Hilton Batang Ai Longhouse Resort Sarawak

Batang Ai Hilton Longhouse Resort in Sarawak

The Hilton Batang Ai Longhouse Resort in Sarawak is the only Hilton Hotel in the world to have a traditional Iban longhouse design for the rooms. This unique property is found deep in the Sarawak jungles and located next to the massive Batang Ai Lake bordering Kalimantan which is about 5 hours drive from Kuching town and a well worth experience.

I had to pleasure of visiting this place during my fieldwork in Borneo back in 2006, 2007 and again in 2012. surprisingly, not many people from Malaysia have actually been here moreover to stay at this very unique Hilton Hotel and Resort here in Malaysia Borneo. 


Hilton Longhouse Resort in Sarawak
Hilton Batang Ai Longhouse Resort welcome boat jetty
The Hilton Batang Ai Longhouse Resort is also unique in a sense that the scenic journey starts from Kuching (capital of Sarawak) and it is a long and interesting drive considering that after Serian town, the highway leads back to the old one lane main road.

A distance of 275 kilometres in total, I arrived here by noon and the first thing you see is a little jetty building and a huge lake called the Batang Ai Lake. This of course is in the district of Lubuk Antu which is a really small border town to Kalimantan, Indonesia.

'Where is the Hilton', I asked my guide Selvem, he tells me 'Ahh, patience. We wait for the boat'. So there I was, waiting for a boat but to my surprise, a traditional Iban long boat was arrange for this trip. A journey in a traditional long boat to the Hilton Batang Ai, how nice I thought. It took us about 20 minutes by longboat to reach the resort jetty. Just so you know, the Hilton Batang Ai provides proper fibreglass boats for their customers.

Hilton Batang Ai Jettty
Arriving at the Hilton jetty
On reaching the main jetty, we are greeted by a long flight of wooden stairs heading up to the resort entrance. I think it was a total of about 170 steps if I am not mistaken and while heading up, still no Hilton in sight. Then on reaching the top, there it was - Beautiful and absolutely quiet surrounded by lush tropical rainforest in the middle of Borneo. Every traveler's dream! 

  General notice


Hilton Batang Ai Wong Irup LoungeWong Irup lounge at the Hilton

The reception and the lounge area must have been one of the best I have seen in my life. Considering how they use the Sarawak cultural items to theme the area. Tastefully, unique and absolutely different from the standard common hotels you see all over. When I was there, there was hardly anyone around except for the staff. On asking where everyone was, the staff politely replied 'everyone has gone out for some sort of nature adventure'. Wow... And here I was in the hotel asking a silly question. 

Hilton Longhouse Resort Batang AiHilton Longhouse Resort rooms

Walking around the resort area, I noticed how the Sarawak Iban Longhouse design is laid where all the rooms are located in one longhouse. Exactly how the Iban people live in real life, this is similar and of course with modern amenities like air conditioning, attached bathroom, coffee machine and television. There are a total of 11 blocks of longhouses with about 100 rooms available.

For the business travelers, there is a conference area available and also a business centre. So imagine doing a MICE trip here, in the middle of the Bornean rainforest. This would be very interesting for the westerners too. 

Longhouse ruai photoThe Longhouse ruai (veranda)

The longhouse ruai (veranda) is extremely clean and well taken care. If you do manage to visit a actual Iban Longhouse, you will see that this layout is similar to their 100 year old longhouses and I take my hat off to the resort owners who have painstakingly adapted this concept into their business. Well done! 

Hilton Longhouse PhotoOutside the Ruai (veranda)
Swimming Pool at Batang Ai Hilton Swimming pool in a rainforest, how nice is that!

The resort has the basic amenities you will find at any other property like a traditional spa (Borneo Oasis Wellness Center), karaoke, swimming pool, tennis courts, table tennis, walking and jogging track and a children's playground.

However, because it is Sarawakian inspired, there is a nice themed lounge in the main building called the Wong Irup lounge with a couple of pool tables which is all themed accordingly to the Iban and Sarawakian culture. For food, they serve international and local cuisine at an all day restaurant called Nanga Mepi. Here, guests can savour the many unique Sarawakian food dishes. 

