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“A must if you visit Sabah” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Borneo Rainforest Lodge

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Borneo Rainforest Lodge
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4.0 of 5 Lodge   |   Danum Valley Conservation Area 88100, Malaysia   |  
Hotel amenities
London, England
Top Contributor
102 reviews 102 reviews
55 hotel reviews
Reviews in 65 cities Reviews in 65 cities
96 helpful votes 96 helpful votes
“A must if you visit Sabah”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 26, 2011

We hired a car from KK and drove to Lahad Datu, I wouldn't recommend driving the roads were pretty bad.

If you suffer from car sickness then you'll find the 2.5 hour journey to the lodge hard, I wore my travel bands and I was just about ok for the first 2 hours but the last half was pretty hard going. Even thought I felt rough from the journey I soon forgot about it when I saw the lodge.

Ryan was our guide and he was excellent, as were all the staff, everyone was very friendly.

I'm a vegetarian and there was plenty of lovely food for me to eat.

We went out on 3 treks a day. We didn't have leech socks, my husband did get a leech bite on his ankle but it was nothing to worry about. We wore long sleeved tops and light trekking trousers and hiking boots. You need plenty of insect repellant whilst on the treks and be prepared to sweat like you've never sweated before. We showered every time we came back from a trek.

Don't feel that you have to go out on all the treks it's ok to stay back at the lodge and watch the wildlife from the comfort of a chair. There's a family of red leaf monkeys that make regular appearances at the lodge. We also watched a gibbon swinging by.

Out on the trek we saw an orangutan, a family of gibbons, deer, squirrels, huge insects.

We stayed in a deluxe lodge over looking the river with an outside bathroom, wonderful!

  • Stayed March 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 4 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
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445 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
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Winchester
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 24, 2011

This place is fantastic, yes it might be a bit pricey but it really is worth it. There are plenty of trails to follow and you can do as much or as little as you want. On our night safari we saw a flying squirrel, mouse deer, a brown wood owl and also a ghost monkey, it was brillant.
The accommodation and public areas are fantastic, as is the food. It is a very friendly place with excellent guides, our guide for the trip was Dean and we found him to be very knowledgeable and personable.
It's a must see location for anyone interested in this environment.

  • Stayed March 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 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
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San Francisco, California
Senior Contributor
38 reviews 38 reviews
33 hotel reviews
Reviews in 33 cities Reviews in 33 cities
31 helpful votes 31 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 21, 2011

I had read many great reviews but didn't know what to expect because info. on their website is sparse and they do not provide much printed info.before you arrive. It is a bit unclear as to the daily schedule, and what actually happens when you land at the airport. However, it was quite organized - we were met at the airport and taken to their office a few blocks away, then driven by SUV to the lodge. The road was bumpy but not as bad as I had expected.

What we found was this beautiful place in the middle of no where, a secluded, quiet and peaceful place to enjoy the beauty of the rainforest. It was unlike any place we had ever stayed in. Rooms are like individual cabins connected by raised boardwalks. Service was impeccable. Meals are all served buffet style and the selection and quality was superb - Asian and western options for each meal with fresh fruit. We found the Asian dishes to be better than the salad choices. The lodge building is open air and had comfortable seating areas and dining room overlooking the river. It is unbelievable how they can keep it so clean! The rooms are comfortable and immaculate. The ceiling fans keep the room cool and there are screens and glass to keep the bugs out. Wonderful hot showers and clean bathrooms. They could use a few more hooks in the room to hang wet clothes but other than that, it was perfect. The staff are very attentive, picking up your luggage, driving you to and from the lodge, etc.

We highly recommend this place if you like the out of doors, are looking for a new adventure, and would enjoy being in a rainforest. I It is not for everyone, as it can get muddy, wet and humid (and there are leeches in the forest, esp. on rainy days). Do not expect a luxury hotel with spa, tv, and shopping. There are no tv's and no internet in the rooms; wireless is available in the lodge. It is great for rainforest hiking and a nice place to stay at the end of the day.

