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A Little Waldorf in Ardens

Imagine driving into an industrial zone arranged with rows of uninteresting shoplots and suddenly…kapow! You see a mini Waldorf Astoria right there in front of you. That would be The Ardens Hotel, resplendent in chandeliered grandeur and looking quite out of place in that part of Austin Perdana, Johor Bahru.

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The Ardens Hotel from the glasspane outside
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Inside the lobby

We were down south almost to the border to Singapore some two months ago and didn’t know anything about anything regarding accommodation except what we could gather from Google. It was a rushed trip as usual ─ a quickie if you will ─ and in case you’re wondering, yes, this is a tale from two months ago, which explains why you’re seeing Christmas decorations in the photographs.

But, coming back to the story, Ardens Hotel coming right through the computer screen during the booking stage of our trip caught our eye right away.

As a newly-opened establishment barely weeks old, it had already garnered a string of rave reviews. The prices were about right too as we were looking for a budget stay, but it was the photos of its Olde World splendour that clinched the deal right away.

We crossed our fingers that all would be as promised and when we arrived at its doorstep, we weren’t disappointed at all.

A Rare Gem

Ardens Hotel is actually quite a rare gem being appointed with ornate elegance reminiscent of a bygone era from another world quite unbeknownst to us Malaysians. I mean, there’s even a fireplace in the lobby, deer head wall mounts and animal skin rugs on the floor. OK, so they were all fake replicas but the recreation captured the essence of what the hotel was getting at.

Snippets of its splendour in detail -- From Left: The resin deer head bust, the ornate walkup stairs should you decide not to take the lift and the elaborately-framed room signages
Detailed nice touches. From Left: The resin deer head bust just outside the hotel’s restaurant The Stag, the ornate walkup staircase should you decide not to take the lift and the elaborately-framed room signages that were completely in keeping with the hotel’s theme

Their inhouse restaurant, dressed in fine crystal and silver tableware, was appropriately named: The Stag, complete with a faux resin head bust at the entrance.

This is The Stag. Note the chandeliers
This is The Stag. Note the chandeliers

And talking about animal names for pubs, you know the inns and pubs of old England used to be named this way. Some are still in business and making headlines as today’s new-age gastropubs, like The Slug & Lettuce, The Cock & Bull, The Old Black Lion, The Fox & Hound, and of course, … the most memorable one from the 1981 comedic-horror film, An American Werewolf in London … The Slaughtered Lamb.

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The Slaughtered Lamb

The Slaughtered Lamb is for real, by the way. Here’s a picture of their website plus their history and their relationship with the movie, address, phone number and website address. Website: www.slaughteredlambpub.com  Address: 34-35 Great Sutton St, London EC1V 0DX, United Kingdom Phone: +4420 7253 1516

The Slaughtered Lamb website
The Slaughtered Lamb website with information about the movie it was associated with. Apparently, there’s a branch in New York too

The slaughtered Lamb signpost1americanThe Slaughtered Lamb scenes made quite an impact in the movie as the characters in the pub, who were a funny-strange lot with sinister secrets, were integral to the plot. They knew something but weren’t telling and this kept audiences on edge and the plot rolling. An American Werewolf in London has become quite a cult classic over the years. And in case you haven’t watched the movie, here are some clips, beginning with the scene inside The Slaughtered Lamb.

An American Werewolf in London (1981). Classic Clips

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No Such Carnivorous ‘lunar’cy at The Ardens

But…I digress. Mea Culpa.

Back at The Ardens, never worry about such carnivorous ‘lunar’-tic activities ever taking place as it’s pretty safe and sane there. The hotel is located under bright lights on a clean and peaceful enclave among idle shoplots with ample parking space. And besides, the security guards who double up as concierge provide all day and all night security and peace of mind.

The hotel facade
The hotel’s facade
The front doors that open into the lobby and reception
The front doors that open into the lobby and reception
Pull away and this is what you see. The Ardens is part of a row of shoplots
Pull away and this is what you see. The Ardens is part of a row of quiet shoplots
The scene right outside the hotel. Austin Perdana is a clean and quiet enclave of Austin Hills
The scene right outside the hotel. Austin Perdana is a neat enclave of Austin Hills

The Stag

Beautifully decorated, fitted and furnished with attentive and friendly staff
The Stag is beautifully decorated, fitted and furnished with attentive and friendly staff. The fireplace theme is also carried through to the restaurant

Coming back to The Stag which was newly opened along with the hotel at the time we were there, this exquisite haute cuisine restaurant is on the ground floor and serves excellent Western and Eastern fare as well as top range beverages. The breakfast, provided at a promotional price, comes as an add-on package with room stay but you can opt to include or exclude the meals.

A view of The Stag from another angle. It was Christmas season when this picture was taken
A view of The Stag from another angle. It was the Christmas season when this picture was taken
My three-course breakfast which cost RM18.00. There was Cappuccino along with Oats and banana
My three-course breakfast which cost RM18.00 with room stay. The first course was Cappuccino along with healthy Oats and banana
The Pastry with Peach
Then came Pastry with Peach
And the main course, Egg and Chicken or Turkey Patty on Toast with Caviar! Ooohlala!
And then the main course: Runny Egg and Chicken or Turkey Patty (I can’t remember now) on Toast with Caviar! Ooohlala!

