The awesomeness of the JB Staycation: Forget staying in Singapore hotels, JB is the new thing and here’s why you should be doing it (if you aren’t already).
Note: This article has been updated with new hotels since its original publishing date in 2016.
You’ve done it, and so have I: we’ve all gone on a staycation at one point or another in our lives. Famed as the to-do thing to get away from a stressful work-week, Singaporeans have kindly and most willingly adopted the ‘staycation’ concept as a part of their lives, and today this concept is increasingly stretching to include hotels across the border (despite the massive jams we’ve been experiencing).
I go on at least 4 staycations a year across the border to JB. Besides the value for money, the experience to be gained in Malaysia is unique – different from the daily humdrum of life in Singapore. So that’s really what I did in 2015, and what I hope to do again in 2016. Here are 10 hotels for you to consider the next time you decide to check-out of crazy corporate life in Singapore and take a break (even for just one weekend!)
DoubleTree By Hilton
Located smack centre of it all, DoubleTree by Hilton has been providing a doubly pleasing experience. This hotel has a myriad of facilities, including a Jacuzzi, fitness centre, sauna and outdoor pool. This hotel also has facilities in place for guests with disabilities. Starting at $103 a night. Shutterwhale.com has done an awesome blow-by-blow review of this hotel, including a food review of ‘Makan Kitchen’.
Thistle is one that looks and feels and is in fact, a five-star hotel but doesn’t quite pinch your wallet the same way. A great option to consider if you’re planning to vegetate in the room for the entire weekend. They have a really large pool which can be viewed from the hotel’s restaurant. I strongly suggest you head out for dinner, as the food isn’t quite up to par compared to the rest of the hotel. The rooms have great views of the Straits of Johor (ask for high floors), though, and they surpass the food standards anyway. If you’re planning to access nearby shopping centres from here, it’s all a cab ride away, so you might want to factor that into your plans.
I couldn’t resist this hotel because of its rate – $108 per night for a spatial suite overlooking the causeway. This is a fabulous hotel to stay in during New Year’s; you’ll get undisturbed views of the fireworks. However, I must say that the rooms aren’t always kept in the best of conditions. I got a great room, but a friend’s room had to be changed (way too dusty). The breakfast spread is also not so great and we did not get the opportunity to try the North Indian restaurant within the hotel. However, it’s conveniently located close to City Square Mall, which is just great!
Here’s the great thing about KSL: there’s a mall (a major one) directly beneath the hotel. And when you’re at the reception of the hotel, there is simply no turning back – opulence is the word to use here! The plush and royal looking cushions are a precursor to what the room actually is – an extension of this luxury. The KSL hotel rooms are carpeted and fitted with necessary amenities such as coffee machines and bathtubs. The KSL Apartments is a private residence that is owned by the KSL hotel group and can be rented for your stay. While it doesn’t include breakfast, this is a cheaper and more spacious option for 3 or 4 of your friends. Plus, the mall is perfect for all the things you need to get done – such as replacing the screen protectors of your smartphone.
Trader’s Hotel, Puteri Harbour
This one is a little away from Johor City Centre and is more easily accessible from Tuas second link by car. You can still get here by taking the bus into JB and then hopping into a taxi to get there. If you’re going from JB Town (which is where you will end up if you go to JB through the woodlands checkpoint), then the cab fare is going to cost you about RM50 to RM60. When you go via Tuas, you can take bus CW6 from Boon Lay MRT Station to get into JB, then take a taxi from Gelang Patah or Bukit Indah. Either way, this hotel is an experience not to be missed. A 2D1N stay here is all you need to get away from the buzz – did I mention it’s right next to a tempting body of water? If you’re doing this as a family or with a large group of friends, then Legoland is very close by – just a taxi ride away. Head out for a day of crazy fun at the theme park and then head back to unwind in your room – which comes complete with an ‘evil’ bed that you cannot get out of and a bathtub to soak your cares away!
Hotel Grand Paragon, JB City Centre
I’ve stayed at Hotel Grand Paragon on more than a few occasions. In fact, it’s now my go-to hotel when travelling to JB for a weekend. This property is not quite close to city square – you have to take a cab out from City Square to get here and if you’d like to get out from here to explore other places, a cab will have to do. However, this hotel is a stone’s throw away from KSL Shopping Centre and Holiday Plaza. You can literally walk out of your hotel to these places! If you’re into night markets, you can visit the night market just outside KSL on the weekends. This hotel has decent rooms, clean bathrooms, plenty of hot water and a good wifi signal – something we all need.
Mutiara Johor Bahru
Mutiara is not a new hotel, it’s actually been around for quite a while. This is a classic hotel situated right next to Holiday Plaza, where you can get your hair and nails done. Holiday Plaza is also one of the places to get a nice, authentic Thai Massage. Everything from the lobby to the room designs is classic, in this property. Aside from being walking distance to Holiday Plaza, you can also just walk across the street to the House Of Sweets – they sell all kinds of knick-knacks here, ranging from Julie’s classic peanut butter biscuits to chocolate teddies.
Holiday Villa JB
Holiday Villa is a reasonably new hotel. It has a Thai cafe (Doi Chang Cafe) on the first floor just outside the reception and a Thai massage parlour across the property. Holiday Villa is also located close to KSL and Holiday Plaza, should you want to head out for some shopping.
Hotel Granada Johor Bahru
Hotel Granada is one of my favourites, as its away from the main area of JB yet you don’t have to travel too far to get there. This hotel is close to the Tuas Second Link Causeway as opposed to the woodlands one. If you’re going in via woodlands, you can take a cab here in under 20 mins. You may not want to get out of this area once you’ve checked in, as there is plenty to do (and eat) here. For starters, the AEON mall is just next door to this hotel, so if you’re looking to shop, this is your area. The nights here are pretty cosy as well, with many shophouses in the surrounding area housing brick and mortar restaurants. There are a few cafes around the area, too!
Midori Concept Hotel, Tebrau
The Midori Concept Hotel is nowhere near JB Town – it’s a good 30-minute cab right away. But its also a great hotel for families. They have triple sharing rooms in the very green friendly hotel. While the map may make this place look residential – don’t be fooled. The Midori Concept Hotel is right next to Austin Heights Water and Adventure Park – a theme park for the whole family. Just further down the corner of the road where the hotel is are several eateries. You can easily spend a whole weekend here.
So there you have it, 10 beautiful and central hotels for your next JB staycation. Have an alternative suggestion to the hotels? Let me know, comment below!