  • Stayed January 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam
Top Contributor
126 reviews 126 reviews
43 hotel reviews
Reviews in 61 cities Reviews in 61 cities
64 helpful votes 64 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 5, 2011 via mobile

Tis a four star resort lodge a la African safari. Sitings are not guaranteed though. Food was great along with the facilities staff and the virgin rainforrest. Transport was good even in height of rainy season! Focus on safety was impressive. !skip the horrible intro slide show if you're not an imbicil!

  • Stayed February 2011
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Melbourne, Australia
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 1, 2011

I will never forget this place. Staying in the middle of this rainforest was an absolutely stunning experience, and the opportunities to see wildlife (we got up close to two wild Orangutans, as well as host of other awesome stuff) are unbeatable.

This place is all about the wilderness and wildlife, and so it should be. It is insanely expensive, but in my opinion the quality of the guides justifies the cost. As with another reviewer, we had an absolutely brilliant guide named Vivian, and without him we would have struggled to notice anything. Thanks to him we saw things we will never see again. You got the sense that the guides at this place really loved nature, which was a pleasant change from a few of our other experiences on Borneo.

While the incredible nature experience means this place simply has to be scored 5 out of 5, it's worth noting that there are aspects of the overall experience that could be improved.

First of all, the whole booking process is not good enough for a major operation like this. In order to book, you have to email a scanned copy of your credit card details to the BRL office. While this is pretty standard in Borneo, the lack of a secure payment process is kind of unsettling (although I should make it clear that we were charged correctly). In addition, the operation of the Lahad Datu office that you attend before being transferred to the lodge is pretty crappy. We were collected from our flight and then taken to this office, where we had to sign about a million pieces of paper and then told to wait for 1.5 hours before our transfer to the lodge. I'm not quite sure why some of this beauracracy and waiting around couldn't have been avoided.

It's also worth noting that the service at the lodge is incredibly attentive. All staff were warm and friendly, and provided small touches such as cool, lemongrass scented face towels after each trek. However, we found the managerial oversight was sometimes a bit over the top. For example, during one dinner we were approached by three separate managers (guides manager, restaurant manager, and accommodation manager) just making sure that we were happy with everything. While I'm sure many guests would see this as a good thing, we just thought it was overkill.

The only real other gripe is that while the buffet quality was good, the variation from meal to meal was very limited. Personally I think that for the price being paid to stay at this place, some a-la-carte options should be available. Also, I don't think it would hurt them to include a drink with each meal, rather than making guests pay separately for all drinks. All this being said, meal times were always wonderfully relaxing, with tables peering straight out into the stunning forest.

Despite these little gripes, if your budget allows it, you simply must visit this place.

  • Stayed January 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 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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Hanoi
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 16, 2011

After over 25 years of living and traveling around the world, we agree that we've never stayed in a place that was better managed. We've been in fancier places, but never one so impeccably managed on every level. Of course, the setting of the Borneo Rainforest Lodge is uniquely spectacular, and the wonders of nature are a huge appeal of the place. Sleeping to the sounds of the river flowing outside our veranda and the quiet symphony of the magnificent forest was priceless. Being in the middle of primary, untouched forest with nothing but mother nature for as far as you can see is pretty awesome. You might think you'd have to 'rough it' in a nature setting like this. But no. And you might think for the price tag you're getting luxury nature chic. But no. It's neither. The facilities present the perfect balance between unpretentious, simple, natural, practical design with an attractive aesthetic and attention to your needs and desires for comfort as well as you could want. The facilities and the staffing anticipate your every need. (For example, every time we got back from a trek, there was a staff person there waiting with a cool, wet, towel to wipe our hands and face while we hosed the mud and leeches off our boots. And the hose-off area is well designed to accommodate several people so you don't have to wait). Everything is well kept and in good repair, lovely and comfortable without being fancy or incompatible with the natural surroundings. Rooms were clean, linens just fine, plenty of big nice towels (100% nicer than the crappy, stiff towels we had in the 5 star Magellan Sutera in Kota Kinabalu!) We had the best room in the lodge, called Selangan Batu 2. Our kids had the adjoining one, SB1. It's great because these chalets are right along the river bank. SB2 is totally private. From the veranda we couldn't see anything but the river and forest, and other guests couldn't see us. If you wanted to take advantage of the soaking tub on the veranda (we didn't) it would be great. We loved lounging reading our books in the big day bed there. The housekeeping staff were good and cheerful and kept the place clean.

