Our original JB staycation was planned for only 1 night, but dear sis went to book another night at Holiday Villa Johor Bahru City Centre after we booked the night at Renaissance Johor Bahru. Holiday Villa is a new 1 year old hotel opened in March 2016, just next to the popular KSL City Mall that many Singaporeans are familiar with. We went there by the convenient Grabcar after checking out of Renaissance in the late afternoon (to maximise our 5-star staycation benefits haha), in time for exploring the popular night market happening every Mon evening around KSL.
Check-in time starts from 2pm, so by the time we reached around 5pm, there was no queue = we were attended to immediately. The hotel lobby is airy & bright, but don’t think it can be considered posh, just modern 4-star hotel look. 😛 As my sis had booked a twin-sharing room online, she checked with the reception if breakfast would be for 2 guests or not. Weirdly, only 1 breakfast was included in the room rate, so if I were to join her, I would have to pay 45++ MYR (S$14.50++) at the restaurant directly. 😦
As we entered our superior room on a high floor with city view (can’t remember exact level, but it was at least 20th floor), we were surprised by the wide passage at the doorway, & also how big the room looked. At about 30 sqm, it certainly appeared spacious. Despite its simple interiors, there was ample natural light coming in (as long you don’t draw down the curtains of course). Just like many modern / newly furbished hotels, Holiday Villa also installed a blind for the bathroom which you could choose to draw up or down for an “open-concept” shower (or not). A pity it was just a rain shower fixed on the ceiling, without a retractable shower head that we could use.
PS: The blind was drawn down when we entered the room & we took quite a while before we found the switch in a corner of the rain shower area to draw it up for photo-taking! 😛
The best part of the room? I guess it was none other than the cushioned window ledge, where you could sit back, relax & look out into the city. Even better for those who love to pose for various #OOTD photos I guess. 😉
The highest level of Holiday Villa was the 26th floor, but elevator access is only up to level 25. Do note that you need to tap your room key card at the entrance of 25th floor after you exit the elevator. Level 26 is a bar (Sky 26 @Holiday Villa) which offers sweeping views of the city at night as you chill over a drink or two. It is accessible via level 25 where the much-raved about infinity pool is. There was no one in the pool that evening as it was drizzling, so I was able to take a photo peacefully hehe, albeit the view wasn’t as clear on a sunny day.
On the left end of this floor, there is a small fitness centre. Seems to be quite highly utilised unlike the one at Renaissance. Or was it because there were not enough equipment hence it looked packed? Haha anyway it appeared quite cool surrounded by transparent glass walls so you can work out & enjoy the towering view at the same time. At the other end of this floor on the right was the toilet cum shower area, together with the sauna & jacuzzi with large windows where you can gaze out into the city. I read online of some reviews that the toilet smells, indeed. Ew… 😦 If not for the cool sauna & jacuzzi, the toilet felt like one that belonged to the public pool. What a shame…
The next morning, my sis went to the Fern Pine Cafe for breakfast on level 9 alone, as I decided not to pay for buffet when there were plenty of cheaper food options around. She said it was a spacious restaurant, but very crowded for the entire duration she was there (7.30 – 8+ am) such that her table was “hijacked” when she left to take some more food. The breakfast spread was average, just the usual buffet breakfast fare & taste was so-so too.
So you ask, is a stay at Holiday Villa Johor Bahru City Centre worth the time & money? Here’s a quick summary of the pros & cons after my personal experience:
- The hotel’s location is great, just next to KSL City Mall & Resort (separated by a little street). That means you are within a stone’s throw to many food options, retail shops, hypermarket & entertainment such as cinema, karaoke etc.
- New hotel (it’s 1 of the latest addition to the list of JB hotels, if not the newest, that opened only in March 2016) with spacious rooms, featuring sleek designs (to a certain extent). I like that they have a small wooden block next to the cabinet, doubling up as a luggage area &/or sitting area for you to put on your footwear before you leave the room, & of course, the cushioned window ledge! 😉
- Price per night was pretty affordable. We paid about S$80 for the night via either Agoda or Booking.com (can’t remember which 1 since it wasn’t booked by me), albeit just inclusive of 1 breakfast. If you add in the breakfast price for the 2nd pax, that’d work out to be about S$95/night. Whether it is still considered cheap, I leave it for you to decide. Just for comparison purpose, we paid slightly less than S$110/night at 5-star Renaissance Johor Bahru, inclusive of sumptuous breakfast buffet for 2. So that works out to be <S$15/night to “upgrade” yourself to a 5-star stay. 😉
- Home to the highly raved about infinity pool and sky bar in JB. 1 of the hot spots to be seen in town. The hotel’s top level also houses a modernly furnished small fitness centre in case you wish to burn some calories off.
- Being so close to popular tourist spot = crowded. It’s not the best place if you wanna get away from the bustling city for some peace & quiet. In fact, we bumped into quite a number of tour buses sending their groups to this hotel, including folks from the infamous country (that starts with a “C”). Needless to say, there were also many Singaporeans like us.
- Free Wi-Fi access is available throughout the hotel. While that certainly sounds like a plus point to many, the absence of a secured network where you have to key in a password before you are allowed to use the wireless connection made us uneasy. Call me a scaredy cat, but I wouldn’t really want to risk having my mobile devices hacked into, just because I made use of the free open Wi-Fi access for a while. Hence, to me, it is something that definitely needs improvement, before you can call it a benefit to guests of the hotel.
- In case you are particular about the bathroom, this may be an important consideration to note. There is neither a bathtub nor a retractable shower head.
- Despite being opened for 1 year already, the hotel still didn’t look fully furbished yet. We spotted empty spaces looking like unsightly storeroom on the top floor, and the retail floor was looking deserted with empty shop spaces.
- There was only 1 restaurant on-site for hotel guests, & according to my sis, food wasn’t fantastic. Thankfully Holiday Villa is near to many alternative food options. It was also too crowded for a peaceful quality breakfast.
All pros & cons listed above are of my personal opinion. Depending on your personal preference, some of the points may not be of concern to you. The choice is still yours in deciding whether Holiday Villa is worthy for a quick getaway. Hope my “analysis” does help you in making a decision! 😉