Let's get this straight from the outset. Sandakan is not what you'd call a pretty city, by any means. If that's what you're after, go to somewhere touristy like Penang. Or Fiji. Or Phuket. We prefer to see life as it really is and that's what you get with Sandakan.
Now that's out of the way, we thoroughly enjoyed our time in Sandakan and can't wait to go back. I made our booking for four nights at the Hotel Sandakan online, many months in advance, and received excellent communication from them. We were warmly greeted on arrival and got a room upgrade as it was our first time there.
We were on the eighth floor, with a view overlooking the city and the harbour. The view from the window is not pretty but it is fascinating (as well as being a stark reminder of privilege versus poverty). The harbour is gorgeous and at night, shows real beauty. We fell in love with the view.
Our room was of good size, with a very large bed (?king size), which was very comfy. There was air-con and free wifi in the room. We had a TV and a coffee making facilities but the coffee, tea bags etc costs so go down to the supermarket at Harbour Mall and buy your own!
The bathroom was nice, with a fantastic shower. Unfortunately the plug didn't work so we couldn't have a bath, and the clothesline was also broken, which made hanging up rinsed-out clothing a bit challening but we coped. The safe was broken but we didn't need to use it anyway.
Overall the hotel is really good if a little tired looking. The carpets in the hallway could do with an upgrade, and little things like the towels have seen better days and so have the coffee cups - little things like that, but these are minor quibbles.
Staff were efficient and discreet. The free breakfast was interesting! We tried hard to get out of our Western mindset for breakfast but I don't think I'll ever be able to have curry and rice first thing in the morning! I was able to have cereal, toast and tea though so I was quite happy.
Juan on the front desk made it very easy for us to book some tours and another staff member helped us hire a car. I'll do separate reviews for those.
For the price, we highly recommend the Hotel Sandakan. It's in a great location at the top of town and is an interesting walk down to the waterfront. We felt very safe everywhere we went (although we did feel very white, as there weren't many Westerners around), everyone was friendly and curious, and the people we spoke to and interacted with all had great senses of humour and were helpful and kind.
We would definitely stay there again. Forget over-touristy places, immerse yourself in the realness of Sandakan and its people. You won't regret it.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Strategically located at town centre, Hotel Sandakan is only 20 minutes drive from the airport and within walking distance to business district, tourist attractions, centre market & the new shopping mall.We have 105 tastefully furnished rooms with 14 suites. They are fully equipped with all amenitiesneeded for a restful stay including complimentary Wi-Fi internet access, in-room safety box, minifridge and color TV with satellite channels.Our Palm Café at ground floor which offers local Malay food & Western cuisine. The Palm GardenChinese Restaurant located at 1st floor serves Dim Sum & Chinese cuisine. We have variety of function rooms, with the most up to date facilities to cater all types of events, ... more less
- Reservation Options:
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- Also Known As:
- Hotel Sandakan Sabah, Malaysia