Tag Archives: review

City Center Homestay Hualien Room with Bed

Review: City Center Homestay, Hualien, Taiwan

I was bit surprised I couldn’t find really cheap places to stay in Hualien such as what I found in Kaohsiung. After searching for ages, I decided on City Center Homestay and I’m happy with my choice.

The “homestay” isn’t a homestay. It’s a hotel which isn’t staffed which is how most hotels in Hualien seem to be run. This means that when I arrived, there were no staff available and I had to email the owner through the booking.com app — luckily I had data on my phone.City Center Homestay Hualien RoomThe room I was given was quite large and certainly big enough to store a bit of luggage in as well as house the bed and table and chair. The LCD TV is massive and has international channels, the wifi is fast and reliable and the air-conditioning is icy cold. Too bad it was already cold when I visited Hualien.

I thought the bed was excellent. Super soft, nice big soft quilt and really clean. The shower was hot and strong and the bathroom modern and clean.City Center Homestay Hualien Common AreaWhat was really cool was that there was a washing machine on the top floor for free use by guests.City Center Homestay Hualien BathroomLocation is great. I initially thought the location was bad because it’s 2.5km from the train station. But to be fair, the train station is miles away from the main centre of town. Around the hotel are coffee shops and great eateries and it’s easy to catch the bus to the train station from here.

All in all, City Center Homestay is a great hotel in the center of Hualien. Recommended.

City Center Homestay
No. 83, Xinyi Street, 970 Hualien City, Taiwan
Standard Queen Room: US$36 (check current price on booking.com)

VCR Cafe Kuala Lumpur

Review: VCR Cafe — Is This The Best Cafe in Kuala Lumpur?

I’ve been visiting cafes in Kuala Lumpur for as long as I can remember and to be honest, they’ve largely been mediocre. Crass copies of things that were going on in Australia a decade earlier — they felt old and nasty.

But I really should have been coming to this place all along because it’s now my favourite cafe in Kuala Lumpur. I might even go so far as to say it’s the best cafe in Kuala Lumpur. It’s been around a few years now and I just never got around to trying it.VCR Best Cafe in Kuala LumpurLocated on a small road off Jalan Pudu, VCR is in an inconvenient and odd location. You have to go out of your way to visit it. And that’s why it wasn’t that busy when I visited. I mean, most tables were filled, but there was no waiting list or anything. And I’d kind of expect a waiting list at a place this good.

To get here, your best bet is to get off the monorail or train at Hang Tuah and then walking a couple of hundred metres or so.Coffee at VCR Cafe Kuala LumpurThe coffees I had here were excellent (RM11). Silky smooth milk, a strong coffee flavour, great temperature.

I also had a bowl of granola with yoghurt, milk and fruit which was awesome (RM19). A little small for my liking, but actually a really good size for a normal meal. I probably just usually overeat when at cafes.Breakfast Granola at VCR Kuala LumpurThe fitout is a good one with plenty of tables for singles and couples meaning you can easily set up a laptop here without feeling guilty. And the wifi is good!

I’m a big fan of VCR and I think most people will be too. Highly recommended if you’re into coffee and are in KL.

VCR
2 Jalan Galloway, Kuala Lumpur
+60 3 2110 2330
Opening Hours: 08:30 – 23:00
Coffee: RM11
Granola: RM19

Kaohsiung Central Hotel

Review: Centre Hotel, Kaohsiung, Taiwan

As we’ve moved further south from Taipei, hotels have seemingly become cheaper until the point of craziness. Centre Hotel in Kaohsiung is incredibly cheap for what you get.

For US$14 per night, you get a modern and clean room with big bed, writing table and chair, toiletries, tea making facilities, LCD TV with international channels and lots of space to store you luggage.Room at Centre HotelThe bathroom is basic, but clean and has hot water, but no shower curtain. The floor does get wet when you shower.Bathroom at Centre Hotel KaohsiungThe price of this place is incredible. It’s cheaper than backpacker budget, but the facilities are definitely in the flashpacker range. That is, you get a proper hotel room for next to nothing. It’s one of the best value hotels we’ve ever stayed in.

