It's not uncommon for my family to stay the night in a Johor Bahru hotel for our full-day trip into Singapore during the Hari Raya or Eid-ul-Fitr celebrations. However, this year's trip was planned spontaneously, so our usual hotel was fully booked - we were lucky to get four rooms at Renaissance Johor Bahru through their online booking service. We even managed to get the online discounted price, though our late booking meant that we could not enjoy the buffet breakfast.
We arrived around sundown, and the view from the 15th floor also gave us a distant glimpse of Singapore, across the strait. Located in Permas Jaya, the hotel is within 12 kilometres of Johor Bahru city and the Johor Causeway that leads into Singapore's Woodlands Checkpoint.
Of the four rooms booked for our party of nine, three came with a pair of twin beds while one came with a queen bed. I found the bed quite comfortable, though the pillows felt flatter than what I am accustomed to. The room itself was comfortable and spacious, and there were more than enough television channels to keep us entertained, including some Singaporean stations and kids channels for my younger siblings.
For dinner, I went down to Cafe BLD, one of the hotel's dining options and also where they serve their buffet meals. For some fine Cantonese dining, there is also the Wan Li Chinese Restaurant accessible from the hotel lobby. When we went down for the dinner, the hotel's R Bar had a live musician performing an instrumental version of Lionel Ritchie's 'Hello'. With music in the background and its cosy atmosphere, the bar was a nice place to wind down after dinner with a cup of coffee. The service here was excellent, and the restaurant manager was very attentive, ensuring we had a lovely evening.
The next morning, my sisters and I trooped down to the sixth floor where the swimming pool terrace is. We went down at 8.30 am, and the pool area was deserted except for an older couple enjoying some fruits by the poolside. Aside from the main lap pool, there is also a shallow children's pool to the side that came up to my knees. The main pool at its deepest was about 1.5 metres. We spent almost an hour in the pool, swimming laps and enjoying ourselves. The pool water was cool from the morning though strangely salty, so we decided to try the sauna room before we went up for breakfast.
The sauna room can be used by four people at any one time, and my sisters and I spent a relaxing half hour there. After our dip in the pool, the steam room properly dried us off before we started to sweat.
Following that, we continued our exploration of the sixth floor at the gym, which had more than enough equipment to cater to different fitness needs. There were exercise bicycles and treadmills, along with weights and other muscle-toning machines. Other than the three of us, there was also a father and son on the exercise bikes. The picture above is only showing a quarter of the gym room. There was even a bowl of complimentary green apples on a counter, to which my sister happily helped herself.
We checked out before noon, and the staff were very helpful with bringing all our luggage down and into our waiting cars. They agreed that the hotel was quite busy at that time - not only was it the weekend of Hari Raya, but also the one following Singapore's National Day on the 9th of August. As we left for Kuala Lumpur, I felt quite satisfied with our short stay there; the staff were friendly and the facilities well-kept.