Meanwhile, back at the boutique hostel…

MarkLean 11 January 2010 4 comments

Unlike Bangkok, Hong Kong and to a lesser extent, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur doesn’t have many choices when it comes to the slickly designed LUXE Guide-listed boutique hotels. Some might say that in this respect, KL is still a teenager when compared to her older, more cosmopolitan and glamorous Asian sisters. But, small changes are happening in the Malaysian capital’s hospitality scene.

BH 01

At the city centre, a quick walk from China town, is the aptly named BackHome, a recently opened boutique hostel that is plusher, more design-savvy, cleaner and more importantly safer (there is 24-hour CCTV surveillance), than many of the other establishments in town. Rooms and dormitories (four and six and eight-bedded respectively) are priced from RM38 per person to RM96 for a double room. In comparison, the rates for other hostels in KL are around a third lower. As a bonus, there is wi-fi access, all-day free tea and coffee as well as use of ironing facilities, locks and hair dryers.

BH 02

Quirky touches abound at the property. The blackboard surfaced room doors allow guests the chance to exercise their own creativity in chalk. By most accounts, the beds are super comfortable, while the landscaping and furnishings might give the impression of there being a swimming pool at the back of the building. Don’t get your hopes up. There isn’t one. In spite of the building’s convincing make-over, it is, after all, still a hostel.

BH 03

BackHome’s location on Jalan Tun H.S. Lee is traffic jam central, so the noise levels might be a tad on the high side. Conveniently, ear plugs are available (RM4- RM8 per set).The building’s design makes full use of natural light; a mesh-wire wall is the only thing that divides the individual cubicle bathrooms and showers with the street. Note: any passing motorcyclist might see you flossing your teeth.

Owner Ng Ping Ho, a local television producer and director, came up with the idea for Back Home on one of his backpacking trips. So when the opportunity to redevelop his family owned properties arose, setting up a city hostel with boutique aspirations was the logical next step.

BackHome Kuala Lumpur
30, Jalan Tun H.S. Lee,
50000 Kuala Lumpur,



Mark’s career in journalism began when he was a magazine intern during a summer break from law school. His first assignment was memorable: the voice recorder didn’t work during the interview with an international DJ. Much scribbling ensued, and thankfully, because DJs are famously known for not saying much, the feature turned out well. From writing about music, Mark expanded his focus to design, fashion, food and travel. In recent years, he has explored the highs and lows of Asia – both luxury and no-star hotels; super restaurants and stall cuisine – and has found the possibilities to be almost limitless. And rather inspiring. A key lesson learned: true luxury is all about being able to make choices in life as well in travels. Currently based in Kuala Lumpur, Mark would still interview the occasional international DJ if given the chance. But he’d make sure a spare voice recorder was readily available.

4 Comments For This Post

  1. Monsicha Hoonsuwan Monsicha Hoonsuwan Says:

    I wish they wouldn’t charge for ear plug sets, just because it’s obvious their clients would need them. It’s like charging for toilet paper in a public restroom. It annoys me. Oh well, the power of capitalism.

    Anyway, back to your post, I’m wondering if the price they charge for this hostel is more than regular hostel because it’s “boutique”? I would guess so. It would be nice if you can provide that information for me :) (I have no idea how much is RM96.)

    And because I’m not familiar with KL, can you tell me what kind of a neighbourhood it’s in? Are there any public transportation close by? I’m planning to visit KL one day so I’m preparing myself. ^_^

    I’ll keep reading your post though, mainly because of your profile. I’m a journalist wanna-be, and I know I hate scribbling with passion. Will wait for more posts from you!

  2. RJtravels RJtravels Says:

    Nice article and good information. Funny to see that the “boutique trend” has also found its way into the hostel segment! Although one could wonder if this is a boutique hostel or a budget boutique hotel…either way, it may fill a gap in the market.

  3. MarkLean MarkLean Says:

    @Sam The exchange rate is US$1 to RM$3.40 approx. I’m sure you’ll like KL. Your blog is pretty cool.

    @RJ There are only two double rooms at BackHome; the rest of the rooms are dormitory-type. So it’s probably the former.

  4. MerryWeather MerryWeather Says:

    If you are in KL, please check this out

    Just opened last year and located right in the city. Haven’t stayed there myself yet but believe it would be great.

    The rate is from RM80 to RM200 so I guess it’s not exactly a hostel but still worth checking out.

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