Monday, April 17, 2006

Where We Stayed

The last time we were in KL, we stayed at the KL Lodge Hotel which the travel guide Fodor's describes as a little hotel where "everything is a little shabby -- carpets have stains, and bathrooms need some plaster repair -- but the rooms are clean, the staff is friendly, and the coffee shop stays open, albeit sleepily, round the clock". Touche. We liked it well enough then, but our economic circumstances have changed. Now that we can afford a little better (eh, we work hard for our money, real hard!), we plumped for something a little better.

The Ritz-Carlton is our favourite hotel back home in Singapore, but sadly given the room tariff rate a rare treat. At half the price of its Singapore counterpart (the weekend rate is S$180 to Singapore's S$342 including taxes and service), the KL Ritz-Carlton became the obvious choice and we weren't disappointed.

On the downside, the hotel is built on a smaller scale altogether, with fewer amenities. While there is a gym and a pool, both are small. The pool area is little more than functional, and does not seem to be blessed with sunshine, at least not when we were there. There is just one restaurant, Li Yen, serving Chinese cuisine. If we were into amenities, the hotel would have been less than satisfactory. For us, this wasn't a problem. With just 3 days 2 nights, we barely had time to paint the town red.

There is a spa though, run by the same people who run the spa at the renowned Pangkor Laut Resort. It seems to have "choped" the best spot on the 4th floor, at the expense of the hotel pool and deck perhaps. The spa has its own pool which, although small, looked lovely. (mental note to self: must try the spa next time round)

The hotel location too may not be everyone's cup of tea, located just behind Bukit Bintang, KL's equivalent of Orchard Road, rather than on the main drag itself like the Marriott. And the view isn't much to talk about, facing mostly back lots, nothing like the breathtaking view of Marina Bay in Singapore. The location wasn't a problem for us though. We like the fact that it is off the main road and yet only 5 minutes' walk away from everything anyway. We love the fact that it is linked by a covered air bridge to the exclusive Starhill Plaza, our favourite hangout for rubbing shoulders with the tai tais of KL.

The room itself was perhaps not as spacious as the Singapore one but it was as well appointed.

mmm, comfortable

tastefully done up

let's lounge around

ah, the famed Ritz-Carlton bath, downsized

But the best part of the Ritz-Carlton is really its service. The physical setting of the KL Ritz-Carlton may have been less than impressive but the quality experience provided by its staff was non pareil, except of course by its counterparts elsewhere in the world. From the peanut butter cookie treats that were delivered to our room, to the surprise* birthday treat comprising birthday cake and birthday bath prepared by our butler, to the unseen hands who helped us acquire a box to house the said cake for its journey to Singapore, the service and attention we received was warm and professional. As they say at the Ritz-Carlton, it was our pleasure.... to have stayed there.

service with a personal touch

*It was a surprise because we hadn't spoken to anyone about it. At 6 p.m. that day, we received a phone call from our room butler, Syaiful, with warm wishes for a "blessed birthday". He then went on to ask my permission (no, really, he asked for permission) to send a cake up to the room and to prepare a bath, with compliments from the Ritz-Carlton.


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