Oh and did I mention that breakfast is included in the price? It’s a basic breakfast and you might want to skip it, but it is free!Facilities Centre Hotel KaohsiungThe hotel is located in the very centre of town at the big round about. The MRT is a 30 second walk away.

There is no reason to stay anywhere else in Kaohsiung unless you have a budget up around the $60 per night mark. And even then, you’d be wondering where the extra money goes.Big bed at Centre Hotel KaohsiungOf course, this hotel is not for everyone. It’s still a budget hotel and not everything is perfect. But it’s good enough for most people and I recommend staying here.View from Room Centre Hotel KaohsiungMake sure you check the price on Agoda first to ensure you get a good deal. I found Booking.com to be slightly more expensive.

Centre Hotel
No. 6, Zhongzheng Bridge, Xinxing District, Kaohsiung City
+886 7 285 2520
www.centrehoteltw.com

Double Room: US$14 (Check current price on Booking.com)

My other Taiwan posts:

Taipei
Best Cafes in Taipei: I Tried Them All!
What to eat in Taipei – Pork, Rice and more Pork!

Taichung
Things to do in Taichung, Taiwan
What to Eat in Taichung, Taiwan – Markets, Milk Tea and More!
Review: Fly Inn Hostel – Good, Cheap Rooms in Taichung

Kaohsiung
Review: Centre Hotel, Kaohsiung

Transport
How to Get From Taipei to Taichung
The Best Way to Get From Taichung to Kaohsiung
How to get from Taipei Airport to Taipei City Centre (incl. New Train!)

Richmond Hotel Nagoya Shinkansenguchi

Richmond Hotel Shinkansen-guchi, Nagoya, Japan – Near the Train Station, Very Comfortable

The first hotel I ever stayed in in Japan is the Richmond Hotel Shinkansen and it was an awesome way to start the trip.

I stayed in this hotel as part of my trip with Japan Tourism and Cathay Pacific to Nagoya, Takayama, Shirakawa-Go and Kanazawa and because it was my first hotel in Japan, I was curious about the general standard of hotels.Room at Richmond Hotel NagoyaFirstly, the checkin procedure took less than 5 minutes and we were on our way to our room. As is with the case with many Japanese hotels, rooms here are quite small.Goodie bag richmond hotelBut small doesn’t mean crappy. The bed was layered with quilts and soft coverings, the TV was a massive thing of more than 43″, it came with phone charging adapters, pyjamas and the coolest little bathroom!

The bathroom has a deep bath, shower that has good pressure and is hot, electronic toilet with a bunch of settings and even a mirror that doesn’t steam up after you’ve had a shower. Incredible!Bathroom at Richmond Hotel NagoyaThe breakfast downstairs is often included in your room price and offers a wide range of Japanese food as well as a few Western style dishes such as cereal and bread. It was definitely filling and we were happy with it.Breakfast at Richmond Hotel NagoyaLocation of this place is really good if you need to catch a train because it is literally 5 minutes from the Nagoya train station, 2 minutes from the nearest convenience store, but about 2km from the main central district of Nagoya. And that’s something you’re going to have to think about when staying in Nagoya. Do you want to be close to the train station so you don’t have to carry your luggage far, or do you want to be close to the very centre of town so you don’t have to walk far to see the sights.Richmond Hotel Shinkansen guchiFor our first hotel in Japan, Richmond Hotel Shinkansen was a winner! And judging by many of the other reviews we’ve since read, most people agree.

