Minimalist hipster pick
33/34 Jalan Dhoby, Johor Bahru T: (0164) 218 530
In the heart of the heritage old town centre, The Replacement Lodge and Kitchen has served delicious food since 2015, and in 2016 upped the ante, opening the “Lodge” part of the establishment.
Two double-storey renovated shophouses are home to the cafe downstairs, and up a steep staircase the six minimalist-styled rooms upstairs. As is the local custom, take off your shoes and store in the lockers provided. Slippers are supplied to visit the shared bathrooms.
Air-con rooms are tiny and not all have windows, however all are flooded with natural light through almost floor-to-ceiling windows and skylights for the windowless rooms, and the stark white walls and Scandinavian-style furnishings give the area a sense of space and serenity. Heavy curtains (and blinds on the skylights) ensure a restful sleep although there may be a bit of noise from the nearby mosque or prep in the cafe below, so bring earplugs.
We viewed three styles of rooms: “skylight”, “loft” and “stories”. Rooms are about as minimalist as it gets before you would say spartan, but the polished wood floors and quality bedding add warmth and comfort. “Skylight” offers a double bed on a raised platform; “loft”, a double on a mezzanine level reached by a very steep (and somewhat painful on bare feet) metal ladder with a living area below; and “stories” bunk twin beds, a little too dorm-style for our liking.
Furnishings include marble-topped coffee tables, comfortable seating and hooks for hanging hats and coats, as well as a well-placed copy of the essential hipster guide Kinfolk. The wide common hallway offers more seating, but really isn’t that inviting to hang out at, however this is somewhere to sit while you wait for the communal kettle to boil. We’re not a fan of shared bathrooms, but the three combo shower/toilets here are spotless and stylish, with polished cement and Peranakan-style tiled floors and sink, and marble walls
Your included breakfast/brunch is served in the cafe downstairs, however it's not suitable for early risers as it’s not available until the cafe opens at 09:00. It’s definitely worth waiting for, but so hard to choose what to have: Should you have the soft-shell crab boa with fries or the breakfast platter with the lot? We recommend visiting the cafe even if you’re not staying as the coffee is some of the best in town.
Although The Replacement is a B&B, the friendly staff are only on duty from 09:00-20:00, otherwise a contact number is provided if needed. We think the rooms at The Replacement are a little overpriced for what they offer, but JB is almost on par with Singapore and the excellent location and terrific breakfast sweeten the deal. No discounts are offered for singles.
Apart form basic backpacker digs, at the time of research this was the only guesthouse-style accommodation in downtown JB. While you’re wandering about town, visit Faculty of Caffeine and Shakespeare Milkshakes run by the same owners—they certainly have the hipster market cornered. If you’d prefer a bit more space, but like the contemporary ambience, Insta Hotel is a good alternative.
By Sally Arnold
Last updated on 17th April, 2017.
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