Friday, May 8, 2015

The Room with a View - The Fault of My Stars (Metro Hotel KL)

I knew I'd love Metro Hotel even before I was able to stay in it. In fact, I booked a room 5 months before my transit to South America. I wanted to include it in my "been there" list. Why not? The hotel breathed life to that dreary, iffy corner of Jalan Pudu and Imbi. What used to be a derelict, albeit neglected construction carcass is now a concrete high rise; not particularly eye catching, but nevertheless au courant and welcoming. More than anything, the location is a cinch and clincher, right at the fringes of Bukit Bintang, just beside the Imbi Metro, and located across Berjaya Times Square. Everything is accessible from here: Central Market, Puduraya Terminal, Bintang Walk, Jalan Alor, Liuli Fountain at the Pavilion, and the malls scattered nearby - minus the beautiful chaos and unfaltering hum of Bintang Station

This is my almost-funny story with Metro Hotel Bukit Bintang. 

After a 12-hour flight with Air France from Paris, I was finally concluding my long-haul November/December trip that took me to more than 20 cities/towns, riding 13 plane rides through Amsterdam, Paris, Rio Janeiro, Lima, Cuzco, Paris, etc. This will be my last stopover, a three-day respite before finally heading back home. I like my "night caps" in KL, just staying inside my hotel, watching late-night movie and feasting on 8-ringgit lanzones. Zipping through KLIA 2 and KL Sentral, I finally arrived in Metro Hotel Bukit Bintang.


It would be no surprise that a toothsome Filipina would man the front desk. I was more than pleased. I wasn't there to get chummy, not by a long shot, but it's nice to have a compatriot. She seemed to be doing great because the other staff kept referring to her. Check in was brisk and I proceeded to a corner room with a spectacular view from the 7th level (8th floor actually). It was 4 PM and my spirit was melting away like a candle. Before getting a shut-eye, I opened my laptop to check messages. I need to get connected to get updated with work and home. Unfortunately, wifi was not working at all. Wifi these days is among top considerations in picking a hotel. These aren't the early 2000's when you'd require exorbitant long distance fees to get connected home. Since I couldn't get connected, I rang front desk. Miss Philippines answered. I thanked her for giving me what I'd consider a prime room, then told her about the wifi connection. After all, my Agoda booking requested that I be lodged somewhere with good connection because I require it! She said she'd call maintenance and get the line rebooted or something. I slept. I badly needed to rest.


I woke up half past 6 and learned that I still could not connect. Zilch. I rang again. This time though, she was getting testy. I was of course surprised when she told me, "Everyone connect, only you no internet!" She did seem to have a good graspof English at the reception (like most Pinoys do) but when she gets riled up, her English turns into fractured phrases. So it was my fault that I don't get an internet connection? It was time to put my foot down and get her to her place. Instead of talking in Tagalog, I spoke in clear English. The medium of instruction in Filipino business is English, and now I meant business. No more "kababayan" niceties. I was the paying guest, and she was the hotel employee who's answerable to my needs as per contract of my hotel stay! Moreover, I refuse to be accorded rude behavior when I wasn't being rude, not by anyone who seemingly is unemployable in my country thus had to look elsewhere.


In my country, Filipinos who leave home for work are considered heroes. Those who stay on to endure what our country has to offer aren't. For some twist of fate, we've redefined the meaning of "heroism" to suit this diaspora. I'd have thought that heroism should be based on less selfish motives than just feeding "his own a family". This is debatable if it were to be pointed out that feeding a hungry family (and sending dollars from overseas) is universal enough to qualify as an important factor to improve an economic parameter. If that were so, it would be equivalent to almost 3 billion people, and not just the estimated 2.2 million Filipinos who work overseas. "Feeding family" isn't exclusive to Filipinos. The rest of the world does it. But it is popular to call 2.2 million "heroes". I'd say real heroes are a much smaller number and it isn't based on migration. But I am digressing.    