Visitors trying a Sarawak blow pipeTraditional blow pipe lessons

For nature and outdoor activities, there are quite a number to choose from. Start with the nature walks in the tropical rainforest or book a fishing trip in the huge massive lake. You can also rent kayaks and explore the Batang Ai Lake. There are also sightseeing tours available and an interesting canopy walk behind the resort with a decent hike to get there. At the resort, one can try their skills at using a traditional Iban blow pipe with the assistance of the friendly hotel staff.

Batang Ai Trekking and Hiking Trekking at Batang Ai

A Canopy Walk right behind the Hilton is one of the places you will be visiting if you stay here. For me, since I was here exploring the place, I did my canopy walk with my trusted personal guide Selvem. A nice short hike for about 10 minutes starting with a uphill trek then all the way in. You get to see a lot of flora and fauna along the way so if you are a nature lover, this would be excellent.

Jamit anak Ngumbang Iban Warrior Grave Iban Warrior Jamit anak Ngumbang grave site

Trekking through the Batang Ai rainforest, we came across a graveyard just before the canopy walk. According to legend, this tomb is about 120 years old and it belongs to a popular Iban Warrior and Chief named Jamit anak Ngumbang.

You see a lot of mineral water bottles and tuak (rice wine) bottles placed on the head of the grave out of respect from the local Iban people who pass or live there. Especially during the Gawai Festival, they will also bring items for the spirit of Jamit anak Ngumbang here. 

After a good trek and visit to the canopy walk or sky walk, we headed back to the resort. The back roads leads you through a small pepper plantation which is the famous Sarawak Pepper. These pepper trees grow to an amazing height of over 10 feet tall and is one of Sarawak's main produce. 

Photo of Batang Ai Lake Journey back through the lake

The journey back to Kuching, same way in, same way out. Using the Iban long boat, we headed out passing some magnificent views of the lake with dead tree stumps sticking out of the waters. I would gladly come back here again to fully experience the natural Sarawakian rainforest surroundings at the Hilton Batang Ai. Something totally different from the normal hotels and resorts. (I did, in 2013)

Along the way back, we made a quick stop at Lachau Town, an Iban Trading Post to savour a cup of Sarawak's famous Teh C Peng Special among trying the local Kolo Mee or dry noodles from the local coffee shop here. On a weekend, this place is thriving with market activity where locals bring their wares here to sell them. Something worth catching.

For honeymooners or newly married couples, this is one unique romantic honeymoon in Sarawak Borneo that should be considered. But I must warn you that this is NOT your regular 5-Star Hilton Hotel. It is more of an exotic boutique cum ethnic inspired resort that is totally out of the ordinary. Definitely something to remember for life too.

Hilton Batang Ai Resort
Beautiful view of the longhouse behind the swimming pool
The Hilton Batang Ai Resort is apparently quite busy during the period of May till October. Also, the guest that check in there are mostly Europeans and Americans with some Australians. 99% foreigners mostly so do not expect seeing local South East Asians there and a great place to escape.

The property is also a very child friendly resort so check with them about children deals as there are quite a few available. Also, you might want to take note as the nearest local shop is a 20 minute boat ride across the Batang Ai Lake and another 20 minutes to the nearest town of Lubok Antu. You are in the middle of the rainforest when you come here, so please come prepared.

Batang ai Hilton Resort
View of the swimming pool here
Address and contact for the Hilton Batang Ai Longhouse Sarawak;

Hilton Kuching
Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman
PO Box 2396, Kuching, 93748
Malaysia
Telephone: +60 (0)83 584388
Fax: +60 (0)83 584399
More information: Hilton Batang Ai Longhouse Resort Sarawak website

If you are planning on visiting Sarawak Borneo and want to experience something out of this world by living in a remote area of Borneo, you should consider staying at the Hilton Batang Ai Longhouse Resort as this is truly a very unique experience for anyone. 

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