opinions so you have to judge it for yourself. Let us maintain this harmonious interactions despite our disagreement. Feel free to comments if you have been to the restaurant before.
The reason I visited this open air restaurant is because it was noted as very good by Sarawak standard by a site I Googled. The restaurant is halal.

They have a nice concept of having different tables with different flowers thus instead of table numbers the waiter can simply say - "Two Chicken rice for Bunga Seri Pagi"

After ordering, the wait is super duper long(Will require 20 to 30 minutes to wait). Whats worse, there is only one other person beside my orders.

This is their Chicken Rice. Taste wise - just okay.

This is Pattaya Rice (its origin is actually Thais). Taste wise - just okay.

This is their Ayam Penyet (literally translated as Pounded Chicken). Taste wise - Very good!

This is their fried rice. Taste wise - Okay but what makes it worse is the absence of (or super duper little) meat.

The food above that I have shown is not the delicacies of Sarawak so the restaurant was not to be blame for its sub-standard taste but I expect the restaurant to whip up a rather delicious local delicacies. Unfortunately this was not the case.

A local delicacy - Laksa Sarawak. The gravy was not thick - tasted watery and the flavours were super diluted. (Maybe this was how it was supposed to taste - but after trying from other sources, that was not the case) Horrible horrible horrible.

You cannot say you have been to Sarawak without tasting their Mee Kolok. Again as a local delicacy I expect better but unfortunately I was wrong. The mee tasted like Maggi instant noodles and again there was an absence of meat. Even with the sauce and soup, there was no denying this is comparable(or even worse) to instant noodles stuff.

So my final verdict on Moly's restaurant is this :- only go if you really want to have a good Ayam Penyet meal, otherwise skip it.

Thankfully, I manage to find better food located within an open air cafe. This shope is located at Jalan Gartak - also walking distance from Hilton Kuching. It is actually near the Jalan India area right after the Main Bazaar. You can find it better if you come via Jalan P.Ramlee (the museums are located along this road) and head North.

Then I saw the sign!!!
MEE KOLOK - and after a disappointing taste the day before - I hope this stall can give me a better conclusion to Sarawak food delicacies - if it tasted the same then I have to admit that my tongue just ain't suited to the food and MEE Kolok is an acquired taste.

I always say the Laksa Sarawak stall and without further ado, I ordered both.

This is what the stall MEE KOLOK looks like - different from Moly's Place don't you think so? Taste wise - DELICIOUS!!! The soup and noodles are just fantastic - this is how local delicacy should taste like.

I totally forget to take a picture of Laksa Sarawak because when it arrived, I was still eating the delicious Mee Kolok and totally forget about it. The gravy for Laksa Sarawak in this stall is just superb. It is thick and full of flavours. Those on a healthy diet beware though - the gravy is made from squeezed coconut pulp. But the taste is just SUPERB.

Of course, it is not complete without tasting Sarawak infamous fast food restaurant namely Sugar Bun(Halal). It is located just about everywhere where there are malls. If you are from Hilton all you need to do is visit the neighbouring hotel Crowne Plaza which is joined to Parkson and you can find one outlet over there.

This is Sugar Bun beef stew - the tapioca is of the wild variety so its really an acquired taste. Not too bad though. Rather nice.

This is Sugar bun latest menu - Freshwater Fish Head Assam Pedas (you can ask for the fish tail if you do not eat the head). Verdict - simply mouth watering! Must try if you come to Sarawak and have a chance to sample. Not too spicy unlike the West Malaysia & Singapore version so very good for those who cannot sample spicy food.