I went down the front desk and spoke to Miss Philippines. I hate making a fuss, but wrong is wrong. Agoda says Metro Hotel has excellent wifi, one of the reasons I booked, aside from curiosity being a frequent traveler. If I knew otherwise, there were a hundred hotels in the Bukit Bintang alone to choose from. I never had wifi problems in KL before even in dirt-cheap inns and backpacker joints. Metro Hotel was supposedly a 3-star hotel. What's worse, I was dealing with a fellow Filipino who doesn't seem to know her place - or the proper aptitude to deal with paying guests, for that matter. Why did I have to talk down to her to get what I required? It was so unnecessary. She sent a maintenance guy to my room. As it turns out, there was limited wifi connection by the door, not by my beautifully placed desk. I had to clear the desk where the safe was, placed my laptop there to get a connection. I would stand doing this because it was actually a cabinet housing the refrigerator and the safe. When I move an inch, I'd lose wifi.

Now this predicament was easy to solve. Just inform your guest that there are rooms with superlative views, but with limited connectivity. If they require better connections, give them one, most especially if they've noted that during booking.


More importantly, re-train a front desk staff on manners and proper staff etiquette and remind them to know their place. "Everyone connect, only you no internet?" Are we on Tarzan-language these days? She, of course, apologized after I reminded her that, for the duration of my one-month travel, in all my 11 or so hotels from 5 countries (France, Netherlands, KL,Brazil and Peru), Metro Hotel Bukit Bintang was the only place where I could not connect! How's that for Tarzan speak?


I wasn't going to run amok over non-serviceable wifi. I was if idiots talked down on me like they knew better. Excuse my French but I am footing the bill for this room, not you. You get part of your salary from my money. How clear is that? It wasn't even the intermittent wifi. It was the attitude. "Everyone connect, you no connect?"

Metro Hotel has 119 beautifully interiored rooms, spread on 12 floors. The beds are among the most comfortable in KL. Everything here feels and smells new. After all, it just opened in 2013. They are also well rated in Agoda. Taxis are a dime a dozen in front of the lobby, and the guard will get an honest one, albeit fixed-rate, for you.

I will book again with Metro Hotel in the future. I like the hotel. It would be among my favorites here (among 25-30 hotels I've stayed at Bukit Bintang area alone) had it not been for this attitude debacle. Most of the staff are polite and competent. I do not require friends from any hotel staff. I require, not even impeccable, but competent service. Should she be a Filipina, usually known for warmth and efficiency, I will switch to "business-like". Give me Malays anytime. Isn't that ironic?

This is the Eye in the Sky!

The new tunnel along Jalan Pudu just opened.

All that desk for my laptop and I could not even use it there. I had to move to a cabinet by the door (below) to get an intermittent wifi signal.

I had to clear this cabinet and place my laptop there to get an intermittent signal. Yup, standing while going online by the door. 

Spacious bathroom with fully functional hot-water facility.

Painting inside my room.

Rainy day at the capital.

Jalan Imbi

Jalan Pudu. Furama Hotel is seem from a distance. Berjaya Times Square at the left.

Front desk (reception)

By the elevator hall.

Outside the hotel. The guards would be glad to get you your taxi and will emphasize how much you need to pay. No extra charges here.

Metro Hotel Bukit Bintang


Ramakrishnan said...

Great hotel with spectacular highway views. No wifi in room - unimaginable these days.Understandable exasperation with Fillipino lady !

eye in the sky said...

Great hotel. Great staff mostly, until someone forgot her manners. But such is travel, you get to meet nice people, then there are dweebs along the way. :)

Twin said...

Calm down :)

eye in the sky said...

That was the "calm" side of me back there because if I weren't, I'd be shouting at her when she Tarzan-talked me. People should not allow dimwits and nincompoops to believe that their line of reasoning is correct when it's very wrong. Otherwise, the world will be filled with buffoons walking around with their heads held up high. Wrong is wrong. Customers are right when they are "really" right!