Living it up in Kuala Lumpur

Writer Pete Wong | May 15, 2019

Like most dynamic Asian capitals, Kuala Lumpur is in a constant state of change. In recent years, a mass rapid transit rail system was installed; the last ruling party governing the country since its independence was replaced; and new skyscrapers emerged, transforming the city skyline.

In the heart of the city, Four Seasons Hotel Kuala Lumpur debuted as the world’s third tallest hotel; Banyan Tree Kuala Lumpur, just over a year old, expanded by launching Pavilion Hotel Kuala Lumpur; while W Kuala Lumpur launched and redefined the hotel experience with bold design and colours.

The city is more vibrant in the evening when temperature drops and the nightlife heats up. Locals and visitors step out in droves to shop, eat, drink, party, and soak in the vibrant atmosphere, especially around the Bukit Bintang shopping belt. Bars usually stay open until the wee hours of the morning. The area is multiracial and multicultural resulting in a smorgasbord of varied culinary delights. Some of the finest restaurants are located within the hotels but if you care to venture out, there are more gastronomic delights to be discovered.

With an exchange rate that weighs in favour compared to most foreign currencies, Kuala Lumpur is one of the most affordable cities in the region to indulge. Hoteliers find it easy convincinng jetsetters to include the city in their travel plans, and business has mostly been good for established brands. “A junior suite here starts at just US$430 and that’s a bargain

for some of our regular globetrotting guests,” says Rosemarie Wee, Four Seasons Hotel Kuala Lumpur’s director of public & community relations.

Unlike other big cities, Kuala Lumpur is relatively free of pollution and natural calamities like earthquakes and typhoons. Weather is generally good year-round with harmless, although heavy, rains from October through February.

Banyan Tree Spa Kuala Lumpur at Banyan Tree Kuala Lumpur

Banyan Tree Kuala Lumpur gives new meaning to ‘living it up’ with luxurious rooms and amenities on the top seven floors of the 59-storey building. A high-speed lift whisks you up to the lobby on the 53rd floor where staff check you in with minimal fuss. Rooms and interior decor are somewhat low-key, but wait till you check out the rooftop restaurant Horizon Grill and Vertigo bar. Banyan Tree Kuala Lumpur offers an unobstructed and breathtaking view of the city skyline. For shoppers, the hotel has a covered walkway that leads to the Pavilion mall across the street.

The Banyan Tree Spa offers a series of signature treatments like the 150-minute Sense of Place – Malaysian Bliss, which includes a refreshing scrub and relaxing massage that combines kneading techniques and thumb pressure to relieve tension. The treatment also includes a goat milk face mask and scalp massage, and ends with a soothing tea bath with the best view of the city. The therapists, trained at their in-house spa academy in Phuket, offer a consistently high standard of service.

Spa Village Kuala Lumpur at The Ritz-Carlton, Kuala Lumpur

Among the city’s five-star hotels, the 364-room Ritz-Carlton, Kuala Lumpur is an institution, having been around for more than 20 years. But thanks to refurbishments the hotel has stayed competitive with rooms and suites both spacious and luxurious. Ritz-Carlton is connected to sibling JW Marriott via an air-conditioned walkway and a few minutes’ stroll will take you to the Bukit Bintang shopping area.

Located beside the hotel swimming pool is Spa Village. The spa offers a quiet retreat from the bustling city and has an extensive menu offering couples and individual experiences, body treatments, hair, nail and skincare. One of the signature treatments is the three-hour Royal Malay, which is based on time-honoured healing practices.

The treatment starts with a facial and body massage followed by a body scrub, herbal bath and body steaming. Another unique treatment is the 90-minute Sensory Sound Bath, which begins with a full-body, deep-tissue massage and ends with a 10-minute Sound Bath that envelopes the body with the frequencies of the symphonic gong. Their Sensory Room is a novel experience where your senses are treated to a dimly lit room and a ceiling studded with twinkling ‘stars’.

The Majestic Spa at The Majestic Hotel Kuala Lumpur

The Majestic Kuala Lumpur is a hotel with storied past, and a celebrated tribute to colonial architecture. Built in 1932, it played host to the social elite during British colonial rule, and Japanese officials during the war.

In 1983 it was gazetted a heritage building and the current owners restored it to its former glory in 2012. The original architecture, called the Majestic Wing, has 51 rooms, while the newer 15-storey Tower Wing was built with 253. The hotel lies within the city’s historical area and is surrounded by late-19th century Moorish-style buildings. Both the former railway station and the Sultan Abdul Samad Building are examples.

The Majestic Spa is modelled after the art nouveau style of Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s Willow Tearooms in Scotland. On the spa menu is a range of à la carte massages, facials and spa experiences. Top on the list is the 150-minute Malaya Golden Chersonese, which features a banana honey hair masque, body scrub, herbal steam and massage using a potpourri of flowers or Indian spice. You will emerge from the treatment body rejuvenated and with a head of hair that is light and fluffy. Kerstin Florian products are used for facials alongside house brand Mangosteen.

