6 Great Staycations in KL

Interstate travel has just resumed in Malaysia, so whether you’re heading to the capital or just across town, here are our picks of city-stay and work-from-home hotels. By Mark Lean

Dec 17, 2020

The RuMa Hotel

This classy gem is more about restraint and elegance than it is about over the top gilt. It could well be the brainstorming by-product of a fashion designer, an art curator and a culture buff had they spent an afternoon together. Other top-tier properties in the city go the route of full-on ethnic-chic, but the RuMa (a play on the word ‘home’ in Malay) cherry-picks design tropes with smarts. A gigantic birdcage takes pride of place as a symbol of welcome as well as the doorway to the gorgeously lit lobby. Here, spotlights shine on a golden sarong kebaya, a style of dress favored by Peranakan women, by local fashion designer Bernard Chandran

Rooms hint at Malaysia’s colonial era. Stylized louvered wood window panes, rattan furnishings, and ceiling fans evoke impressions of estate residences and times now confined to history books. The modern extrapolations continue at Atas, which means ‘top’ in Malay, (dinner for two RM500), where executive chef Tyson Gee serves unexpected dishes the likes of Malaysian caviar, Jasmine rice salad in X.O. sauce, and an unbeatably rich durian ice cream sundae generously layered with caramel-y gula Malacca. 

If you equate staycations with pampering, the UR Spa will set you right with treatments like the warrior-like Silat Stretch and the nurturing urut stomach massage. Next door, at Truefitt & Hill, possibly the chain’s most private outlet in the city, haircuts for men are slick and precise. Also, you won’t have to funnel through a shopping mall once you’re done. 

Here’s the deal:

One night in a deluxe room along with three specialized treatments at UR Spa is priced at RM1,300. A stay-and-dine package starts at RM730 per night; it includes breakfast for two, RM200 food and beverage credit, daily evening cocktails and canapés for two persons, as well as 24-hour check-in and check-out. 

More information here and here. 

Sofitel Kuala Lumpur Damansara

For convincing French sophistication, conduct a work day at Sofitel Kuala Lumpur Damansara. Transform one of the 390 plush Wilson & Associates-designed rooms into your personal work space. To decompress between Zoom calls, pour a bubble bath with complimentary Lanvin toiletries in the freestanding tub. The Sofitel’s ‘work from hotel’ package includes a high speed internet connection, coffee and tea along with cookies from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. as well as an afternoon Le Gouter tea set for one. Since caffeine and sugar levels are already humming at optimum levels, a workout at the pool-facing gym might just be what the HR Department ordered. 

Here’s the deal:

The hotel’s day package is priced at RM150 nett. Staying the night will cost an extra RM150 net. Breakfast for two at Kwee Zeen is included—a perfect chance to complete your Francophile immersion with a plate of pillow-soft madeleines from the bakery. 

More information here.

Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur

It’s not often that locals rave about food in hotels, but at the Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur’s Jp Terres, they come for standouts like chunky satay skewers, roasted chicken rice with tangy chili sauce, fluffy roti canai and extravagant ice kacang—a shaved mound-of-ice desert with an assortment of nuts, jelly slivers and ice cream. The popular multi-cuisine buffets here elucidate the fact that Malaysians prize their food and wouldn’t mind paying RM50 for a plate of (admittedly, fantastic) chicken rice. While the tastes and the aromas at Jp Terres might be layered with spices and flamed by woks, the hotel’s rooms are more minimalist and calmer in personality. Opt for the Twin Tower-facing ones with floor-to-ceiling windows and electric drapes that when open, reveal some of the best views the city has to offer. The space’s design also provides the option of an open plan bath and shower encased in liquid crystal glass that conveniently turns opaque with a flick of a switch. 

Head to the bar at Thirty8 for happy hour martinis (RM38)—one of the best vantage spots to catch sunset without breaking into a sweat.

