+/- five years ago I called my dad up for lunch in a typical sweltering hot under the zinc roofing type of makeshift restaurant that always seems to serve the best this and that in town. Dad and I don’t meet up often. Dad and I don’t meet up when mom is around. So, mom must have gone somewhere for a holiday … I have no recollection.
Dad manages hotels. I had been itching to quit my banking job and start a boutique hotel coz its cool, quirky, one-off, but more importantly mine. It’s one heck of a large empty canvas to play with and I had a few themes in my head. I’ve always love boutique hotels – the truly independent does not break your bank type that requires you to be embraced in some oversized women’s bosom (often the owner’s wife), but usually it’s because it is haunted, to the “OMG! I’m going to spend the entire holiday in the hotel” type … where with all the fuss and detailing, yes, there is enough to see and do in the hotel.
M Boutique Hotel is neither. It’s affordable – borderline cheap. Then again, I haven’t a clue what the going rate is in Ipoh, Perak – a sleepy town between Kuala Lumpur and Penang. My only other comparison was Sekeping Kong Heng – an eco hostel/ hotel that has been refurbished by famous landscape architect Sek San that retains its yesteryear charms and existing building condition – I had looked up when I was searching for a 2-night accommodation options in and around Gopeng for a Gua Tempurung caving experience.
With most of the cavers being professional city dwellers, I was not surprised that the choice was not to go with the intrepid accommodation and experience My Gopeng Resort had to offer which I had done once with the organiser of this trip, but to opt for the comforts promised by M Boutique Hotel’s website.
Pretty – yes. Eclectic – yes. Small – most definitely YES, as with most boutique hotels that does not cost an arm and a leg, plus a couple of kidneys. This is not a place for the typical Asian traveller who tends to cramp 5 adults and 3 children in a double room – unless everyone has mastered the art of sleeping while standing upright.
The decor’s pretty, but a suspect in the day from cleanliness standpoint. Simply put, I don’t get plush sofa that sinks when you sit and throw cushions in hotel lobby … and confirmation came in the form of my breakfast experience at the Myth dining where the interiors were somewhat warm, thanks to persistent morning sun rays beating on the glass facade that attracted some of our buzzing common housefly!
If you’re not a geography professor or someone suffering from OCD, chances are you’d not notice the inaccuracy of the room wall hanging – mine had an Asian elephant against the map of Africa with a Portugese post mark!
On the whole, it’s commendable for a small laid back place like Ipoh. Save for the Manager’s peculiar sense of humour or personal vendetta against actuaries, the staff members are friendly; though not necessarily informed or sharp – don’t bother asking the waitress anything!
Point to note though, it’s very small establishment that has been decked out of a few shop houses that’s near garages selling used cars. You’ll have nothing to do within 4 hours; i.e. post breakfast, gym, turning every item in the hotel’s boutique with arched eyebrows at the price tag, and checking your email at the reading-cum-laundry area … and yes, there’s nothing much to do in Ipoh either other than eat eat and eat (non-Muslim food)!