Author: Dan Morey

The Majestic Hotel and The Top 7 Things to Do in Kuala Lumpur

Tucked away in the modern metropolis of Kuala Lumpur is a hotel intent on preserving its colonial past. Malaysia became independent from the United Kingdom in 1957, but the Majestic continues to offer British cuisine and cocktails in a glamorous art deco atmosphere, with service that would put a Cunard ocean liner to shame.
The Majestic Hotel opened in 1932 and catered to Kuala Lumpur’s high society and visiting celebrities. Globe-trotting novelist Graham Greene stayed here. So did actor David Niven and, more recently, Prince Charles.

Majestic Entry Dan Morey

When you arrive at the Majestic, a doorman, uniformed in a pith helmet and knee socks, will usher you into a bygone era. The bar, fashioned from dark, tropic nyatoh wood, should be your first stop. If you’ve read Greene or W. Somerset Maugham, you know the drinks: gin pahit, gin sling, stengah. These cooling cocktails were quaffed by the rubber planters and tin barons who frequented the Majestic in the old days.
Gin pahit means “bitter gin” in Malay. The drink’s only ingredients are gin and Angostura bitters. The bitters add a rosy hue to the mix, which is why you’ll often hear it referred to as “pink gin.”
Step up to the Majestic bar and order one. The barman will respond with “in or out?” He’s asking if you’d prefer the bitters in the drink or simply swirled around the glass and tipped out. Your answer will depend on your tolerance for Angostura bitters, which were considered medicinal in malaria-prone climates.
As you drink, admire the bar’s gold-leaf dome and chandelier, and listen to the jazz combo playing beneath them. They’re descendants of the late Alfonso Soliano—pianist, composer, and one of the great Malaysian jazzmen.
When the cocktail hour is up, have dinner in the Majestic’s Colonial Café. It’s adjacent to the bar and serves classic British colonial fare like Mulligatawny soup and fish cakes with chutney. Service at the café is impeccable—a throwback to the golden age of fine dining. Your every whim will be anticipated by a team of servers in sleek white jackets.
After a nightcap (or two) head upstairs to your suite in the Majestic Wing. A personal butler (available 24 hours) will be waiting to fill your clawfoot tub with luxurious bubbles. Room furnishings are deluxe: oriental rugs, sumptuous beds with deco headboards, marble top coffee tables and retro writing desks.
Spend the following day (after breakfast in bed, of course) lounging beside the pool, or walking around the neighborhood, which is home to the Kuala Lumpur Railway Station. This colonial masterpiece, built in 1910, features Mughal arches and towers that resemble minarets. Like the Majestic Hotel, it’s a designated National Heritage site.
You can catch a KTM Komuter train here that will take you all the way to the marvelous Hindu shrine at the Batu Caves.
Be sure to return to the Majestic in time for the most pleasurable of British traditions: afternoon tea. You can take tea in the café, drawing room, orchid conservatory, or tea lounge. The conservatory has over a thousand colorful flowers, but you’ll love the grand piano and comfortable sofas in the lounge.

Majestic Tea Dan Morey

As the tuxedoed pianist transitions from “As Time Goes By” to “Angel Eyes” your pot of Darjeeling will arrive, followed shortly by a hammered-copper, art deco serving tower, stacked with finger sandwiches, scones, and sweets. Smear some clotted cream and strawberry jam on your scones and go to town.
But do save room for the hot savories: samosas, curry puffs, Scotch eggs. There’s no way to eat it all, so don’t even try. Just sink back in your seat and listen to the tropic rain spatter the windows. This is contentment, Majestic style.

Kuala Lumpur is famous for its affordable 5 star hotels. Deluxe rooms in the Majestic’s new Tower Wing go for around $100.00 per night. A suite in the original Majestic Wing will typically run you over $200.00, but will include private check-in/check-out privileges, a personal butler, in-room breakfast, and access to the exclusive Majestic Club with its array of complementary snacks and drinks.
Spa, gym, pools, restaurants, reading room, card room, private screening room for classic movies, cigar room (smoking jackets provided), Truefitt & Hill barber shop, bespoke tailor.
5 Jalan Sultan Hishamuddin,
 50000 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Telephone: (603) 2785 8000

Top 7 Things to do in Kuala Lumpur

  1. Chinatown: have a dish of Hokkien mee noodles, or try out your bargaining skills on busy Petaling Street.
  2. Perdana Botanical Gardens: stroll through acres of lush tropical landscape, then check out the KL Bird Park, world’s largest free-flight walk-in aviary.
  3. Central Market: buy Malaysian handicrafts in this heritage art deco building.
  4. Merdeka Square: photograph incredible colonial architecture. The Sultan Abdul Samad Building is British Raj style at its finest.
  5. Petronas Towers: attend a performance of the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra inside the world’s tallest twin towers.
  6. Museum of Islamic Arts: Malaysia is a Muslim country, and some of its greatest historical treasures are on display here.
  7. Little India: Hunt down some fish head curry, or take in a Bollywood flick at the Coliseum Theatre, in business since 1920.

About the Author
Dan Morey is a freelance writer in Pennsylvania. He’s worked as a book critic, nightlife columnist, travel correspondent and outdoor journalist. His writing has appeared in Hobart, Cleaver Magazine, McSweeney’s Quarterly and others. He was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2017.


Facebook: @DanMoreyAuthor

skyline of Kuala Lumpur by Flickr/Idlan Zakaria