Hotel Review: Batang Ai Longhouse, Managed by Hilton

Step back in time, absorb the jungle atmosphere, relish in the peace and serenity.

The minivan ride from the Kuching Hilton is a bumpy 4 hours and then another 25 mins by boat to the jetty at the resort. We receive assistance with our luggage and climb the stairs to the grand, wooden, resort-style lobby. As we walk through we are offered a drink and escorted to a sofa where another staff member comes over to greet us and hand over our keys.

We are taken to room 605, up more stairs above the pool, which turns out to be a beautifully decked-out 2-story ‘Queen Duplex Suite’ (an upgrade thanks to our Diamond status). It is in the style and character of the traditional Iban-Tribe Longhouse, the indigenous people of the area. It is very basic compared to a standard Hilton Category 1 property, but this is not a standard Hilton property – far from it. In fact I would say it is one of a kind in terms of uniqueness in the Hilton family of hotels and resorts.

Most of the staff are Iban, and the level of service differs from one staff member to the other. There is one standout in particular – Ramona, an absolute star. She is the Guest Activity coordinator and just a wonderful person. She is our guide on a one-hour trek around the resort and is so keen to show off her culture and people and it is such a treat to be guided by her.

We also do another half-day tour to a traditional Longhouse where we are entertained by the chief’s wife and see dancing and musical instruments being played by Iban folk. After the Longhouse we take a longboat to a secluded island where we walk for about 15 minutes through the jungle to a small, but refreshing waterfall where we swim whilst waiting for our traditional Iban-style lunch to be cooked and served.

As Diamond members we received complimentary breakfast at the only restaurant in the resort next to the lobby, and yes, although not the best in the world, it is sufficient and the variety is enough. Remember – the resort is in the middle of nowhere and accessible only by boat.

We enjoy 2 dinners at this restaurant and enjoy simple Iban-style food – chicken, fish, and a mixed platter of goodies. The price is reasonable considering it is a ‘hotel’ and again, location-wise nothing is nearby.

I have read a number of complaints on TripAdvisor regarding the price of alcohol – if it is such an issue, my suggestion is to bring your own. Beers are about US$8 a can and cocktails around the same as well. Not over the top in my opinion.

Other activities we enjoy over the 2 nights we are here include relaxing by, and swimming in the pool, and an amazing 90 minute oil massage that is well-priced at 50% off normal rates at present.

Would I go back? Probably not, as it is a journey in itself to get there, but I am very glad to have gone.







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