Discovering the world with relentless curiosity

Tag: heritage building

The Majestic Hotel, Kuala Lumpur: Old World Charm Marries Modern Luxury

Preserving the old while making way for the new, this tough and intricate balance is not an easy feat, especially when it comes to refurbishing timeworn hotels. Sustainability stands the…

Preserving the old while making way for the new, this tough and intricate balance is not an easy feat, especially when it comes to refurbishing timeworn hotels. Sustainability stands the test of time, it must outlive one generation and the successful passing down to the next generation is a testament to a hotel’s respect for its heritage, tradition and culture.

Opened in August 1932, The Majestic Hotel is a national treasure and an icon to Kuala Lumpur’s city scape and social tapestry. My parents have fond memories lunching at the hotel and the food was highly regarded as one of the best. Hainanese chefs dominated the kitchen churning out favourites like chicken chop, steak, hailam mee and sweet fluffy kaya Swiss rolls.

For more than 50 years, the hotel thrived as one of the leading hotels in Kuala Lumpur, a prime social venue for the country’s elites, highflying international travellers and government officials. The well-worn building collected many memories and if the walls could speak, they would tell of fancy dance parties and banquets, important political and business meetings and grand weddings.

DSC_3087

As with all good things, the old Majestic Hotel had to close its doors in December 1983 to give way to other newer hotels that sprung up in the city. Somehow, in the pages of the hotel’s history, a complete shutdown was never in mind. YTL Hotels took up the challenge to rebuild, restore and refurbish this heritage building that was and still is a much loved venue for those that have experienced its former glory.

“The restoration of The Majestic Hotel Kuala Lumpur is a project that is close to our hearts. It was a venue that was tremendously popular back in the days. YTL Hotels aims to bring this hotel back to its former glory; to share the heritage, popularity and success of its predecessor,” Dato Mark Yeoh

Colonial Cafe 1

Designed by Dutch Architect Van Leangeanderg, the original hotel accentuated a mix of neo-Renaissance and Art Deco design, where simple lines are married with Roman columns and intricate cornices. The façade is simple, yet classy. The refurbishment of the Majestic Hotel included a new adjoining building, the Tower Wing to accommodate larger capacity without compromising or taking away from the original main building, now called the Majestic Wing.

”There were many challenges in designing the hotel, mainly with regard to the Majestic Wing, which falls under the Antiquities Act 1976. We had to be very sensitive to its original design architecturally and structurally, and could only do minimal changes to the interior space and ensure we maintained the architectural elevation of the original design” said Zaidan Tahir, distinguished architect who has taken on projects of similar nature such as the refurbishment of Cameron Highlands Resort in Pahang and The Majestic Malacca.

Entering the lobby of the Majestic Wing, a doorman dressed in white safari-style jacket, khaki Bermuda shorts, pith helmets and boots greet me with a warm hello. The atmosphere transforms quickly whisking me back into the golden era of colonial days. Rich wooden furniture lined with rich leather coverings, timber floorings and thick tufted carpets tastefully make up the lobby. I was told that guests staying in the Majestic Wing suites have their check-in procedures done in the comforts of their suite.

DSC_3153

The Majestic Wing has three different suites to choose from and each delicately designed to the tee to resemble the glamorous days of old. No rooms were added to this building and the configurations were not altered, hence some of the suites are not massive, but still spacious. However, despite the given space, furniture has been chosen to maximize the space, for example long lounge chairs perfect for an afternoon read while looking out KL’s city scape.

Majestic SuiteKuala Lumpur City Scape

The bathrooms are a stunning recluse, with luxurious clawfoot bathtubs, separate rain shower and toilets and glossy black and white checkerboard tiled floors. The suites are lavishly styled with timber floorings, chandeliers, day beds, plush lounge chairs and embroidered pillows. The suites in this wing also come with personalised service such as a personal butler and car enhancing the experience of a luxury holiday. Even if you do not sleep in this wing, do venture into the lures of the charming and old-fashioned heart of the hotel.

Majestic Suite

The hotel brims with flourishing extras that keep its history alive such as the Orchid Conservatory, a glass atrium lined with hundreds of colourful orchids creating a captivating venue for special events, photo shoots and intimate afternoon tea sessions.

Orchid Conservatory

The hotel’s Colonial Café is the heart of the old building where delectable afternoon tea is served daily from 3pm – 6pm. The grand golden dome ceiling is the centrepiece of the café where magical tunes fill the air upon nightfall as the Soliano family, the only family whose musical tradition dates back into the nation’s history, entertain with classic renditions. The café offers a delightful menu marrying Hainanese favourites and western flavours. The Hainanese have always been known for their delicious meals and were very skilful in the kitchen delivering well-loved favourites like chicken chop, Hailam Mee, steaks and Swiss rolls. Back in the day, Bristish expats would gladly welcome Hainanese cooks into their kitchens and trusted them with their meals.

Colonial Cafe_Solianos

I stayed in the Tower Wing, the new adjoining building where modern meets old. My Junior Suite was extremely spacious with a separate living room and lounge. The Art Deco design followed through from the old building with a modern touch of luxury and simplicity. The suite had many mirrors, polished chrome, stainless steel and dark ebony veneer and its furnishings minimalistic in design. The bathroom was a sanctuary and a getaway on its own, with glass doors separating it from the bedroom and a sexy bathtub its centrepiece with separate basin and toilet and rain shower. The hotel’s line of toiletries is a rich selection of Malaysian fruit scents like the mangosteen, watermelon and pomelo.

Majestic hotel klMajestic Hotel

Staying at the Majestic definitely heightened my appreciation for Malaysia’s rich history. The hotel’s nostalgic ambiance and sense of history denotes a great sense of respect for bygone years. A building so magnificently lined with history has once again been restored and the pages in its book continue to churn many memories for travelers and generations to come.