Enjoy. Enjoy. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Hotel Review - Hilton Hotel Sarawak - part2

I love Hilton Kuala Lumpur (I know I have not blogged about it because at that period of time I didn't even think of blogging thus I did not take any detail pictures - just a shot of room here and there - anyway I may want to blog about it some day but not today)
Will Hilton Sarawak offer the same satisfaction? Read on and find out!
As a Hiltonhonor Silver member - my check in was greated with a glass of orange juice and biscotti (Hilton KL management team - if you are reading this please do likewise!!!). A very good start indeed.
By the way Hiltons across asia are offering 25% discount for the whole year of 2009 for anything spent in the hotel including room rates, food etc. Of course the catch is you need to book before 31st Jan 2009 - I have already book an Innovation Suite at Hilton KL and will definitely blog about it. You can click on this link to enjoy the offer!
Now that I think about it, I should be an affiliate to Hilton for promoting their hotel.
Oops sorry, now back to Hilton Sarawak.
Ok got my room card key and off I go to my room.
This review will be focusing on its Deluxe Room.
For RM299 you will get complimentary breakfast for two at their Waterfront Cafe and of course the room itself.

Very simple decor, nothing fancy mancy very clean very neat. Oh by the way that crease was made by ME so don't blame Hilton for it. A small sofa (unfortunately not those laze ones) with a round table

(That table was made with a hidden purpose - for you to order their room dining food - I mean a table should not be empty right? Anyway maybe its just me but I just have to order from their room dining menu just to fill that empty round table - with something!)
Actually as a HiltonHonor Silver member the round table was filled with fruits and chocolates were placed on the desk(as shown below) so its really a welcoming treat.
But I had to order their mixed steak as I was informed that their Hilton Sarawak served the best steak! Trust me its true.

Simply delicious!

Their office chair/desk. There is a good and bad with this part of the furniture. The good is that it is away from the tv so not obstructing the view of others who wish to watch tv while you are doing your work. The bad is this - I can't watch tv at the same time I am doing my work!!! Cos everytime I look up I will have to see the following view outside my window;

Not that bad of a view but still argh I should have gotten the Deluxe Room River View.(and yes it cost slightly more) Cos then, I will have a river view instead. Oh well nevermind. Of course if you look slightly more to the right (my digital camera did not come with a panoramic view unfortunately and I also do not wish to be seen as a perv taking swimmers pictures) you will see the swimming pool.

Sorry but I forgot to take the picture of the tv - but take my word for it will yeah - they are still using CRT 29" TV - maybe they will upgrade in upcoming years I am sure of it - not a minus point but I am kinda used to LCD by now so it can be a little difficult adjusting to CRT all over again.

A typical wardrobe of Hilton Malaysia - that kimono piece must be tried - I think it is made from PIMA cotton - I could be wrong but it felt exactly like it.

Clean functional bathroom with a sizeable bathtub shown below. The bathroom is not large mind you so even with two people you will have a tight squeeze.
By the way the toilet did not come with a japanese bidet nor a hose - just toilet papers only.

Nothing is complete of course without their complimentary toiletries. Hilton Sarawak unfortunately disappoint in this area. The bath foam, shampoo and conditioner smell cheap ( I am sure I wasn't having a running nose at that time!) and too soapy for my liking.

That face towels with the orchid on top is just too nice a view that I have decided not to use them at all in my three days stay at Hilton Sarawak and if you are asking whether that mineral water bottles are complimentary - yes they are!
If you happened to book the DELUXE PLUS room instead, you will have an additional living room like this,

And yes, please visit their delicacy shop at the lobby area and give the hot chocoloate a try. My very young cousin was asked what kind of chocolate does she want - the conversation went like this:

Young cousin: I like a hot chocolate please.
Waiter: How would you like your chocolate?
Young cousin: eeerrr Hot and in a CUP.

We all laughed - I laughed the loudest I think. Anyway we ordered all the 3 types (since there were 3 of us) Dark, white and milk.
Of course if you don't fancy hotel food and can't be bothered to walk far, you don't have to. Simply go by the hotel river exit and cross the road and you will come to a hawker centre by the river.(picture below)

Looking at Hilton Sarawak in context i.e considering Sarawak is unlike Kuala Lumpur or Singapore - I sincerely believe this hotel is a top notch quality worthy of at least 4star status. Location wise - if you turn right from the hotel river front exit - its a 5 minutes walk to Parkson, Tun Jugah and Sarawak Plaza (shop shop shop) and not to mention "Pusak Kuching" i.e the Cats statues. If you turn left from the hotel river front exit - its a 3 minutes walk to the Main Bazaar (more shop towards local products), Jalan India (shop for textiles). And just opposite the hotel river front exit - you will get to dine by the river.

