Cool rooms for cheap — Indonesia and Malaysia accommodation recommendations

BaliNorth SumatraTravels

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Zen Inn, Padangbai, Bali

I’ve been backpacking around Indonesia and Malaysia for 2.5 months now, so I’ve stayed in my fair share of cheap but clean guesthouses, dirty losmen, flashpacker hostels and wherever else one can rest your head for (ideally) less than $10 a night (no airports or train stations though, like I did on my Europe trip in 2006).

Most of them are very basic affairs. Bare walls, creaky old beds, a mandi or cold shower in the bathroom and a Western-style toilet if I’m lucky. However, some of them have a fair bit more colour or panache than others.

So here’s some recommendations and photos of some of the cooler places I have stayed so far on this journey…


Going head-to-head for title of best room so far is Zen Inn (first photo and photo below) in Padangbai, Bali, and the super cheap Rp 45,000 a night loft rooms at Carolina Hotel in Tuk-Tuk (just above), which had sweeping views over North Sumatra’s Lake Toba.

Both Carolina and Zen Inn had free wifi, decent on site restaurants and friendly staff.  The rooms at Carolina were set in traditional Batak style houses, while Zen Inn was tucked in former shops with HUGE Rp 110,000 rooms (inc breakfast), including their own courtyard, bookshelves and giant movie poster reproductions, just a short walk from the port and the main strip of town.


Probably winning the most colourful room competition was Pondok Wisata Blue Angel in Medan on Jl SM Raja, with this bright Rp 60,000 twin room:


Unfortunately, the mattress in my room was AWFUL and so was the traffic noise coming in through the window. The staff were super friendly though, but I think Resident Hotel Medan around the corner (prices Rp 50,000-120,000 per night), right near the beautiful Medan Grand Mosque, where I’m currently riding out a terrible flu, is quieter and more comfortable for a similar price.  It also has WiFi.

Here are some other hostel and guesthouse recommendations for some of the places I have stayed on this trip:

Old Penang Guesthouse in Georgetown, Malaysia, was EXCELLENT in every sense of the word.  Set in a stunning historic shophouse in the centre of town, in walking distance to bounties of wonderful food, I’d highly recommend it.  Super clean, speedy wifi, cable TV, comfortable dorm beds, friendly staff, new showers and bathrooms, kitchen facilities.  I paid RM 15 a night for a dorm bed, which was great value.

Rucksack Inn in Singapore is located literally a 1 minute walk from Clarke Quay MRT station and is super clean, wifi-ed up everywhere and even has a big screen TV with a Wii and Guitar Hero!  Woo!  Also a great kitchen and washing machine facilities… and power showers.  It’s one of the best hostels I’ve lodged in during my many Singapore stays… I also loved the rather expensive Habitat Hostel Singapore, but it has had to close down due to neighbourhood redevelopment.  BOO!  It was brilliant, with the beds all in self-contained pods with reading lamps.  I also enjoyed my stay at The Mitraa Hostel in Singapore’s Little India district last year.

The owner of Paradiso Bed & Breakfast in Kuala Lumpur was lovely and the communal areas of the hostel were great with WiFi, sofas and plasma screens… but I have to say it.  The bunk beds were REALLY squeaky.  It was in a very convenient location though in Bukit Bintang.

TigaLima Homestay in Yogyakarta is a kos-kosan, so not for short term stays.  But for those in Yogya for two weeks or more, especially if they are studying in the north, I’d highly recommend it.  The rooms are beautiful, the owners are lovely and its super peaceful with great gardens (and WiFi, of course…).

Rojas Homestay in Ubud, Bali, was excellent.  It’s basically the first accommodation on Jl Kajeng (No. 28) when you enter the street off Jl Ubud Raya.  The bungalows (Rp 100,000 a night inc breakfast) are really basic, but set in a nice Balinese home compound.  You feel like you are miles from the centre of town, but you’re actually just off the main intersection.  Nyoman was so lovely and helpful and the banana pancake breakfast was enak :).  I still have to say Gusti’s Garden Bungalows won out because it has a pool, but it is a little pricey for me when I am travelling solo in Ubud.

During Nyepi, I stayed at the very new Fave Hotel in Denpasar, Bali.  It was a bit crazy during Nyepi will all the restless kids locked inside, but the rooms were clean and cool with WiFi and I think they were good value for money for a budget hotel (around Rp 350,000 a night I believe… expensive for me haha).  The location really wasn’t that amazing though for tourists, I think Fave is more suited to business travellers.

So how about you all?  Got any favourite budget places to stay in Indonesia, Malaysia or Singapore?  Spill!

6 Responses to " Cool rooms for cheap — Indonesia and Malaysia accommodation recommendations "

  1. bellle says:

    ashy you should have hooked up a lonely planet gig before you did all this travelling!
    .-= bellle´s last blog ..And now for a bit of revisionism =-.

  2. I would recommend Bladok Losmen in Jogja. It’s pretty, clean, and has a pool, but the friendly staff are the best part of the experience.

    In Ubud, I really like Matahari Cottages, but the price might be a little too steep if you’re traveling solo (about 400,000 IDR for the cheapest room, I believe). That does include a three-course breakfast and a very filling formal afternoon tea. The rooms are all themed, and remarkable attention has been paid to the details. We stayed in the Princess Batavia room (don’t laugh). Free wifi, and a small little spring-fed cold jacuzzi overlooking the jungle. The staff here were great, too.
    .-= Aaron Connelly´s last blog ..From Centerfold to Candidate =-.

  3. Ashlee says:

    Anywhere with a Princess Batavia room sounds amazing haha! thanks for sharing your tips!!
    .-= Ashlee´s last blog ..Welcome to Banda Aceh… and its coffee shops =-.

  4. Ashlee says:

    I have to add another recommendation… The Island in Bali, which I think hands-down wins the prize for nicest dorm I have ever stayed in. The link is I had a really lovely time there and met some cool people.
    .-= Ashlee´s last blog ..Aceh’s tsunami scars =-.

  5. liam says:

    Well thanks for the mention!
    Hope to see you back here one day.
    Liam and Zen Inn staff

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