Richmond Hotel Nagoya Shinkansen-guchi
2 Chome Kamejima, Nagoya
en.richmondhotel.jp
Double Room: US$100 (Check current price on booking.com)

Best Western Takayama Japan

Review: Best Western, Takayama, Japan – Near the Train Station and Centre of Town

Located about 100m from the Takayama Train Station, the Best Western Takayama is one of the best located hotels in Takayama mainly because of how close it is to the train station.

Checkin at Best Western was super fast and we were in our room with minutes. We immediately cranked up the thermostat to 25°C and despite it being -5°C outside, the room was sooooooo warm. If you’re in Takayama in winter, you will appreciate this!Room Best Western TakayamaThe rooms here are quite spacious, the bedding soft and the included pyjamas very comfortable. The TV is a big one and the wifi is fast.Room at Best Western TakayamaThe bathroom featured lots of good amenities and the shower was super hot and super strong. Cleanliness of the whole place was excellent.Bathroom Best Western TakayamaWe ate at the in-house restaurant twice. Once for incredible Hida beef at dinner and once for breakfast. Both were really impressive.Local food at Best Western TakayamaIn fact, the breakfast was excellent with a wide range of dishes including salmon, pastries, bacon and crispy fried chicken.Breakfast buffet Best Western TakayamaThe hotel itself is located just around the corner from the train station so you don’t need to a taxi to get there — you simply walk perhaps 150m. The old town is 750m away which is easy walking distance.

We really loved Best Western Takayama and highly recommend it if you need a good hotel in Takayama.

Best Western Takayama
6-6 Hanasato-Machi, Takayama
www.bestwestern.co.jp/english/takayama/reservation/
Room with Breakfast: US$124 (check current price on booking.com)

Taichung Fly Inn Hostel Double Deluxe Room

Review: Fly Inn Hostel – Good, Cheap Rooms in Taichung

After a disappointing experience with an AirBnB in Taipei, I thought I’d switch things up a bit and choose a regular hotel for my trip to Taichung. And I am so glad I did because Fly Inn Hostel was great value for money.

Because I usually like to stay in private rooms rather than dorms, it’s always going to cost me more than a traditional backpacker for accommodation. But Taiwan isn’t as cheap as many parts of Asia, so I was so happy to find this room for under US$30 per night!Facilities Fly Inn Hostel TaichungLocated a 10 minute walk from the main Taichung train station, this hotel is in a great location. It’s also close to Taichung Park and Yizhong Street Night Market. There was no sign out the front and it didn’t really look like a hotel, but I asked a passing local and they pointed me in the right direction.Bathroom Fly Inn HostelAs of March 2017, it felt new! Fittings were clean and not broken, paint was quite fresh and the bathroom sparkling.Facilities included a private hot water bathroom, air-conditioner, wardrobe, table and chair, relatively fast wifi, a couple of cups, a hairdryer, small toiletries set and a TV with international channels. Everything you need really.Toiletries Fly Inn Hostel TaichungThe room is small, but it sort of doesn’t matter because it’s comfortable.

The only negative was that when I was there it was really cold outside and the room doesn’t have heating. It wasn’t the end of the world, but it wasn’t ideal either.Fly Inn Hostel Taichung recommended budget accommodationAll in all, I thought this hotel was fantastic for the price. I paid about US$30, but you can check the price on booking.com here.

Fly Inn Hostel
10 Lianwu Road, East District, Taichung, Taiwan
+886 985 603 099
Deluxe Double: US$29.50

My other Taiwan posts:

Taipei
Best Cafes in Taipei: I Tried Them All!
What to eat in Taipei – Pork, Rice and more Pork!

Taichung
Things to do in Taichung, Taiwan
What to Eat in Taichung, Taiwan – Markets, Milk Tea and More!
Review: Fly Inn Hostel – Good, Cheap Rooms in Taichung

Kaohsiung
Review: Centre Hotel, Kaohsiung

Transport
How to Get From Taipei to Taichung
The Best Way to Get From Taichung to Kaohsiung
How to get from Taipei Airport to Taipei City Centre (incl. New Train!)

