The folk behind The PuLi in Shanghai have touched down in Malaysia and things are looking good. Smack bang in the Golden Triangle, a short walk from the Petronas Towers, the 253-room RuMa pitches itself as a home-away-from-home and pulls it off with aplomb. Convenient touches include 24-hour check-in and out (so no waiting around for your room to be ready) and no extra charge for breakfast in-room. The city’s tin-mining heritage inspires the stunning design; enter through a glowing “birdcage” into a sprawling salon with copper-clad ceiling where afternoon tea is served. A mish-mash of miner’s-lamp lights and flea-market finds hangs on the walls. Rooms are unfussy yet atmospheric – all semangkok wood panelling, copper or bronze sinks and bonsai trees.
At Malaysian eatery ATAS, seasonal, local fare is a focus, ranging from smoked eel with citrus aioli to charred baby corn with coconut and pecorino. Another highlight is the 6th-floor cantilevered, black-and-gold-tiled pool with skyscraper views. At the moment there’s building work nearby making things less zen, but don’t let that put you off – KL is booming, so construction’s everywhere you turn, city-wide. A spa and a barbershop by Truefitt & Hill will arrive soon.
Rooms from £155; 7, Jalan Kia Peng, 50450
Famed for its top-notch spas and idyllic honeymoon properties, big-hitting brand Alila has gone urban-slick for its first Malaysian outpost, a 143-room affair in Bangsar. The area’s being touted as an on-the-rise hipster spot, but in reality it’s more residential, and its main appeal lies in its proximity to KL’s Little India, where you can shop for a riot of vibrant textiles and bejewelled bangles. The hotel is about 15 minutes on the LRT train to the city centre, so will suit guests who want to return to a touch of calm after exploring. Décor is familiar: lots of tropical leafiness, natural light, glass lampshades, teak woods, sink-into-me beds and great skyline views (rooms are on the 35th floor up). There’s a living room on each floor with coffee table books to thumb through and snack jars if you’re peckish. It wouldn’t be an Alila without a killer pool, and the open-air swimming pool ticks the box. Dine in at nose-to-tail restaurant Entier, where beautifully plated French cuisine is served with Japanese precision by chef Masashi Horiuchi (ex Michelin-starred L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon in London), while at Pacific Standard, a vintage-Hollywood-themed cocktail bar, the Orange Blossom (gin, orange, vanilla and egg white) is a must-try.
Rooms from £61 B&B; East Side, 58, Jalan Ang Seng, Brickfields, 50470
So many hotels that claim to be catering for a young, fun crowd try too hard and end up naff. Not so W, whose properties are unashamedly over-the-top, don’t take themselves seriously and are consequently great fun. This 150-room newbie is no exception, the 8th-floor lobby and living room filled with Instagrammable hanging chandeliers inspired by Malay spinning tops and bamboo-like LED installations that phase through all colours of the rainbow. A cool concierge (who’s a singer-songwriter by night) is tapped into the local scene, and takes time to give recommendations of places you’ll love. Spacious rooms burst with a clubby playlist when you enter, and have vibrant magenta sofas, psychedelic cushions and Bliss bathroom products. Places to eat and drink are plentiful and include fancy Cantonese at Yen, and farm-to-fork dining at Flock where dishes are whipped up with fruit and veggies from Weeds & More farm in the Cameron Highlands, free-range chicken from Penang and artisan Malaysian cheese from Milky Whey. Don’t miss chef Richard Millar’s kitsch croissant flavours (like red velvet), or the rooftop pool, which has Petronas Towers views, great DJ nights and a more-is-more neon watery-mist effect after dark.
Rooms from £150 on a B&B basis; 121, Jalan Ampang, 50450
One that ticks the box for business travellers and shopping enthusiasts is the 209-room Four Seasons, which sits inside a brand-new mall in the KLCC complex (meaning a Robinsons department store and hawker food market are moments from your room). Unfussy with arty touches is the in-room look; think soft charcoal-grey colour palettes, artwork featuring temples and traditional sword-pattern prints, silver cushions and brushed-metal touches. Some suites have sunken bathtubs, too. Foodies will also be happy, given there’s an elegant tea lounge, Cantonese fine dining at Yun House, and a laid-back poolside bar (nibble on Arabic meze and drink an ice-blended longan juice) among others to dine in. Standout is much-talked-about cocktail joint Bar Trigona, where bartending whizz Ashish Sharma shakes up lip-smacking drinks featuring honey from the rare Trigona bee in dark, sexy, speakeasy surrounds. Book ahead, and be sure to ask Ashish for tips on unusual artisan spirits, such as pandan-infused gin. Another unique experience is the spa’s Rotan Manau Herbal Tungku, an unusual but unknotting deep-tissue massage performed with rattan poles.
Rooms from £200 on a room-only basis; Four Seasons Place, 145, Jalan Ampang, 50450
Smallest in size with just 55 rooms, Banyan Tree is another sky-high opening jostling for attention in the busy Golden Triangle. Wellness is a focus here, and in the spa, business types pad around between meetings in mint-coloured, palm-tree-emblazoned robes, heading for Nusantara massages and jasmine-green-tea bath soaks. Rooms are practical with luxe touches; a different essential-oil incense stick provided each day to promote wellbeing (lemongrass to aid jet-lag recovery, for example), invigorating candyfloss and pastel colour-blot wall art, and chromotherapy showers. A 53rd-floor pool has views of the KL Tower and is often uncrowded. For more buzz (and tropical cocktails), there’s rooftop terrace bar Vertigo, as well as Altitude for afternoon tea (the boozy version features whisky espressos, and gin with cassis and yuzu), and Horizon Grill, where steaks are cooked over an oak-pit grill, with fun desserts such as S’mores Chocolate Bombe for afters.
Rooms from £190; 2, Jalan Conlay, 50450