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“A crazy, over-the-top hotel” 4 of 5 stars
Review of The Empire Hotel & Country Club

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The Empire Hotel & Country Club
5.0 of 5 Hotel   |   Jerudong, Kampong Jerudong BG3122, Brunei Darussalam   |  
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Watertown, Massachusetts
Top Contributor
113 reviews 113 reviews
14 hotel reviews
Reviews in 27 cities Reviews in 27 cities
46 helpful votes 46 helpful votes
“A crazy, over-the-top hotel”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed March 15, 2014

Owned by the Brunei Investment Authority, this is a GIANT hotel with incredible grand lobbies, rooms, hallways, and grounds. The pool is large, with an infinity pool edge that has great views of the ocean. Being in the hotel makes you feel like a hobbit: everything is oversized. The lobby itself is about the size of a soccer pitch in all three dimensions, with huge columns, seating everywhere, multiple levels. From the outside the hotel almost looks castle-like.

Here is the best part: a hotel like this in Europe, if it existed at all, would charge $1,000 per night. In Brunei, it is $250 or $350 per night. So, as long as you don't mind being in a compound like atmosphere, which makes the visit very hotel-centric, this is a pretty amazing place.

  • Stayed February 2014, traveled on business
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
TheEmpireHotel, General Manager at The Empire Hotel & Country Club, responded to this review, March 22, 2014
Dear Guest,

Thank you for providing your constructive feedback on your recent visit to The Empire.

I agree with you, it is a spectacular Hotel on the beach front and overlooking the South China Sea with so many facilities for our guests to enjoy.

I hope to welcome you back soon.

Sincerely,
Nigel Badminton
General Manager
nigel.badminton@theempirehotel.com
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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665 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Location
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (144)
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Birmingham
Senior Contributor
43 reviews 43 reviews
32 hotel reviews
Reviews in 29 cities Reviews in 29 cities
53 helpful votes 53 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 9, 2014

This is my sixth stay here, usually as a stop off point on my way to Singapore. I was a little disconcerted to see some recent reviews, having not been here for nearly 2 years; however, my experience on this occasion was the best so far.

The hotel is palatial, literally. It was built as a royal palace by a somewhat errant Prince whose monogrammed cutlery and crockery are still used within the hotel. It sits next to the sea in lush grounds. There is a golf course, swimming pools and some fantastic restaurants. Its best asset is its staff who are unfailingly courteous and helpful. Of particular note are the Pantai Restaurant chef Raj, "Mummy" who cooks the best Pad Thai ever and the Concierge Saiful. The staff remember your name and make a point of making it their business to look after you. Raj, the Pantai Head Chef, took his time to prepare a meal just for us even though the Pantai is actually a (very good) self-service restaurant.

The deluxe rooms are excellent and come with e-club facilities, which includes semi-private dining. If you're into a good booze up then don't bother: Brunei is alcohol-free and, in my opinion, the better for it even though I like a glass or two.

I recommend you take one of the organised tours from the hotel as the guides are well-informed. People don't try and sell you stuff all the time. Taxi drivers stick like glue to the advertised fares and decline tips if they think you're being too generous.

Brunei is an absolute Monarchy, which Bruneians seem very happy with in the main. They don't pay tax, healthcare is free, crime is rare and petrol costs about 20p per litre. The people are friendly and proud of their country.

Visit soon. The country may not change that fast but the Empire Hotel and Country Club is too much of a good thing to stay the same for long.

Room Tip: Ask for a deluxe room in the main building.
See more room tips
  • Stayed March 2014, traveled on business
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
TheEmpireHotel, General Manager at The Empire Hotel & Country Club, responded to this review, March 22, 2014
Dear Guest,

Thank you for kind review and for complimenting The Empire team, which is appreciated.

I am delighted to know how much you enjoyed your recent stay with us and I look forward to welcoming you back in the near future.

Sincerely,
Nigel Badminton
General Manager
nigel.badminton@theempirehotel.com
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New York
Top Contributor
130 reviews 130 reviews
25 hotel reviews
Reviews in 59 cities Reviews in 59 cities
91 helpful votes 91 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 7, 2014

I first visited The Empire in November 2013 (and reviewed it then), and just returned from a week's stay at the property. While it's not inexpensive, the property is beautiful and I found the service to be exceptional yet again (on par with my last visit to a Four Seasons). Despite it being a large hotel with many staff, I was typically greeted by name, and (with a food allergy to deal with) was paid incredible attention by the food service team. In particular, my sincere thanks to Shaun and Chef Raj who did an amazing job, and Sanda, Zaki, Redhuan, DK and Ina, along with many others. My initially assigned room was very nice but had an issue with the curtain, so they moved me to an upgraded room without additional charge. Both rooms were clean, spacious and well appointed. My second room was facing the pool and ocean, and included a nice balcony. Other than the minor issue with the curtain, everything was flawless. Given that this was a business trip I didn't have more than a few hours to enjoy the grounds and the pool, however they are really beautiful. As others have noted, this is a large property that is often at 20-35% occupancy. While this isn't great for the hotel, it means there were just enough people around to keep the lobby and other areas quietly humming, while limiting the crowds. I imagine that it gets a lot busier during school holidays and when tour buses are passing through. I ate a light breakfasts at Zest most mornings, and had a few meetings in the lobby restaurant (afternoon tea is excellent), plus one meeting over at the country club. My best meal was at Pantai where chef Raj prepared special dishes. He's a master who cooks from his heart. For extended stays I'll be staying elsewhere since the hotel has a strict corporate discount policy (given the occupancy you'd think they'd be interested to work with business clients seeking a place to stay for at least 30 days a year), however I do plan to return with my family for a shorter stay in the coming months. Bottom line is that it's expensive but very good, with the highlights being many of the people who do their best to make guests feel welcome.

