A KK institution
Lucy’s Homestay is a KK institution.
The thing about institutions is that some people love them, and others, well, they do not love them. Lucy certainly divides the crowds.
Lucy opened her home to travellers in 1995 as the first backpacker lodge in Kota Kinabalu. Lucy’s Homestay hasn’t really changed since — it’s basic and very old school, but stacked to rafters with charm. Small but clean and airy rooms have beautiful old wooden floors, and sage green walls. Four-bed dorms are furnished with metal bunks that seem a bit flimsy and there’s no safety rail on the top bunk. Standard fans cool the place down, and lockers will keep your valuables safe. Mattresses are thin, and only a bottom sheet is provided. Private single and double rooms don’t offer much more in terms of comfort. Share bathrooms are cold water only.
What Lucy’s Homestay lacks in facilities, is made up for in spades in the common areas. Maps, stickers, fading postcards and murals adorn the walls (not suitable for travellers with minimalist sensibilities). The long table in the kitchen provides a perfect location for a communal meal with new friends. A cosy reading area has a library of guides and novels, and a furnished balcony with pot plants and a view of a magnificent banyan tree is great for some chill-out time.
Like her home, Lucy is brimming with information, and can provide advice and opinion on all there is to do and see in the region. Lucy is a charming host, but this is her home and there are rules. She doesn’t suffer fools gladly and has a strict midnight curfew. Guests are urged to be clean and quiet and respect other guests and their host. Lucy has a couple of cats and lap sitting comes free.
The homestay is in a great location in historical Australia Place, minutes from everywhere, yet in a quiet street backing onto Signal Hill. There are less expensive rooms and dorms in KK with better facilities, but you won’t find the expertise and font of knowledge that is Lucy anywhere else. Rates include a simple breakfast and free WiFi. If Lucy’s Homestay is full, or not to your style, more conventional yet still very old school Borneo Backpackers is across the road.
By Sally Arnold
Last updated on 3rd April, 2016.