J B Central Hotel – Johor Bahru

The J B Central hotel is located in Merlin Tower at Jalan Meldrum. When you are at Merlin Tower, the main lobby which is small is at the side of the minor road of Merlin Tower building. Just next to this hotel is a coffee shop selling Indian food ( try the roti prata – indian pizza ) and an overhead bridge that leads to City Square Mall. If you are walking from the new CIQ in Johor Bahru, just cross the overhead bridge to leads to City Square Mall and then you can walked on the road or cross another overhead bridge again to Merlin Tower.

As mentioned earlier, the main entrance of the hotel is small and there is no doorman or staff to greet you at the entrance. So do pick up your own luggage and head straight to the reception counter. The lobby looks old but it is clean and spacious enough. To check in, it is a breeze. Normally I would just check in as a walk in customer and there are rooms still available. However if there is no more rooms for that day, don’t panic – as there are many other small hotels near by. By the way, there is no swimming pool in this hotel. It is basically a 2or 3 star budget hotel – depending on how you want to rank it.

If you are staying in the high floor, your room will have a paranomic view of the city of Johor Bahru. You can even see Singapore from your room’s windows. The room itself is spacious and clean. You have a good working airconditioned and a flat screen TV. The bed is firm and comfortable. There is a kettle for you to make hot beverages but unfortunately there is no mini fridge. No fridge means no cold drinks – so disappointing. If there is a improvement that this hotel can make is to provide a mini fridge for the customer. After all, I don’t think it will cost much and definitely travellers like me will greatly appreicate it. The bathroom is spacious and there is no bathtub. I don’t mind about not having a bathtub – a standing shower is good enough for me. However I do notice that the water pressure sometimes is quite low. This is a problem that the hotel should try to resolve. I am happy to see a long desk in the room. This is good for those who need to do some work or to read. Overall I am quite satisfied with the room except that they should really provide a mini fridge for storing cold drinks. There is a complimentary breakfast that is served on the small restaurant on the lower floor of this hotel. In my opinion, the breakfast spread is too basic and too little. The hotel management could look into serving a wider spread of food. An example to follow perhaps is the J A Residence hotel in Johor Bahru – both are budget hotels with almost similar rates. But J A Residence hotel clearly serve better breakfast.

I like J B Central Hotel for its strategic location. From here, you can go almost anywhere in Johor Bahru city itself. I like it for its spacious clean room with its paranomic view of Johor city. There are improvements that this hotel can make that I have mentioned earlier; to provide a more pleasant stay for travelers.

City Square Mall Johor Bahru

The City Square Mall in Johor Bahru is the newest mall which is also closest to the Johor Bahru ( JB) Immigration checkpoint. After clearing the JB’s immigration which by the way took more than an hour of queuing to get my passport stamped, I decided to head to the City Square Mall. If you are planning to go to Johor Bahru by bus on the weekend or on the eve of public holiday, be prepared for a long and tedious queue at the JB’s Immigration checkpoint. Bring along a bottle of water, it is totally humid, crowded and chaotic inside the Johor Bahru’s checkpoint building. There is no proper lanes for visitors to queue, so many people jump queue. I can see children crying, a woman ahead of me fainted, a cute toddler vomited on the floor just beside me and I saw the faces of many frustrated visitors. Come on Malaysia Immigration department, heads up and get your act together to provide quicker and more efficient service to visitors. The air-condition  in the building don’t worked and it is oven temperature with so many visitors in there. They could certainly take a lesson from Singapore Immigration, where I cleared it in less than 10 minutes.

When you finally get out of the JB immigration checkpoint, you can see an underground pedestrian walkway straight ahead. Just use this walkway and continue to walk straight. There are lots of touts asking you where you are going, just ignore them and keep walking. You will pass by shops, Merlin Tower, a petrol kiosk and again rows of shops. When you spot a large modern building, that is City Square Mall. This mall has a strategic location and is also opposite the grand old Johor Railway station. The mall has 5 levels of shops as well as a cinema which is on the highest level. I can see plenty of stores selling clothes and fashion accessories. One of my favorite clothing store is the Reject Shop. It is a store that sells branded clothing at a discounted price. The clothes there may be off season or with some quality issue, but it is worth the value. There are plenty of restaurants and small food outlets to choose if you are hungry. One of my favorite is the MacDonald restaurant – this place is spacious and of course a Big Mac is cheaper here than in Singapore.

City Square Mall has a good crowd especially on weekends. You can see lots of Singaporeans coming here to shop and eat. The Management could improve its service by providing more signage to guide shoppers. Signage should be placed to help visitors locate the link bridge, the major anchor stores such as Watsons and the restrooms. I am rather disappointed that the management of this mall imposed a 20 cents charge for using the restrooms ( toilets). Firstly this is a outdated practice and secondly, if you are operating a mall, providing clean restrooms is imperative and a basic necessity for the shoppers. In the restrooms, the taps are automatic sensor taps that dispenses water when you placed your hand under the tap. That is good, but unfortunately some of these taps stopped working – so you see people queuing up to use the remaining taps that still worked.

I don’t have the time to browse through the many shops that are in the mall. I will certainly make some effort to go back there again. Perhaps I will choose to go there on a weekday instead when it is less crowded. There are food outlets that I want to try and perhaps even catch a movie if I can find the time.

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