Kuala Lumpur, the capital city of Malaysia, is getting well accustomed to accommodating plenty of five star international hotels. Located in the heart of the city’s Golden Triangle business district, and perhaps the most happening place for shopaholics, The Ritz-Carlton, Kuala Lumpur is somewhat of an historical gem in terms of luxury hotels in the city, having been opened in December 1997. The hotel’s 365 guest rooms, including 30 One-Bedroom Suites are a marvel that stand out like a sore thumb. Unlike other hotels’ in this city, irrespective if they are of a five star or not, the beauty of The Ritz-Carlton, Kuala Lumpur is that residents in this hotel are treated to arguably the best customer service in town. Every industry has their gold standard: for coffee, it is Starbucks, for aviation is either Airbus or Boeing, and for hotels? I’d say it’s the Ritz-Carlton without a doubt from my experience.
Kuala Lumpur is one of the prime destinations for Arabs and for Muslims as well – many come here for their honeymoon. The city is almost like a mini-Dubai, except that there is not as much glitz and glamour. Guests at this distinctive property can enjoy convenient access to upscale shopping, dining and entertainment. The magnificent Petronas Twin Towers are only around a twenty-minute walk from the hotel via an air-conditioned walkway.
However, I have to say that the hotel’s management and owners have not really capitalized on the location well. From the outside, had it not been for the magnificent doorman, I almost had got the hotel building confused for a high-rise office block! However, take a step inside and The Ritz-Carlton, Kuala Lumpur is fun – it doesn’t take itself very seriously. If I could, I would adore living here every day: drinking endless amounts of special cocktails in the Lobby Lounge, lunching with great company in the hushed surroundings of the César’s Restaurant, where the locals’ sobriety so perfectly meet Malay culinary savoir faire.
The hotel displays an interior that displays astonishing craftsmanship but feels remarkably formal and fussy, a delight to experience in a place such as Kuala Lumpur. Relive nostalgia at its best. Nevertheless, it is such a shame that all the rooms are almost identical, and their walls are surprisingly thin; so much so that I could hear my neighbours in all the three rooms I stayed in! On the plus side, the feather beds, feather duvets and goose down pillows certainly are supremely comfortable, and not to forget the well kitted out excellent marble bathrooms with rainforest shower heads, Asprey toiletries, plush bathrobes, and superb beds. The sleep was the best part.
One key speciality of The Ritz-Carlton, Kuala Lumpur is its amazing suite. Unlike some of the other suites that are offered around the world, this one is much more spacious. 24-hour in-room dining for your convenience, Laundry and valet services and a 24-hour butler service for your personal convenience are some of the main highlights.
The butlers here are trained to read guests’ body language. Whatever you need, and whenever you need it, their wish is your command. Not in the least oleaginous, but very professional, old fashioned and exceedingly friendly, with some charming personalities. Of one thing I’m certain: the service here is second to none. From the doormen with their white gloves tucked into their epaulettes and the pair of bellhops who open the double doors to each arriving guest, they’re all faultless.
Even taking afternoon tea at the marvellous Lobby Lounge has a particular sense of occasion. OK, it may not be as impressive as the tea service at the Ritz in London, nevertheless, it is still enough to take your hats off to. I am impressed and pleased that The Ritz-Carlton, Kuala Lumpur has retained the time-honed character that makes a prime Kuala Lumpur hotel more than just luxurious. It’s vibrant, it’s buzzing with delight and it’s not overpriced. It’s just perfect (it really is). So much so that even American diplomats love it to bit (John Kerry stayed here a few days before my visit).
So, apart from world leaders and the Hollywood crowd, who else likes to sleep here? Foreigners, including plenty of wealthy Arabs, Japanese and Indians, naturally. Lots of men in black suits and/or white robes with designer stubble and sunglasses and women surrounded by endless amounts of designer shopping bags and dresses.
One of the favourite aspects of residing at a five-star hotel is that you can also experience some amazing food- some of it’s so amazing that it’s just out of this world. Just make sure you keep yourself hungry enough to absorb the culinary escapade because there is, of course, something that suit’s everyone’s tastes.
The hotel claims to be running at 95 per cent occupancy, so someone must like its sleek and chic design. But as far as I’m concerned, you can keep modern luxury. Install some true class back into the luxury, I say! But, above all else, expect intelligent opulence.
Afternoon Tea at The Lobby lounge
Unless you're privileged enough to be a member of the Royal Selangor Club and have tea there, the best afternoon tea in Kuala Lumpur is served at The Ritz-Carlton, Kuala Lumpur. Though, of course, it is not of the same charm and opulence as the afternoon tea the Ritz in London, where tea has been served since its 1906 opening, however, there is a sense of ceremony and of heritage that is partly why it remains so popular.
Served with precision in the hotel's Lobby Lounge, the tea includes the requisite finger sandwiches with smoked salmon, roast beef et al (no ham or pork in respect of Malaysia being a Muslim country), alongside fresh raisin and apple scones and cakes on a tiered cake stand. Service is assured and seamless if occasionally a touch perfunctory. There is a waiting list, and usually the afternoon tea session is fully booked with reservations only.
The only contrast to the Ritz in London at The Ritz-Carlton, Kuala Lumpur is that there is no formal requirement to dress in formal/semi-formal wear. I've seen people come to have tea wearing their Nike shoes and jeans. It is nevertheless, an elegant affair that one should not be missed.
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