From the capital of consumables to the islands of conservation, our new Malaysian Hotel’s guide is convincing. You do not need to trade luxury for intimacy with nature.
Mandarin Oriental– Best Luxury City Hotel
Cities often feel soulless but not here. The two bedroom apartment is a homely haven; comfy couch, large screen TV, floor to ceiling windows and two enormous bedrooms. The corner bedroom has paparazzi views onto the Petronas Towers, the greenery of KLCC Park plus a nightly show of illuminated fountains. It also gives you the key to 5 star treatment in the club lounge, an oasis of privileges from champagne and canapés to freshly washed and ironed PJs!
You could opt for lunch at Lai Po Heen where Peking duck is carved at or check out what pop up might be in residence. It recently hosted Spain’s three Michelin star Aziamendi recreating a Spanish courtyard with treats such as picnic baskets, bonsai trees sprouting tomatoes and silver spoons of egg yolk injected with hot truffle jus.
Perfectly positioned for retail therapy a sightseeing bus awaits at the grand entrance. Alternatively, connecting tunnels to the convention centre and the skyline walkway enable your purse to have its own freeway journey minus the traffic lights to spend, eat, repeat.
Rasa Ria Resort, Sabah Borneo– Best Resort for Bucket List Experiences
If your bucket list includes seeing Orangutans (not the one in the mirror following a bad fake tan), you must come here. Sabah has grown its international reputation as the place to spot them. Rasa Ria collaborated with the State Wildlife Department to protect a 64 acre ecological reserve facilitating rehabilitation programmes for endangered species.
First impressions are that this place is on a Jurassic scale; it’s a five minute drive from entering the gates to reach the newly launched exclusive Ocean Wing. Say hi to your king-size bed and a jaw dropping sea view balcony with circular day beds and a spa bath complete with electric blinds to keep alfresco bathing for your eyes only.
Staying here is an adventure; from the horse-riding at dawn, to nature walks at night, spa and smorgasbord of dining experiences such as street food of Tepi Laut and the acclaimed Naan Restaurant. But it’s really all about the apes. A short walk brings you to the nature centre where you’ll be briefed on the orangutans in residence. Many have waited for this moment all their lives; It’s not 70 people walking towards the reserve but 70 souls united in a love for these animals. The heat and humidity is grueling but on the platform you can hear rustling and catch movement in the canopy above as they descend for their breakfast. A thousand cameras click but will never capture this moment, no matter how many megapixels on offer. Two new young babies have just arrived and will start the rehabilitation programme to be returned to the wild and you will have the privilege to be part of their recovery journey.
The Datai, Langkawi- Best Luxury Villa Eco Hideaway
Elephants may have helped build this hideaway but the latest beach villas are have more tech than Tesla cars. Luxury suites and villas designed by the visionary architect Kerry Hill who has created an iconic hideaway compassionately shared with its environment of a 10 million years of forest, a 200 million year rock and a private beach beyond your villa back door.
Clever yellow wrist bands replace keys in your double pavilion glass hideaway. The main bedroom opens onto the pool with skinny dipping opportunities a-plenty if you don’t mind your inquisitive dusky monkey neighbours. A stunning standalone bath with delicious ‘i-cant-see-my-toes’ fluffy matts perfectly pair with a glass or three of Moet thanks to the complimentary minibars stocked with so much delicious naughtiness it’s divine. Don’t miss canopy dining in The Pavilion 30 meters above the ground as bats swoop whilst you munch on pandanus wrapped thai chicken. A massage has never been more perfect as you doze to songs of the forest, more soothing than any sleep app. Yet the most extraordinary moments are those with Irshad, the globally respected resident Naturalist who has gained an international reputation for his work. He glazes over with love at soaring Sea Eagles, snoozing colugo’s or simply a stingless honey bee. His infectious and encyclopedic knowledge of life, existence for survival and balance are the lessons we can all learn. Connecting war, religion and politics into the existence of nature and the ignorance of truth. This is a stay which changes you in a way that 1000 count bed linen never will.
The Danna, Langkawi- Best for Service
It’s difficult to know if you’ve been zoomed back in time to British-India Colonial times or had one whisky sour cocktail too many. This hotel has won more awards than provided servings of Char Kway Teow. The Viceroy Suite’s French windows make you think you could be on the Riveria, revealing views over the glistening pool, luxury yahts and the sandy beaches.
Dining at Planters is a highlight with a resident pianist in the corner and a menu big enough to replace your dining companion. Have fun at the alfresco BBQ or go a la carte with dishes such as kafti prawns with mango, snapper jukedar or slipper lobster. From here adventure lovers will relish a trip on the highest cable car in Asia reaching the peak of Mt. Machinchang. Flashes of yellow from the great hornbill are the only thing that may distract you from the spellbinding islands below. Don’t miss a day trip to the mangroves where you can tick off seeing swimming macaque monkeys, sea snakes, white bellied sea eagles, cave bats and enjoy lunch aboard a floating fish farm.
It might be the massage on arrival, the wonderful afternoon tea of tiered delights in the tiled courtyard, the private cooking class in the garden or your relaxing massage in the spa overlooking the marina which makes The Danna remarkable, but it’s not – it’s boundless warmth, friendliness and genuine care from the team which creates memories far more meaningful than any awards.
For more tips on what to do in Malaysia’s bustling capital city read our Destination guide to Kuala Lumpur