The best boutique hotels in KL
Skip the fancy hotels (and even fancier prices) for a chic weekend getaway in these small, boutique hotels instead. From restored colonial houses to minimalistic bed and breakfast and decidedly Malaysian hotels paying tribute to local culture, these cool, stylish hotels will guarantee an unconventional stay you won't forget.
The best of Melaka: Cafés, restaurants and bars
Rickety rickshaws and tourist traps are all fun and games during your first visit to Melaka, but you'll be looking for the real deal soon enough. Skip the first-timers' attractions with our guide to the best cafés, restaurants and bars in Melaka. Chicken rice balls still included.
Hotel reviews and new openings
Sofitel Kuala Lumpur Damansara
Even within the confines of Damansara City’s high-rise residential condos and office blocks, Malaysia’s first five-star Sofitel offers a luxury of space that not many city hotels can boast. That much is evident from the moment you step into the room; while other hotels struggle to fit as many amenities as possible within a small space, each of the 312 rooms here – starting from the 43-sqm Luxury Room to the 105-sqm Opera Suite – come with a walk-in closet, large work desk, and a bathroom large enough to have separate showers, toilet and bathtub. As with everything luxurious, the subtle details matter – and there’s plenty to admire. For starters, there are the soft leather-stitched cabinets, drawers and desks that add a touch of class, while a Nespresso machine, Lanvin-branded toiletries and bathtub tray make you want to soak in the tub, read a book and never leave till check out. And if you do head out, you’ll find plenty to keep you occupied: on the third floor are poolside cabanas, steam rooms and a Technogym-equipped gym where you can sweat it out while watching YouTube videos. Despite being surrounded by creature comforts, it’s easy to get work done while staying in. A large part of it is helped by the spacious 4ft-long work desk equipped with drawers and universal power-points, as well as an ergonomic chair that makes you feel like a boss. Throw in about RM400 more and you’ll gain access to the 23rd floor Club Millesime, which includes breakfast, le gôuter (French tea-
Sunway Putra Hotel, Kuala Lumpur
So the idea of a no-frills weekend getaway – we’re talking about one without the pressure of posting envy-inducing social media updates so you can actually relax during your stay – is one you'd like to try. We wanted a slice of that pie too, which is why we checked in to Sunway Putra Hotel when we were invited for a stay-in review. Comfort is the operative word here: the hotel's Chow Kit postcode doesn't scream 'swanky' and the ochre-beige colour palette with old-school décor and swirly motifs aren’t the trendiest (you probably won’t bother whipping out your phone for the ‘gram). But the 650-unit property with friendly staff, impressive suites, contemporary club rooms and cosy deluxe rooms are warm and welcoming, making for very pleasant, almost homey stays. It doesn't hurt that the hotel is within easy reach of the Twin Towers and directly linked to Sunway Putra Mall, with the PWTC LRT and Putra KTM stations just a few minutes' walk away for seamless commutes. We stayed in the sprawling 114 sqm two-bedroom classic suite, which incorporates both a master bedroom, a second bedroom as well as a separate living room area with access to an external balcony. From this balcony, we had a smashing view of both the KL Tower and Twin Towers piercing the sky – pretty neat, we must say. Add the suite’s plush beds, en-suite bathrooms, three(!) 42-inch flat screen TVs and well-prepared amenities to the equation, we knew we were in for the relaxing stay we wanted. Okay, so the suite was a
Anantara Siam Bangkok
Anantara Siam Bangkok may look like an unassuming city hotel from the outside (what with its low-rise structure), but inside it has all the trappings of a resort, from the overall spaciousness to the abundance of greenery and open spaces. The rooms are distributed around alfresco courtyards that are more like verdant parks than manicured gardens: The trees are mature, there are water features of ponds and streams teeming with colourful koi, and you’ll find a smattering of park benches here and there under the shade of lush foliage. This will come as a much welcomed retreat after a day out exploring the bustling city. The rooms and suites are equally luxurious. Design-wise, they lean more towards the classic, so expect contemporary furnishings that nod at traditional Thai aesthetics of teak, silk and vintage artefacts; the good thing is, they’re huge by Bangkok standards. And as a guest, you’re very well taken care of: The marble bathroom features both a tub and a walk-in shower; you’re provided with a handy smartphone equipped with free local and international calls plus 4G data connectivity; and there are more modern comforts to complete your stay. Also, you have to admire a hotel with a strong artistic heritage. As you step into the lobby, you’ll be greeted by the opulent wall-to-wall mural framing the grand staircase. Look up and you’ll find that the ceilings on the ground and mezzanine floors are covered with enormous Mandala-type paintings. These watercolour and raw si
Azerai Luang Prabang
Sometimes, the things you want the most are those hardest to get; for many travellers, that would be the chance to stay in an Aman resort. A regular figure in all the top hotel lists, Aman is preceded by an illustrious reputation, known for its storied locations, minimalist yet timeless designs, but also astronomical prices. The good news is, Aman founder Adrian Zecha has a new hotel brand that could just be the antidote to your Aman lust without depleting your life savings. Named Azerai, the brand recently opened its first property in the Unesco World Heritage Site of Luang Prabang in Laos. Positioned as an affordable luxury, Azerai Luang Prabang’s simple elegance and liberal use of natural wood are a nod to Aman (or perhaps Mr Zecha’s personal style) – but beyond that, it’s a distinct hotel in its own right. Despite being smack in the middle of the town’s heritage core, there’s a relaxed vibe here. Built in the style of French colonial architecture in respect of its locale, the hotel is handsome. Everything revolves around the swimming pool in the centre, shaded by a stunning 120-year-old Banyan tree. There’s also a bar and bistro facing the street, which serves a modern take on Laotian and regional cuisines highlighting local ingredients. Overall at Azerai, the aesthetics are clean and linear. There’s a sense of restraint to keep flourishes to a minimal, focusing instead on functional designs to maximise space and encourage relaxation. The rooms open out to either a b
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