The presence of colonial power and European mercantile in South East Asia started when the Portuguese came to Malacca in 1511. Since then, other colonial powers and merchants like the Dutch, Spanish, French and British followed suit and left indelible marks throughout the region that still can be seen today.
Below is the list of Gaya Travel’s choices of colonial heritage inspired accommodations in the region that bring back romance into travel that might interest our readers:
The Eastern & Oriental Hotel represents the true essence of colonial history, especially when it is located in Pulau Pinang. The hotel possesses elegant colonial charm and characteristics. Built in 1885, the property marks the beginning of the world’s greatest hotels in the East that up to this day still embody luxury and unprecedented style. The E&O Hotel has seen two World Wars, the waning of the British Empire and even the birth of Malaysia. Some of its notable guests belonged to the literary and entertainment worlds including Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks and Noel Coward.
Quintessential, luxurious, elegant – those are some of the common words used to describe the Majestic Hotel in Kuala Lumpur. The 47-suite and 253-room hotel is equipped with custom designed furniture, silverware and furnishings specially imported from England. To add to its already high-profile reputation, the hotel received the ‘Iconic Best Brands Award in Hospitality’ during the Brandlaureate 2015 Best Brands Awards.
Recognised as a Top Performing Hotel by TripAdvisor, the Tudor-style boutique resort called The Lakehouse Cameron Highlands allures guests with its surrounding natural beauty as it sits on top of a hill overlooking a tea plantation and verdant woodlands. Here, guests can expect to be treated like royalty a la English noblemen and experience high-tea, fine dining and unobtrusive turn down service.
Since 1937, Ye Olde Smokehouse has been inviting people to retreat amidst greenery and peaceful surroundings while reliving the old English era. It is rather different from the other colonial properties in Malaysia due to its much homier ambiance. Rooms come with antique furniture, exposed beams and white walls. The food served here, especially scones for high tea, including its roasts, stews and steaks for dinner. Besides enjoying the serenity of Fraser’s Hill, this property also attracts birdwatching aficionados since the hill is well-known for diverse bird species.
Situated within the UNESCO World Heritage site, the building that currently houses Quayside Hotel Melaka is steep in history because during the colonial times, it used to be a customs warehouse where mangrove logs, palm kernels, black pepper and multitudes of other goods we exported to the rest of Asia and Europe. Since it is conveniently located by the Melaka River, the building bore witness to the lively trading activities conducted by merchants throughout the Malay Archipelago, including South Asia and China. Today, the building houses 39 smart contemporary design rooms, which appeals to the media and creative types. Gaya Travel recommends travellers to experience staying in any of the 18 rooms that have balconies facing the Melaka River.
Should travellers are keen on experiencing the colonial British genteel atmosphere, they can opt to stay at the Raffles Hotel – one of the oldest colonial properties in South East Asia. Upon arrival, guests will be greeted by liveried Sikh doormen and impressively charming libby that immediately transports them to a different era. Raffles Hotel is also a destination in its own right whereby guests will be able to go on a personalised tour led by the hotel’s own Resident Historian. The hotel also has a shopping arcade that houses over 35 international and regional designer stores such as Louis Vuitton and Tiffany & Co.
Being an authentic living museum of Filipino customs and traditions, guests of Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar are guaranteed with unforgettable experience as they get to relive the Filipino lifestyle from the 18th to early 20th century. The resort’s theme – “Pride in the past, hope for the future” – truly represents the notion, which can be seen through its 27 heritage structures set on 400 hectares of land, each with distinctive history and personality. Several activities are available here including a day heritage tour, cultural shows and visiting the Escuela de Bellas Artes.a contemporary art space for artists and art enthusiasts.
Hotel Majapahit is popular, not only because of the fact that it was built by the well-known Sarkies Brothers but also because of the historical ‘Yamato Hotel Incident’ (the name of the hotel during the Japanese occupation) when a young Javanese resistance fighter tore off the lower blue segment of the Dutch flag to create what would become the red and white flag of the Republic of Indonesia today. The property therefore becomes a classic landmark and a source of national pride. This five-star deluxe hotel has won the ‘Favourite Hotel in Indonesia’ during the Tourism Awards in 2012.
Located in a quiet residential neighbourhood amid embassy houses and other colonial residences, Belmond Governor’s Residence looks more of a country home. This teak mansion actually used to serve as the official home of the governors of the British Crown Colony of Burma. The building then has been beautifully restored and the rooms and common areas are designed with authentic Burmese furnishings yet contemporary in style. Guests of the hotel may also visit the nearest Yangon’s top attraction called the Shwedagon Pagoda.
This multi award winner needs a little introduction. Being a constant favourite among the A-List and influential figures including David Beckham, Mel Gibson and Audrey Hepburn, it is near impossible not to be impressed with the property. The hotel even has special suites named after their famous former guests and most walls in the building are decorated with photos of all the great writers in the world, creating a charming mood to every author’s dream. Mandarin Oriental has an impeccable standard from its service, location, accommodation, and sumptuous food and beverage outlets.