Kanazawa Train Station

Review: Dormy Inn, Kanazawa, Japan – Near the Train Station, Comfortable Rooms

We stayed at Dormy Inn when we visited Kanazawa and it was quite good, but there were a few things that could have been better.

Dormy Inn is a bigger hotel than any we’ve stayed in in Japan so far, so the checkin process was a little more crowded. But amazingly, they still checked us in within 5 minutes of us arriving. The Japanese are so efficient and you needn’t worry about checkin efficiency here.Room at Dormy Inn KanazawaThe rooms at Dormy Kanazawa are quite small, but come with large LCD TV (no international channels), fast wifi, smallish double beds, air conditioning and older style bathrooms. Even though the rooms were a little bit older than we’ve previously experienced, they were very clean and comfortable.Bathroom at Dormy Inn KanazawaThere’s a free onsen onsite, but we didn’t try it but friends of ours did. They were suitably impressed!

Breakfast in the morning had a great selection of Japanese food, so if you love Japanese food, you will love this breakfast buffet. But if you prefer Western breakfast, you will be slightly disappointed with this buffet as there are hardly any options — and the options that do exist (like croissants) are quite poor.Breakfast buffet at Dormy Inn KanazawaThe breakfast issue aside, Dormy Inn Kanazawa is a decent option if you’re visiting Kanazawa as it’s incredibly close to both the train and bus stations so that you can just walk around the corner to check in. Kenroku-en is a 3km walk away. Awesome.Dormy Inn KanazawaThe latest prices for the hotel can be found here on booking.com

Dormy Inn
2-25 Horikawa ShinmachiKanazawa
dormy-inn-kanazawa.hotel-rn.com
Double Room: Rp1.150.000

Great Cafes in Taipei

Best Cafes in Taipei: I Tried Them All!

“Taipei has one of the best cafe scenes in Asia”, was how a friend of mine put it when I asked him how good the cafes are in the Taiwanese capital. So when I arrived there, I dove straight into trying to unearth the best cafes in Taipei. And I reckon I found some really good ones. Check em out.

Kiosk

What a fantastic place to come for a great coffee and little snack… perhaps even lunch. A good range of single origin coffees as well a house blend for the milky drinks.

My cappuccino (NT$150) was one of my favourite in Taipei and I think it must be one of the best in Taipei. Silky smooth milk, great temperature and nice flavour.Kiosk Taipei Best CoffeeThe toasted sandwiches come with a range of toppings and we got the grilled cheese with sautéed mushroom as well as the spicy sausage meat with roasted red pepper. Both were really good and worth the NT$180/190 price tag.Kiosk Taipei SandwichIt’s a modern fitout with a couple of communal tables and a bunch of tiny tables for two. When I was there there were a bunch of people working on laptops, so the staff mustn’t care too much if people are taking up this space by working instead of eating.

I love this place! Go here.

(Google Maps Location)

Dawn Surf & Co. Cafe

I love this cafe. It has a really relaxed laid back vibe, with a few soft chairs, a few work benches and a longish bar for sipping your coffee at.Dawn Surf & Co Cafe Taipei frontI tried a cappuccino (NT$140) and it was my favourite yet in Taipei. Pretty strong, smoothly textured milk and good temperature. Susan had a steamed milk green tea (NT$150) which she also enjoyed.Dawn Surf & Co Cafe Taipei insideThey also serve food here, but to be honest none of it appealed to me. But I saw other people snacking on toasted sandwiches etc and they looked quite nice.

A top cafe in Taipei.

(Google Maps Location)

Double L Patisserie

When I arrived here in the pouring rain, I desperately wanted this tiny pastry shop in the suburbs to be worth the effort of coming here. And I was not disappointed.Double L Patisserie cakesThe English speaking cashier explained all the cakes and drinks and I ended up ordering a caramel cake of some sort and a strawberry and cream tart. For drinks we ordered a latte and a matcha milky drink.