  • Stayed February 2014, traveled on business
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
TheEmpireHotel, General Manager at The Empire Hotel & Country Club, responded to this review, March 22, 2014
Dear Guest,

Thank you for taking the time to leave your review on your stay at The Empire.

I will certainly share your kind compliments with our staff, particularly Shaun, Chef Raj, Sandha, Zaki, Redhuan, DK and Ina.

I hope you will return to stay at the hotel on your future visits to Brunei and please do make contact with me if I can be of any assistance with this.

Sincerely,
Nigel Badminton
General Manager
nigel.badminton@theempirehotel.com
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Limerick, Ireland
Senior Reviewer
9 reviews 9 reviews
9 hotel reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
12 helpful votes 12 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 3, 2014

Luxury at its absolute finest. This hotel is out of this world... Golf course was outstanding. As were all of the restaurants, the swimming pools, the beach. And the rooms were by far the best I've ever stayed in. This place is so luxurious that it almost seems surreal. And it is not overly expensive either. You can normally get offers on this hotel when you book flights with Royal Brunei. And for those who like a drink, the Malaysian border is only about 30mins away. My experience here was fantastic - highly recommended

  • Stayed October 2013, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
TheEmpireHotel, General Manager at The Empire Hotel & Country Club, responded to this review, March 22, 2014
Dear Guest,

Thank you for your generous review on TripAdvisor and I look forward to welcoming you back in the future.

Sincerely,
Nigel Badminton
General Manager
nigel.badminton@theempirehotel.com
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Portsmouth, United Kingdom
1 review
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 17, 2014 via mobile

Having just returned from five weeks working in Brunei I would like to say how relaxed freindly and well run this enormous hotel is. Nothing at all was too much for the staff who always with a pleasant smile were waiting to help, even over the Chinease New Year busy period. Would most definitely hope to make a return visit. Thanks to all Stuart Oliver

Stayed February 2014, traveled on business
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
TheEmpireHotel, General Manager at The Empire Hotel & Country Club, responded to this review, February 25, 2014
Dear Guest,

Thank you for your kind compliments, which I will share with our dedicated and hardworking team.

Sincerely,

Nigel Badminton
General Manager
nigel.badminton@theempirehotel.com
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed February 16, 2014

Dear General Manager,

I frequently dine at the Pantai Restaurant (now Zan Pavilion) since mid 2000. I noticed that the price has skyrocketed and has recently gone up from B$48 + 10% to B$53 + 10% within a year. The drastic increase in price is only reasonable if there were more varieties to choose from and of good quality. However, this was not the case and lately I observed that the dishes are simply prepared and seems to be at the convenience of the chef. This does not necessarily suit the guests' taste bud and portray the standard of your Hotel.

I would like to bring to your attention my observations below:

1)Crabs cooked in the same style - i.e. Black Pepper Crab and it has never changed. I am sure that your chefs are able to showcase their cooking talent other than simply cooking black pepper crabs.

2)Fish that are displayed on the carving station frequently has unremoved scales on them. This is certainly not hygienic and will affect the flavour and freshness of the fish. I would also like to suggest that Red Snapper when plainly baked without any spices is not suitable due to its repulsive smell. Salmon would be a better option.

3)Corn in Cob. This is always present and personally I do not find it special. Perhaps this only caters for children.

4)Sweet potato puree - Why would this be in the menu in the first place for the main course? I do not think that many guests except the elderly and infant fancy consuming such food.

5)Desserts Inadequate - Over the years I have dined at Pantai, I noticed that the dessert serving size has shrunk and is now smaller. For example the diameter of the cheesecake. There are also fewer choices than before. Improvements at the dessert corner is highly appreciated!

6)Welcome drink unavailable - Previously, we enjoyed having welcome drinks. As of now, they are unavailable but the buffet price has increased. Could you explain more on this?

7)Inadequate BBQ Varieties - There are only satays (which are tough and dry) and sausages available for the BBQ. Previously there were barbecued lamb, beef, prawn and chicken drumsticks. I also do not see a point in serving large sausages. We would be easily filled up by the sausages alone and leave.

8)The waiters frequently collect our plates eventhough we have yet to finish our meals and with our cutleries still in our hands. It seems that we are being pushed to leave soon.

