Updated: Sep 18, 2020
One of the issues I faced when trying to find an accommodation near Ipoh Old Town, in Malaysia, is the lack of a suitable budget hotel in the vicinity. Until my last trip.
Most of the hotels are located some walking distances away from the old town and are quite expensive. And accommodations that can be found inside the old town are mostly dormitories or guest houses. There are not many of them and they suffer from poor sound-proofing from vehicles on the roads directly in front of them, which is a problem associated with old Chinatowns.
However, a new setup meets all my considerations for staying in Ipoh Old Town. It is a budget hotel named Brick Box, which is only about 6 months old (opened towards end of 2016 or in January 2017).
The Plus Points
1. Good location. Located right in the old town and only 400m from Ipoh Railway Station, the hotel is also close to most eating places, street arts and the Concubine Lanes. The proximity is the most ideal for travellers.
2. No breakfast provided. With so many eating places for local food in the vicinity, there is no need to have same breakfast provided every morning. Rasheed Nasi Kandar Restaurant is just next door and opens at 7am, serving all kinds of Indian food, such as roti canai, nasi kandar, etc. Don't know what they are? Walk in and try!
3. Have single rooms. This is great for solo budget travellers. Most hotels are unfriendly to lone travellers, always making them pay more for the smallest rooms.
4. Brick walls. Better sound-proofing than wooden walls, which are very commonly used in the old houses to partition rooms.
5. New and clean. Needless to say. All things are newer than others.
6. No frills. This always help to keep costs and, ultimately, the room rates low.
Arriving or departing Ipoh by inter-city buses is at Amanjaya Bus Terminal, which is about 10Km to the north of the old town. Connecting bus frequencies between the inter-city bus terminal and domestic bus terminal, near the old town, can be about one hour's interval. It is really inconvenient to use inter-city buses to get to Ipoh and will usually end up hailing taxis — but their meters are forever spoilt.
Getting into and out of Ipoh is much easier and convenient by trains from Penang or Kuala Lumpur. Brick Box Hotel's proximity to Ipoh Railway Station is very favourable for travellers with luggage.
From the railway station, follow the route on the map above and you will get to Brick Box Hotel. It's just one straight road from the station premise to the hotel, real easy. You can arrange with the hotel for a pick-up from the railway station if you have a heavy luggage. Otherwise, 400 metres is not that far for travellers.
And you will find Brick Box Hotel a couple of units away from Standard Charter bank. See the restaurant next door?
Brick Box Hotel's lobby is very spacious and with simple decorations.
On the wall behind the check-in counter is this decor with wheels, hooks and exhaust pipes — rather unique. As the name of the hotel implies, the walls are mostly brick-laden and exposed. Brick-laden walls also mean that sound-proofing is better.
Out of the lift on the first floor, there are two wheels on the wall facing the lift. This means you are on level 2. Level 3 will have 3 wheels, etc.
The corridors are lit by spotlights, like a stage where models do their catwalks. The design make the corridor rather photogenic.
Spiral staircases are common behind most Chinatown houses for escape uses in the old days. Most old houses in Ipoh are still using it today. Newer developments will usually demolish the staircases and built new ones but Brick Box Hotel preserved it.
The spiral staircase is too narrow and steep for emergency uses, so Brick Box Hotel has another staircase towards the front of the hotel. Just look for the bulb-lit arrow on the wall down the corridor.
Let's check out the rooms.
The walls of the rooms are left exposed and unpainted — a modern minimalist design trend. With brick-laden walls on all sides, the rooms really look like "brick boxes". Despite being a new and modern hotel, the walls created a rustic ambience.
For solo travellers, the Single Standard rooms come with attached bathrooms. There is no window, so the room can be very quiet even in the day.
Both the Standard Double rooms and Deluxe rooms are similar in size and amenities, except that the Standard Doubles are windowless.
The double rooms come in two designs. One with a dedicated pantry corner, so the space around the bed is smaller but more cozy.
The pantry is located in one corner with a high stool.