W & O Cafe, Oriental Hostel: the grandfather of backpacker hostels

Look at all that natural light. After our crepuscular rooms at the AB Motel and even Muntri House, it should do a lot of good towards resetting our circadian clocks. If only I hadn’t stayed up until nearly 4 am last night, until the dawn light was filtering in.

We moved from Muntri House down the block to the Oriental Hostel yesterday. It is not on booking.com, though it seems to be associated with Star Lodge, which is on Tripadvisor. It was also obscured by its cafe, the Western and Oriental, a clever play on the famous Eastern and Oriental Hotel (it was such that, when I googled the Western and Oriental to see if they had an attached hostel, google autocorrected for the Eastern and Oriental instead). But there is, indeed, a hostel attached to the cafe, and it seems just as historical as Muntri House, if less decorated.


Of course, to see what period the house was built, I’ll have to check the facade, like so:


It’s also cheaper (50 MYR/night), but that is because there is no air conditioning. Hostels do seem a bit more expensive here. It’s difficult to find one with an attached bathroom, much less a refrigerator, but all hostels an arrange for bus tickets and phone cards for you, though possibly at an inflated price. The W & O cafe is pretty pricy, relatively speaking. The only thing that is a good deal is the beer. It’s the cheapest Mike’s found so far (6 MYR), though still much more expensive than in duty-free Langkawi.

The manager told Mike the reason the beer is cheaper than at other places is that they smuggled it from duty-free Langkawi. He’s friendly and speaks good English. A lot of the boarders at the Oriental, he claims, are regulars who design websites (hence reliable wifi and desktop computers available for 2 MYR an hour) and/or are doing visa runs. In any case, there are more Western expatriates than mainland Chinese tourists. I guess that explains why they don’t feel they need to have an online presence. Also, why he has available rooms when booking.com says it’s busy in Georgetown. Also, why he let us have a triple room for the price of a double. Also, why he offers a lower rate if you stay a whole month.

It’s tempting.

Edit, Sept. 9th:

We left the Oriental hostel today. Our fellow guests were a bit too loud and the bathrooms were a bit inconvenient. Also, we’d been there nearly a week, so I didn’t mind moving so much. I liked Muntri Street, but I think it’s time to explore more of the other side of Pitt Street, even if it’s only half a mile away.

Pros: (you) can be loud, it has history (before there were hostels, in the 60s, hippies would cMp out on the floor for 50 cents), The manager is friendly and informative, the maid works hard, there is cheap beer, there is a nice common room/cafe (though besides the beer, I wouldn’t recommend anything), and things are flexible. That was the kicker. I don’t know if we would have stayed so long if hadn’t been upgraded to a triple and had to stay in an actual double.


Cons: (other guests) can be loud, including sitar and didgeridoo players, only one shower, open roof bathroom, and otherwise in need of maintenance


But I’d like to end on an optimistic note. I guess the hostel, which has been a hostel since before there were hostels, is like a creaky grandfather, set in his ways. But he has personality.