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Review: Cathay Pacific Arrivals Lounge Hong Kong Airport
Review: Grand Hyatt Hong Kong Grand Suite
Review: Cathay Pacific The Pier First Class Lounge Hong Kong Airport
Review: Cathay Pacific Business Class A330 Hong Kong To Kuala Lumpur
Review: Mandarin Oriental Kuala Lumpur
Review: Malaysia Airlines First Class Lounge Kuala Lumpur Airport
Review: Malaysia Airlines Business Class 737 Kuala Lumpur To Bali
Review: St. Regis Bali Pool Suite
Review: St. Regis Bali Lagoon Villa
Review: St. Regis Bali Restaurants & Activities
Review: Premier Lounge Bali Denpasar Airport
Review: Qatar Airways Business Class 777 Bali To Doha
Review: St. Regis Doha
Review: Qatar Airways Al Safwa First Class Lounge Doha Airport
Review: Qatar Airways First Class 777 Doha To Abu Dhabi
Review: Le Meridien Abu Dhabi
Review: Rosewood Abu Dhabi
Interlude: 30 Hours In Abu Dhabi
Review: Etihad US Pre-Clearance Lounge Abu Dhabi Airport
Review: Etihad First Class A380 Abu Dhabi To New York
Review: Le Parker Meridien New York
We had just one night in Kuala Lumpur, as we landed after 8PM and were departing the next day at 3PM. If I’m being honest, Kuala Lumpur isn’t my favorite city in Asia, and I also don’t love the distance the airport is from the city. While there’s an express train which takes just 28 minutes, it doesn’t actually let off in the center of the city, so it’s another ~15 minute drive if you want to get to the Petronas Tower, for example.
Ford wanted to see the Petronas Towers at night, so I figured the best option was to book a hotel close to them.
In the past I’ve stayed at the Grand Hyatt, Le Meridien, and InterContinental. Le Meridien is really convenient to the airport train system, since it’s located just on top of the city stop. The Grand Hyatt was my favorite, however, as it’s new and has great views of the Petronas Towers.
For this stay, however, I figured we might as well stay at the Mandarin Oriental, which is located right next to the Petronas Towers. Through American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts — which I have access to thanks to The Platinum Card® from American Express and The Business Platinum® Card from American Express — the rate was 599RM (~$138).
Best of all, since we were booking through Fine Hotels & Resorts, it came with the following features:
- Daily breakfast for two people
- Room upgrade upon arrival, when available
- Guaranteed 4PM check-out
- Noon check-in, subject to availability
- Complimentary in-room wifi
- A complimentary lunch or dinner for two people once during the stay, excluding alcohol
It’s tough to argue with that deal!
We took the KLIA Ekspres, and from there took a taxi to the Mandarin Oriental, which took about 15 minutes.
Upon arriving at the hotel we were assisted by the bellmen, who directed us to check-in. The hotel looked a bit tired on the outside, though I’ve been in plenty of hotels which are ugly on the outside and beautiful on the inside. After all, there’s only so much you can do to renovate an exterior!
The lobby was gorgeous as well, with lots of marble and a beautiful chandelier hanging over the circular entryway.
Further in the lobby was a beautiful floral arrangement.
Reception was located inside the lobby and to the right. There was a short queue before we were helped, at which point a friendly associate motioned that she was ready for us.
We were brought cold towels and a welcome drink as we checked in, which I thought was a nice touch.
The lady handed us a pamphlet explaining the Fine Hotels & Resorts benefits, and also a welcome letter, which she went through point-by-point (personally I find that annoying — if you’re handing me a letter explaining something to me then ask if I’d like it recapped, rather than proactively spending a few minutes going through the page).
We were also given a welcome amenity consisting of a box of chocolates. A nice touch I wasn’t expecting, though it’s a bit odd to be given a welcome amenity at the check-in desk rather than in-room.
Since we booked through Fine Hotels & Resorts she proactively offered us a room upgrade to… a garden view room. I asked about the possibility of buying up to a room with a view of the Petronas Towers. After doing some typing she offered us an upgrade to a Petronas Tower view room as a “one time exception,” since it was our first visit.
She then escorted us to the elevators, which were located on the opposite side of the lobby.
In terms of the depth of information she provided, it reminded me a bit of this scene from “Curb Your Enthusiasm:”
While I thought the lobby was gorgeous (in a generic and corporate kind of way), I got a slightly different impression of the hotel once we got to the 19th floor, where our room was located.
It’s clear the lobby had been renovated while the guest rooms hadn’t. The hallway was dated in such a way that it wasn’t quite offensive, but you couldn’t help but wonder how many years ago this design was “in.”
Our room, 1914, was located at the far end of the hallway.
The room was a decent size, and featured a foyer with closets on the right, the bathroom to the left, and the rest of the room straight ahead.
Goodness was the room dated.
It featured a king size bed with one of the most uncomfortable mattresses I’ve had in a while, as it was clear it hadn’t been replaced in a very long time.
Across from the bed was a TV and a luggage rack.
Then there was a desk in the corner, which had both an office chair and a dining chair (I appreciate that the room had two chairs, if you wanted to dine in the room, or something).
