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Review of the Value Hotel Balestier

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After spending quite a few nights at the Ibis Bencoolen, and covering the inaugural Budget and Economy Hotels Asia forum, which tool place - somewhat ironically - at the Grand Hyatt Singapore, we feel more than prepared to write this review of the Value Hotel Balestier.

There are currently three Value Hotels open in Singapore, the Value Balestier, Value Nice and Value Thompson. These three hotels are located along Balestier Road, with the latter two being only a short walk away from one another. The company will also be opening more next year, including a 4-star property close to Lavender which will offer over 800 rooms.

All three hotels offer roughly the same rate, which is to say from Sin$ 69 depending on which day of the week you wish to stay. That extremely impressive rate, especially for a city like Singapore, is nett, which means it is inclusive of taxes and service charges. If you would like internet then just add Sin$ 10 nett to that base rate.

For that rate, you get a clean and comfortable room, simple but functional bathroom and even use of a swimming pool and gym! That's right, from Sin$ 69 nett, and regardless of which of the three Value Hotels you stay at, you are entitled to use the swimming pool, as well as the gym, at the Value Thompson, for free! You do not need to be a mathematician to see that that, is exceptional value. But is it too good to be true?

All three of the Value Hotels are very similar, but on this page we are going to concentrate on the Value Balestier, the oldest of the three.

Security at the hotel comprises of a lot of cameras, so many in fact, that there is not supposed to be any blind spots in any of the public areas. How efficient this might be, is unclear and untestable, but as a guest, security was never really a concern.

The Value Balestier has three different room categories Standard with window, Standard without window and Superior. The Standard rooms are almost identical in size, which is to say around 13/15 sqm, the only difference is that some do have a window, while some do not. Superior rooms are slightly larger, no window, but they have a sofa bed so that three adults, possibly four at a push, can sleep inside comfortably.

The rooms all feature a good size Sharp LCD TV with around 15 channels, two of which are sports channels which feature the English Premier League and other major sporting events.

 There is no cupboard in the rooms, just a few hooks from which you can hang clothes from a hangar if you have some. The Standard rooms with windows and the Superior rooms do have a small cupboard-style space, but it is only tall enough to hang a shirt, and possibly not even that.

Every room has a small dressing table on which sits the tea and coffee making facilities. This dressing table is connected to the wall in front of a mirror, and is where you will find a multi-socket plug, conveniently located above the table. If you need more sockets, the hotel can provide an adaptor upon request.

Space in the room is limited, and there is no storage beneath the bed, so you will be more than likely to stand the suitcase on its side rather than lying it down flat. This shouldn't be a problem but something you should be aware of, especially if you have a lot of bags.

The bathrooms are very small, but they are clean and functional with good hot and cold water power. Look upon the bathroom as a large shower cubicle with a toilet and hand basin / mirror in it, because unless you are an expert at this type of bathroom, then everything is going to get wet. The floor does dry quicker than we would have expected, but for many guests, this type of bathroom could take a while to get used to.

The beds and pillows at the Value Hotel Balestier are excellent, comparable to many of the better four and five star hotels around the world. And, if you do opt for a room without a window, then at least you do not have to worry about whether the hotel has black out curtains or not, nor whether the road noise from outside will be an issue - advantages to some.

Unfortunately, while all this sounds terrific, and it is so far - the excellent mattress, the very good quality sheets, the nice pillows and very good shower do not make up for the fact that the in-room sound insulation is really quite terrible. You will have to hope that your neighbours understand this, and keep the noise down, because if you both are watching the same channel on TV, one of you could quite comfortably turn the sound off, and you would both be still able to follow the rest of the programme! At one point during the night, and again early in the morning, we wondered whether a guest at the completely other end of the corridor had brought one of those noisy Chihuahuas back to the room, only to later discover the hotel does not allow pets!! No harm in making some noise, but it just shows how little sound insulation there really is. Perhaps therefore it is not the best place to stay if you are travelling with children.

The internet at the hotel is provided in the room through a LAN cable, and the connection is immediate and good quality. Our speed tests gave an average upload speed of 0.28 Mbps, and a download of 1.71 Mbps for local and international connections, which is slow but compares well to other hotels in Singapore we have tested. If you do not travel with a laptop, then there are also two PC's in the lobby that can be used for a fee.

Apart from the poor sound insulation, the only other real downside we could find at the hotel, is the lack of an in-room safe. Yes, the hotel does have safety deposit boxes in the reception, but with many travellers, especially those on business, carrying sensitive info or just expensive equipment, the lack of what is now regarded by many as an absolute must, could well deter a substantial number of potential guests.

So to conclude, if, as with any budget hotel, you know what to expect and are happy with that, then the Value Balestier is a good choice. For the price, and the fact you can use a gym and pool for free, be only 10 minutes from Orchard Road by taxi or bus, have some great local eateries on your doorstep, and do not mind being without an in-room safe, then the Value Hotel Balestier really does live up to its name.

 If it somehow managed to fix the sound insulation without tearing the building down, added in-room safes and perhaps a shelf or two, then it would be very hard to find a better budget hotel in Singapore. It could even then, change its name to Great Value Hotel Balestier!

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