A patch of green amid the hustle and bustle
ROOM AT THE INN
I AM in the heart of bustling Kuala Lumpur, but have a strange sense of dislocation. The expansive lagoon pool at the centre of Villa Samadhi, my luxury bolthole in this frenetic city, is reminiscent of a Thai beach resort, with grass-thatched roof, wood-framed poolside cabanas and giant Buddha heads.
But this is no beachside getaway. The low- rise, 21-room property is set in an upscale neighbourhood that is home to embassies and chic condominiums.
I feel far from the madding crowd as I take breakfast at the airy Mandi Mandi all-day dining pavilion beside the pool. A squirrel is making a good attempt at breaking into a coconut in a nearby palm tree as I tuck into a generous serve of roti canai, a delicious Indian pastry pancake with a side of curry for dipping.
The kitchen staff make almost everything from scratch, including delicious jams (pineapple, mango, papaya) and flavoured butters. I am just a little obsessed with the orange muffins.
That the food is impressive is hardly surprising. The owners of Villa Samadhi — Italy-born Federico Asaro and his Malaysia-born dancer and actress wife Maple Loo — run restaurants in the city, including the popular Thaithemed Neo Tamarind and Tamarind Springs, an Indochinese dining spot set against a lush tropical backdrop about 15 minutes’ drive from Kuala Lumpur. They have also recently opened two restaurants in Singapore.
After the light and bright tropical exterior, my room, featuring wooden furniture and decorative pieces sourced from Southeast Asian hill tribes, is something of a contrast. Dark polished-concrete walls and wooden floors, salvaged from old kampung houses, create an almost cave-like feel.
I close the heavy curtains in the middle of the day and find myself in near darkness. The bathroom, through sliding bamboo doors, features a deep plunge tub, twin basins and a rain shower, and is also ‘‘moodily’’ lit. It’s all a little disconcerting at first, but makes for an extremely cosy nest at night; I wonder if a giant has designed the supercomfy king-sized bed, which is so high it almost needs a footstool.
I climb the stairs to Samadhi’s open- air rooftop Bumbung Bar, which offers expansive views of the neighbourhood. I can even see the familiar peaks of the Petronas Twin Towers, if I crane my neck (taking care not to spill my G&T). A cool breeze tickles my face as I sink into a banquette and contemplate what I might do tomorrow — if I can bear to leave this oasis in the heart of one of the region’s busiest cities.
Michelle Rowe was a guest of Villa Samadhi.
main The expansive lagoon pool at the centre of Villa Samadhi far right The property’s rooftop Bumbung Bar