There’s nothing quite like the smell of freshly baked cookies to distract from trivial angsts, and Doubletree by Hilton plays this to their full advantage. Upon arrival guests to the hotel are offered a hot-out-of-the-oven enormous cookie. These signature chocolate chip beauties wash away minor burdens, quickly turning a bit of possible weariness and hunger from travel, into a moment of childhood glee. Much akin to a child returning home after a long day of school to a snack and mum’s welcoming hugs, that feeling of being at home, warmly received and cared for, continues throughout our stay. Ingenious we say: feed ‘em sweets and a good dose of love, and all will be fine.
|Chocolate Chip Cookie|
There really was no need to sweeten us up though on our recent trip to Malaysia’s southern most state and stay in the newly opened Doubletree by Hilton Hotel Johor Bahru. Check-in went smoothly and we were soon comfortably set up in our room, luggage arriving before us, and hubby already heating up the kettle for a hot cuppa to go with his biscuit.
|Orchids Brighten the Contemporary Lobby|
Standard sized rooms overlook the city or Johor Straits, and all are complete with a desk, 40” LED TV, WiFi (chargeable), mini-bar, Sweet Dreams (or ‘very delicious’ as hubby so dubbed it) bed and electronic safe. For longer stays guests might choose a suite, which holds a kitchenette, laundry facilities and access to the Executive Lounge.
We’re rather fond of the light bright design. Pale wood, white walls and bedding and simple but tasteful adornment keeps the space looking clean and fuss free. A glass feature wall dividing the shower and bedroom area floods the bathroom with natural light – I can get my make-up just right and hubby has a good pluck at some grey hairs he’s not so keen on discovering. With the flick of a button however, an automated blind rolls down supplying privacy if so desired.
|Crabtree & Evelyn Bath Products|
The rooms are suited to a variety of clientele and it seems Doubletree by Hilton Hotel Johor Bahru gets a good mix of lodgers. Tourists, business people, Singaporeans crossing the border for the weekend, and locals partaking in a staycation, all appear to enjoy the hotel and facilities for various reasons. It’s ideally located for a range of activities, both of a work nature and pleasurable.
|Contemporary Artworks in the Halls|
Seems Johor is booming with things to do. A collection of theme parks are sprouting all over the district with the likes of Legoland, Danga World, Puteri Harbour Family, Angry Birds and Hello Kitty inspired play centres enticing families for a fun day out. The Johor Zoo, museums, galleries and temples provide further entertainment alongside the already well-known culinary delights of the area. Shopping has become a drawcard too in recent years with the opening of premium outlet stores offering big labels with impressive savings.
The hotel itself is in the central business district, walking distance to the convention centre, making it an ideal stay for conferences and commercial pursuits. City Square shopping, the Sultan Abu Bakar Mosque and both Singapore and Johor airports are easy routes from the hotel.
A garden rimmed deck on the 13th floor channels wonderful breezes, favouring the area with a pleasant temperature at any time of day. We found ourselves spending quite a bit of time up here, being a very agreeable change to the heat we’re accustomed to in KL.
|View from 13th Floor Terrace|
A children’s pool is provided alongside an adult’s lap pool, presenting a great place to cool down after a hot day of visiting theme parks, or a long day carving up business deals. Even if you’re not up to getting wet, it’s a prime perch to sit, cocktail in hand, admiring the views across the Straits of Johor from the pool deck. But before moving on to more leisurely pursuits, I was pleased to see the fitness centre is open 24 hours, allowing my early morning workout without disruption.
|Pool at Night|
Food and Beverage
Doubletree by Hilton’s signature restaurants are found in the Johor property. The cosy ambience of Axis Lounge is not only an adept spot to meet with a colleague or catch up with friends, but a good selection of beverages and bites are whipped up here too. Italian specialties can be savoured at Tosca. Follow our experience of a delicious and reasonably priced Sunday Brunch here, and fabulous elegant dining line-up via this link. A slew of Malaysian flavours are up for the tasting at Makan Kitchen (one of our favourite hotel buffets in KL), with weekend seafood buffets being a huge hit amongst locals, and Saturday Hi-Tea offering a range of regional favourites and sweets.
|Tosca Antipasto Table|
|Pizza from the Zesti Woodfired Oven|
The Food Store seems to be one of the few places in JB taking espresso based coffees seriously. Using beans by Liberty Coffee from Singapore, and offering a range of ready-to-go gourmet bites, a Sunday morning munching on buttery pastries and sipping on a long black is time passed very pleasantly. We hear that soon they’ll be doing some deals offering cheap beers in the evening, so stay tuned for some after work fun.
|The Food Store|
Too tired to leave the room? In room dining was a fab experience! Filling out the breakfast card the night before, hubby dutifully ticked off boxes of pre-decided options. I’m rather fussy however and wrote precisely what I wanted expecting to get some, but probably not all of it. What a wonderful surprise the next morning, when every single one of my finicky preferences were executed: one slice of wholemeal bread under one (not two) poached egg; spinach, tomatoes and mushrooms, but no hash brown please; baked beans on the side, not on the plate; low fat milk for my coffee; fresh fruit; low fat yoghurt; and a bread basket with pastries for hubby but wholegrain loaf for me. All of it was wheeled in at the time requested on a dressed table complete with floral arrangement. Ahh, this is breakfast in bed I could get used to.
|Brekkie Exactly as Ordered|
|In Room Dining|
I can’t end a section on food and beverage without mentioning the ace executive pastry chef at Doubletree by Hilton Hotel Johor Bahru. We first met his culinary creativity in our in-room welcome platter. Using nothing but green and red melons, balled, juiced and sliced, a vibrant fruit display showed us just how few ingredients are truly needed if imagination is grand. Later again we encountered his genius in Tosca’s Sunday Brunch where he’d set up a magical exhibition of desserts. Panna Cotta Eggs and an incredible Apple Tart are delights that will feature in many a sweet dream for a good time to come.
|From the Pastry Kitchen|
Contemporary rooms, great food and beverage options and convenient location are all benefits the Doubletree by Hilton Hotel champions in Johor. What struck us most overall however, was the upbeat energy of staff – all of them. From cleaners, to reception, to valets, to the teams running the eateries – all presented a friendly, positive buzz. Effort was made to interact with guests, and with a huge local staff, where we recognize the general culture is often more reserved, we note this an unmistakable feat.
|Friendly Chef at Makan Kitchen|
This sense of care for patrons is mirrored in the strong ties the hotel also fosters in the community. Supporting JARO, the Johor Area Rehabilitation Organisation, the hotel provides sheltered workshops for mentally challenged individuals enabling them to lead a working life with pride and confidence.
From our sweet cookie welcome, to our warmly felt farewell, our time at Doubletree by Hilton Hotel Johor Bahru has been an enjoyable experience on all accounts.
Reasons to visit: convenient location, contemporary light bright rooms, good food and beverage outlets, friendly upbeat atmosphere.
Doubletree by Hilton Hotel Johor Bahru
12 Jalan Ngee Heng
+6 07 268 6868