Our trip to Borneo earlier this year was a bit of test for Emmie and me. In preparation for our year in Asia, I wanted to see if we could manage a different style of accommodation to what we’ve become used to over the past five years, so we ventured out from resortland and dipped our toes into the world of budget accommodation.
I was pretty sure we could do it, I think backpacking is in my DNA after many years of adventures before settling down, but I had become very accustomed to the other end of the scale with our recent trips and my girls weekends at fancy hotels. So the test was on.
In the interests of full disclosure I will admit that we lasted for almost half of the trip before we ditched our budget bookings and ended up at the amazing Mulu Marriott Resort & Spa followed by the kids’ paradise Shangri-La Tanjung Aru in Kota Kinabalu. The Shangri-La had been pre-booked as a reward for our budget efforts and although we didn’t last all the way I figured we still deserved it. We managed a week and I think that in certain cases (such as being in the middle of the Bornean jungle in 35 degree heat) upgrading accommodation is justified.
However, our budget accommodation in Kuching was totally fabulous and I really want to share this with you cause it goes to show that you can absolutely travel to a new country and be off the beaten track with kids in budget accommodation and have a great time (as many of you already know of course).
We stayed six nights in the Tune Hotel in Kuching, paying $30 per night for a small room with double bed, air-conditioning, attached en-suite, towels and toiletries, wifi, and a breakfast of chicken sambal and tea each morning. The hotel was a fabulous budget option – the lobby was small but tasteful and comfortable, with lounges and plants and an outdoor balcony breakfast area overlooking local eateries (selling $2.00 beers I later discovered) and the back of buildings. The clientele was not budget by any means - families, local business people and other travellers so it was a good environment to begin without having to spend much money at all.
The staff on the front desk were incredibly welcoming, polite and helpful, providing excellent information on transport and activities and organising our laundry for only $3 per bag. The desk is manned all through the night and there is onsite security.
Rooms are reached by the lift or stairs. Our room was absolutely fine – and as long as there’s only two people (and you’re not that big) and you don’t mind sitting on the bed during downtime, it’s comfortable – with queen sized bed, bedside tables and a small writing desk. With everything there is to do in Kuching and its surrounds you’re not going to be spending much time in your hotel room anyway. The attached en-suite was a reasonable size with a shower big enough for both of us and strong hot water. No phone. “But how do we call room service mummy?” said Emmie - cue evil laughter from me and slight concern that she has been getting it too good for a five year old.
The Tune Hotel location is perfect. It’s a two minute walk to Kuching’s beautiful waterfront esplanade, a five minute walk to the Top Spot eatery and another five minutes to a shopping centre which has everything from adaptors to fresh fruit and vegetables, groceries and coffee. A bit further away is the city’s upmarket mall where you can get a Starbucks coffee and shop chain stores in air conditioning if that’s your thing.
But the best part of the location is that Tune is OPPOSITE THE HILTON HOTEL!
I have decided that when we are budget I will rent the lifestyle I want. And so I was delighted to find the Hilton has day passes to its swimming pools. At $10 per person it was entirely affordable although the coronas with lime and bolognaise for Em probably were outside the budget I was trying to work with. However, it was still a huge saving in comparison to staying at the Hilton, and I felt we deserved a little bit of luxe at the end of our days trekking around jungles, national parks and rainforests.
But seriously, the hotel pool was important. It was very, very hot and after long days out and about hanging with orangutans and proboscis monkeys, vipers and other incredible wildlife, we needed to cool down. So the Hilton pool pass was the perfect solution. This is a great tip for when you are staying budget - scout around and see if you can get a pool pass from any of the fancy hotels. It’s super helpful and makes your life easier if your kids can cool off at the end of the day.
So the Tune Hotel gets our recommendation for a budget stay in Kuching. Enjoy! You can take a look at the hotel and book here!