It’s got that Budget Luxe vibe --- smells fresh too.
I had low expectations when I checked in here for a 3-night stay at a standard 19-sq meter nonsmoking room. I’m happy to report that most of my expectations were exceeded (except for breakfast --- see below).
Innotel is tucked into a quiet street (Penang Lane) surrounded by some construction behind and up the road --- but I didn’t encounter any unusual noise or disturbance, even at 3 pm when I hunkered down in the room to work on some important papers.
Visible 100% from the street is the tiny lobby and front desk, all lit up bright and shiny white. It’s really just a couple of couches and the front desk, but I appreciated the nice little touch of having guests sit down while checking in. Check in was in fact a breeze, and the vibe was instantly friendly.
Like a good budget hotel, the corridors have plain stark white walls relieved by splashes of color on the doors, which alternated red and blue and green and orange. But since Innotel aspires to be a “boutique” hotel, there are some small touches of understated luxury.
The room is just 19 sq m, but feels pleasantly spacious compared to the 23-sq m Seda Atria rooms in Iloilo City --- I think it’s because the Innotel bathroom takes up less space. The light from the bathroom, refracted through the frosted glass walls, actually glows into the room and makes the whole area feel more spacious. The feel is fresh and clean overall.
The room is brightly lit in general, and I loved the huge metal bed lamps. However, the main desk area where one could work or snack is somewhat dark --- no overhead lighting in that corner, no desk lamp either.
The desk chair is balky and hard to move around ----- one of those classic sleek chair with that retro modern style. The work desk is hardly a real desk ---- just a counter that stretches the length of one wall, narrow throughout, widening at the end to form a wash area with the room’s only sink. Yes, the wash basin is inside the room, not in the bathroom. The sink is a metal basin type, looks more utilitarian than fancy.
The bed is great – king-size, high off the floor, a bit on the firm side but comfy --- and I appreciate that the hotel gave me 4 huge pillows, beating the offerings at some 4 to 5 star hotels.
There is a free minibar --- complimentary Coke, Sprite, 1 mango ice tea and 1 lemon ice tea plus 2 water bottles.
There are some poorly finished surfaces in less visible corners (top of shower wall, the corner areas of the plain white concrete walls near the window), as well as some mold in the bathroom --- small details that you may miss it if you’re not really looking, so nothing to really worry about.
The closet is quite cramped but they do give you 6 or so real hangers (not hooked ones) and 2 bathrobes! I was also provided with two somewhat flimsy but usable slippers.
Don’t expect much storage space --- there are no bedside drawers, just small (narrow if a bit deep) drawers under the desk counter.
The charging points are located inconveniently under the desk counter, rather than on top or above; as well as by the far side of the bed near the bathroom glass wall.
Outlets are not the universal type but the hotel thoughtfully pre-installed adaptors anyway.
The towels are fluffy and white, glad to note.
The bathroom is indeed small --- literally a glass box whose frosted walls don’t give you much privacy (very awkward if you’re sharing a room, so this might be a showstopper for some).
The shower stall gives you some room to stretch, and is equipped with shower controls that are easier to handle than those in most hotels ---- BUT the shower curtain is a flimsy curtain type. Worse, the shower floor is separated from the bathroom floor by a tiny mini-step ---- so it’s hard to keep the water inside the shower area.
Breakfast was rather weird, and very disappointing --- a paltry selection (one egg tray --- scrambled one day, then hard boiled next day --- 1 fried dish (squid or dumpling), a smattering of fruits, a salad with cold cuts.
The breakfast room is actually a tiny airconditioned bar area filled with crates of beer bottles & other drinks stashed in various corners, even beside the tables. (Indeed it’s the hotel’s bar at night.) There are more tables outside right by the sidewalk of Penang Lane.
Fun observation: Caucasian guests seemed to prefer staying outside, despite the humid weather … while Asians seemed to prefer the inside tables. (Me, I look Caucasian but am very Asian, and I chose the indoor experience.) One morning it rained really hard for just 20 minutes, driving people out of the outside patio tables, as the overhead canopy provided meagre protection.
Best of all, the Innotel’s staff is consistently friendly, greeting guests, smiling, ready to help and exchange sincere pleasantries.
Location notes: The Sacred Heart church is just a five minute walk away (you just have to cross the busy Clemenceau Avenue). It’s a five minute walk to the bus stop for Bus 123 and 64 (among other bus lines), and likewise 5 minutes stroll to the Dhoby Ghaut MRT station in the other direction.
So to sum up: This is a decidedly 3 star hotel, offering a 1 star breakfast, a 4 star bed and 5 star staff.
Business - Oct 29, 2017