Budget hotel with a unique concept
From the same company as budget airline AirAsia, Tune Hotels is a new chain of budget hotels with locations popping up across Southeast Asia. What’s unique about Tune is that it has the same philosophy as the budget airlines: only pay for what you use. This means that there is a separate applies for WiFi and late check-out, but also for air-conditioning, TV, and even a towel.
The motto for Tune Hotels is “A 5 star stay for a 1 star price”, and in some ways the Tune Waterfront Hotel in Kuching, Malaysia, leaves its competition in the dust.
First off, the hotel has a great location. The hotel is a stone’s throw from the scenic Kuching Riverfront and shares the same street as the city’s top hotels like the Hilton. All of the rooms have really comfy beds with a soft mattress and duvet and mounted to the wall is a LCD TV with premium channels like Star Movies and Sports. The bathroom, while otherwise quite modest, has a rain shower in the glass shower stall, which is usually a treat only found in boutique hotels. The hotel’s reception were friendly and helpful, offering city maps and suggestions what to do and where to eat, and there’s also a simple cafe and tour desk.
Of course, this is also a budget hotel so they have to scrimp and save in some area. The first would be the size of the room – there’s not much floor space to put suitcases and no wardrobe or work desk to speak of. The cleanliness of the bathroom could also be improved, and 5 minutes with a scrub brush and some mold cleaner would make the grout around the shower look 100% better.
Then there’s the subject of the add-ons. The system for keeping track of what you’ve paid for and what you haven’t is actually pretty clever. The key card that you use to enter your room also contains the details of whether you’ve paid for TV and air-con. Simply slide it into the slot on the wall, and the air-con and TV will function (as long as you’ve paid for them!). The prices for these add-ons are very reasonable, too, at MYR12 (about $4 USD) for 12 hours of air-conditioning or for 24 hours of WiFi. While having to pay extra for every little thing might annoy some travellers, travellers on a tight budget will certainly appreciate it. Plus, if you do want all the amenities, there’s a discounted rate that includes them all.
With or without the add-ons, prices at the Tune Hotel Kuching can’t be beat. For a double room on a Monday, booked only 1 day in advance, the room rate was 60 Ringgit (about $20 USD). This is lower than the price of a room with a shared bathroom at a backpacker-style guesthouse. Of course, prices go up a little on weekends and holidays, but with Tune’s frequent promotions and online sales they also can go much, much lower.
Tune Hotel certainly isn’t for travellers looking for luxury, but it definitely is the best value-for-money hotel in Kuching. After a 2 night stay, I actually extended in more nights since I couldn't find anywhere that was nearly as appealing,