Industrial hipster pods
Set above a small hipster cafe, The Bunk offers excellent private pod-style bunks and is a top budget traveller pick for Kota Kinabalu, with friendly staff rounding out a good hostel deal.
When we walked into the cafe on Gaya Street that serves as reception for hostel upstairs, one traveller warned us that this was a hostel unlike any other. As we climbed the stairs, this was confirmed — it’s more like a scene from the movie Brazil. Industrial mesh walkways loom overhead and pods are stacked three high into a cube in the centre, with more lining the sides. Third-storey pods are accessed via a staircase, leading to the open mesh footway. Second-storey bunks have a safety railing, so you won’t go bump in the night, and are accessed by sturdy built-in ladders.
Each roomy private pod is curtained in gold and comes with a decent (but thinnish) spring mattress, good pillow, crisp white bottom sheet and blanket. You may want to bring a sleep sheet or sarong if you prefer a top sheet too. Towels can be rented for two ringgit. Personal power sockets and a reading lamp are provided in each pod as well as kindy-project-like clippings on the pod ceiling and walls with travel information — great for some bedtime reading. Good sized lockable lockers underneath the pods provide luggage storage.
A couple of the third-storey pods have sliding wooden doors, rather than curtains — they seem a bit coffin-like, and potentially hot inside, but they may suit some. The sizeable and clean room is cooled by both air-con and a number of small fans. Large windows open onto Gaya Street, with wooden stutters to block out noise and light at night. There are 33 beds in the room, but as it’s a pod-style set up, travellers we spoke to said it felt very private, and wasn’t too noisy, although the bar downstairs does go late-ish. The best bunks are near the windows as you won’t have so much passing foot-traffic.
A couple of bamboo chairs in the dorm provide a quiet spot for reading, but the communal area is basically the downstairs cafe. Funky crazy-tiled bathrooms and toilets are colourful and clean. Showers are hot and powerful, but there isn’t really much space to put your toiletries or clothes. Toilet paper is provided. Outdoor sinks are suspended off the back balcony, continuing the industrial theme, enclosed with wire mesh; it’s a good spot for watching the world go by while you brush your fangs. A small utilities room has a hairdryer, electric kettle, fridge and an ironing board and iron, but no washing machine, though several laundries are nearby. There’s a hanging line for your laundry outside, too.
Free WiFi is available throughout and a simple breakfast is part of the deal, which sometimes includes house-made waffles. Staff are friendly and the hipster cafe has a very amicable vibe too, with a selection of books to borrow and secondhand books for sale. There’s a real coffee machine and a bar plus you can also get a haircut or a tattoo as they have a barber on-site. Check-in is 24 hours, and the cafe is open daily 08:00-24:00.
This is a great place to meet other travellers, and the staff can help you arrange tours. The location on Gaya Street is just a step from some of the best food in town and handy if you’re around on a Sunday for the Gaya Street markets. Online rates are considerably lower than walk-ins, so do check in advance. The only downside here really is potential noise. For a quieter pod-style dorm, try H2 backpackers in Lorong Segma.
Do note that The Bunk only accepts adult guests.
Address: 13 Jalan Gaya, Kota Kinabalu
T: (088) 204 526, (0113) 160 4650;
Coordinates (for GPS): 116º4'36.26" E, 5º58'59.06" N
See position in Apple or Google Maps: Apple Maps | Google Maps
Room rates: Under 60 ringgit
What we were quoted as a walk-in.
|Dorm air-con||30 ringgit||30 ringgit|
Sally spent twelve years leading tourists around Indonesia and Malaysia where she collected a lot of stuff. She once carried a 40kg rug overland across Java. Her house has been described as a cross between a museum and a library. Fuelled by coffee, she can often be found riding her bike or petting stray cats. Sally believes travel is the key to world peace.
Our top 10 places to stay in and around Kota Kinabalu