The customer service is of course 1st class and I am happy to say that I will definitely return to this hotel if I ever return to Sarawak again.

Overall rating:
84 out of a possible 100

Sarawak part1

Alright readers, today I shall start something totally new - I am going to share my travel stories - of course I have travelled to a few places around the world but never actually want to blog about it(maybe someday when I have more free time) but today I shall start and it will be on the land of Borneo, East Malaysia called Sarawak.

If you are looking for geographical or historical stories on Sarawak - this blog is not the place for it - this will be solely on my own trip experience in Sarawak.( nothing more and nothing less)

Alright lets begin!

Upon reaching at Sarawak international airport (if you are travelling by land either via Sabah or Kalimantan then I am sorry to tell you no such information exist on this blog either) , rest assured that there is NO TOUTING from taxi drivers unlike some other South Asian countries I have travelled to (I won't say the name except it starts with B and consists of 4 letters).

All you have to do is simply go to the airport taxi counter and purchase the ticket there. A ticket to the city centre (which was my destination) will cost you RM23. Places further away will cost you more.

The journey will take you approximately 20minutes.

Next up a review on Hilton Hotel Sarawak.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Hotel Review - Crowne Plaza Mutiara Kuala Lumpur

Getting to this hotel is super easy - from KL Sentral all you need to do is simply take the monorail to Raja Chulan Station and the hotel is just next to it!

This review will be focusing on its Club Floor Access Room.
I arrive slightly early around 1pm plus thus my room was not ready and was asked to wait till 2pm (which was the official check-in time).
I wasn't agitated or anything since I know I was early but since I booked a Club Floor Access Room, shouldn't I be at least asked to wait at the club floor lounge instead? which is by the way complimentary for those staying in the club floor???

But I was too tired to argue - Cos I just checked out from Piccolo Hotel (stayed there to review it) and did some minor shopping before going to Crowne Plaza Mutiara - I decided to have some pastries (I have not had lunch) - thus this was a blessing in disguise - if I hadn't been asked to wait I would not have discovered TIFFINs! You got the try the biscuits and cakes there - they are simply marvellous. Anyway by the time I was finished it was already 2:30pm and my room was ready.

Without further ado let me show you the room.

For my first time ever that I saw additional decorative pillows (the diamond-looking ones) on the bed. They are practically useless anyway to me but on the aesthetics level, they do look kind of pretty - anyway I think they go with the room decor and all. The touch of a batik linen across the foot of the bed really brings out the traditional Malay feel to the room - very cozy indeed.

Next up is the laze sofa - it was indeed very comfortable and it comes with - guess what? - more pillows!

The business desk area is situated away from the tv so this will not obstruct those who wish to do work and those who wish to watch tv at the same time. By the way if you are on the club access floor, the broadband internet is free - and the speed is probably around 1mb per second - not too fast not too slow.

Unfortunately the tv is not big - I really need my plasma 42" tv fix :(

I really like the design of the bathroom very much - you can just laze in the bathtub and watch tv at the same time or if you prefer privacy - you can always use the sliding partition door.

The shower is pretty large enough for two - ehem!
And the toilet is tuck away very nicely at the back away from prying eyes so two people can use the shower and the toilet at the same time without actually having to look at each other - now thats what I call a holy toilet matrimony!

And of course, the things I always look forward to when staying in a hotel - the free toiletries and Crowne Plaza did not disappoint. They use a high branded Australian product Red Earth - [edit] Apparently Red Earth is not high branded but nonetheless it smells really good.

