By Jeremy Khalil on July 10, 2019
Grand, opulent and glamorous, the multiple award-winning Shangri-La Hotel, Kuala Lumpur is undeniably an institution that transcends time. Just because the hotel has been opened since 20 April 1985 doesn’t mean it has lost its shine and become irrelevant; on the contrary, this 662-room hotel has been evolving with the times and continues to remain as one of the preferred hotels in the city.
Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts, particularly Shangri-La Hotel, Kuala Lumpur, benefits from its excellent track record in providing upscale hospitality to international travellers and understanding their needs and wants, especially among the more matured, established and discerning set. Despite fierce competition from other hotels, the Shangri-La brand continues to hold a leading position as the provider of exquisite and rare accommodations found throughout Asia and worldwide.
Due to its stature, the hotel is still the choice among the great, the good, the aspiring, the successful and the well-heeled. Shangri-La Hotel, Kuala Lumpur is sought by those who are familiar with its long-standing service culture and top-notch offerings that easily rival any other world-class property. Though the hotel has long remained as one of the leading hotels for business and corporate travellers whenever they are in the city, including fastidious gourmands, it does not intend to rest on its laurels. As a matter of fact, in the long term, Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts intend to further grow its leisure segment, especially when it comes to family-friendly staycations, following the successful business model implemented in Shangri-La Hotel, Singapore.
Gaya Travel Magazine team had a fantastic three-day and two-night restful staycation at Shangri-La Hotel, Kuala Lumpur, which we utterly enjoyed to the point that we didn’t even bother to venture out, even though the hotel is just five minutes’ walk to the Petronas Twin Towers and a 10-minute walk to major shopping districts.
As guests stepped into the lobby to check in, they would have instantly spotted the remarkably expansive area comprising the water feature at the base of a monumental sculpture enveloping the central pillar, the hotel’s reception, concierge, and plush lobby lounge overlooking a verdant courtyard. Although the hotel’s current look has been the same for a good number of years, the interiors are immaculately maintained. The space is replete with Malaysian-inspired motifs and elements like the resplendent songket (woven fabric using gold and/or silver thread) incorporated onto the staff uniform to give the hotel a strong sense of place. The check-in process is quick and hassle free, so does getting to the room because the hotel has eight speedy elevators that have no problem servicing all in-house guests efficiently even when the hotel is full.
The hotel has the biggest inventory in the city and spacious room size. Most of the rooms, which are on average 40 metres squared, are embellished with warm and soothing shades of red, orange, gold, and walnut brown. One handy feature that we consider a plus but not typically implemented among the more contemporary properties is that the sound from the television is piped into the bathroom with adjustable volume, just in case guests do not want to miss anything that is currently being aired. On top of that, each Horizon Club (Executive Premier) room and suite comes with a Nespresso machine, which should delight coffeeholics.
If travellers wish to savour amped-up Malaysian hospitality, they should stay at Horizon Club rooms located on levels 20 to 23 so that they can access the hotel’s Horizon Club Lounge on level 1. This impressive non-smoking space – opens daily from 6:00 a.m. until 11:00 p.m. – is one of the best club lounges in the city, designed as a great place to unwind for hours on end. With such cushy ambience, free-flowing drinks and snacks, it is not hard to see why the space attracts many who want to wind down in an exclusive environment likened to a sumptuous yet homely living room, which is perfect for respite after a long day. No doubt, Horizon Club Lounge is now one of Gaya Travel Magazine’s favourite spots in the hotel.
Dining at the Horizon Club Lounge makes guests feel truly privileged. It lays out a breakfast spread larger than normally served by other club lounges in other properties. On top of the ordinary egg-based dishes, gourmands should try the lounge’s signature omelette rendang (three-egg omelette filled with beef rendang) and Nyonya laksa (noodles served with prawn dumpling and boiled eggs, all immersed in gratifyingly thick coconut curry broth). It is no wonder that the lounge is hardly quiet since early morning. Same goes during afternoon tea, which is served between 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m., when the spread includes lip-smacking delicacies, including satay.
The Horizon Club Lounge is staffed by enthusiastic employees who never fail to cheerfully greet guests like old friends, remember their names and make them feel at home. When we were there, we overheard that the staff quickly asked whether the hotel’s repeat guests prefer to have the beverage that they enjoyed during their last stay again, making guests feel valued for being lavished such attention. The bond between the guests and staff reminded us of the intro song to a popular 80’s American comedy series called Cheers, which has a line in the chorus that states “because you want to be where everybody knows your name” – the lounge definitely captures that spirit.
Families are welcome at the lounge, but they need to control their children’s behaviour if they intend to occupy the chairs, sofas and tables at the main area. Alternatively, families can also opt to use the lounge’s family room equipped with high chairs and television that switches on to cartoons as a way to keep their children entertained.
Shangri-La knows how to create memorable moments revolving around good food that comes in abundance. The hotel’s all-day dining outlet, Lemon Garden, is exceptionally busy on Friday and Saturday nights, popularly known as Seafood Dinner Buffet Nights when guests are spoilt for choice with the type of scrumptious seafood and seafood-based dishes served at the buffet. It is obvious that Lemon Garden is one of the go-to dining spots in Kuala Lumpur; though the whole atmosphere during those nights is boisterous and crowded, it is hardly off-putting, probably due to the outlet’s layout and flow that cleverly disperses diners to different sections and lines. Lemon Garden is also busy during breakfast due to its jaw-dropping array that leaves guests amazed and sated.
Another outlet to try out is Shang Palace, the hotel’s popular Chinese restaurant that is meant to be enjoyed with the whole family. Even the smallest portion served at this restaurant is generous enough to share for two persons. We settled for the satisfying lotus root dish that bursts with umami flavour, and then finished off our meal with the refreshing lemongrass jelly topped with lime sorbet and a slice of strawberry for dessert, all washed down with the fragrant chrysanthemum tea.
To burn off the accumulated the calories, guests can sweat it out at the hotel’s well-equipped Health Club or swim a few laps at the swimming pool on Level 2. Those in need of rejuvenation and pampering should head to The Spa and request for the relaxing Aroma Bliss treatment, which is popular among in-house guests alongside the uplifting Shang Touch, so be sure to make prior reservation to avoid disappointment. All spa treatments are dispensed by skilful staff who have years of practice.
With unwavering high standards of genuine, heartfelt service delivered by highly attentive staff, including memorable dining, well maintained rooms and reliable facilities, Shangri-La Hotel, Kuala Lumpur is definitely the family-friendly staycation destination that wary urbanites seek. Staying at this hotel might just make you fall in love with what the Shangri-La brand stands for, which is to deliver exceptional five-star stay experience injected with heavy dose of indigenous hospitality that keeps you and your family coming back…
This article is featured in Gaya Travel Magazine Issue 14.2. Read other contents HERE.