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Kuala Lumpur Hotels

The Majestic Hotel Kuala Lumpur, Autograph Collection

Why stay?

Centered on a stately national heritage site, The Majestic stands out in a hospitality scene dominated by high-rise, hyper-modern lodgings. Kuala Lumpur’s grande dame first opened as the Hotel Majestic in 1932 and was once famed for its high society parties; now part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection, the current incarnation resurrects the timeless charm and glamour of that storied predecessor, which sadly closed down in the early eighties (the complex subsequently housed the National Art Gallery). Echoes of British Malaya are felt all around—it’s a thrill to wander the corridors adorned with black-and-white photos and find quiet nooks in which to lepak (relax). Be sure to enjoy an evening tipple on the veranda as the setting sun glints off the Indo-Saracenic cupolas of the nearby Kuala Lumpur railway station.

The neighborhood

Perched on a hill, The Majestic affords wonderful views of the aforementioned train station, the National Mosque, Merdeka 118 (the world’s second-tallest building) and, from a distance, the Klang River, which was the lifeblood of the fledgling metropolis during its early tin-mining days. It occupies a rare location in KL where past and present are palpably intertwined, and the leafy grounds are a green oasis tucked away from the CBD. Next door, you’ll find the Perdana Botanical Garden with its aviaries, butterfly park, and lakeside pathways.

Inside the clubby 1930s Drawing Room of The Majestic Hotel Kuala Lumpur.

The feel

Nature is everywhere—a banyan tree shades the Majestic Wing entrance; walkways are lined with ferns and birds of paradise; banana trees and fan palms envelop the premises. Squirrels scuttle about the gardens and birds sing throughout the day. The walls are visual diaries with framed drawings of lilies, camellias, and hydrangeas, as well as sketches of tropical fruits like soursop. Beside an old check-in desk with keyholes and an antique dial phone, the recently relaunched Writer’s Room is where William Somerset Maugham and Graham Greene once wrote and drank cocktails while passing through in the 1920s and ’50s, respectively. Exploration-themed objets such as old trunks, model sailboats, and binoculars—on display alongside Chinese vases and a gramophone—hark back to the British-colonial era.

Guest quarters

Housing 47 suites, the Majestic Wing takes up the original five-story 1930s hotel, while 253 rooms have been spread across the 15 floors of the much newer Tower Wing. Children aren’t allowed in the Majestic Wing, giving it an exclusive feel. (Those who book a suite in the heritage structure will be treated to round-the-clock butler service.) Room 401 is the 130-square-meter Majestic Suite where Jackie Chan, David Beckham, and King Charles have previously stayed. It’s just as palatial in the art deco–leaning Colonial suites. These feature a plush bed topped with six fluffy pillows; tall casement windows all over that open to greenery; a clawfoot tub ideal for bubble baths; and a spacious and homely living room with cream, gold, and red furnishings. Tower Wing rooms are more modern in style: expect black marble–floored bathrooms and swish four-poster beds.

Food and drink

Since its inception, The Majestic was known for its quintessential British-Malaysian afternoon tea of scones, sandwiches, karipap (curry puffs), and cakes served on a three-tier stand. Though the Tea Lounge—which has a talented live pianist—is the most common venue for this occasion, guests can also book other spaces such as the Writer’s Room or wood-paneled Drawing Room. Dinner at British-Hainanese restaurant Colonial Café is a must. The recipe for chicken chop comes from the hotel owner’s mother: think marinated chicken doused in thick gravy and Worcestershire sauce and served with potato wedges and peas. Order this à la carte or as part of the six-course sampler, which includes a chicken rice ball starter, Hainanese boiled beef soup, and English trifle. The Contango serves buffet breakfast with Western choices and Malaysian staples such as char kway teow and nasi lemak.

Enjoying a treatment at The Majestic Spa.

Wellness factor

The Majestic Spa occupies its own villa with seven treatment rooms for facials and massages; you’ll want to arrive early to swim in the bamboo-shrouded private pool. A must-try? The Malaya Golden Chersonese signature treatment inspired by 19th-century explorer Isabella Lucy Bird’s accounts of British Malaya, notably the tropical fruits and flowers she detailed. The three-hour experience incorporates a papaya and coconut body scrub, hair treatments that harness the nourishing qualities of banana, honey, and coconut; a rose-petal bath; and a bunga rampai oil massage—all of which will leave you feeling utterly relaxed and smelling of nature’s bounty.

Family matters

While the heritage building is off-limits to minors, the Tower Wing has both adjoining and family rooms. The hotel’s main swimming pool (also at the Tower Wing) is kid-friendly; children are welcomed at afternoon tea. Nearby is the National Mosque stop for the double-decker Hop-On Hop-Off buses that families can ride to explore KL’s major sights.

Sustainability cred

In-room drinking water is provided in glass bottles, and bath amenities come in larger refillable containers. To reduce food waste, chefs at the restaurants portion ingredients according to the expected number of guests. The hotel’s parent company runs the YTL Foundation, which focuses on improving access to education in underserved communities across Malaysia.

What else?

A beautiful Orchid Conservatory with seasonal blooms of all colors links the two wings and is bookable for special occasions. There’s also a small standalone building containing The Smoke House, which feels like an unstuffy Gentlemen’s Club by virtue of its pool table, small bar, and cozy seating area strewn with leather chairs. Downstairs in the basement, a screening room showcases black-and-white films; while there is no charge to watch, guests are expected to order a drink.

Reviewed by Dana Ter
+60 3 2785 8000
5, Jln. Sultan Hishamuddin, Tasik Perdana, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia