We have always eagerly anticipated a stay at the Majestic Kuala Lumpur and on this Malaysian trip we eagerly inked it in to our schedule. Just a little farther down the Malaysian peninsula lies Raffles Singapore (see review here) – a fabulous time-travelling capsule of turn of England circa 1900 in a modern and bustling oriental city.
Raffles is one of our favourite city hotels – we hoped that some of that refined and historic charm would be reflected at the Majestic. We need not have worried, the Majestic Hotel Kuala Lumpur makes a great job, coming close to the quality of its illustrious near neighbour and you should make this your essential KL stop off point.
The hotel is in two parts – the original Hotel Majestic, a national heritage site built in 1932, and the newer tower wing. Both are in a pure white which dazzles in the tropical sun, its grand entrances manned by pith-helmeted porters in all-white uniforms including fabulously baggy white shorts.
The Tower wing with its vast lobby chandelier, fluted columns and shiny marble floors, nods to the deco aesthetic whilst being somewhat more modern and functional.
The older wing has the more traditional architecture with dark wood panelling, oriental carpets and lazily swirling ceiling fans. Here, it requires little effort to transport yourself back to the days when this was the place for glamorous social occasions, government receptions and the residence for prominent international visitors.
That it remains so up to this day says a lot for the current owners (YTL Hotels) and their determination to maintain the hotel’s special qualities. We just missed Prince Charles and Camilla, who were in the Royal Suite the previous week (most charming and chatted to everyone, so the porter tells us discretely) whilst our own airport taxi had to negotiate Ferraris and Lamborghinis of the local elite arriving for a prestigious event.
You can select to stay in either part of the hotel, a choice that provides something of a dilemma. The obvious, and our choice, was the older Majestic wing. Here the suites mirror the historic nuances in tone and furnishing and the sparkling black and white tiled bathrooms feature claw-foot baths and separate showers.
This wing is also where you will find the traditional Colonial Cafe (above), alongside an English-style lounge, a cigar room, a cinema that shows only black and white movies, an old-fashioned barbers, and an orchid filled conservatory that wouldn’t be out of place at Kew Gardens and where you can book an exceptional afternoon tea.
On our return journey through KL we also tried the Tower wing with its bonus of stunning view across the city. The rooms here are subtly different with a more contemporary design including modern four poster beds. Bathrooms were again exceptional, with stylish glazed walls to the bathroom, wc and separate shower – a curtain provides privacy when required.
Each wing also has its own separate swimming pool and there’s a lovely Charles Rennie Macintosh-inspired spa. A nice extra touch which probably swings the choice to the Majestic wing is the ‘Majestic Club’ membership that is free with all suites. You get complimentary mini-bar, free laundry service, evening cocktail serves beverages, a lounge serving light snacks throughout the day and use of hotel car and shuttle within the city.
In the Tower wing is the big and bustling buffet-style Contango Restaurant where there is a ever changing lunch and dinner. Malaysia is of course a melting pot of cultures that is reflected in the variety of foods: Malay, Chinese, Indian, Indonesian, ethnic Bornean and more – the whole gamut is reflected here. It is good value and quite exceptional in quality.
Breakfast is also served and provides a similarly mind-boggling choice. Amongst much more we tried the daily Indian dhall plus freshly made indian breads, chutneys and pickles and the local Nasi Lemak – rice cooked in coconut milk with anchovies, egg, nuts and a spicy sauce, all served in a folded coconut leaf. Want chinese dumpling or just bacon and eggs, muesli and fresh juice? No problem, it is all here and impeccably presented.
As for location its pretty good too. The Majestic is located in a fascinating – and reasonably easily walkable – neighbourhood, packed with a wonderful mish-mash of colonial-era buildings plus pretty parks and gardens. Opposite the hotel is the marvellous old Moorish-inspired Station, or explore a little more for Indian Brickfields, Chinatown and the deco Central Market. The twin Petronas towers and modern shopping centres are farther although the hotel does provide a free shuttle service.
For more information visit Majestic Hotel Kuala Lumpur
CELLOPHANELAND* were guests of YTL Hotels and Majestic Hotel Kuala Lumpur