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The Majestic Hotel in Kuala Lumpur

This post is brought to you by the Majestic Hotel KL.

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The Majestic Hotel, a true heritage building in KL, recently celebrated the first anniversary of its rebirth, having been restored to its former glory and reopened anew. Andy Davison and his family spent a weekend soaking up the colonial elegance and refined old-school service and luxury that made the hotel the toast of the straits settlements throughout much of the former century.

I spent many years of my life travelling the globe on business and have stayed in many five-star hotels. I have always rather enjoyed hotels with a bit of history and The Majestic certainly has that. When it first opened in 1932, it was the most luxurious hotel in Kuala Lumpur and stayed in that position for over 50 years as it entertained many of Malaysia’s rich and famous, as well as an impressive selection of other VIP guests from various parts of the world. It was well-known on the international travel stage, and was the place to stay in Kuala Lumpur, an oasis of class and refinement in what was then a largely working-class town built on tin mining and rubber tree plantation wealth.

Times change, of course, and by 1983,The Majestic had closed its doors. In 2012, it reopened after extensive renovations and once more can claim to be one of the top hotels in KL.The impeccably attired doorman (complete with pith helmet) greets guests with a friendly smile, which was no doubt the same welcome guests enjoyed when the hotel first opened.

YTL Hotels have done a superb job of restoring The Majestic to its former glory, while adding the required modern features expected to be found in a luxury hotel and a property which is a member of the exclusive Leading Hotels of the World group. My wife and I were invited to spend a night there to try out the hotel facilities and experience it firsthand. At the last minute, we found we also had no one to look after our children, so they joined us. We were moved from the historic old wing to the new one as the rooms in the Majestic Wing are reserved for adults only. We all had a most enjoyable time. Our room was excellent, the service was great, and the children loved the old-style claw-footed bathtub which was unique for them as we tend to exclusively use the showers in our house.

The Smoke House, adjacent to the Majestic Wing, includes a bar and a private dining room. My wife and I left the children to watch TV in the room while we enjoyed a quiet drink and the relative peace and quiet of the bar. Just below the bar is small movie theatre featuring 12 huge leather armchairs and continuous reruns of wonderful old black-and-white movies. If you enjoy watching these old classics you would be hard pushed to find a better place to do so. Sitting there, I felt I had slipped into the elegance of a bygone era.

Next to the mini-theatre, Truefitt and Hill, the bespoke British barbers, offer the full range of upmarket men’s grooming and their own product range. You can discover for yourself why they are still operating so successfully more than 200 years after they were founded.

We had dinner in the Colonial Café, a refined dining option which offers authentic cuisines from the colonial era. Here you can try out some Hainanese dishes, the special style of cuisine resulting from Hainanese domestic staff attempting to recreate popular European dishes for their colonial masters from the available local ingredients. Not many places still serve these dishes, and they are well worth sampling. Adjacent to the restaurant is another bar where you can enjoy a Stengah or Gin Sling as well as any other drink that takes your fancy. The beautiful, gold-leafed dome above the bar is an original feature of the old Majestic Hotel. Whether enjoying a drink at the bar or high tea in the sitting room, it’s easy to forget you’re in modernday Kuala Lumpur.The elegance and polished service at The Majestic brings to mind a real sense of Malaysia’s grand past, though of course with all the finest modern touches expected today.

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For breakfast we enjoyed a really superb buffet spread in the Cantango restaurant and the whole family found plenty to enjoy among the very wide range of dishes covering most of the Asian and Western breakfast specialities. The herb sausages were truly excellent and were a highlight of a breakfast worth getting up for! In fact we ate so much that we decided to skip lunch and wait for afternoon tea. This is a very enjoyable experience, with sandwiches, scones, and cakes. If you book early enough, you can enjoy it in the Orchid Conservatory which has a stunning range of these fragrant and colourful blooms.

The hotel also has a good-sized swimming pool, a small but well-equipped gym, and even a classy little cigar room, too. In fact, there is something for just about everyone. We were in the new wing, as mentioned, but if you prefer not to have any young children about, you can stay in the old wing, which is strictly for adults.

To round off our visit,my wife and I were offered a session at the hotel spa. Not being a big fan of spas, I let my daughter take my place, and she and my wife insisted I had missed a most enjoyable and memorable experience. I’ll take their word for it, but you can be assured that the spa comes highly recommended! It was a most enjoyable weekend and a great experience to soak up the comfortable blend of old and new at The Majestic, a property filled with heritage and decades of history, yet sparkling with fresh new luxury and splendour as well. Whether you book a room for a few nighs or just to drop in to enjoy the first-class restaurants and facilities, the grand old Hotel Majestic, restored and reborn, is not to be missed.

Source: Senses of Malaysia January/February 2014

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