Home to the iconic Petronas Twin Towers, the Jungle Bird and the world’s best bread – the roti canai, Kuala Lumpur is a rapidly growing metropolis with plenty to offer the discerning traveler. From fabulous rooftop bars to world-class shopping malls to Michelin-starred dining, here’s how to spend a luxurious weekend in Malaysia’s cosmopolitan capital.
When it comes to opulence, it’s hard to beat The Ritz-Carlton, Kuala Lumpur. The five-star hotel in the stylish Golden Triangle district offers some of the city’s largest and most well-appointed rooms and suites, but we’re partial to the elegant Club Suites. On top of the 24-hour butler service and Club Lounge access, your stay includes personalized VIP styling sessions at Balmain and Tom Ford in the neighboring luxury mall, The Starhill.
Indulge in a spot of afternoon tea at the sophisticated Lobby Lounge, or book a private dining room at Li Yen. This award-winning Chinese restaurant offers authentic Chiu Chow cuisine paired with premium Chinese teas and 30-year-old Chinese rice wines.
Retreat into the cocoon of Else’s unique sensory deprivation pods and tune the world out.
For a more boutique but no less luxurious experience, visit Else. This chic hotel is located in the pulsing heart of Chinatown in a stylishly refurbished 1930s building. Start the day here with breakfast at the eclectic-chic Raw Kitchen Hall, an all-day Asian-Latin dining room that turns into a sensual cocktail lounge by night. The shakshuka with lamb sausage is a must.
Seeking respite from the city’s frenetic energy? Retreat into the cocoon of Else’s unique sensory deprivation pods and tune the world out. All rooms are designed as private sanctuaries with marble-lined en-suites, but the Else Suite is especially noteworthy. At 84 square meters, it is the hotel’s largest suite and offers guests a private balcony with panoramic views of the city skyline.
Malaysia is renowned for its mouth-watering street food, but the midday sun can be relentless in the tropics. So, it’s best to explore the pasar malams (night markets), like the nearby Petaling Street Market.
To avoid the heat, head to Sunway City for lunch at the Gordon Ramsay Bar & Grill. Besides the celebrity chef’s signature classic beef Wellington, we recommend the Arnold Bennett twice-baked soufflé: a Savoy Grill classic. If you’re looking for something more casual, Street Pizza – another Gordon Ramsay concept – opened in September just around the corner.
There’s much to discover on Chef Darren Teoh’s forward-thinking menu, which includes complex, exciting plates like duck tongue dumplings with ubi kemili.
Don’t forget to make a dinner reservation for Dewakan, the Michelin-starred fine dining restaurant championing indigenous Malaysian ingredients. There’s much to discover on Chef Darren Teoh’s forward-thinking menu, which includes complex, exciting plates like duck tongue dumplings with ubi kemili.
Progressive South Indian restaurant Nadodi, just across the park at Four Seasons Hotel, is equally noteworthy. Considered the spiritual successor to Gaggan, its degustation menus meld traditional flavors with contemporary techniques.
After dinner, head down to the award-winning Bar Trigona, also at the Four Seasons. Voted Malaysia’s best bar four years running, the sophisticated haunt proudly incorporates locally sourced Malaysian produce. Try the refreshing Limon Ais featuring the Trigona honey the bar is named after, alongside Espolòn tequila and single estate peppermint.
Given Kuala Lumpur’s infamous traffic conditions, bar hopping is better in Chinatown, where the density of first-rate bars means it’s easier – and more fun – to cover it all on foot. Start with the in vogue Small Shifting Space, a natural wine and sharing plates bar designed with a backdrop of silver travertine and exposed brick.
The breathtaking cityscape from the open balcony and quaffable Japanese-inspired tipples make it well worth the while.
Next, move on to PS150, a secretive, shimmering speakeasy disguised from the outside as a retro toy shop. Follow it with a leisurely sightseeing walk towards Shhhbuuuleee, a rooftop bar atop the arts and culture hub REXKL.
Getting up there is not straightforward – you’ll have to navigate through a vast, maze-like bookstore – but the breathtaking cityscape from the open balcony and quaffable Japanese-inspired tipples make it well worth the while.
In a city this dense, excitement is never far away. REXKL, formerly a historic cinema, is an inclusive event space popular with the local creative community. It hosts immersive art exhibitions, electronic music concerts, wine tastings and more. Make friends with the regulars here; they’ll show you the best parties in town.
Classical music lovers can catch the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra at Dewan Filharmonik Petronas, Malaysia’s first-ever classical music hall.
You’ll find a natural apothecary, French-inspired boulangerie Tommy Le Baker, art galleries, design studios and an independent bookstore.
There are also plenty of shopping opportunities in the city, from high-end malls like Pavilion Kuala Lumpur and Suria KLCC to artist-led urban rejuvenation projects like The Zhongshan Building. Here you’ll find a natural apothecary, French-inspired boulangerie Tommy Le Baker, art galleries, design studios and an independent bookstore.
If you’re keen to see the crowded capital from above, why not charter a private helicopter tour that takes you as far as the Batu Caves? Taking to the skies is a stunning way to experience the sights from a unique perspective.