Unfortunately the office chair was disgusting, and had all kinds of stains on it. Maybe it’s not a smart idea to have a cream-colored office chair in a hotel?
The phone in the room was amusingly dated as well.
In the corner of the room was a two-person couch with a small coffee table.
On that table was a plate of oranges.
The bathroom was located back towards the entrance, and consisted of a sink, tub, walk-in shower, and partitioned off toilet.
I appreciated that there was a separate tub and shower, though I thought it was disappointing that the shower had just a plain old shower head with very bad aim.
The toiletries were “Senses” branded, whatever that is.
Back across from the bathroom by the entrance was the minibar. I sort of loved that they had college dorm style ramen noodles for sale.
What I was most excited about in this hotel was the view of the Petronas Towers. Well, that was a bit of a bust. The Petronas Towers are much taller than the Mandarin Oriental, so in reality the Mandarin Oriental has a view of the base of the Petronas Towers. When looking straight out from the room, here’s the view:
If I bent my neck, this was the view (I had to lie down on the floor to get this picture).
And here’s the view in daylight…
While this hotel in theory seems appealing due to the view of the Petronas Towers, I think it’s too close to actually have a good view. I think the Grand Hyatt has a considerably better view of the Petronas Towers, as it’s a couple hundred meters further away. That makes a huge difference.
What did I think of the room overall? Matt wrote in the past about how hotel branding is a complete mystery, and this hotel was a perfect example. Was the hotel unreasonably dated for the price we paid? Absolutely not. Was it unreasonably dated for what my perception was of Mandarin Oriental? Absolutely! But maybe it’s my fault for thinking Mandarin Oriental is a luxury brand? The room wouldn’t have looked out of place at a Holiday Inn in Asia.
We went out to take some pictures of the Petronas Towers at night, and also walked around KLCC, the mall located at the base of the Petronas Towers. It’s convenient to be so close to KLCC, given that it has lots of dining options as well.
After a long day we got a good night of sleep.
With both breakfast and lunch included, we basically ate ourselves into oblivion the next day.
The hotel’s restaurant, Mosaic, serves breakfast daily from 6AM until 10:30AM. The restaurant itself is beautiful.
Okay, so there are Asian breakfast buffets and then there are OMG-I’M-ABOUT-TO-HAVE-A-HEART-ATTACK-ASIAN-BREAKFAST-BUFFETS. This was definitely the latter. The spread was fantastic, in particular because of how international it was. The restaurant had all kinds of “stations” for various types of food, from Indian to Chinese to Malay to Western. I’ll let the pictures (which are only of a small portion of the buffet) speak for themselves.
Through Fine Hotels & Resorts we also had a complimentary lunch, which was available from 12PM until 2:30PM. I convinced Ford we should go just so I could take pictures. We had a pretty big breakfast, so weren’t really that hungry. Unfortunately that all changed when I saw they had two dessert chocolate fountains.
Generally I’m really opposed to buffet lunch and dinner (I find something about it unsanitary, and also don’t really view it as something you’d expect at a “luxury hotel,” aside from breakfast or on holidays), but this was a really great buffet. That wasn’t really a good thing in this instance, though, since the plan was to just take pictures of the buffet. Several plates later, however…
Once again, I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.
We didn’t have much time at the hotel otherwise as we spent some time walking around Kuala Lumpur. One of the highlights of the hotel, however, was the pool. The pool was infinity edge and had a nice view of the surrounding area.
There was also plenty of comfortable seating with lots of shade, along with a pool bar & restaurant.
The hotel also had a nice gym with modern equipment, located right next to the pool.
The next day we decided to take a taxi to the airport rather than the train, given that there was virtually no traffic due to it being Saturday. We made it to the airport in about 40 minutes, which was great time.
Mandarin Oriental Kuala Lumpur bottom line
American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts made this stay an especially good deal, at ~$140 for the one night stay. I mean, the breakfast and lunch alone would have cost considerably more than that (not that we would have had both breakfast and lunch if we were paying).
While the hotel represented a good value, it gave me a really underwhelming impression of the Mandarin Oriental brand. Then again I realize they have some fantastic hotels, and this one is an outlier. The same is true for every luxury brand. Not every Park Hyatt is the Park Hyatt Sydney, and not every Four Seasons is the George V Paris.
While the public spaces look nice, the rooms look like they belong in a Holiday Inn. Apparently they’ll be renovating the guest rooms soon, which is long overdue.
But I guess my bigger issue with the hotel is that it’s so close to the Petronas Towers that you don’t actually have a view. I’d rather stay at the Grand Hyatt, which has a gorgeous view of the Petronas Towers, given that it’s a bit further away.
Since we were looking forward to getting a view of the Petronas Towers both at night and during the day, this hotel was the right choice. We could walk out our rooms and five minutes later be standing at the base of the Twin Towers. But I wouldn’t return to this hotel, since even when it’s renovated I don’t think it’ll be better than the Grand Hyatt, for example. And I like points too much.
If you’ve been to Kuala Lumpur, what’s your preferred hotel there?