AS TIME GOES BY Evanna Ramly re­vis­its the golden era of colo­nial Malaya.

Harper’s Bazaar (Malaysia) - - THE ESCAPE -

Glam­orous evenings of pure jazz

Grow­ing up in KL circa the late ’80s would in­clude quiet drives down his­toric Jalan Sultan Hishamud­din. Till to­day its land­marks carry dif­fer­ent mean­ings, whether it’s remembering a loved one who once worked at the old rail­way sta­tion of Moor­ish in­spi­ra­tion, mak­ing a spir­i­tual con­nec­tion at the Na­tional Mosque, or rem­i­nisc­ing the 1957 dec­la­ra­tion of in­de­pen­dence at Dataran Merdeka just down the road. And then there were trips to the Na­tional Art Gallery, which we were told was once the iconic Ma­jes­tic Ho­tel. Sit­ting upon a ver­dant hill­top, it was where the in­ter­na­tional elite would stay on trop­i­cal va­ca­tions, where artists from Hol­ly­wood and Lon­don’s Coli­seum per­formed, and where our grand­par­ents danced the waltz and the tango long into the night, dressed to the nines.

Back then, we could only imag­ine the glam­our to be so in­con­gru­ous with the wars of the time, and it seemed des­tined to re­main but a mem­ory. Un­til YTL Ho­tels took on its restora­tion. The orig­i­nal five-storey build­ing with its Ro­man col­umns and de­tailed cor­nices was fully re­stored to be­come the Ma­jes­tic Wing, boast­ing 19 ex­trav­a­gant suites of Art Deco per­fec­tion com­plete with 24-hour but­ler ser­vice. Check into a room of dark pol­ished tim­ber, plush beds, and soft tufted car­pets be­fore lunch at the Colo­nial Café. Here, framed pho­to­graphs re­call hal­cyon days of planters in old Malaya. Try the de­li­cious chicken rice and suc­cu­lent Hainanese chicken chop. Come late af­ter­noon, drop by the Tea Lounge fac­ing the front lawn. A haven of cut-glass light­ing and an­tique brass fit­tings, it is a charm­ing spot for a cup of Earl Grey to go with tra­di­tional savouries, scones, and desserts. At night, the grand pi­ano will be taken over by the de­scen­dants of jazz leg­end Al­fonso So­liano.

Should your taste be more con­tem­po­rary, the new 15-storey Tower Wing se­duces with mod­ern flair. 253 rooms with el­e­gant four-poster beds, gleam­ing chrome touches, and splen­did views of­fer chic sanc­tu­ary. By the en­trance is the Con­tango, a res­tau­rant with an open kitchen that prom­ises an in­ter­ac­tive din­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. Travel the world in a menu with tan­ta­lis­ing Asian and Western dishes. Think Ja­panese ro­batayaki and Brazil­ian chur­rasco grills, as well as kalei­do­scopic piz­zas fresh from the oven. Fi­nally, the Opus One ver­ti­cal col­lec­tion of wine, a re­mark­able col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween Baron Philippe de Roth­schild and Robert Mon­davi, will de­light wine en­thu­si­asts. The Ma­jes­tic Ho­tel Kuala Lumpur, 5 Jalan Sultan Hishamud­din, 50000 Kuala Lumpur. Tel: 03-2785 8000. www.ma­je­stickl.com

Vintage pho­to­graphs adorn the Colo­nial Café

The Ma­jes­tic Ho­tel

Kuala Lumpur

Deluxe Room in the Tower Wing

The Draw­ing Room is great for af­ter­noon tea par­ties, and also houses a li­brary of clas­sics

The rooftop gar­den

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