For my annual family trip down to Johor Bahru during Raya Aidilfitri season, there's no denying that Thistle JB is usually our first choice. My family and I have been frequenting this hotel for years - since I was a child, and even before the building was taken over by Thistle (it was formerly Hyatt JB). The refurbishment since then looks great, and I personally prefer the hotel rooms now compared to the ones from my childhood.
This year, our trip happened at the last minute, so there was some apprehension as to whether there would be rooms still available. In the end, I managed to secure three superior city view twin rooms at a very good price on Agoda.com.
We arrived quite late to the hotel for our one night stay (having spent the whole day in Singapore). The bellboy on duty was not very helpful though - we had a minor mishap with our luggage falling while carrying them in and he was not attentive at all, which was disappointing. Front desk staff on the other hand were quite efficient and we were relieved to get our keys so we could rest the day's travels away.
Each room comes with a pair of twin beds and ensuite bathroom. I really enjoy the pillows here, and I had a very comfortable night's sleep. The view from the window overlooks the city instead of the more scenic pool/straits view.
As a guest, you will also have access to free wi-fi!
The bathroom was really lovely - no complaints here. Do note though that the bathroom door do not come with its own lock. You get your standard set of toiletries here, though I noticed that there was no toothbrush provided. My sister called reception to request for a bathrobe (this was at 11pm). Half an hour passed with no knock on the door with the bathrobe, so she continued with her shower and we went to bed. Surprisingly, someone came to the door at 1am with the bathrobe. Later than expected, and we were already both sound asleep.
Our room reservation did not come with buffet breakfast, but in the past, I have had breakfasts and dinner buffets here, and the food is good. The restaurants are easily accessible from the lobby. I am a bit uncertain as to whether it is wheelchair accessible, as you will need to go down a flight of steps to the restaurants.
The swimming pool is another beautiful aspect of this hotel. A total of three pools are connected by a meandering 'river', starting with a shallow end for younger children, and ending with a bigger 1.6 meter pool for adults and comfortable swimmers. The area can get quite crowded in the evenings, with guests lounging on the deck chairs or splashing about in the water. And if swimming isn't your thing, there is also a gym nestled on the side of the hotel building, complete with locker rooms and sauna.
In all, yet another comfortable stay at this hotel for me. I can foresee my family coming here for years to come, a familiar place for us to relax and unwind after our annual Singapore visit. The location is quite good - overlooking Dataran Bandaraya, where the Johor Bahru clocktower stands. The hotel is within walking distance to a lot of small restaurants nearby and a quick drive to the city and Causeway to Singapore.