The first thing people do when planning a holiday is look at the ticket prices, followed by the weather, and then if you’re like me, you’ll browse through hundreds of reviews before picking the hotel to stay at. The hotel is such a crucial factor for me and it can totally make or break my holiday, so I’ve prepared a Malaysia Hotel Guide for you, based on the hotels I’ve experienced over my trips to Malaysia.
On my recent visit to KL, I divided my time among different hotels, as I was greedy for as much material for my blog as I could possible muster up. I’m not even exaggerating, I slept only 4-6 hours a night and just wanted to take it all in- everything!
M and I started our days early; we’d wake up at 6am, shower, get dressed, wear our joggers and head out to explore the city we are already familiar with but can’t stop lusting over. KL is so real. After living in Dubai, which is glamorous, luxurious but a tad too artificial, KL feels like a breath of fresh air. Yes, even the whiffs of sewerage that are far too common –especially when you’re exploring on foot– are a breath of fresh air compared to the air-conditioned, Vitamin D-deprived lives we have gotten monotonously used to.
What’s most important though, even though we spend all our waking hours during a vacation exploring the city, is to have a clean and comfortable hotel to come back to. Even location isn’t that important to us, because transport in Malaysia is so convenient and so affordable, but a warm shower, crisp sheets and a clean, pleasantly fragranced room are comforts I simply cannot part with, even on a vacation in which I don joggers and a backpack.
You might be tempted to pick a hotel in the city center–close to KLCC and Pavilion– I’d suggest you stay clear of this mistake. Bukit Bintang is my least favorite place in KL. It is noisy, crowded, and packed with tourists and dubious looking ladies offering special services to said tourists. For a truly fulfilling experience, and if you don’t mind a moving around, I’d recommend dividing your time in different hotels. I split my 10 day stay across 5 different hotels, and while my reason for doing so was that I had Entertainer vouchers that I could use for only 2 nights per hotel; it ended up being a great, it ended up being a win-win because I managed to explore more areas and gather more material to blog about.
Over my several trips to KL, I’ve tried the following hotels:
Swiss Garden: Affordable, clean, comfortable. Location isn’t the best; close to PEtaling Street. I wouldn’t rely on my experience there though, as it has been close to 7 years since my stay there.
The Ritz Carlton: Hand down not only my best hotel experience in KL but worldwide. It’s one of the pricer hotels in KL, but if there’s any hotel worth burning a hole in your pocket for, it’s this. I spent the entire 2 weeks of my second visit to Malaysia there, and still remember it fondly. Excellent location too, almost right across Pavilion Mall, connected to the main road via a short canopy bridge. Believe it or not, but their only imperfection –and one that’s hard to look past– is that they don’t have shower bidet’s in the toilets- at least they didn’t when I visited.
Doubltree by Hilton: Inconspicuously located in the Intermark Building, it’s about a 15 minute walk away from the Suria KLCC. What I loved most about this hotel was the mountain view it offered– just what out worn-out desert souls needed. Lush green mountains dusted with tiny red roofs are a reminder of how real and beautiful this country is. The hotel is more for the business traveller, but it’s also clean, comfortable and reasonably priced. Read more about it here.
Hotel Istana: They pride themselves in being the oldest hotel in Malaysia, so I was very excited to experience something rich in heritage in history. I made sure to inspect the room and bathroom before checking in though, because I really am not very adventurous or daring when it comes to hotels. I want a clean bathroom, clean sheets, and a clean room. At first glance, all seemed well and the bathroom was the cleanest most spotless one I’ve ever seen. I later discovered that I wasn’t very thorough with my inspection and simply in a hurry to run off exploring the city, because when we got back at 1am, our nightmare began. I couldn’t think of a more apt title for my review on Hotel Istana than “The Malaysian Horror Story”. The furniture was clearly dated, the towel had a hair stuck on it, the carpet had more hair camouflaged in,the sheets had weird black stains and the room was freezing even when turned the AC off.
When I called for housekeeping to come change the sheets, I was told housekeeping is closed. Up until that moment, I had never heard of housekeeping being “closed”, but I guess Murphey’s Law spares no one. When I demanded my money back and threatened to check out, the housekeeping boy showed up. He stank of cigarette smoke, kept pausing to take phone calls and notes (I assume he was the only one on duty that night), and wait for it–put the new “clean” sheets on the visibly dirty luggage rack. I was about ready to snap and wanted to cry. If It wasn’t 1:30 in the night, I would have checked out. What followed was the most miserable night I have ever had, and I checked out the following morning. the biggest issue this hotel has is the management, and that is palpable. The front-desk staff (except for the British intern) are highly uninterested, the bellboys and super laid back, and only the lady at the Club Lounge was welcoming but that might have to do with the preferential treatment towards club room occupants. My brief stay here was nothing short of a nightmare.
Pullman Hotel KLCC: This was previously known as Prince Hotel. The furniture showed clear signs of wear and tear, as did the bathroom. It was overall a very average hotel, but after the nightmare called Hotel Istana, which had created a new “low” for our bar, it really wasn’t that bad. The location is a little deceptive when looking on a map; it seems to be right across Pavilion mall, but one can’t simply cross the road and has to take a short canopy. I wasn’t crazy about the location, because again, Bukit Bintang.
Sheraton Imperial: This was the best hotel I stayed in during my Malaysia 2k16 trip. It oozed class and character. Read the elaborate review it deserves here.
V & E Hotel and Residences: This hotel is so new that most cab/Grabcar/Uber drivers hadn’t heard of it. At only 5 months old, it should be no surprise that the hotel was very clean. I’m not sure how well it will be maintained as time passes, but for now, it’s a really great option, especially if you’re on a budget. It’s located in Bangsar, which is not a touristy place at all, and hence we loved it. The hotel is aimed at business travelers, is very modern, and offers very attractive prices. It was the only hotel with USB sockets in the walls, wooden floors, and the most modern looking interiors I’ve seen in a long time. The architects have made great use of space by using sliding doors for the bathroom and closet, which not only adds to the functionality of the room but also the aesthetic appeal. The bathroom fittings were also very modern and attractive, and it was the only hotel on this trip that had a rain shower– a feature I didn’t see even in some of the “luxury” hotels. This hotel has the potential to be an extremely popular budget hotel for business travelers. The only cons were that the bed was too stiff for our liking, and I noticed that the wooden floors were already scratched and the tabletops in the room hadn’t been wiped properly, so housekeeping best not slack off. Nevertheless, it’s still definitely one of my favorites. Due to it’s location, it cost me up to 30rm on Grabcar to make my daily trip to Sunway, but considering the facts that (a) it was cheap to begin with and (b) I was using an Entertainer voucher that made it even cheaper, it was super worth it.
If you’ve had a good experience at one of the hotels in Malaysia, do share in the comments below 🙂