And so for a mere RM518 per night, you can pamper yourself in the room while using the 24hour free broadband and have free breakfast in private club lounge at 21st floor - away from the menial folks who will scavenge greedily during that meal time at the inn on the 1st floor - oh well - life is good when you can afford it - of course for those who can't you can simply get a simple guest room for half of that price (but no free breakfast though)
But of course if you (referring to the the club lounge access patrons) decide to mix with the others than by all mean have dinner at the Planter's Inn on the 1st floor. I have to admit the spread is huge and the food plus service are simply 5star!!!
Overall, I did not expect a lot from Crowne Plaza Mutiara KL considering its a rather old hotel but how wrong I was - the hotel beats my expectation and I am simply satisfied!
Will I return there again? Well yes definitely! But since I have a duty to all of you to try the different 4star to 5star hotels around KL and review them - Crowne Plaza will have to wait for my return :)
Overall verdict:
81 out of a possible 100 (I would have deducted more marks since they asked me to wait instead of escorting me to the Club Lounge but because of that I discovered Tiffins, I have decided not to take any points off)

Hotel Review - Piccolo Hotel Kuala Lumpur

This review will be focusing on the Studio Room at Piccolo Hotel. It is located at Bukit Bintang Area just a stone walk from Bukit Bintang train station. Bukit Bintang area is littered with lots of hotels. If you decide to stay at Piccolo Hotel, then once you alight from the train station head towards the Pavillion shopping complex (just ask - everyone there should know). This is where all the high class fashion good such as Hugo Boss, Louis Vuitton and their likes are situated.

In my excitement to stay in Piccolo - it was classified as a boutique hotel - and since I have yet to stay in one, I got lost.

Actually its easy to locate but silly me - if you are heading towards Pavillion from the train station and after a short walk pass Marriott Hotel, Ritz Carlton and Westin then you have passed the hotel totally - the trick is before you saw Marriott Hotel, you should see Piccolo Hotel.

For just RM218, you can get yourself the best room available at Piccolo i.e Studio Room

Nice ain't it? Yup I thought so too. It is very chic looking and definitely at a bargain price. Do not expect facilities at this hotel - like I said it is a boutique hotel thus the only available facility is one restaurant but if you are just staying in KL for shopping paradise then this hotel is good for mere accomodation.

As you can see the design of the sink and the toilet is without any partitions thus everything is out in the open. Perfect for singles definitely. There is no bathtub in the Studio Room and I presume since this is the best room (highest level i.e 12) then it should be the same for other rooms as well.

The toilet is demarcated by just a translucent piece of glass door - the shower is similar. Thus those who are travelling with kids and are kind of modest(even with their kids) may wish to find another hotel - for those where exposure of the skin is no big issue then by all means - this is the hotel for you.

A very simple looking shower head.

Nicely arrange toiletries - Friends of the Ocean branded toiletries are rather nicely scented.

Comes with a sofa and a nice armchair - Ok this could be a one time instances but after sitting on the sofa my body itch all over.

Simple looking work station - what I like about the room is that the tv is away from the desk. Thus those doing their work will not hinder the rest who wish to watch tv. The internet is almost non-functioning - I could probably call the reception and have them set it up for me but I like a hotel that comes with simple instructions that allow me to set it all up easily and effortlessly. I did not need to use the internet urgently so I did not bother to call the reception.

Basic amenities like the safety box - no ironing board though.

Day view outside the the window - and yes thats the new Pavillion shopping complex.
Night view of the Pavillion from the comfort of your room. You can still hear a bit of din outside but its not too obtrusive that you won't be able to sleep.
This is a basic hotel in the hearts of Bukit Bintang - there is a lot of improvement to be made but since this hotel is very new and has yet to be fully officially launched, the few lacking features can be overlooked. Except for the itch - could be cause by the sofa - this is a good hotel to stay if you are looking for just basic accomodation along the Bukit Bintang area. As they say if you are looking to just shop then Piccolo should be the place for you to just rest so the rest of the money can be channel towards more shopping.
Overall rating:
70 out of a possible 100