The recent fad in Kuching is trendy budget sleeping spots decked out with generous amounts of hip lounge furniture. These flash-packer dens have quickly overtaken the tired midrange hotels of yore.
Mr D's B&B : Tribal chic' is the name of the game here - the hang-out room at the entrance is stuffed with sassy leopard-skin pillows and there are arty black-and-white prints of tribal warriors on the wall. Rooms are quite standard though -they're very clean, but most of 'em don't have windows. Rather than signing a guest book, travellers are invited to doodle their goodbye message on the walls. Thoughtful perks include wi-fi throughout and power points beside everyone's pillow.
Fairview : An oldie but a goodie, Fairview scores big points for its unpretentious atmosphere and friendly owners who dispense oodles of information about hidden Kuching gems.
Nomad :There's a buzzing backpacker vibe at this Iban-run favourite. Bright patches of paint enliven the rooms, and guests congregate in the common area to hang out with the friendly management or watch the latest episode of Malaysian reality TV. Our favourite thing was the all-day breakfast - swing by the kitchen for toast, fruit and sugary snacks any time you want. If Nomad is full, try Tracks next door - it's owned by the same people (and looks exactly the same, except slightly smaller).
Rom Orchid Garden : Located in a quiet kampong on the way to Bako National Park, Rom Orchid Garden is a small campus of traditional Malay homes. There's an on-site orchid garden, as the name would suggest, and thousands of other potted plants scattered throughout. If you want to check out Borneo's version of suburban life, why not give this place a whirl? There's also a great restaurant offering traditional cooking classes, so you won't have to go far for a good bite.
Lodge 121 : Polished concrete abounds at this mod charmer. The owners have transformed a commercial space into a multileveled hang-out for flashpackers. The dorm room is in the attic, and although the lack of bunks is welcoming, the mattresses are on the floor.
Pinnacles : As far as dorm rooms go, you'll probably do better at Singgahsana or Kuching Waterfront Lodge, but keep Pinnacles in your back pocket in case the other spots are full.
Singgahsana Lodge : Tourists can thank Singgahsana for upping the ante in Kuching's budget bed game. The trendsetting owners out-swanked the competition early on with an effective use of colourful accent walls and tribal knick-knacks - now everyone's playing catch-up, though no one has completely caught up just yet. Don't miss the hunting lodge-style bar at the top of the stairwell - it's only open to guests.
Kuching Waterfront Lodge : The only spot right in the heart of the Main Bazaar, this up-and-comer has a large welcoming lobby stacked with lacquered furnishings. Rooms are light on designer details, but they're comfortable enough (ask to see a few options before dropping your bags). The best deal here are the dorm rooms - they're slightly pricier than the competition so you'll usually find yourself with a suite to yourself!
Harbour View Hotel : If it's modern comforts you're after, this is one of Kuching's best bargains - it offers full Western facilities for a thoroughly Southeast Asian price. The tall white building does indeed furnish good river vistas, and the buffet breakfast (RM10) is as lavish as one could wish for. The hotel also has an on-call doctor and bartender (hopefully not the same person). Big discounts are usually available.
Also worth a look-see: Berambih Lodge : Bamboo-lined common area feels like a Hawaiian holiday. Rooms could use a designer's touch. John's Place Simple rooms are fresh and clean. Family suites are bright and spacious.
Keep an eye out for the white behemoth up the road from the Green Hill area - it's the new Novotel, and should be complete in 2010.
Hotel Grand Margherita Kuching : Kuching's sprawling Grand Margherita occupies a fine piece of real estate right on the river, smack dab in the middle of town. The rooms are of good quality and well kept, and the pool is welcome after a day of sightseeing.
Four Points : A new competitor in the upmarket range, Four Points is a Sheraton product that provides sleek suites at competitive rates, 5km south of town.
Hilton Hotel : Dominating the waterfront even from across the street, the Hilton towers over Chinatown and offers prim rooms stuffed with the usual factory furnishings.
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