Renaissance Johor Bahru: 5-Star Comfort Away From The Tourist Crowd

Almost 2 years ago, I went for my 1st JB staycation with my cousin at DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Johor Bahru, after learning about their marvellous buffet breakfast. This time round, my sister (who had never stayed at Doubletree) wanted a break from her kids & asked if we were interested to go again. However, after checking out room rates, I managed to persuade her to book a night at Renaissance Johor Bahru instead, for I had also heard many positive reviews about its sumptuous buffet breakfast. It’s better to try somewhere new than just sticking to the same old good hotel, isn’t it? 😉

Unlike Doubletree, Renaissance isn’t exactly located in JB city centre, so you probably won’t find the place as touristy as KSL or the likes. In fact, it is about a 20 to 25-min drive from JB City Square. Maybe that’s why it is slightly cheaper than Doubletree, about S$110/night for a deluxe room with breakfast. We booked a GrabCar ride from JB City Square which costed 15 MYR (S$4.80) to reach the hotel in the industrial Permas Jaya district.

As our Grabcar approached the hotel, we were a little surprised to see an old & somewhat dirty facade with the signage hanging high up that reads “Renaissance”. The hotel has only been opened in 2013, barely 4 years old, but it certainly looks older than that with “poor” maintenance of its white-washed walls. So I decided not to take a photo of its exterior haha.

Upon arrival at the hotel lobby, we could feel the stark contrast between its dated facade & the chic interiors. At least, the interiors match what we expect of a 5-star hotel managed by the Marriott group. 😉 It slipped my mind to take a photo of the hotel lobby to show you though… Anyway, check-in was pretty fast & efficient. We were also served welcome drinks (some fresh fruit juice) Although we had arrived at 11+am (way before official check-in time), we were granted complimentary early check-in. 🙂

Thanks to the hotel’s Marketing Communications Manager, we were given a complimentary upgrade to the Club Level Deluxe Guest Room, so we had complimentary in-room Wi-Fi & club lounge access. Otherwise you either need to be a Marriott Rewards member (can sign up for free), or pay about 50++ MYR (S$16.10) for in-room Wi-Fi access & 110++ MYR (S$35.50++) for club lounge access. Not sure if it was intentional, we got ourselves the room directly across from the Club Lounge. My sister was joking that even if free in-room Wi-Fi wasn’t available, we would probably get it anyway since there’s complimentary Wi-Fi in the lounge. 😛

Pleasant surprise to see a “welcome” on the bed & the handwritten welcome note beside the phone 🙂

According to its official website, the deluxe room is 34 sqm, regardless of whether it is the standard deluxe room or club level deluxe room. However, it actually felt smaller than Doubletree, although the latter is only 32 sqm. Probably due to the shape of the room, with Renaissance being wider. The bathroom was also not as posh & spacious as Doubletree, but it’s alright, more important it’s clean & functional. We love the anti-slip flooring in the shower though. 😉

After lazing for a while, we proceeded to level 6 where the outdoor swimming pool, sauna & fitness centre are. As it was around mid-day (& raining), there was no 1 at the pool. The sauna was hidden in the female toilet in a corner, a small one. Since it wasn’t occupied, it felt like a private sauna use. 😉

Level 6 outdoor swimming pool area w/ a small kids pool & big 1.4m pool (taken after breakfast the next morning)

The under-utilised 24-hour fitness centre

Our little “private” sauna for the 2 days 😉

Following a great sweat out, we made our way to the club lounge to check out the complimentary afternoon tea. Great that there was hardly anyone else when we visited before 3pm so we could relax & enjoy the view & F&B in peace.

At night, when we returned to our room after massage, shopping & bringing back night market food (more about night markets in this post) in the area, we were in for a pleasant surprise!

Yet another surprise welcome treat – a delish slice of fruit cake 🙂

The next morning, we finally had a chance to taste the long-awaited buffet breakfast! There was a long queue outside Cafe BLD at the ground floor at 8+am. This was because everyone had to register (or pay if you didn’t book a room with breakfast) at the counter before we could enter. The restaurant was actually very spacious with plenty of available seats. There’s also a sign indicating you can ask the staff for a buffet tour if you like.

Spotted this “Ask Me For A Buffet Tour” sign when queuing for the buffet breakfast

Anyway, we were ushered to our seats after queuing for about 10 to 15 min. There is an outdoor area featuring the egg stall, fresh fruit juice stall and Mamak (Indian) stall. The indoor area is filled with buffet staples like breads, pastries, cereals, and local delights such as porridge, noodles & Nasi Lemak.

Amongst the wide variety of cuisines available, the Mamak stall is our favourite. For a non-Indian cuisine fan like myself to make such a statement, it says alot about the quality of the Indian cuisine offered at Cafe BLD! 😉 The Roti Canai, although not crispy, was really good, especially with the flavourful chicken curry. Even the fish curry that was beside the Roti Jala was awesome, no fishy smell at all.

From top left in clockwise direction: Roti Canai with Chicken Curry, fresh salad, Nasi Lemak & Egg Benedict

From left: Teh Tarik in the background, cereals in front, fresh watermelon juice, fruits & ice cream

I was very excited when I saw the Egg Story stall, as guests can request to have their egg done in 6 different styles, including Egg Benedict! But well, I didn’t think it was that great after eating, although it was a commendable effort. I guess nothing can compare to the Eggs Benedict I ate at Sheraton On The Falls haha.

If you ask me whether the buffet breakfast at Renaissance is preferred over Doubletree’s, I don’t really think so. The quality & variety of food seems to be better at the latter. Even my sister who had never tried the latter before, was somewhat disappointed after the meal. Yes, it was super filling, but our satisfaction level didn’t seem to reach the peak. Even the desserts & fruits section paled in comparison to Doubletree’s, as I remember there were more interesting ice cream flavours & fruit selection.

Since we were given complimentary late check-out at 5pm, we made use of the fitness centre facilities to burn some calories that we piled on for breakfast. Thereafter, we sweated it out at the sauna again, just to maximise our staycation benefit haha.

Heard that the hotel is building a spa facility next to the sauna, which will be ready in the later part of the year. I guess with that, staying at Renaissance Johor Bahru will really make a lovely retreat away from the crowded city centre always packed with tourists. Overall, this 1-night staycation is still a great one, because you can hardly go wrong when staying with the Marriott group isn’t it? The unsightly facade aside, expect 5-star comfort & service when you book a stay with Renaissance, in an area surrounded by offices & food. 🙂 Perhaps you can book a room with them later this year, if you prefer to stay in a hotel with modern & freshly painted facade, as they have plans to repaint the whole building. 😉

You may also like this Trip101 article:

Renaissance Johor Bahru: The Perfect Sanctuary For A Chic Vacation
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