Heading to Kuala Lumpur on a business trip or simply for some shopping? Good news: Banyan Tree, known for its resort-style hotels, has just opened up right in the heart of the city. Expat Living was lucky enough to get a first-hand experience of the luxury hotel recently.
Located on top of the existing Banyan Tree Residences, the hotel provides a bird’s eye view of the cityscape, and is the perfect spot for viewing the Twin Towers in all their glory. (Psst… keep reading to find out the best spot in the hotel to take a photo!) Going shopping is also a breeze, with a link-bridge connecting the hotel directly to Pavilion, one of KL’s largest shopping malls. This is great for when it rains, which was exactly what happened the day we arrived, making heading outdoors more difficult.
There are just 55 suites in the property, and they come in seven different varieties. Our room, the Signature Banyan Retreat suite, was a huge 63-square-metre space overlooking the city, and tastefully designed. It was elegantly split into a work area, the main area with the bed (which I absolutely loved and probably spent more time in than I should have!) and a long daybed where you can get lost in a good book.
The bathroom has got to be one of my favourite ever hotel bathrooms. Also neatly separated into three sections – shower area, main dressing area, and a powder room with a heated, automatic toilet – it’s as wide as the room itself. While I didn’t make use of the oval soaking tub available, I loved the rain shower feature and the LED lights – because what’s a luxury bathroom without those right?
There are two main dining options, plus an additional rooftop bar. For all-day eats, head to Horizon Grill, the main restaurant, which has a short lunch and dinner menu focussing on surf and turf. My companions went for a classic Goulburn Valley filet mignon and a saltbush lamb rack for their mains, and both said they were great. Vegetarian main options were missing from the menu at the time of our stay, though I was kindly offered a carbonara with a mushroom medley once the staff were informed; it was good for the first few bites, but got a little too salty and heavy for my taste halfway through.
There’s also an afternoon-tea-slash-wine-bar spot called Altitude that seemed popular among guests. We liked the savoury bites served, with interesting combinations like a beetroot macaron with house-cured Atlantic salmon, and a tangy curry cappuccino served with a crab meat grissini. The desserts, though, fell a little short; the presentation was beautiful, but they lacked flavour and were too sugary.
I’d skip the afternoon tea to do something else, and head up to the rooftop bar Vertigo at night instead. As the highest rooftop hotel bar in Kuala Lumpur, it has a beautiful night view, perfect for catching that Instagram shot of the Twin Towers. There’s a healthy stock of alcoholic beverages, plus comfortable sofas all around.
Vertigo was our top choice among the hotel’s three dining options. Another option for eating is to head to KL’s food street, Jalan Alor, an easy 20-minute walk from the hotel.
Spa and Amenities
You won’t want to miss out on the Banyan Tree Spa, which was fully booked despite the hotel’s infancy. I had a lovely 60 minute full-body treatment; there are different options based on how intense you’d like it to be. I went for the traditional Balinese massage, a mid- to strong-pressure option to help release those stiff shoulders. After a warm foot bath, the therapist got to working her magic. It was so relaxing, I ended up falling asleep, only waking towards the end, and with my shoulder tension gone. It you love a massage, this is a great choice.
If you’d like a quick workout, the hotel also has a gym and open-air pool located on the 51st floor. They’re not the biggest size, but definitely good enough for those who don’t require much equipment.
It’s a one-hour flight to Kuala Lumpur International Airport, followed by a 45-minute taxi to the city centre. During low season, flights cost even less than $100, if you’re lucky. A cheaper option would be to take a bus from Singapore (approximately four hours), or you can drive if you have a car.
Things to do in KL other than shopping
- Get in touch with your artsy side at one of the city’s museums such as the Petronas Art Gallery or, for history buffs, the Royal Malaysian Police Museum
- Visit Jalan Alor; this food street and night market area is sure to satisfy your cravings
- Slow down and enjoy life at the bamboo village (bamboo-village.blogspot.com)
- Go on a guided food tour and eat where the locals eat (foodtourmalaysia.com)
- Explore the Batu Caves
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