Review: Radisson Bandar Seri Begawan Brunei

Introduction: Flying With Royalty (Or Not)
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Review: Royal Brunei Business Class A320 Kuala Lumpur To Bandar Seri Begawan
Review: Radisson Bandar Seri Begawan Brunei
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I was arriving from Kuala Lumpur at around 2:30PM, and departing to Dubai the next night at around 9PM, so I had one night there. After doing some research, it seemed I had two practical options — I could book the Radisson, which had a great location in the center of town and was reasonably priced, or I could book The Empire Hotel, which is the nicest resort in the country, though is a bit outside of town.

Since I was in Brunei to sightsee, I booked the Radisson, which was a very reasonable 75USD per night (Brunei has a local currency, which is equivalent in value to the Singapore Dollar). The hotel was just a 15 minute drive the airport, and has a pretty bland exterior.

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Radisson Brunei exterior

The lobby was a bit more stylish, and was large and had lots of natural light.

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Radisson Brunei lobby

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Radisson Brunei lobby

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Radisson Brunei lobby

The associate who checked me in was extremely friendly. She asked if I needed late check-out the next day. I saw a sign posted that all Club Carlson members receive 6PM check-out at no additional cost, which is basically unheard of. She confirmed that this was indeed true, and it worked great for me, since it meant I could stay in my room till it was time to go to the airport.

She asked if I wanted to upgrade to a deluxe room including breakfast for an extra ~20USD, which I agreed to. Soon enough I was sent on my way, though as soon as I got to my room I had a call from the front office associate. She said she just noticed that I was a Club Carlson Gold member, so she said she could further upgrade me to a Business Class room, this time at no extra charge. Cool!

The Business Class rooms are on the sixth (top) floor.

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Radisson Brunei Business Class floor

My room, #621, was all the way down the hallway and on the left.

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Radisson Brunei Business Class hallway

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Radisson Brunei Business Class room exterior

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Radisson Brunei floorplan

The room wasn’t huge, though was well appointed, at least in a Radisson brand standard sort of way. There was an entryway with the bathroom on the right.

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Radisson Brunei Business Class room entryway

The room had a comfortable king size bed and a chair with ottoman.

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Radisson Brunei Business Class room

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Radisson Brunei Business Class room

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Radisson Brunei Business Class room bed

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Radisson Brunei Business Class room chair with ottoman

Across from that was the desk, a TV, a luggage rack, and the minibar.

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Radisson Brunei Business Class room desk & TV

The minibar had bottled water and soft drinks (there was no alcohol, as Brunei is a dry country).

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Radisson Brunei Business Class room minibar

Then there was a kettle and a coffee machine.

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Radisson Brunei Business Class room coffee machine & kettle

The bathroom was back near the entrance, and featured a sink, toilet, and walk-in shower.

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Radisson Brunei Business Class room bathroom

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Radisson Brunei Business Class room bathroom

The shower was partitioned off from the rest of the bathroom by a shield. Because it wasn’t fully enclosed, water splashed around the rest of the bathroom as well.

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Radisson Brunei Business Class room shower

Toiletries were provided by Rituals.

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Radisson Brunei Business Class room Rituals toiletries

My room faced some nearby trees and apartments, not that I was expecting much more in the way of views.

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Radisson Brunei Business Class room view

Overall the room was comfortable and clean, and the in-room wifi was fast and complimentary.

As a Business Class guest I had access to the Business Class Lounge, also located on the sixth floor.

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Radisson Bandar Seri Begawan Business Class Lounge

As you can see, the lounge is open daily from 6AM until midnight. They also serve (non-alcoholic) drinks and canapés in the evenings from 5:30PM until 7:30PM, though I was out and about during those hours, so didn’t get to see the spread.

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Radisson Bandar Seri Begawan Business Class Lounge hours

While I didn’t visit during the happy hour, I did grab some water and coffee from the lounge, and found it to be a nice physical space. I never saw anyone else in the lounge. For that matter, I think I was about the only person on the Business Class level, because when I got up at 6AM, no other rooms on the floor had a newspaper in front of them.

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Radisson Bandar Seri Begawan Business Class Lounge

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Radisson Bandar Seri Begawan Business Class Lounge

There were dining tables as well as communal tables in the lounge.

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Radisson Bandar Seri Begawan Business Class Lounge

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Radisson Bandar Seri Begawan Business Class Lounge

The lounge had a selection of tea, coffee, water, and soft drinks.

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Radisson Bandar Seri Begawan Business Class Lounge snacks

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Radisson Bandar Seri Begawan Business Class Lounge coffee & tea

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Radisson Bandar Seri Begawan Business Class Lounge drinks

There were also some basic snacks available throughout the day, like cookies and biscuits.