The food was terrific. Buffet at every meal. If all you like is bratwurst and french fries and chocolate, you may be disappointed, but we found the range of Malaysian/Asia and western options to be great. The quality was excellent. Loads of fresh veggies and fruits at every meal, everything tasty and wholesome. Really, abundant, excellent food. The staff in the restaurant/bar were superb. Never once in 4 days did we wait for more than a couple seconds to catch someone's eye if we needed something. Water glasses were constantly full. They were consistently professional, competent, friendly and helpful. The coffee was good! Getting real esspresso instead of crappy coffee prevelant throughout Asia is a treat and it was 100% complimentary! I drank as much as i wanted for free! (well, nothing's free--you pay a big daily fee for all this, but it was good value). Also nice that they don't charge for the drinks in your mini-bar (coke and a sport drink) or water.

The guides were terrific. We loved our guide (Paul) and of course thought he was the best, but from my limited interactions with others and what other guests said, they are all extremely well trained. Very knowledgeable about the wildlife and environment they led us through. Paul immediately sensed what kind of things we'd like, the kind of hikers we would be. He always had great answers and information for our questions, but also allowed us to trek quietly through the forest without talking for periods, which is itself magical. He did special things for us that we really appreciated and made the experience much more meaningful.

The lodge is well provisioned and staffed to keep you safe and healthy. They sell leech socks in the gift shop, give you good advice and instruction in your orientation at the beginning, are supplied with helpful creams for rashes (my husband got a mystery rash the first day and immediately the manager gave him a brand new tube of something that was helpful). I never worried, knowing that we'd be in good hands if anyone had an accident hiking or got a nasty bite or something (don't worry -- in many years of operation they've never had a guest get a snake bite -- or so i heard!)

The only thing i wished i'd been told in all my emails with the staff prior to our travel was that you need to hike in long pants. I had googled 'what to wear in the rainforest' and found different opinions. Of course i knew sturdy shoes were a must (no sandals) but since it's very hot and humid, you want to think cool, meaning short hiking pants, which some people recommended. But in Borneo covers their legs because of the leeches. The interesting thing was: while my kids were stuck with their jeans, and me in my linen pants or leggings, my husband was the only one with proper outdoor wear. He had the pants that zip off if you want them short. With lovely little holes to let the air breathe through to your sweaty legs. Well, that may be good in the Rockies, but in Borneo, the leeches find the holes! So, he had the biggest bite/suck/bleeder of any of us! The blood makes a good photo op, but it's really no big deal. They are quite small and harmless, those little suckers, and easy to flick off your shoes or pants when you see them. And if they latch on for a little bite, it doesn't hurt and you just flick them off.

The Borneo Rainforest Lodge seems to be doing everything right with the way they keep the facilities, train their wonderful staff and lead you through the magnificent forest. Considering the door to door service and transportation they give you, and all the care-taking and resources they provided, the all you can eat excellent food, and the amenities despite being deep in nature, the high daily rate ends up being good value.

  • Stayed December 2010, traveled with family
    • 4 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
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto, Canada
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 30, 2010

We had the experience of a lifetime at the Borneo Rainforest Lodge with our spectacular guide Vivian Rudolph. The wildlife was spectacular, the food fantastic and the accommodation was very comfortable. We'll return as soon as we can! Beth

  • Stayed December 2010, traveled as a couple
    • 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.
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Additional Information about Borneo Rainforest Lodge

Address: Danum Valley Conservation Area 88100, Malaysia
Location: Malaysia > Sabah > Danum Valley Conservation Area
Amenities:
Restaurant
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Specialty Lodging in Danum Valley Conservation Area
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:4 star — Borneo Rainforest Lodge 4*
Number of rooms: 31
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
A low density Jungle Lodge with 31 Twin Sharing Chalets located in the largest Conservation Area in Sabah which is home to 275 species of birds, 110 species of mammals & one of the oldest virgin rainforest in the world. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Borneo Rainforest Hotel Sabah

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