The Mandarin Oriental’s grandeur is evident from the moment you enter the lobby. A spectacularly large chandelier looms over as you enter, glistening like an infinity pool of lights in a circular portal holding the promise to take you to a better world. The gold, marbled and grey décor would offend anywhere else, yet the lucid tones of colour make the hotel appear palace-like. Spotlights beam down as golden lampshades emanate light upwards, allowing the mirrored surfaces to bounce reflections off already shiny floors, walls and glass cabinets.
The personal service we experienced was second to none. From the moment our taxi car door was opened, a hotel staff member took us through to the lobby with a courteous welcome. Rose, a receptionist recognised me from a previous stay and rushed to greet me, excitedly expressing delight at my return visit. I explained I had brought the family with me this time and she took the effort to speak to them and even commented her son’s name was the same as mine. We were whisked through check-in seamlessly and were ready to go to our room within a few short minutes. The level of personal attention we received exuded warmth and the same could be said when we checked out. Since checkout is at 12 and our flight was at 2am, we were given a late checkout by request, which displayed an immense priority of customer satisfaction and desire to accomodate for comfort.
The rooms are reminiscent of a Howard Roark dream, with floor to ceiling windows bringing the awe-inspiring magnificence of KL to front facing rooms looking out at the 88-level Petronas Towers just across the hotel and others providing either a view of the magnificent skyline or entertaining KLCC Lake Symphony Fountain at the Esplanade. The fountain comes alive both at day and night, dancing to music, which when coupled with a multitude of coloured lights, brings the extra special feeling to the end of any day.
Rooms are adequately lit and cosy. Draped in warm colours with soft lights, allowing anything brighter to peel in through the windows, the homely feel is complemented with soft furnishing, plump pillows and a carpet that had a design of open fans amid beige swirls. With large beds, writing tables that are positioned to make the most of natural light with the accompanying lamp and a small lounge area near the window complete the room. The bathroom has amberesque marbled walls and a black marbled floor with a diamond shaped pattern, both shiny enough to spot any water that spills on them from the tub or walk-in shower.
Abstract paintings, ceramics and textiles adorn the corridor walls making your stay here never void of reminders that you’re in a place steeped in history and culture. The décor in itself is an invitation to explore Malaysia’s capital city.
Staff and service is speedy, impeccably impressive and immensely personal. With 629 rooms, suites and apartments, the fact that staff can remember guests names with a smile and pre-emptively help with a guest’s needs displays either a master of telepathy or exceedingly good training.
There are a plethora of restaurants on site and the open-all-day Mosaic hosts the breakfast buffet under a stream of hanging lights illuminating the global food options below. With categories for each food by origin, there’s English, Italian, Indian, Chinese, Malay, Arabic and more cuisine on offer alongside the breads, cereals, croissants, pancakes, noodles, eggs and beverages. Halal food on offer here includes sausages and a variety of marinated meats (satay) including chicken and lamb. Seating is around the central buffet station allowing an informal travel agreement between guests that enables manoeuvring to and from the food easily.
Dinner options at the hotel include traditional Malay food alongside sushi at the Wasabi Bistro, pizzas, burgers, sandwiches, seafood, Cantonese food (at the hotel’s recommended Lai Ho Peen) and more. Lai Ho Peen is renowned for its Halal duck and other Cantonese delicacies so it’s worth the visit for food lovers who are restricted in Halal options elsewhere. It would be a feat in itself to sample all the dishes and restaurants during one stay so being spoilt for choice is mandatory when dining in.
Wellness is more than a fitness centre, as award winning therapies, spa treatments and an open air infinity edge pool that overlooks the city’s skyline all provide a refreshing start, end or midday breather from the bustle of the streets or sightseeing.
Venturing out, it feels like the best of KL is a stone’s throw away with the Mandarin Oriental being located within the Golden Triangle – an area that is home to the entertainment, shopping and business district that falls between the three roads of Jalan Imbi, Jalan Sultan Ismail and Jalan Raja Chulan. The Petronas towers are only a few minutes walk away and nestled in between them is Suria KLCC, one of the area’s most popular shopping malls. The large and luscious KLCC Park also sits outside the hotel in the unlikely event that a family find themselves having completed all the activities on site. Chinatown is nearby and rests on Petaling Street with bargains galore, cheap knock-offs, Chinese herbs and steeped in Oriental culture, heritage and history as evident in its roots as a tapioca producing district. Bukit Bintang is a ten-minute walk from the Mandarin Oriental and is known as the hippest and trendiest area to shop or have fun. Here you’ll find the Pavillion KL, an upmarket shopping mall complete with European top brands including Versace, Dolce & Gabbana and Yves Saint Laurent. Seafood restaurants and hawker stalls add to the ambience that enhance the dichotomy of modernity and traditionalism that is apparent from the hotel to the tri-life area. With all this within walking distance of the hotel, its location seems like the cherry on top of an already desirable establishment. If the day (and night) life tire you out, the sweet slumber of the comfortable beds will serenade you to sleep on return to what seems like the jewel in the crown of an already glorious city.
The overarching essence of the Mandarin Oriental is a welcome away from home, and with a warm reception like this, it’s no wonder many opt to extend their stay or return. If home is where the heart is, you can find me in KL’s Mandarin Oriental, devouring the sights, sounds, splendour and cuisine of Malaysia in the finest way possible.