BAZAAR rediscovers the heritage hotel.
Rediscover an era of glory at The Majestic Hotel Kuala Lumpur
From its creation in 1932 The Majestic Hotel Kuala Lumpur was a legend, and in its prime in the ’ 50s was renowned for its aura of class and cultivation. Times changed though, and The Majestic did not. 51 years after opening, it shut down to become the National Art Gallery. For 15 years the tall louvered windows brought in plenty of warm tropical light but again the building suffered from chronic underuse and gradual disrepair. Until the visionary people at YTL took over, polished up the old lady, and gave her a fresh tiara and dress. The Majestic is back – and is better than ever.
Seconds into the stunning atrium of the new main entrance and by a miracle of moodlighting and sound-proofing, the hustle and bustle of central Kuala Lumpur is behind you. To the left is culinary gem Contango, on its way to becoming the Sardi’s of the city. The Sunday buffet is a fabulous place to be, with all the colour and vibrancy of Broadway and the culinary delights to match. You’d be hard-pressed to beat it yet the Colonial Café comes close. Not only are the Hokkien dishes of the owning Yeoh family on offer, there’s a sense of how good life must have been in the old colonial days. You may never make it through a Hainanese chicken chop, such is the scope of the dish, but many have attested it’s the best they’ve ever eaten. Or dine like a white rajah on pre-war favourites: mulligatawny soup, baked crab, and beef wellington, while being entertained by the live jazz of the Solianos. It doesn’t get more Eurasian chic than this.
Afternoon Tea here is a regal occasion by itself, with tiers of scones, cakes, and cucumber sandwiches, and a tome of a tea menu to suit your taste. Book well in advance to snag a table at the Orchid Conservatory, already the most charming room in KL in the unofficial BAZAAR dining awards.
The bedrooms are more than fine, though you’d be undecided whether to opt for a suite in the four-storey Colonial Wing or the more contemporary-styled ones in the Tower Wing. Black wooden floors and high feather - mattressed beds and claw-footed baths on tiled floors have undoubted charm but so do carpets and chrome and burnished mahogany and views of the city. Still, the most enduring thing about The Majestic is its character. Some hotels have it, some do not. This hotel does, and it’s full of little alcoves to explore and rest in – from the library, to the screening room, to The Bar with its own pool table, and The Smokehouse of inventive fusion cuisine.
The Spa also gives you that delicious sense of being in a world away with its oasis of an outdoor pool and Charles Rennie Mackintosh-themed design. Here, all one’s cares are massaged away or zipped into a herbal steam-bath and par-boiled to top off a life-enhancing treatment. Try the Malaya Golden Chersonese couple’s experience, named after the British Malaya and the journey of Isabella Lucy Bird, who inspired the beautification ritual of banana honey hair masque, Malay herb scrub, and East Indian Spice Massage.
Then send him off to man up at Truefitt & Hill, the English gentlemen’s grooming experts. Go for the whole gamut of Royal Cut, Traditional Hot Towel Wet Shave, and Face and Head Massage to get him ready for drinks at The Bar, where the signature Colt 55 and Two Bullets comes with its own legend, as with every experience here. The Majestic Hotel Kuala Lumpur, 5 Jalan Sultan Hishamuddin, Kuala Lumpur. Tel: 03-2785 8000. www.majestickl.com
The Majestic Hotel Kuala Lumpur
The Colonial Café The interiors exude vintage sophistication