All up the price was NT$600 which is expensive, but I was OK with the price because what we ate was so good.

The strawberry tart had a hard base that initially I hated. But the flavour was so good that I ended up actually liking that biscuity base a lot. A winning tart.Double L Patisserie cakesThe caramel cake was dense and again I initially didn’t like it. But the caramel was so perfect and chewy that I immediately changed my mind – I love this cake.

This is a fantastic little patisserie for coffee and cake.

(Google Maps Location)

???? (Cafe LakuLaku)

This coffee is shop is awesome and sells some of the best coffee from around the world including some COE beans. I tried a cappuccino (NT$140) and it was the best I’ve had in Taiwan so far. Susan had a pot of tea for NT$180 and it was also good. But so expensive!Cafe Laku Laku Taipei coffee Moving onto the cakes, we grabbed a matcha cake and chocolate cake which came to NT$280 together so I’m assuming NT$140 each. Both were excellent and worth trekking out here to get.Cafe Laku Laku Taipei cakesWifi here is fast and tables are perfect for setting up a laptop and getting a bit of work done. This place is definitely worth a visit.

(Google Maps Location)

Coffee Lab

Coffee Lab is a cute and cozy coffee shop in a laneway just across from the creative park. I had high hopes for this place because of all the different sorts of single origin coffees on offer. But the cappuccino I had was not really up to international standard.Coffee Lab Taipei cat It was certainly not as good as many I would get in Indonesia and miles off what I get in good Australian coffee shops. It also took about 20 minutes for them to prepare my coffee. That’s not to say the coffee was bad! It was good. Just not as good as I had expected.Coffee Lab Taipei frontBut they do have a big cat who is fun to play with and Susan’s Honey Lemon drink was nice. Both drinks came to NT$285. Worth a visit if you’re at the nearby creative park.

(Google Maps Location)

Woolloomoolloo

This cafe named after an inner-Sydney suburb immediately caught my attention with its catchy name. I tried the Xinyi branch and arrived during peak hour – it’s incredibly popular! Standard Aussie style breakfasts such as sandwiches, sausage rolls and big brekkies. We tried the big brekky (NT$320), cappuccino (NT$130) and mocha (NT$150) and were impressed by the mocha, but the cappuccino was weak and served in a Latte glass – a poor cappuccino. All prices had an additional 10% tax added at the end.Woolloomooloo Cafe Tapei breakfastSecondly, the big brekky was a disappointment. Unsalted scrambled eggs, hard roasted tomatoes, but tasty baked beans. It really needs to better than this.Woolloomooloo Cafe Taipei InteriorThe prices here are sky high and among the highest we’ve experienced anywhere, particularly for the coffee. Also, the menu is a little old-fashioned compared to what we might find in Australia or even Bangkok when looking at the very latest cafes. Still, a decent choice with reasonable food and a good vibe. They accept credit card and have wifi.

(Google Maps Location)

So there you have it. My recommendations for some fantastic cafes in Taipei. I did try a few other cafes, but I didn’t think they were worth mentioning here because they weren’t up to scratch.

Taipei really is a great city for cafe hopping. Let us know in the comments which your favourite cafes in Taipei are!

PS People have asked me where I stayed in Taipei. I stayed in a hotel in the Ximen area. Location was fantastic and the hotel was great value for money. I paid US$36 per night. Check the latest price on Booking.com here.

My other Taiwan posts:

Taipei
Best Cafes in Taipei: I Tried Them All!
What to eat in Taipei – Pork, Rice and more Pork!

Taichung
Things to do in Taichung, Taiwan
What to Eat in Taichung, Taiwan – Markets, Milk Tea and More!
Review: Fly Inn Hostel – Good, Cheap Rooms in Taichung

Kaohsiung
Review: Centre Hotel, Kaohsiung

Transport
How to Get From Taipei to Taichung
The Best Way to Get From Taichung to Kaohsiung
How to get from Taipei Airport to Taipei City Centre (incl. New Train!)

