My first hour in Melaka was spent, as usual, hopping from guesthouse to guesthouse in search of a suitable room. Although the lodgings are far better here than in Kuala Lumpur, for some reason it really seems like Malaysian guesthouses in general lack some pretty fundamental basics.
Thankfully, it didn’t take too long for me to discover one “Diamond in the Rough.” Just like Hutton Lodge in Penang, Tony’s Guesthouse is an obvious head and shoulders above the competition – even despite being priced right at the bottom. It isn’t particularly modern or luxurious, but the rooms are easily twice the size of everything else I’d seen, clean, with big double beds (or a pair of twins), BIG bright windows, balcony, computer desk, lightning-fast WiFi, and an all-around cheery feel. For only $9 a night!
(Plus the windows actually have SCREENS so I can leave them open without getting eaten by mosquitoes. DUH! Even Hutton Lodge couldn’t figure that one out :P)
And to top it all off, Tony himself is perhaps one of the nicest – and most involved – guesthouse owners I’ve ever encountered. A 3rd generation Chinese in Melaka, he’s been running the place *completely on his own* for more than 12 years. And when I say on his own, I mean he has no other staff whatsoever; when you order breakfast he cooks; when you checkout he cleans; when you check in he takes the cash and if you need a lift to the bus station, he’s happy to oblige.
Of course, every once in awhile Tony does have to go out on personal errands – so he closes up the lobby and putts off in his little mid-80’s BMW. The rooms have their own separate entrance to which all guests have a key. He’ll even sometimes go on vacation for up to a week, trusting his guests to stay on without him; if you checkout while he’s gone he just asks you to leave the key and any owed balance behind in the room. He’s one of those guys that’s so nice – treating you almost like family – that nobody could fathom ripping him off.
As a totally unanticipated bonus, my stay in Melaka happened to overlap with the Chinese New Year. So what did Tony do? Did he give everyone a bunch of helpful tips for how to best enjoy it? Well, yes. But he also prepared an extensive homecooked banquet for all of his guests, including all the beer and wine we could drink – no charge, of course. With this country’s crazy alcohol taxes it’s hard to imagine he didn’t blow a full month’s income, just to be nice.
But that’s Tony. He’s just nice.