Here’s the deal:

From RM1,658 net, the Le Petit Chef package includes a night in a Grand Deluxe Room, breakfast for two and an evening in the company the world’s smallest (albeit, virtual) chef in a 90-minute 3D culinary trip through the Silk Road as traversed by the intrepid Marco Polo. The six-course dinner, prepared by the hotel’s executive sous chef Matteo Fracalossi and his team, promises to be an equally delightful journey. 

More information here.

Four Seasons Hotel, Kuala Lumpur

Elevating the work-from-hotel game is the Four Seasons Hotel, Kuala Lumpur. The KLCC-facing 209-room property is quite the lofty perch from which to conduct business, and its ‘workation’ offers are quite the steal. For RM380, take command of a Twin Tower room from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Included are continuous servings of tea and coffee, a two-course set lunch available in-room or at the hotel’s dining epicenter Curate, unlimited local phone calls, and complimentary parking. Budding masters of the universe, take note: Those preferring to be part of the city scene could take advantage of the work-from-Curate offer. Since its opening two years ago, the breezy all-day-dining spot has become a favorite of many of KL’s known-and-noted. So you’ll be in good company once the clock strikes 5 p.m., when selected wines and beers are rolled out —an enticing reward for a hard day at the ‘office.’ Later, dive into the award-winning uber sleek Bar Trigona for one or five of their honey-infused tropical fruit cocktails (RM40 each). Fun fact: you can actually adopt a hive of honeybees by placing them in their forever home—an organic farm in nearby Negeri Sembilan. 

Here’s the deal: 

These workation packages start from RM160.

Also available is a holiday-season staycation deal including a 20-percent discount on room rates, dining and spa treatments, as well as complimentary breakfast for two. 

More information here.

Four Points Kuala Lumpur Chinatown

A decade ago, one wouldn’t have been caught dead hanging around KL’s Chinatown at night with its rough edges and murky heart. But as gentrification persistently took hold over the area, cute little cafes and insider bars that aren’t shy about peddling the area’s less salubrious reputation began popping up. There’s PS150, a retro cocktail joint that wouldn’t seem out of place in a horror flick directed by Zhang Yimou, as well as newer places like Rentak and Concubine, which have layered a cool sheen on this storied neighborhood. Opposite PS150, at the center of the action, is the Four Points Kuala Lumpur Chinatown (doubles from RM140). All 318 rooms sport artwork by Malaysian artist Loka Made and the consistent creature comforts of a mid-tier Marriott chain. So there are no unwanted surprises one might encounter in a boutique hotel that looks better on paper yet falls short when experienced. And, rare for Chinatown, the hotel’s outdoor pool (Covid restrictions could apply) might just be where you’d catch some rays before looking bright and shiny as you step out into the night.

More information here.

Alila Bangsar

The area bordering Bangsar and Brickfields was once merely a pit stop for the city’s commuters. Now the spartan-luxe Alila Bangsar has given more reasons for unexpected detours into this up-and-coming piece of real estate. Brickfields with its mom-and-pop shops caters to the city’s South Indian diaspora, while Bangsar’s watering holes and stores are more expatriate-inclined  This in-between space is where Alila Bangsar resides and also where the cool kids head to when in the mood for the French dishes of Entier’s chef Masashi Horiuchi (dinner for two RM600). Formerly sous chef at Michelin-two-starred L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon, this London transplant works his culinary chops with dishes like ox cheek risotto; whole roasted duck reared in former tin mining pools near Bidor with orange glaze; and grilled whole quail with olive sausage. 

Upstairs, the modular Neri&Hu-designed rooms with a Tadao Ando meets Muji aesthetic are undeniably meditation-inducing. On each floor, there’s the Alila Living Room, a 24-hour self-service kiosk with unlimited coffee, tea and drinks and crunchy snack assortments from the 1980s that recall the flavors of Malaysian childhood.

Here’s the deal:

The City Escape offer gives a 15-percent discount off the Best Available Room Rate. 

More information here.

TWO MORE TO CHECK OUT:

Recent opening Kloe (doubles from RM140) with its tropical feels matches the personality of a 1960s apartment block with new-meets-old vibes. Likewise, The Chow Kit (doubles from RM190) injects funky relevance to an inner-city location that had been hankering for a makeover. 

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