Kuala Lumpur is a vibrant example of the dynamism of South East Asia. Ancient Chinese and Hindu temples rival with modern skyscrapers and trendy eateries. Visitors to the Malaysian capital city may also appreciate the vibrant colors of the old town, traditional night markets and famous landmarks like the Petronas Towers.
Visiting Kuala Lumpur is easy and enjoyable day or night, thanks to numerous taxis and Uber (or Grab if you want to go local). A top selling point of the destination is the large inventory of high-end hotels available at unbeatable rates.
Mandarin Oriental is among the few independent luxury hotel chains with an international reputation for unparalleled service, tasteful design and culinary delights – all Asian rooted. The Mandarin Oriental Kuala Lumpur boasts one of the best locations in the whole city: sitting on the beautiful KLCC Park, the hotel is within a short distance of most tourist attractions and yet provides the comfort and the amenities of a seaside resort. Guests will particularly enjoy the pool area, the spa facilities and the authentic artworks spread across the property and reinforcing its ties to the Malaysian culture.
The hotel is undergoing a progressive and total renovation that will be completed by 2018. In the meantime, all common areas have received their new look, including the impressive fitness and wellness floor and the Club Lounge.
Entering the lobby, I was immediately drawn to the décor, contemplating the Art Deco crystal chandeliers and the shining green marble floors that balance the view of the KLCC Park at the other end of the lobby. At the center are 4 majestic columns by renowned manufacturer Royal Selangor. Mirrored consoles and rich flower bouquets complement the setting of the reception area. Since I had booked a Club Deluxe City room, the check-in staff escorted us to complete guest registration in the comfort of the Club Lounge.
Check-in was quick and informative. Zatun, the friendly Club Lounge host would then accompany us to our room, on the top floor of the hotel. Thus far, I was impressed by the lobby, enchanted by the art, and excited to discover the newly refurbished room and its views.
The club deluxe city room
The renovation of the hotel started with public areas and the top 2 floors of the building. Select Club guests and loyal Mandarin Oriental guests staying in the newly renovated rooms are warmly encouraged to provide feedback on the new upgrades, allowing proper fine tuning if required. There is close to nothing to be changed in these newly refurbished rooms and elegant hallways.
Walking into the room, a console garnished with an orchid is the perfect spot to place your key card or your wallet. The colors are light and contemporary, creating a flow towards the natural light that beams through the oversized picture window. Thanks to the building layout and location, all rooms command dramatic views of the city, the park and the pool area without forgetting the iconic Petronas Towers.
The bathroom is modest in size but offers a very elaborate décor thanks to beautifully kept yellow marble and black tiles. The profusion of mirrors is really appreciated when rushing to get ready for a meeting or a dinner in town. Natural Kan toiletries have been introduced a couple months ago and are designed exclusively for the Mandarin Oriental Kuala Lumpur.
Distinctive amenities include a Nespresso coffee maker, Bose Bluetooth sound system and alarm, slippers available in two sizes, kimonos, a prayer mat for Muslim guests and a night light with movement sensor in the bathroom. Also available in the room is a selection of two delicate and locally made Tapping Tapir sparkling sodas. A very enjoyable drink while contemplating the view of the neighboring towers. Standing at the window, I appreciated the uniqueness of our pool compared to other nearby hotels – larger, far from major streets and the only one directly facing the park rather that buildings.
Included in the Club Deluxe City room rate is laundry service up to 5 pieces a day. The turnaround was quick (under one day) and executed in the most luxurious fashion: items were returned protected by a garment bag or folded.
The club lounge
Located on Floor 24, the Club Lounge has been recently renovated and displays variations of gray and purple colors giving it a contemporary, yet cozy look. Floor-to-ceiling windows on three sides offer unobstructed views of the skyline, luxuriant KLCC Park, and the impressive Petronas Towers. Open exclusively to Club guests from 6:30am to 10pm daily, this is where families come to dine, businessmen run meetings, and couples share a glass of bubbly looking at the glamorous downtown lights. Also available are a TV room, a formal meeting room, and a smoking lounge.
Breakfast for Club members offers a large and refined variety of pastries, local fruits, and pan-Asian specialties. In addition, a full lunch is offered as well as an afternoon tea service – a real treat after a day of sightseeing or shopping at the KLCC mall next door. At night, a pianist greets members while waiters prepare drinks for the cocktail hour. The open bar and buffet is available from 5pm to 7:30pm on weekdays, 7pm on weekends. The night buffet at the Club Lounge is a true full meal with hot and cold options and a menu renewed daily. Among all the foods, I still daydream about the Chef’s take on the carrot cake and that very special chocolate tart that was brought to me by Zatun to celebrate my birthday.
Working at the Club Lounge is a cheerful team attentive to your every need and proactive in helping you secure reservations and handling any guest services.
Dining at Wasabi Bistro
Zatun arranged a table for dinner at Wasabi Bistro, the Japanese restaurant of the Mandarin Oriental Kuala Lumpur. Just as I sat down at the table, hot towels were brought together with freshly cut veggie sticks and sesame dressing. The decor is what you would expect of a confidential eatery on the streets of Tokyo or Osaka.
Impressed by the extensive menu, we turned to the restaurant manager for suggestions. We started with edamame and the delicate Kumi n1: a crab stick and avocado mix wrapped with white fish baked in a secret sauce. It was pleasant to look at, tasty, and so finely ground it would melt in your mouth. Next were the Eggplant miso: a pure treasure that I can recommend to any guest walking through the door of Wasabi Bistro.
We continued with the Dynamite rolls: spicy tuna topped with seared salmon. Delicious. My favorite however might still be the Dragon rolls: deep fried tiger prawns topped with creamy avocado. The presentation was phenomenal, mimicking an actual dragon but the taste and texture were what got me sold on these: it was the perfect balance of crunchiness and moistness.
The main dish came together with 3 sauces: sweet teriyaki, sesame, and ginger. The Australian wagyu beef was just fat enough to express full flavors, still sizzling on the plate and on a bed of bean sprouts. The cod fish in miso sauce was perfectly executed and did not need any other seasoning to be enjoyed.
Featured year after year as one of the best restaurants in Malaysia by Tatler magazine, Wasabi Bistro should be on your Japanese food list when in KL.
Even amid growing competition in the luxury segment, the Mandarin Oriental Kuala Lumpur continues to build on an unparalleled location in the downtown area, amazing outdoors and the elegant service the brand is known for. Prices may increase slightly once the renovation is complete but with rates starting at the 200 dollars per night range, they will still be a steal for a such a luxury experience. Time to think of your next Mandarin Oriental stay…
Where: Mandarin Oriental, Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur City Centre, 50088 Kuala Lumpur,
Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Phone: +60 3-2380 8888
Note– The critic was invited by the Mandarin Oriental Kuala Lumpur. But all the opinions expressed herewith are his own.
Founder of UNITIATE, Geoffrey is a Marketing Expert, Luxury Specialist and Hospitality Enthusiast. Wherever he goes, his early career and personal interests have always helped him nurture and cultivate a passion for the Travel and Leisure industries. French born, Geoffrey has accumulated an extensive experience abroad, thanks to regular visits to foreign countries but also thanks to years of expatriation. Currently based in Chicago, Geoffrey has already lived and worked in New York, Shanghai, Singapore and Monaco. You can meet Geoffrey on Twitter and Linkedin.