I love spending the weekend in Johor Bahru since it is fairly close to Singapore but the traffic congestion is a nightmare (especially on a Saturday morning). I have been to the Doubletree by Hilton Hotel Johor Bahru on a few occasions and on my last visit, I checked out the Amari Johor Bahru which to me, has the best location out of all the other hotels. Since I have to hit at least 50 room nights to keep my Platinum Elite status with the Marriott Bonvoy program this year, I decided to check out the Renaissance Johor Bahru Hotel with my friends one weekend since the room rates were comparatively low and I somehow managed to secure train tickets in.
It is certainly worth highlighting from the start that the Renaissance Johor Bahru Hotel is not located in a great location if you are planning to pig out over the weekends. While it is extremely easy (and affordable!) to get around Johor Bahru using Grab, you cannot actually walk to popular places (at least amongst Singaporeans) like Johor Bahru City Square or KSL City Mall from the hotel. Instead, the Renaissance Johor Bahru Hotel is located near the Permas Jaya Golf Club which is approximately 20 minutes (by car) away from CIQ and JB City Square.
After having lunch near JB City Square, we took a car from Komtar JBCC to the Renaissance Johor Bahru Hotel - the ride costed only MYR 14 (approximately SGD 4.70). While checking-in to the hotel, my Platinum Elite status in the Marriott Bonvoy programme was recognised and I was accorded an upgrade from a Deluxe Room into a Deluxe Bayview Room. Additionally, I was also given access to the Club Lounge as part of my Platinum Elite benefits. My request for a 4:00PM late check-out was also quickly confirmed and I chose 1,000 Marriott Bonvoy points as my welcome amenity.
The Deluxe Bayview Rooms here at Renaissance Johor Bahru Hotel come with 34-36sqm of space and if I were to guess, the room that was assigned to be certainly felt like it was at least 36sqm since it was a corner room. My friends were placed in a regular Deluxe Bayview Room on the same floor (upon request) and their room had a more regular layout at 34sqm.
The Deluxe Bayview Rooms which are located in the corners come with a small seating area in front of the bed which makes it easy to catch up on your favourite TV program. This is also a great spot to hang around after spending the afternoon out in the sun (don't climb into bed in your dirty clothes!).
I love how spacious the rooms are and there is plenty of space to put your shopping before sorting them out. There is also a spacious work desk at one corner of the room where you can be productive if need be.
Complimentary water is provided as you would expect but there is no coffee machine located in the Deluxe Bayview Rooms (I am not sure if the suites have them). Regular teabags are also provided in one of the drawers but if you are used to premium options, you might want to bring your own.
The bathroom of the Deluxe Bayview Room is simple and functional - there is no bathtub in case anyone was wondering but it does come with a rainshower on the side.
Bath amenities are provided by the USA-based Tokyo Milk and these are found in quite a number of Renaissance properties here in Asia-Pacific. Evening turndown is offered here on property and these bath amenities are replenished then as well as in the morning when housekeeping comes in to make up your room.
The Club Lounge of the Renaissance Johor Bahru Hotel is located on Level 16 of the hotel and it is open from 6:00AM to 10:00PM daily. I dropped by for a coffee shortly after checking-in and it was relatively quiet so if you are looking for a spot to catch up on work, this might just be it. There is also an outdoor terrace for those who prefer to take in a bit of sun but I ended up staying in the small TV lounge located towards the back of the lounge instead.
If you have access to the Club Lounge at the Renaissance Johor Bahru Hotel, complimentary alcoholic drinks are served from 5:30PM to 8:30PM every night - the alcohol selection is pretty small but decent for the price that I have paid. Complimentary hors d'oeuvres and desserts are also served from 5:30PM to 7:30PM if you are looking for some light bites but the food is probably insufficient for dinner so make sure you head out for a proper meal instead.
Alternatively, the Renaissance Johor Bahru Hotel offers a unique benefit for Platinum Elite (and higher tier) members - 20% discount on in-room dining as well as Minibar. While it is no secret that Marriott Bonvoy members can get up to 20% discount at participating restaurants and bars across properties, this benefit is typically never extended to in-room dining.
The next morning, I had the option of having breakfast at the Club Lounge or the hotel's all-day dining restaurant, Cafe BLD. I opted for the latter location but did not take any photos as the place was teaming with people. There is a good selection of food in Cafe BLD but it does seem a little understaffed when I was there - even things like a glass of water took quite a while to come. With that being said, I did visit it at approximately 9:00AM which is typically the worst time to visit a restaurant serving buffet breakfast so you might want to head down a little bit earlier to enjoy some peace and quiet.
As the only property under the Marriott International umbrella in Johor Bahru, the Renaissance Johor Bahru Hotel is a solid property for those looking to do their mattress runs. The facilities are decent and the rooms are quite nicely-appointed but most importantly, it offers great value to those traveling from Singapore. With that being said, the hotel is located considerably further away from the usual spots that tourists frequent but getting around on Grab is convenient and affordable so this should not pose a problem at all (unless you are one of those travellers who prefer to walk everywhere).