* Fancy some afternoon tea and blissful pampering in Kuala Lumpur? Got the perfect place
1 Comment on The Majestic Hotel, Kuala Lumpur: Old World Charm Marries Modern Luxury

Afternoon Tea, What’s The Fuss?

I’m sure women around the world would nod to an invitation for afternoon tea. The coming together around a beautifully laid table filled with delightful nibbles is one of the…

I’m sure women around the world would nod to an invitation for afternoon tea. The coming together around a beautifully laid table filled with delightful nibbles is one of the most sociable, relaxing and enjoyable events. Whether it is around local fare or the classic English afternoon tea stacked with scones, pastries and a pot of Earl Grey, women simply enjoy the company of friends along with a good nibble.

Regrettably, afternoon tea is not a daily ritual for most, especially for busy professionals and modern day moms with hectic schedules. Back in the day, afternoon tea was associated with the genteel society, expatriates and the affluent. After all, who could afford more than an hour during the day sipping on tea, nibbling on fine tarts and warm scones and superfluous chatting? Today, it is still an indulgence when we have the luxury of time.

Colonial Cafe 2

Much to my delight, I had some time to spare while on a short holiday in Kuala Lumpur (KL) and I had just the perfect place to savour afternoon tea. The iconic Majestic Hotel is a well-worn building dating back to the 1930s where it was a home away from home for international travelers and the perfect place for fancy government events and social gatherings. Recently, the hotel underwent a major facelift reflecting its glory days and the building’s symbol as a national heritage treasure.

DSC_3004Afternoon tea at the Majestic starts at 3pm through to 6pm where the hotel’s Colonial Café and tea lounge transforms into a stage of tables covered with crisp starched table cloth, laid with fine bone china plates, tea cups and tea pots. The actors are pleasantly poised waiters decked in perfectly white uniforms and aprons dancing from table to table pouring tea and serving fine delectable on multi-tiered china.

DSC_3018

The hall echoes with soothing instrumental music played on the grand piano just beneath the magnificent gold dome ceiling. Light chitter chatter and laughter join the ambiance as I nibble on fine pastries, cucumber sandwiches, and warm scones with clotted cream while enjoying a cup of soothing Earl Grey.

DSC_3047

My thoughts traverse to bygone years where the history of tea drinking was very much of the nation’s history. During the British rule, tea was introduced from China and Europe, both the Chinese and Europeans had a knack for picking and brewing tea leaves. As inquisitive travelers and the affluent society traveled the world, they brought with them small quantities of what was then known as costly and unusual herbs. This ‘herb’ was an exotic and rare commodity and became a luxurious indulgence only for the rich.

Today, with mass agriculture, tea has become a daily beverage known for its health benefits. It is the perfect alternative to coffee and carbonated drinks. I particularly love green tea and will always have a sachet tucked somewhere in my bag.

Colonial Cafe 3

The creation of afternoon tea as a ritual was the idea Anna Maria Russell, the 7th Dutchess of Bedford. She set it at 4 o’clock between a full breakfast and supper (dinner). It was the perfect time for ladies to come together to share stories and would sometimes include indulgent gossips.

Subsequently, afternoon tea permeated society and since Malaysia was once under British rule, afternoon tea was woven into its social tapestry. Carried out with thoughtful attention to detail and consideration of style, the sharing of a cup of tea reminds us of our links with the past, of the olden cultures and of the importance of recognising and appreciating the innate beauty to be found in such simple actions.

Extravagant Bliss

At the Majestic Hotel, where all things from yonder are celebrated, afternoon tea can be accompanied with an extravagant massage aptly dubbed “English Afternoon Tea” to mark a truly memorable experience. I was whisked to the Majestic Spa, a separate building from the hotel with its own infinity pool overlooking the Moorish-style railway station and the buzzing city scape. The cosy interiors of the spa breaths refreshing colourful tones against the stark white walls, tall whimsical arm chairs on glossy black flooring. This distinctive minimalistic art nouveau style of Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s famous Tearoom of Scotland is reflective of the era where tearooms were a place for businessmen to meet and read the paper and where ladies gathered to socialize and play cards. To sum it, it was a place to lounge and relax.

Majestic Spa

My 2-hour spa treatment started with a refreshing citrusy mocktail before being ushered to the lounge area above the reception. Once here, everything feels secluded and private. My masseur, a fine young lady proceeded to give me a foot scrub. The signature ‘Gift from the Garden’ scrub which is a mix of lavender petals, rice husks and other beautiful handpicked herbs from the English garden. The warm lavender scented water is poured into a beautiful foot wash basin where my feet are left to soak. She proceeded to give me a head and scalp massage, a prelude to the bliss that was to come.

Majestic Spa

The rest of the spa was in a treatment room that is exceptionally spacious. With a standalone clawfoot bathtub, separate shower and toilet and two massage beds, the room was more than welcoming. Pampering continued with a decadent body scrub that looked and smelled good enough to eat – a mix of milk, honey, rice husks and berries. By this time, I was already feeling luscious but it did not stop there. A spa experience would be incomplete without a massage. The long, firm strokes repelled any tension left in my body and finally it capped off with a fragrant English rose facial and some relaxing breathing exercises.

Majestic Spa

The treatment was seamless and being a spa addict, I was utterly contented. Despite it being a 2-hour treatment, the hours seemed to have drifted by. As I sip on my camomile tea and savour the homemade oatmeal biscuit at the spa’s reception, I can’t help but wish time stood still.

*Go behind the scenes and peel over the layers of history of the enchanting Majestic Hotel, Kuala Lumpur.
1 Comment on Afternoon Tea, What’s The Fuss?

Type on the field below and hit Enter/Return to search