Entrepreneur

This Team Invested A 6-Figure Sum To Turn A Pre-War Building Into A Klang-Themed “Coshtel”

Inspired by his travels to over 40 countries, many ideas came to Jomy’s mind on how he could promote his beloved city of Klang. 

When he turned 30, he realised he was tired of travelling and decided it was time to finally take those ideas to the drawing board.

At the start of 2018, he wrote a proposal, looked for a business partner to invest and work with, discussed concepts, then started renovating a shophouse and its rooms in May. 

PLAY! Klang Coshtel (PLAY! Klang) opened its doors just a few months later in July 2018 with one mission in Jomy’s mind: to connect Klang to the world.

Exterior shots of the renovated shophouse / Image Credit: PLAY! Klang

What’s So Special About Klang?

It starts with the building. With a 6-figure sum, Jomy renovated the coshtel from a 100-year-old pre-war building on the left riverbank of Klang.

First built by Wong Loke Yew, who played a significant role in the development of Kuala Lumpur, the shop lots housed coolies working in the port who shared kitchens and bathrooms.

“It’s quite interesting that a long time ago, the function of a shophouse is quite similar to a hostel nowadays,” Jomy shared.

To him, the historical town is rich in culture, which is something the coshtel tries to promote in every corner of their building.

“We try to use some small decorations to tell the story of Klang in every corner. For example, we use Bak Kut Teh clay pots for our plants and decorate our counter like a port to bring out the story of Port Klang.”

Connecting Locals And Tourists

You might have noticed by now that PLAY! Klang doesn’t describe itself as a coworking space or themed hotel.

Instead, it uses the term “coshtel”, a portmanteau of “coworking space” and “backpackers hostel”.

Dinner time with guests at the PLAY! Klang Coshtel

“We want to attract more digital nomads and freelancers from overseas to exchange ideas or cultures with locals to not only let foreigners know more about Klang, but to let locals know more about internationals at our place,” Jomy said.

Most of the coshtel’s guests are locals who stay the night after attending one of their events, which is where most of PLAY! Klang’s revenue comes from.

“Foreigners normally they will stay around 3 days, most of them are cycling around Malaysia or travelling by ferry for a break or a stop on a long journey,” Jomy stated.

“We also have some digital nomads who stay at our hostel for 2 weeks to 1 month, and they’re just looking for a space which is quiet but close to the airport or Kuala Lumpur.”

Breakfast is served in the morning when you stay in their hostel

A bed in their backpackers hostel would cost you RM60, which also comes with a continental breakfast, access to their coworking space and the PLAY! Kitchen.

But if you’re there to work in their coworking space without staying the night, a day pass costs RM10.

They also offer coworking space membership prices at RM150 and RM500 per month which include access to desk spaces and up to 10 free drinks from their Oya Cafe.

For RM1,400 per month, you can get a backpackers bed with breakfast on top of the aforementioned desk space and beverages, plus priority access to certain events.

More Than Just Bak Kut Teh

The team works hard to organise plenty of events to promote their space and attract visitors to it.

One of these includes an annual event in Klang called the “Egg Cracking Festival”.

“’Egg Cracking’ means reborn, so we hope to inject new life into the old town. During the opening ceremony, hundreds of crow eggs will fall to an art installation nest, and everyone can crack and eat them,” explained Jomy.

What is meant by crow eggs is actually chicken eggs which have been cooked in a dark, pork-free Bak Kut Teh broth, for everyone to enjoy.

The Egg Cracking Festival attracts over 2,000 people to their coshtel to participate in the night’s sharing sessions, music, and car boot markets.

Bak Kut Teh eggs and some merchandise from their markets

“We’ve also collaborated with Artsense Studio and let children join us in promoting Klang’s tourism with their artworks; Jalan-Jalan Klang for a Klang walking tour; Klang barter trade for book exchanges, and Klang car boots sales to market during festivals,” Jomy shared.

Kids enjoying a walking tour around Klang

These, of course, couldn’t happen this year when the pandemic hit.

“We could only do FB live sharing during the MCO and the coshtel closed for three months,” Jomy said.

When they finally began operations again in July, the team had to shift their focus to attract more local travellers.

“It’s quite a hard job to change the target audience and we try to promote a light travel package with a free night tour. During the weekends, we also do Sunday Market to attract more locals, and let more local communities join us to promote Klang together,” Jomy said.

So while their target audience may have changed for the time being, what PLAY! Klang is doing is still exactly in line with its original mission: promote the city and connect locals to travellers, and vice versa.

Once their coshtel operation in Klang is stable enough, Jomy has plans to open up more coshtels in other locations to promote their cultures too.

  • You can learn more about PLAY! Klang Coshtel here.
  • You can read more about other Malaysian Startups here.

Featured Image Credit: PLAY! Klang

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