A bed above the rest

If you are looking for an unforgettable bed and breakfast place, then you should stay with Eco Bed & Breakfast Johor Baru.

Facade of the White House in Taman
Setia Tropika, Johor Baru
Keith Lee and his wife, Jewel Shalom, fondly call their B&B, the little white house and the beds and breakfasts here are nothing less than extraordinary.

Curious to see the B&B for myself, I agree on a date with Lee for a stay-cation and he promptly replies by WhatsApp to give me explicit step-by-step instructions on how to do a self-check-in.  Besides a series of code numbers that I’m to punch onto a keypad at the gate and front door, he has instructions to retrieve my room key and access card from a locker, along with how to help myself to beverages.  As I scroll down to read his messages complete with photos, I cannot help feeling like a secret agent, receiving instructions for an espionage mission!

White House

Lee tells me that while the housekeeper will have my room ready for me, the caretaker who doubles up as driver, will be with him to ferry a group arriving in Singapore from Taiwan, to the B&B later that night.  

Keith Lee [Right] and his wife, Jewel Shalom at the
reception of Eco B & B Johor Baru
So armed with his given instructions, I arrive in Taman Setia Tropika and head to Precinct 9 to get my vehicle entry pass from security guards to enter Caranday Park.  A precinct park is directly in front and I turn left, driving at a crawl to find the address of that little white house at the very end of the block.

Through glass windows warm lights exude a welcoming glow and I’m glad no one is watching me as I gingerly punch in the code number that should open the front gates.  I hear a whirr and click before I figured that I should give the gate a push to disengage the magnet and open it because it’s not automatic.  I remember Lee’s message reminding me to park to one side of the porch and be mindful of pet cats or pups [Note: The Lee's have a passion for rescuing stray cats and dogs!] that may be wandering around the compound!

Forest beds in the Ballad room
By the porch light, I read another code number to punch onto a keypad for the front door and just as Lee said, the door opens when the light turns green.  The little white house clearly got its name not only from being painted white outside but the interior and furnishings are also all white.  

I’m distracted by ethnic bric-a-brac that decorate the reception counter and the unique wooden dining hall furniture and remember there is yet another code to open the tiny padlock on the locker to retrieve the access card and key to the Ballad room assigned to me.

The Beds

Rocking beds in the Symphony room
Like many Singaporeans, the Lee’s have homes on both sides of the causeway and as they discover more interesting attractions in and around Johor Baru, they opened the B&B last December to share their discoveries with visitors here.  Very often they will take guests on local tours to let them experience the sites and taste the food.  

As they share their knowledge about where to go, what to do and where and what to eat here, Lee and his wife inadvertently became self-appointed ambassadors for Johor!

While exploring Johor and other states in Malaysia, the Lee’s met artisans skilled in metal and wood work and they were engaged to create Lee’s own designs for uniquely crafted beds.

The rocking round bed in the Lullaby room!
The rooms have music themed names like Symphony, a family suite furnished with two queen-size rocking beds while the Duet has twin rocking beds.  The Lullaby is named after its special, suspended queen-size round bed that is designed to gently rock you into slumber!

Lee assures me that these beds are designed with anchors to stop them from rocking but I prefer a bed that’s standing firmly on the ground.  So in my Ballad room, I have Forest beds designed with a canopy of leafy twigs entwined around a [bird’s] nest above the bed.  Each room is equipped with basic furnishings in shades of white and cane furniture covered by batik cloth but my favourite item is the labu sayong, traditional earthen flasks from Perak, filled with filtered, boiled and naturally cooled drinking water.

The Breakfasts

As I come down the stairs, I admire the towering bamboo display on the landing in an arrangement reminiscent of pipe organs in ancient European cathedrals.  Last night I saw it in the glow of a lighted scented candle on the floor and now I can see it better by day.

Lee, who is setting tables, exchange cheery “Good Morning” greetings with me and as I’m seated at the wooden white table, I can hear his wife, Jewel, in the kitchen.  He tells me that everything is made fresh and served piping hot.  Only the batter for the waffles is prepared overnight for the yeast to be infused into the organic unbleached flour to create their classic Belgian waffles that are crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside.

The delightful freshly made breakfast I thoroughly enjoyed!
He places a bowl of mixed fresh fruit on my table and as he pours me a cupful, the fragrance of freshly brewed local Liberica coffee fills the air.  Suddenly, Jewel is standing next to me, shoving her mixing bowl into my line of vision to show me that the 24-hour fermented batter is now mixed with eggs, a pinch of sea salt and vanilla flavour from fresh pods, before serving me the freshly cooked waffles.  

Each guest must take their turn to be served and I’m privately cheering because I’m ahead of their other guests.

The wait is worth every minute because I’m delighted with my serving of Belgian waffles topped with contrasting flavours.  The sweetness is from one quarter wedge covered by slices of caramelized apples sprinkled with cinnamon powder and organic raisins and another wedge topped by toasted almonds flakes on a bed of homemade chocolate-hazelnut (like Nutella!) sauce.  The other half of the waffle is topped by savoury flavours from a folded omelet stuffed with slices of shitake mushrooms and cheese and drizzled with Italian herbs and paprika.

For a moment, I forget that I’m in JB because this bed and breakfast experience is in a class of its own. 

Lee and Jewel are all smiles when they see my clean plate because it’s proof of how much I enjoyed every morsel of my hearty waffle breakfast.  Other guests are waiting for their breakfast and we cannot continue our chat but Lee assures me that there are other items on their menu for guests who stay for more than one night.  All are made from fresh ingredients and when Lee invited me over again to chit-chat about Johor culture, heritage and places of interest over their special waffles and pasta creations, I reply “Sure!” without hesitation.


Eco Bed & Breakfast, Johor Baru
No. 42 Jalan Setia Tropika 9/6, Taman Setia Tropika, Kempas
81200 Johor Baru, Johor
Tel: 607 – 244 6499
Mobile: 6019 – 713 0049
Email: thatlittlewhitehouse@gmail.com
Website: ecobnbjohorbahru.com

Getting There

Convenient access from Johor Baru city centre via Jalan Tun Abdul Razak; Exit at clover-leaf interchange into Jalan Datin Halimah for a direct route to Taman Setia Tropika at right.  From the Plus North-South Highway, exit at Kempas Toll, follow route to JB and turn left into nearby Taman Setia Tropika.  Eco B&B JB is at Precinct 9 within gated and guarded Caranday Park.


Just four rooms named Symphony, Lullaby, Ballad and Duet, all with attached bathrooms

Main Attraction

The bed and breakfast truly makes an impression

First Impression

Well-appointed and clean

Overall Service

Friendly and attentive

F&B Outlets

Breakfast indoors or in alfresco setting and self-serve range of hot beverages


No-smoking premises, high-speed wireless internet connection, self-serve beverage counter in breakfast nook and tour desk advice from the friendly hosts

Places Within Walking Distance

A nearby precinct park

A version of this was published in The New Straits Times, Life & Times on 1 Oct 2015

No comments:

Post a Comment