Majestic Malaysia: 3 beautiful Malaysian hotels

Planning a holiday to Bali or Kuala Lumpur? Stay at one of these stunning hotels.

EDGAR staff October 11, 2015

Few countries have had as bad a run of luck as Malaysia had in the past 12 months. The Malaysia Airlines tragedies and recent earthquake have shaken the country’s tourism industry, but as EDGAR finds out, there is more than enough in the stunning South East Asian country to entice people back to its shores. 

Here are three of the most amazing hotels Malaysia has to offer.

Shangri-La Rasa Ria Resort

People travel the lengths of the earth for a whole host of reasons: to seek out good weather; lounge about on pristine beaches; escape to the wilderness; see exotic animals – but what if we told you, that you could do all that at the famed Rasa Ria Resort.

Located on the luscious island of Borneo in the Malaysian state of Sabah, the hotel has been the region’s go-to hotel since it first opened in 1996, with trips made all the easier now thanks to Lightfoot Travel

Although it is based approximately a 45-minute drive from Kota Kinabalu Airport, the vast, self-contained 400-acre resort feels blissfully remote, but with every conceivable five-star luxury available to you. The grounds of the resort not only include its own spa, watersports club, 18-hole golf course, five restaurants (including an award-winning Indian restaurant), two swimming pools and tennis courts, but also its own private nature reserve to help rehabilitate orphaned young orang-utans.

The hotel’s 420 rooms are divided into two sections: the family-friendly Garden Wing, and the luxurious (and more peaceful) Ocean Wing – EDGAR’s personal recommendation. Not only are the Ocean Wing’s 90 Premier rooms spacious and the beds seemingly made from marshmallow, but each room has its own balcony overlooking the lukewarm South China Sea and the white sands of Pantai Bilit. It gets better, as the balconies are large enough to feature their own private, oversized bathtubs and a large daybed made for kicking back and enjoying the staggeringly consistent equatorial weather.

The beauty of the hotel is that it can be many things to many different people. The wide beach is the perfect place to stroll along, watching the sun sink into the horizon, children of all ages can be entertained by the various activity areas that offer everything from rock-climbing to being a ‘rainforest ranger’ for the day – but what really sets the Rasa Ria apart from every other five-star resort in the world is its private Orang-Utan nature reserve.

Set up by the Malaysian wildlife authority, the reserve acts as a refuge and rehabilitation centre for young orang-utans that have been orphaned by either deforestation, or captured illegally. Guests are able to see daily feedings of the animals as they swing in from the treetops to scoff down their weight in fruit. It is a sight that is unique to hotels and one that pushes this wonderful self-contained resort into something that is really quite special.


Gaya Island

You’ve hardly had time to settle into your seat of the speedboat from Kota Kinabalu before the first sight of Gaya Island appears. Then, when the captain points out the first glimpse of Gaya Island Resort’s hanging villas, your heart skips a beat.

Peeking out from the island’s lush green rainforest, you can make out several villas tucked into the hilltops overlooking a small cluster of elegant, peaked rooftops. As you disembark on the hotel’s private jetty, you can’t help but quickstep it to the reception area in anticipation of what this idyllic hideaway in the South China Sea has to offer.

‘A lot’ and ‘not very much’, are the obtuse answers to that question. Both as correct as each other. The adult-friendly resort has plenty of activities to offer – including a daily schedule of diving trips, kayaking and yoga classes – but let’s face it, most of your time is likely to be spent at the pool side, strolling aimlessly along the beach, being horizontal on a spa bed or cuddled up in one of the semi-private day cabins available to guests.

It is almost hard to believe that the hotel has 121 villas and two-bedroom suites, with nature and the island’s serenity playing an important role in the resort’s character. Working with the encompassing rainforest the villas are made from local materials and surrounded by foliage as to blend seamlessly into its environment.

The beautiful villas – each with a tub big enough for three people! – are understatedly classy, and the eastward-facing views from the villa balconies means that on clear days you can watch the sun rise over the dramatic Mount Kinabalu. If your heart hadn’t skipped a beat until that point, we assure you it will now.


The Majestic Hotel

The Great Gatsby never made it as far as Kuala Lumpur. But if F. Scott Fitzgerald’s famed protagonist ever did, such was his penchant for the upper class, good life that there really would have been only one choice that could meet up to his impeccable standards: The Majestic Hotel.

Originally built in 1932, and now considered a national heritage site, the classic colonial structure flaunts the hotel’s pre-WWII history when it would host Gatsby-esque, glamourous galas and entertain royalty.

Naturally, the luxury hotel industry has come a long way since those days, but so has The Majestic. Its exterior may exude Old World elegance, but in 2012 the hotel reopened with a very ‘New World’ reimaging under the watch of hotelier chain YTL.

Divided into the Majestic Wing and the Tower Wing, the hotel’s interior has been fully converted into a modern art-deco influenced hotel with tasteful contemporary furnishings. We recommend the Majestic Wing, which houses 47 suites that replicate the building’s traditional aesthetics, as opposed to the Tower Wing’s more modern accommodation.

With heritage playing such an important role in the hotel’s identity, several classic colonial elements have been re-imagined. A prim-and-proper High Tea is served daily and is one of the most popular in the city, while as the sun sets the simply named The Bar livens up with people dropping by for a quick after-work cocktail, or two. Because after all, you never know when the modern day Gatsby might be in town.