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Radisson Bandar Seri Begawan Business Class Lounge snacks

In the morning I had breakfast in the hotel’s restaurant, Tasek Brasserie. They serve breakfast from 6:30AM until 10:30AM, and I was there right as the restaurant opened.

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Radisson Bandar Seri Begawan restaurant

This had to be one of the stranger hotel breakfasts I’ve had. At first I was the only person there, and then suddenly there were dozens of Australian military in uniform at breakfast. I felt a bit odd as the only non-military person there. I tend to linger at breakfast a bit since I bring my laptop and just sip on coffee, so by 7AM they all left the hotel.

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Radisson Bandar Seri Begawan restaurant

The breakfast selection itself was quite good — I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

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Radisson Bandar Seri Begawan breakfast buffet

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Radisson Bandar Seri Begawan breakfast buffet

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Radisson Bandar Seri Begawan breakfast buffet

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Radisson Bandar Seri Begawan breakfast buffet

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Radisson Bandar Seri Begawan breakfast buffet

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Radisson Bandar Seri Begawan breakfast buffet

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Radisson Bandar Seri Begawan breakfast buffet

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Radisson Bandar Seri Begawan breakfast buffet

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Radisson Bandar Seri Begawan breakfast buffet

In terms of other facilities, the hotel has a gym on the second floor, which was small but had decent equipment.

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Radisson Bandar Seri Begawan gym

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Radisson Bandar Seri Begawan gym

The hotel also theoretically has a pool, though it’s presently under construction. I tried to check it out, thinking they were doing some minor maintenance on it, but it was literally an active construction zone. I’m not sure when it will reopen. At check-in they told me they have an arrangement with a nearby hotel for pool use, those I can’t imagine that’s worthwhile.

The next day I headed to the airport at around 5PM, plenty early for my flight to Dubai. The late check-out offered to all members by this hotel is really awesome.

Radisson Brunei bottom line

The Radisson is the only international chain hotel in Brunei, and exceeded my expectations. My rate was just ~75USD for the one night stay. That’s tough to beat, especially with 6PM check-out. The room was comfortable and clean, the hotel staff were friendly, the breakfast was great, the wifi was fast, and the hotel has a convenient location. Interestingly this hotel was a Sheraton until around 2010, and was then rebranded as a Radisson. While Club Carlson is one of my backup hotel chains, I sure wish this were still an SPG property.

Regardless, if you’re looking to sightsee in Brunei, I recommend the Radisson. Otherwise, The Empire Hotel is certainly a bit more luxurious, though also more secluded.

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Comments

  1. Great review! Empire isn’t that much more luxurious; it’s a fairly dated hotel and the food wasn’t good at all. Nice if you want to be near the water and play golf though, but as you wanted to sightsee definitely seems like you made the right call.

  2. I stayed there for one night as well and found it perfect for my needs. It’s extremely close to the night market where I had a nice dinner and not far from all the major sights. I thoroughly enjoyed my short visit.

  3. As usual, bad travel advice by relying on only international or luxury hotels. Last year I stayed at the Capital Residence Suites, about 2 blocks away from the Radisson. A simple, clean hotel with free breakfast and wifi, and best of all a free shuttle anywhere you wanted to go! They drove me to the mall to get a Starbucks mug, and to the night market. In a small country with few taxis, this was a huge perk.

    Lucky, you really need to learn how to travel better. If you are going to spend all the time to get somewhere, broaden your horizons and stay at better options.

  4. I stayed at the Radisson July 2016. Easy walk to most of the sites. Great food market across the street from Radisson. Pool was open and very nice.

  5. For $75 this appears to be a decent value–especially with the generous food and beverage offering. I’d peg the food and beverage at $25-plus per day. I’d be interested in knowing what the restaurant is like for dinner. I’m actually surprised Brunei doesn’t have an alcohol exception for Western hotels.

  6. Wow this is the closest you’ve got to my part of the world! If you do drop this region again do pop over to Kuching – and yes, you can try another new airline for that: Maswings, which is probably one of the only propjet airlines with business class! (http://www.maswings.com.my/en)

  7. @STVR: Or Delta, the Canadian brand. Marriott is reflagging a bunch of Ramada and Crowne Plaza properties from Wyndham and IHG into Delta.

  8. I am profoundly troubled by you visiting a country that punishes homosexuality with death. From Wikipedia: “Homosexuality is illegal in Brunei and can be punished with death by stoning”.

    Ben, I know you want to be a good liberal because it’s popular, but please for the love of god understand we have to stand up for our LGBTQ allies here. Some places are simply too horrible to spend money in and Brunei and other Islamic countries should make you think twice.

  9. William,

    Must everything be political, give it a rest!! If you want your gay agenda, then don’t leave San Francisco! Different parts of the world and a right to their own traditions and beliefs, just as you do!

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