I’ve stayed in a lot of budget hotels and most of them have been really crappy, but you can’t really complain because you’re on a budget. I get frustrated when people book a budget hotel, expect it to be five-star digs and are then bitterly disappointed when they arrive. If I book budget, I expect budget. I’ve made my money-saving bed and now I literally have to go and lie in it.
Last week I ducked down to Melbourne for one night to attend an awards evening. Poking around hotel and booking websites I was a bit shocked at how expensive it would be to stay at a hotel for less than 24 hours. Lucky for me the good people at Tune Hotels were able to have me stay at their hotel in Carlton and I was able to mix pleasure with business.
Tune is located on Swanston Street and it’s really easy to get to using the Sky Bus from the airport, which costs $18 one way. You jump on the express bus to Melbourne’s CBD, get off then jump on a smaller shuttle bus which drops you a few metres from the doors of Tune.
For tourists and visitors, it’s right near Federation Square, Queen Victoria Markets, Eureka Skydeck 88, Melbourne Museum, the MCG and the Melbourne Zoo and Aquarium. Getting around is easy, there’s lots nearby you can walk to and the trams run right along Swanston Street.
Check-in was really easy and fast as the staff were organised, friendly and really helpful. I was pretty lucky as they were running a promotion over the weekend I visited, giving a free coffee to each guest. If there’s one thing that tastes better than Melbourne coffee, it’s free Melbourne coffee (but not from a stranger in a van, guys, that’s just weird).
When I first walked into the room I thought it was small, not Japanese hotel-room small, but small nonetheless. After I shut the door, put down my suitcase and settled in, I realised how clever they’ve been with the space and how perfect the room size was for me.
The room is really well thought out and they’ve used the space for the important things. At first glance the bathroom looks small, but when you step inside you realise they’ve made the shower really big, which is something I find very important. It’s not just a small, square shower, it’s a nice big rectangle size with a great ‘Power-Shower’ head. I tell you what, nothing annoys me more than staying at a cheap hotel, getting in the shower and having to keep my arms glued to my sides because there’s no room to move!
There’s a big full-length mirror in the entry-way, which is where I got ready and did my hair and make-up. This is another well-thought out aspect because, again, it means you aren’t stuck in the bathroom. Rather than wasting space on an over-basin mirror you wouldn’t be able to see anyway, they’ve given the extra space to the shower and the entry-way. Smart.
There’s a desk and chair next to the bed, which was great for me to sit to eat my lunch and do some work. The bed is really comfortable with a wall-mounted TV opposite. Here they’ve given more space to a good sized bed, but one that doesn’t dominate the room. It’s functional and comfortable.
Somehow they’ve managed to put everything you need in the room without making it feel cramped or over-stuffed. There’s still room to walk around, spread out and use different spaces.
If you’re a light sleeper you may find there’s a little bit of noise with doors opening and closing as people come home or go out for the night. I’m a fairly light sleeper but it didn’t bother me and it wouldn’t turn me off recommending the place or staying there again, it’s just something to keep in mind if you’re a particularly fussy sleeper.
What I really liked about the hotel was how modern it felt, kind of like it was a Google office or something. Everything is really cool, bright and new but not kitschy or overdone. There’s a cafe downstairs with really cool little gadgets and things that give the building a chilled-out, super-cool vibe, it’s got energy! The chairs and waiting area of the reception are also cool and bright and there’s a funky computer station. This theme carries through into the rooms, which have a clean, crisp feel to them.
All of this is remarkable because, remember, it is a budget hotel! I remember staying at a budget hotel on the absolute outskirts of Paris, where it wasn’t safe to go out after dark, and being in a room so small that the entire bathroom (shower, toilet and basin) were in a one-metre-square plastic space. It was depression central.
The budget side of Tune Hotels comes into play with the pricing of rooms. The way the hotel works is pricing starts at a low rate which is for the room by itself. There are a few different room types available too, including Double, Twin and Family rooms (I stayed in a double room and think it’d be comfortable for a couple).
Once you’ve chosen a room type, you can add things on which increases the price. It’s kind of like going to Cold Rock Ice Cream or adding toppings to pizza at Dominos! There’s a comfort package you can add on for under $20, which includes entertainment (24 hours Foxtel cable TV), 24 hours WiFi + towel and toiletries. You can also add things on individually, so you may choose to bring your own toiletries and towel and just add entertainment and WiFi onto your booking. You can also add things like breakfast or an early or late check out OR you can kick it old-school and add nothing. Think of the savings!
There’s a lot to like about this, guys. I like it because it means you aren’t paying for crap you don’t need. It isn’t automatically built into the price, you get to choose, which gives you power over how much you pay. This is really important if you’re travelling on a budget or if, like me, you just need a place to rest your head for a few hours and don’t need all the bells and whistles. You just want a nice room and a good price.
What I really like about Tune is that even though it’s a budget hotel you aren’t compromising on where you’re staying. Let’s say one night at Tune costs you $139, that’s cheap compared to other hotels in Melbourne, but is still a lot of money nowadays. You don’t want to spend that much only to arrive to a really crappy rundown place and feel like you need to barricade your door before you try to sleep. If you’re paying $139 for something, you want it to be good! With Tune you get the best of both worlds; modern and clean accommodation that’s comfortable and enjoyable, but doesn’t cost you an arm and a leg.
I can honestly say Tune is the best budget hotel experience I’ve had, hands down, and I would recommend a stay at Tune to anyone visiting Melbourne. I did a bit of website cyber-stalking and the Tune team also have hotels in loads of other places too, including Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, the U.K, India and Japan. So if you’re travelling abroad maybe check out the website for these locations too.