9)Meat choices - You should also consider that guest may not consume meats such beef or lamb. Therefore there should be more poultry choices.

10)Main courses displayed were already cold when consuming. Were they cooked a long time ago?

11)Food that was available during the opening of Zen Pavilion was excellent. However now the food choices are severely limited. Was that simply a PR stunt especially for the media?

I hope that the management of Zen Pavilion would consider changing your menu often so that we have better value for our meals. The chefs should consider the patrons' taste buds instead of theirs. We are paying good money for sub-standard dishes. I reminisce the times back in the mid 2000 when the food quality and quantity were excellent. I hope that my next visit would be more pleasant and I look forward to your consideration.

Regards,

Faithful Pantai Patron

  • Stayed February 2014, traveled with family
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
TheEmpireHotel, General Manager at The Empire Hotel & Country Club, responded to this review, February 25, 2014
Dear Guest,

Thank you for your detailed feedback on your recent dining experience in Pantai, which we will take into account in our future menu developments.

Sincerely,

Nigel Badminton
General Manager
nigel.badminton@theempirehotel.com
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bengaluru (Bangalore), India
Contributor
13 reviews 13 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed February 15, 2014

The Empire Hotel is without a doubt the best hotel in Brunei, by far. But given how much money they have poured into building it, given how expensive the rooms have recently become (I used to pay BND 180 / day a few months back, now it is BND 280 / day), I would recommend staying here for a few days to get a feel for the palatial resort property, and the stunning view of the sea. After a few days, just go and stay in an ordinary but decent hotel for less.

The property: The story you hear is that they poured billions of dollars into building the hotel. The only international class hotel in Brunei, its a resort, and almost palatial in construction and size. The view of the sea from the main lobby is stunning. You can walk upto the beach and enjoy the sea view. But thats pretty much where it stops being a class hotel and resort. For all the money, they have poured into it, the hotel lacks the touches. There is nothing really beautiful about the interior decor. The rooms are quite nice but not as great as you would expect for this kind of money. I guess rooms with a sea view may make it worthwhile.
There is an excellent golf course, so that may be a big plus for some of you.

Service: is ok. OK, good. Nothing great.

Food: you wish and would expect a property of such proportions and so many stars to definitely have much better food. Breakfast is not included in the room rate and costs BND 22 or so. The cooked dishes are simply very average. The cheese etc selection is ok. I have had food here other than during breakfast. Again mixed and overall average. The only positive in my opinion
is their Chinese restaurant which is pretty good.

Location: The resort is away from the downtown of Brunei i.e. the Gadong area. There are absolutely no shops and restaurants in the vicinity. So you have to take a cab wherever you want to go. If you are tired of the hotel, then you are pretty much stuck. And remember, public transportation other than taxis are pretty much non-existent in Brunei.

Internt: wifi service is ok. could definitely be better.

Room Tip: Sea view rooms, but you probably have to book early.
See more room tips
  • Stayed January 2014, traveled on business
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 2 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
TheEmpireHotel, General Manager at The Empire Hotel & Country Club, responded to this review, February 25, 2014
Dear Mr. Subharjit,

Thank you for posting your report on TripAdvisor.

I am sorry that we did not fully meet your expectations, and to which I apologize.

I have taken careful note of your comments and will keep these in mind for future improvement, as we continue to work on improving our service.

Sincerely,

Nigel Badminton
General Manager
nigel.badminton@theempirehotel.com
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about The Empire Hotel & Country Club

Address: Jerudong, Kampong Jerudong BG3122, Brunei Darussalam
Phone Number:
Location: Brunei Darussalam > Brunei-Muara District > Kampong Jerudong
Amenities:
Beach Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 5 Hotels in Kampong Jerudong
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:5 star — The Empire Hotel & Country Club 5*
Number of rooms: 518
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Located on the north eastern tip of Borneo on the doorstep of one of Asia's oldest rainforests, The Empire Hotel & Country Club is Brunei’s most prestigious beach resort offering unsurpassed 5-star luxury.This palatial resort hotel, which astounds visitors with its spectacular 12 storey marble and gold lobby, is set in its own private 180-hectare (445 acres) estate of manicured gardens and an 18-hole, floodlit Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course and Country Club. Each of the hotel’s 522 opulently appointed guest rooms, suites and private villas has a view of the ocean, lagoon, gardens or golf course, while standard throughout the hotel are Imperial king-sized beds made with the finest linens, and over-sized marble bathrooms with walk-in shower, deep soaking tub with gold taps and luxury amenities. The Empire Hotel & Country Club also extends the kingdom’s regal hospitality with an impressive range of international restaurants, spa, world-class golf and sporting activities, and international meeting facilities for top level MICE gatherings, making it a resort ideal for family, romantic or business vacations. The Empire Hotel & Country Club is a member of WORLDHOTELS and recipient of numerous prestigious international awards. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
The Empire Hotel And Country Club
Empire Hotel Brunei

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