Starhill Spa by Spa Village at JW Marriott Hotel Kuala Lumpur

The 491-room JW Marriott Hotel Kuala Lumpur may be two decades old but it remains a sought-after accommodation,  especially among business travellers who enjoy a convenient location fronting Bukit Bintang. Adjoining the hotel is Starhill Gallery, a luxury retail mall with a Feast Village that offers a host of dining options.

The hotel’s Starhill Spa is managed by the same Spa Village located at the neighbouring Ritz-Carlton hotel, and therapists work between both according to demand. The spa interior is minimalist but services are in high demand so do book in advance. There are eight treatment rooms, with one VIP room and ensuite Jacuzzi that is ideal for couples.

The two-hour Deep Sleep Treatment, is excellent for travellers suffering from jet lag or insomnia, and starts with a warming bath with essential oils followed by a relaxing massage guaranteed to knock you out in a few minutes. Kerstin Florian products are used for facials, in addition to the house brand, Mangosteen.

Iridium Spa  at St Regis Kuala Lumpur

The St Regis Kuala Lumpur features luxurious rooms overlooking the famous Lake Gardens. Interiors are grand and stylish and suites here come with a massage room. The 208-room hotel, just two-years’ old, lies within walking distance from KL Sentral, the city’s largest transit hub. The St Regis has a long association with polo, and is a recurring theme throughout the hotel with paintings of players in the lobby and a statue of a horse in one of the restaurants.

The Iridium Spa features two single and eight couples rooms with ensuite Jacuzzis. Interiors and rooms are furnished with wood panels and timber flooring to create a warm, comforting environment. The spa menu is one of the most extensive in town with treatments ranging from a 90-minute massage to the five-day Iridium Spa Suite Retreat.

The spa is the first in the city to use LPG Endermologie products for skin and body treatments while facials use ESPA products. You need not be a player to enjoy the 150-minute Polo Connoisseur, one of their signature rituals. The treatment starts with a soothing bath followed by a marine algae body mask to detoxify and clean the system. The treatment ends with a soothing massage using essential oils to revive fatigued muscles.

Away Spa at W Kuala Lumpur

With its bold design, colours and upbeat music, W Kuala Lumpur appeals to younger or young-at-heart guests. When the 150-room hotel launched less than a year ago, it appeared instantly Instagrammable, with guests clamoring for shots of colourful rooms and mirrored bathrooms. The Wet Deck poolside bar is particularly designed to wow, is makes for a great place to chill at sunset. Petronas Twin Towers provide the backdrop.

The hotel’s bold design extends to the new Away Spa. Psychedelic pinks light the one double and four single treatment rooms, which also feature egg-shaped beds. Guests are invited to make use of the Jacuzzi or sauna before treatments. The spa menu is varied, with treatments for individuals or couples, ranging from quick shoulder fixes and flower baths to scalp massages and detox cocktails. One of the highlights is their three-hour Ignite Me package that includes a de-stressing massage, facial and manicure. Ladies can head to the Beauty Bar for more pampering, such as mani-pedis and eyelash extensions.

Mandara Spa at The Villas AT Sunway Resort Hotel & Spa

The  Villas is the most exclusive among the slew of accommodations offered by the Sunway Group. Located within Sunway City, a suburb 30 minutes outside KL’s city centre, it comprises 17 luxury units tucked away in a forest on a hill slope. Each is like a private Asian home with its own plunge pool, outdoor dining terrace, a four-poster bed and balcony. While the impression is that you are far from the city bustle, the reality is that you are just minutes’ walk to the main hotel complex, a theme park and adjoining shopping mall complete with indoor skating rink.

While the main hotel area is family-friendly, The Villas is secluded and off-limits to children making it even more alluring for couples seeking uninterrupted quiet time. At day’s end you can arrange for a bubble bath in the sunken bath, and romantic dinners can be arranged if the thought of leaving your residence is too much to bear.

Just a few minutes’ walk away, the Balinese-inspired Mandara Spa sits surrounded by lush greenery. On the spa menu are spa packages, massages, face and body treatments using Elemis products, as well as mani-pedis.

The Spa at Four Seasons Hotel Kuala Lumpur

The 65-storey Four Seasons Hotel Kuala Lumpur made its debut less than a year ago and has already earned the distinction of tallest hotel in the country. The 209-room hotel has the enviable position of being located next to another landmark, the Petronas Twin Towers and adjacent KLCC Park. The ambience inside the hotel exudes understated luxury. Its Yun House restaurant deserves mention for serving possibly the best dim sum in town. The first six floors of the building are occupied by The Shoppes at Four Seasons Place which houses luxury retail and dining outlets.

The Spa on Level 7 shares the same floor as the fitness centre and an inviting outdoor infinity pool. On its menu are a wide range of therapies including a traditional herbal treatment using rattan, body polishes and wraps, anti-ageing skincare treatments and one facial containing 24-carat gold. The spa’s product lines include Subtle Energies, Mesoscience by Skeyndor and the local brand, Kuem.