Honeymoon Hotel

The Ardens, despite its grand demeanour, is really a small boutique hotel with only about 20 rooms or so. Some are larger, some smaller, and come with or without bathtubs in the bath, depending on your choice. All rooms are reasonably priced at RM100++, plus-or-minus-a-few ringgit, and a little more if you’re taking the Family Room comprising two dual-key concept rooms.

There are some well-thought-out facilities for guests included in the price, such as free DIY laundry provided through their washer and dryer and iron downstairs, strong Wifi throughout the hotel, a fully-stocked mini refrigerator and coffee maker in the room along with hair dryer, mini safe, a modern bathroom with gushing Rainwater Shower for a luxurious bath, and friendly, attentive staff at the reception.

This is the Deluxe Room I presume, not sure because this wasn't our room. But the proprietor showed us around. He was understandably proud of his hotel. Note the kingsize bed and the attached bathroom, modestly covered of course, by see-through glass
This is the Deluxe Room I presume, not sure of the name because this wasn’t our room. But the proprietor showed us around. He was understandably proud of his one-of-a-kind hotel. Note the kingsize bed and the attached bathroom with bathtub, modestly covered of course, by see-through glass
A full view of the bathroom. Love the sink too, and the tiles
A full view of the bathroom. On the left is the shower option — Rainwater Shower as can be deduced from the large, square shower rose. Love the sink too, and the tiles
A closeup of the tub -- rubber duck is included :D
A closeup of the tub — rubber duck included 😀

But having stayed there, and finding user functionality in the rooms a tad overlooked at times, I would say that Ardens is more suited as a Honeymoon hotel for lovebirds than one made for say, a family vacation with young kids or a business trip. The rooms are simply too tight and too full of fine but easily-breakable accoutrements for rampaging children and definitely, it’s too remote out for business people rushing for appointments, particularly if they are without a car. See, there are no taxi stands nearby and calling one could take ages, especially during rush hour as one may not be available at the time you need it.

However, having said that, Austin Perdana is really only 15 minutes to the JB city centre. The trick, of course, is getting the transport to get there.

Form over Function

The rooms and their luxurious trappings as can be seen above are laid out for the sole purpose of delighting your senses, preferably at a leisurely pace, like the kingsized beds and freestanding tubs in see-through glass encased bathrooms to take long lingering spa baths in. These modern fittings are for the appreciation of the adult and the full glass paneling as bathroom walls is for the appreciation of each other’s nudity, or whatever pleasures that come in between, if one so wishes. If not, you can always draw the curtains.

But if you have no time to smell the roses, this form over function principle does sacrifice usability in a big way. For example, there are no wardrobes provided to hang out your clothes. Well, there’s a short wall-mounted rung given for this purpose but it only fits five hangers and no more. So not enough thought has been given to this practical aspect as surely, one will bring more than five pieces of clothing for a trip, what more when it’s in a room made for two.

This was our room. It was large enough to fit two queen-sized beds but did not have a wardrobe. Note the metal rung above the small study table
This was our room. It was large enough to fit two queen-sized beds but not large enough for a wardrobe. Note the metal rung above the small study table. That was the only place to hang out the clothes
The other side of our room. Note the sliding glass door to the bath
This is the other side of our room. Note the lovely sliding glass door to the bath
And this is the bathroom, sans tub of course, but we would have preferred the shower. There were two options: Rainwater shower or handheld. Both were good, the rainwater shower even better!
And this was our bathroom. It’s sans tub of course, but we would have preferred the shower anyway. There were two options: Rainwater Shower or Handheld. Both were good. Actually the Rainwater Shower was awesome!

There are also no benches or platforms to place one’s luggage. These will have to go on the floor, along with your clean and worn items and shoes. So beware the obstacle path when you’ve switched off the lights to go to bed, you could trip over your floor-bound laundry enroute, as was the case.

The work desk is too short to accommodate two laptops if two in the room want to work. Only one laptop can fit, and it’s a tight fit at that, along with only one chair. Two would have been impossible given the lack of space and table top. Also, there are not enough plug points to charge phones and other electronic devices at the same time. You’d have to make your items queue.

But as I said, if you came for a honeymoon or for an unhurried holiday, you wouldn’t be opening laptops or even thinking of work. So stay at Ardens for the right reasons and you’d have a pampered time.

But All in All

But all in all, teething problems notwithstanding, Ardens provides an enjoyable stay. It’s lavish, it’s one-of-a-kind and it’s value for money anyway you look at it. As for food, which was pretty scarce in that part of Austin Perdana, there is probably a full menu and room service from The Stag by now (they didn’t have it then). So for all the indulgences that could be had at the Ardens, this hotel has surely hit the spot…I mean, where else can you get a piece of the Waldorf Astoria at this price?

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If you’ve enjoyed that gruesome bit on The Slaughtered Lamb, click to see the related story on 23 of the Weirdest Pub Names in Britain  linked here.

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