Since setting foot 1.5 years ago in Abby Hotel By The River Town, a hotel located right smack between Ipoh New and Old Town during Ni Artweek, the property has grown from merely a host of a contemporary art festival to a creative hub for international visitors to the city.
I had the opportunity to revisit the hotel recently whereby I was pleasantly surprised to see how this hotel has shaped up, slowly but surely. Abby Hotel By The River Town, at three years old, is the youngest sibling of the Abby home-grown chain of budget hotels, including Abby Hotel Kanthan and Abby Hotel IGB. All three properties cater to a different clientele. This latest establishment, overlooking Kinta River, is ideal for the free-and-easy budget travellers as well as families or groups who are keen to get the maximum value out of their accommodation while visiting Ipoh.
Unlike conventional hotels, Abby Hotel By The River Town is also a backpackers’ dorm. Spread over the four-storey building are a total of 21 guest rooms – five dorm rooms (male, female and mixed), as well as 16 rooms for couples and families.
The single gender dorm rooms, with en suite bathroom, each accommodates 6 guests. As for the mixed dorm, it is equipped with four bunk beds, good for eight pax. Guests occupying this room use the common bathroom down the hall. For large groups of travellers or families, they may consider taking up one dorm room, to keep everyone together. I personally think this arrangement is more fun.
As a regular dorm guest myself during some of my travels, it is essential for me to be provided with a locker in the room. At Abby Hotel By The River Town, all dorm guests have access to a personal locker in room, although they have to bring along their own padlock. All dorm beds, for the convenience of guests, are installed with a reading light and electrical power point PLUS individual curtains for added privacy.
Meanwhile, couple and family rooms are furnished with comfortable king size beds, which is uncommon for budget hotels. Queen beds are the norm. With attached bathrooms, these rooms, like the dorms, are spacious, unlike many of the budget hotels in the market.
These air-conditioned, non-smoking guest rooms are clean and comfortable as well as installed with Astro (satellite TV service) channels on TV, and come with hot shower plus complimentary toiletries. It is easy to forget that this is budget accommodation. Items such as iron/ironing board and hair dryer are on loan and should be reserved and collected from the receptionist.
Also, for those who think that a complimentary bottle of water per day, per guest is insufficient, the good news is that, guests are provided with a water dispenser on every floor, for free-flow water throughout the day. Need coffee or tea? Well, brew your own beverage at the Abby Roof Garden Café, at no extra charge.
Despite the low rates from RM15 per bed to RM90 per room per night (with surcharge on weekends and public holidays), accommodation comes with complimentary breakfast in the form of coffee and toast, in an open, self-service style. Walk-in customers are free to join hotel guests for breakfast, at a nominal price. Breakfast hours are from 8.30am to 10.30am but food and beverages are available throughout the day and hotel guests are at liberty to help themselves.
Another piece of good news for those who are considering their stay at Abby Hotel By The River Town is that the entire property is WiFi connected with UniFi, Malaysia’s fibre optic high speed internet service provider. Connectivity is complimentary for guests! Vacationers who do not travel with a laptop or smart phone need not worry either, as a desktop computer is provided for free use, for guests to plan their trip or book their travel tickets.
Speaking of high speed internet, it comes in really handy with a Smart TV at the guest lounge on the rooftop. With the TV connected to the internet, we literally have the world of news and entertainment at our fingertips.
About half of the rooms have windows, with “river view”. The river here means Kinta River, which separates Ipoh New Town from Old Town, just a stroll across Kinta Bridge, As you can imagine, staying at Abby Hotel By The River Town, guests are within walking distance from tourist attractions of both sections of town, including the best food of Ipoh!
Culinary points of interest at Ipoh New Town that come to mind are Curry Keng Restoran, Lou Wong Tauge Ayam Kuetiau and the Hakka Mee at Paris Restaurant. Across the bridge are old trademarks of Thean Chun, Kong Heng and a string of hipster cafés. Ipoh Old Town is also well known for Concubine Lane. If you are into wall murals, they are available in both sections of New and Old Town. Hunting them down is a fitting way to get to know Ipoh, the city that tin built.
Guests who wish to venture further beyond this part of town may rent a bicycle from the receptionist at Abby Hotel By The River Town. Rental fee is RM10 for under 3 hours of use, or RM20 for more than 3 hours a day. Deposit is RM50, refundable upon return of the bicycle in its original condition. Going on an overnight trip and don’t fancy taking along all your belongings? This hotel provides luggage storage service at only RM1 per small bag and RM2 per big bag, per day. As for guests who drive, ample parking is available.
Visitors who just want to take a break from travelling can make use of the book exchange programme or play the piano at the lobby. They can even volunteer their time at the hotel in the form of artistic skills, administrative work, and all sorts of different tasks. Volunteers are required to commit to three hours a day, five days a week, in exchange for free board and lodging. Minimum stay is one week. Ha! No wonder there were two foreigners manning the reception counter when I dropped by the other day.
In short, Abby Hotel By The River Town is more than a hotel. It is also a community of travellers, a meeting point for those who share a mutual love for exploration.
Swinging by Ipoh any time soon? Make your reservation to get the best deal in town!
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