Rosemarie North checks into Sekeping Serendah, in Malaysia.
A 40-minute, $25 ride-sharing trip from Kuala Lumpur. Sekeping Serendah is not well sign-posted and our driver overshot it, and slammed on his brakes. Naturally, a motorbike behind smacked into the car — at low speed fortunately.
Check-in experience: The uncertain welcome continued when a staff member simply demanded "Booking?" when my friend and I came to check in. He led us up a manicured path in the forest and arranged — after some language-related confusion — to return at 7pm to light a fire for us.
Room: We had the whole of Glass Shed #2 to ourselves. To get there, you climb a steep staircase into the deck (more on this later) which has a seating area and metal fire pit.
You enter the house through bifold doors to find a kitchen and armchairs made of wire in keeping with the industrial vibe. The upstairs bedroom covers the whole floor.
Price: $105 to $682 per night depending on the house. Ours was $204.
What's so good about this place? Our shed was one of 10 individually designed houses spread around 2ha of stunning tropical forest. It's a treat to sit by the fire at night and have a dip in the pool by day. And the bad? Communication with the hosts was patchy. In advance, I'd seen conflicting information about what to bring so I'd emailed and tried to call, but didn't get a reply. During the evening, two men appeared and tinkered with something under the house without saying hello to us. Given the lack of Wi-Fi or phone reception, this could be uncomfortable for a solo guest. When you walk from the ground floor to the deck, you have to take care not to fall down the entry staircase. Although there's a kind of trap door to cover it, you can't latch the trap door. It's a hazard. Staff agreed to arrange transport for us to return to Kuala Lumpur the next day but at checkout time they tried to recruit another guest into giving us a lift. Eventually, they rustled up an elderly taxi ($46).
What's in the neighbourhood? Apparently, a waterfall and villages with indigenous (orang asli) people.
Toiletries: Soap and shower gel are provided. BYO towels.
Food and drink: BYO. Meals can be ordered for larger groups.
The bed: Two double beds under mosquito nets, surrounded by windows that bring the forest canopy inside.
A room with a view? Doesn't get greener than this.
Bathroom: Open air, hot shower, clean.
Free Wi-Fi? Part of the charm is the lack of phone reception or Wi-Fi.
Noise: Chirruping insects, babbling brook, wind in leaves.
Room service: Fire lighting!
Value for money: High hassle factor for the price.
Exercise facilities: Bush walks, swimming pools.
Perfect for: An overhaul so the service matches the facilities.
The bottomline: The search continues for a good value, refreshing nature retreat within easy distance of Kuala Lumpur.