I HAVE a thing for Asia’s colonial-era hotels.
I love everything about them – from the old-time architecture to a serene sense of history suggested by the internal design – and seek out historic addresses when heading to the Orient.
So when I find myself in Kuala Lumpur, my first visit to the Malaysian capital, there is no chance I will stay anywhere but The Majestic Hotel which claims to be the city’s only heritage hotel.
The iconic address was built in 1932 but fell into disrepair following World War Two before being rescued and renovated by the YTL group during a seven-year restoration that wrapped in 2012 and included the addition of the 15-floor addition now called the Tower Wing.
I’m occupying a handsome chamber in the modern annex with the suite a sanctuary that mixes the 1930’s aesthetic so thoughtfully maintained during the remodel with a modern business-traveller convenience.
The room feels masculine, with dark colours providing an accent to the white lounge beneath the window and fine-cotton sheets covering the four-poster bed, and the bathroom is separated from the living space by a glass wall that makes it easy to gaze out the window while soaking in the oversized tub.
And while my west-facing room is too high to see anything but sky from the bath the window frames the puffy tropical clouds that gather above the horizon in every afternoon and the red sky that arrives with sunset.
The bathroom is equally spacious with the tub positioned in the centre of the room, so I must walk around it to get to the second of two sinks, and both the toilet and shower are in cubicles against the back wall.
There’s even a television hiding in the mirror above the bath so I settle on a movie, set the air-conditioner to arctic so I can fill the tub with the hottest water I can tolerate, and sink into the bubbles for a long soak after a big day sightseeing.
While I love my suite the Tower Wing’s public spaces are just as glorious with each level’s hallways and lift lobby wearing a smart carpet, art-deco furniture, dark timber doors, and subtle sconce wall lights.
The cavernous lobby is complete with a round table, a mirrored piece sitting beneath a rococo recess painted gold, that’s always crowned with an oversized vase stuffed with colourful blooms.
Breakfast is served in the lobby restaurant and it’s exactly as I expect from a hotel of this caliber with hot and cold stations dotted around the central counters and things like eggs and pancakes made to order.
The Majestic Hotel rests in one of KL’s most strollable neighbourhoods – opposite the elaborate old Malayan Railways Station that boasts fairy-tale features like turrets and spires – with the historic enclave also boasting vintage villas, a couple of modest museums, and an old-time church or two.
While there’s many reasons to leave the hotel – KL is an intriguing city that demands to be explored – there is one very good reason to stay “home” and that’s the swimming pool perched up on the lobby roof.
It’s not a big pool, just big enough to escape splashing children, but is so warm and blue that I cancel my sightseeing plans one afternoon and occupy a lounge under an oversized blue umbrella to enjoy the tropical heat.
What I like…When my clean laundry was returned to my room the foldable items arrived in a neat cane basket carefully positioned beside my bed, which was a gentle gesture with a certain bygone charm.
What I don’t…The Majestic Hotel is a distance from the delights of modern Kuala Lumpur but the hotel does offer free buses to the city centre, a nearby shopping mall, and neighbouring Sentral Station
“In its heyday The Hotel Majestic was the largest and grandest hotel in Kuala Lumpur, unrivalled for its prestige and luxury. Favoured by the colonial elite and prominent visitors, she was the venue for extravagant parties, Sunday tiffin lunches and that most European of traditions, the tea dance.”The Majestic Hotel website