Luxury for less: Kuala Lumpur

There aren’t many cities left in the world where you can stay in a five-star hotel for less than £100, but you still can in Kuala Lumpur, which is great news for honeymooners on a budget. The only potential downside is that five-star accommodation is largely restricted to large international hotels, but with them you are guaranteed superlative surroundings and service to rival anything in Europe and North America.

Malaysia’s capital is an eclectic, interesting and vibrant place to spend a few days, ideal as part of a wider trip in Malaysia or elsewhere in southeast Asia, or as a stopover en route to Australia. If it’s your first time in the region, you’ll find it an easy introduction to Asia’s rather frenetic cities, and it’s not hard to find a more local side to the city, beyond the gleaming high rises of the Golden Triangle. For me, the highlight of any trip to KL is always the food – look beyond the hotels and international restaurants and dine at the plastic tables of a nightmarket’s street stalls or in bustling round-the-clock kopi tiams (coffee shops) and hawker centres for the very best food.

I’ve featured just three of my favourites below, but other luxury hotels worth having a look at include Traders and the Shangri-La. As usual, you’ll probably find even better prices for the hotels by booking through a travel agent.

Mandarin Oriental

If you have one image in your head of Kuala Lumpur, it’s most likely going to be of the modern Petronas Towers – and nowhere are you closer to this iconic landmark than at the Mandarin Oriental. This is a very large, very glossy hotel, with excellent facilities, including a fabulous rooftop swimming pool that provides a welcome oasis from the busy city below.

The sumptuous rooms boast views either over KLCC park, or the Petronas Towers – having had the chance to visit both types of room, I’d recommend opting for the latter (a “city view”) if you can afford to pay a bit more, as it’s a pretty special view. The hotel also has a number of “club” rooms, which allow you access to the club lounge, where you can enjoy a complimentary breakfast, snacks during the day, and evening cocktails.

From £98 a night.

Ritz-Carlton

Tucked just off Bukit Bintang, KL’s main shopping drag, the Ritz-Carlton benefits from feeling a little tucked away – just what you need after a day exploring the city. Though the hotel has 250 rooms, there’s an intimacy to it that is missing from most other hotels of its calibre and it never feels busy or over-crowded, which makes it a particularly good honeymoon choice.

We were fortunate enough to stay here a few years ago and absolutely loved it. Rooms were very spacious and full of light, neutrally decorated but with nice Malay touches that made them a bit more interesting. What we particularly liked was the butler service – it felt very special to call our “butler” when we fancied tea or coffee, and to have a freshly brewed pot or cafetiere brought to our room. The outside pool here is significantly smaller and more inclosed than that at the Mandarin Oriental, but it was always quiet when we used it and felt very private. Like the Mandarin Oriental, the hotel also has a club level, with food and drinks available throughout the day.

From £95 a night.

Anggun

If you’re looking for something that feels a bit more authentically Malay and is a bit more personal, then you’ll have to look a bit beyond the five-stars. That said, there’s an increasing amount of more interesting boutiquey hotels and guesthouses available in the city these days, and you definitely won’t find yourself lacking for stylish surroundings. I love the look of Anggun; with its rooms decorated in deep reds, local fabrics and handcrafted teak beds, they have a stylish feel that owes inspiration to the city’s colonial history. My favourite are definitely the suites (picture above), with their traditional-style full-length windows, private balconies and four poster beds.

Situated in a charming building that dates back to the 1920s, the hotel has been beautifully converted in a most sympathetic way – features like the atmospheric lanterns hanging in the courtyard and period fittings in the rooms combining seamlessly with mod-cons like internet access, air-con and flat screen TVs. There’s also a lovely rooftop restaurant where you can enjoy Asian dishes among lush potted plants, and the hotel is just a short distance from Bukit Bintang, and even closer to Jalan Alor, where the hawker stalls make a great dinner choice. With only eighteen rooms, you’re guaranteed a more intimate experience than you could get at a much larger hotel.

From £61 a night.



Photos courtesy of pjfncs27; Mandarin Oriental; Ritz-Carlton; Anggan

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