Summerbird Boutique Hotel Bandung

Summerbird: Boutique Hotel in Bandung

Summerbird is a funky boutique hotel in Bandung which is perfect for kids of the Instagram generation due to its unique style and trendy fitout. Located in the centre of Bandung just off Jalan Pasirkaliki, Summerbird is close to the Bandung train station, Istana Plaza, Paskal Hypersquare and Jalan Cibadak. You can even walk to Pasar Baru from here if you feel like it.

Summerbird is a small hotel with only 3 levels of rooms, with each of the rooms surrounding an open courtyard area which gives the entire hotel a bright and airy feel. Construction is based on bare steel, lots of wood and a liberal usage of bricks which gives a very modern, fresh feel.Summerbird Boutique Hotel Bandung Bathroom

Rooms at Summerbird are themed — French, Scandinavian, Industrial and Vintage. We stayed in both the French and the Scandinavian rooms and to be honest, they are one of the funkiest rooms we’ve ever stayed in. Oh, and perfect for taking great photos of. We even saw a couple doing a pre-wedding shoot while we were there.

Each room comes with air-conditiong, private bathroom with Western toilet and hot water, a big comfortable bed (seriously, it’s really soft and fluffy), cable television and free WiFi. The other thing is that the rooms are really clean and some of the fittings they use are seriously expensive and imported meaning you can immediately feel the quality of the room. Take the shower fittings for example — classy toto.Summerbird Boutique Hotel Bandung

Breakfast is included in the room price and is served in the cafe downstairs. We had nasi goreng and coffee and it was perfectly adequate for the day ahead. You’re also able to order other things off the menu for an extra fee, just like a regular cafe and we can people coming and having other meals here too.

We were initially worried that the massive glass wall in the bathroom would be a problem as far as privacy is concerned, but it turns out that they have blinds which you can pull down. all the way meaning you don’t have to worry about anything.

So what’s our verdict about this place? We really love it. Not only does the hotel look good in photos, it actually feels good to stay there. The beds are awesome, the air-conditioning icy cold and the room feels homey especially on a rainy Bandung day.

Summerbird Hotel
Jalan Ksatriaan no. 11. Bandung
Standard: Rp. 439.000
Superior: Rp. 489.000
Deluxe: Rp. 539.000

Check the current price on Agoda

Granparent's Home Ayutthaya

Grandparent’s Home, Ayutthaya

If you’re looking for a cheap yet comfortable place to stay in Ayutthaya, then look no further than Grandparent’s Home.

We arrived at Grandparent’s Home after waking around Ayutthaya for about an hour and a half and not having any luck at all. Everything was either full, too expensive or in a crappy area. But Grandparent’s Home actually was good in all aspects.

The location is within 100m of the main Ayutthaya temple complex, the rooms are spacious, comfortable and come with AC and the price is right — just 600B!

Of course, you can get cheaper in Ayutthaya. You can even get something for 250B. The problem is that the location will not be central, the room will be small, you will have to share a bathroom and you won’t have AC.Granparent's Home Ayutthaya

The rooms at Grandparent’s Home come with fast wifi, cable TV, big comfortable beds with quilt and colourful accents, icy cold AC and private hot water bathrooms.

The big question most people are going to ask is “do you need air-conditioning in Ayutthaya?” The answer is maybe. Ayutthaya can get extremely hot in the summer months (the low 40s or over 100F) and even in the cooler months it’s hot. We’re here in late December and the top temperatures are an energy sapping 35°C (95°F). You don’t have to have AC, but it is sure is nice and will only cost you a few bucks more. Up to you!

So there you have it. Our recommend for good cheap accommodation in Ayutthaya is Grandparent’s Home!

If you’re curious about current price, check the price on Agoda.