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Hotel check: The Hotel Istana

Published: 02/06/2015 - Filed under: Home » Archive » 2015 » June 2015 » Tried and Tested » Home » Tried & Tested » Hotels » Home » Tried & Tested »

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TESTED BY Dan Booth

HOW MANY ROOMS? 515 rooms and suites

PROPERTY HIGHLIGHTS The Istana is a big, plush hotel with a luxury feel, and a breakfast buffet that seems to go for miles.

PRICE Internet rates for a midweek stay in May started at $73   plus taxes.

CONTACT Hotel Istana Kuala Lumpur City Centre, 73 Jalan Raja Chulan, Kuala Lumpur, 50200, Tel: +60-03-21419988  Visit hotelistana.com.my

WHAT’S IT LIKE? In a city that’s burgeoning with five-star hotels, the Istana is a stalwart. Despite the undeniable modernity of the place, when I walked into the lobby I got a distinct impression of what one would expect of a luxury hotel in a bygone era. Lots of inlaid marble and lush potted foliage, and a massive reception desk manned by über-friendly hotel staff. Nothing boutique-y about this place; it’s an unapologetically big hotel that gets brought down to guest-friendly dimensions by legendary Malaysian hospitality.

WHERE IS IT? The shopping and nightlife heart of Kuala Lumpur is a relatively compact area known as the Golden Triangle. It’s home to restaurants, amazing shopping and many of the city’s five-star accommodations. The Hotel Istana Kuala Lumpur sits pretty much in the middle of all this, at the corner of Sultan Ismail and Raja Chulan. It’s an easy walk (an easier monorail ride – a station is nearby) to such downtown attractions as the KL Convention Center and beyond that the famous Petronas Twin Towers.

ROOM FACILITIES The first thing that struck me on entering my deluxe room was the air conditioning – it worked and worked well. Given KL’s subtropical climate this was a welcome respite from the heat of the day. North-facing rooms look out over the Twin Towers and other city landmarks, a view worth requesting. The deluxe rooms are spacious with plenty of desk space for work, however there was only one North American AC receptacle in the bathroom; everything else was KL power, so be sure to bring your adapter.

The room was well-appointed, with one oddity: there were two double beds pushed together to take up the space of one king. I wondered if co-workers sharing accommodations would find it necessary to rearrange the furniture. The large bath was equipped with both a soaking tub and a marvelous rain shower that seemed to mimic a KL monsoon in its volume.

RESTAURANTS AND BARS Cuisine from all over Asia and indeed the world come together to define dining in Kuala Lumpur. So it’s only fitting that the Istana offers an abundance of food and beverage outlets that cover the culinary waterfront, from Urban which serves a creative blend of Asian and international fare (but “not in fusion style,” we’re assured) to Trishna’s authentic north Indian restaurant. The breakfast buffet in Taman Sari is not to be missed, and high tea is served from 12:30 PM to 3:30 PM.

MEETING and fitness FACILITIES Hotel Istana’s meeting spaces are huge and plentiful. The Grand Mahkota Ballroom can seat up to 2,000 or can be partitioned into three separate function rooms. In addition, the hotel boasts six multipurpose rooms adjacent to the ballroom and five more upstairs. On the 23rd floor are another eight executive meeting rooms.

The hotel’s fitness room is more than ample in size, and includes a sauna, whirlpool, steam bath and full complement of gym equipment. Hours are 6:30 AM to 10:00 PM. The expansive outdoor pool and Sompoton Spa round out the relaxation offerings.

VERDICT The Hotel Istana is perfectly situated for the business traveler to take advantage of all KL has to offer. It’s big yet welcoming, the staff is a marvel of hospitality, the rooms are turned out well. And the air conditioning really, really works. 

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