Malaysia is a country steeped in history and culture, and our buildings are a standing proof of the diversity and rich tapestry. From Malay to straits eclectic and Chinese baroque to colonial, these architectures have played an important role in forming our colourful landscape and identity.
Let's have a look at colonial hotels that were given a new lease of life through careful and costly restoration.
From a manor where Queen Elizabeth II herself stayed in to a spot which was famous for social events back in the day, we revisit some of these colonial buildings which have been transformed into 5-star hotels to not only provide the best accommodations available, but to also take its guests back in time.
Majestic HotelThe resplendent Hotel Majestic was the largest, grandest and most popular hotel in Kuala Lumpur in its heyday. A favourite amongst the colonial elite and prominent international visitors, Hotel Majestic was well known for being the place to be for glamorous social events.
Today, its neoclassical architecture is once again alive and makes it by far one of the grandest hotels in Kuala Lumpur, which lives and breathes elegance, just like how it did back in the day. Located on Jalan Sultan Hishamuddin opposite the Moorish-inspired old railway station, The Majestic Hotel sits on a goldmine of Kuala Lumpur’s history.
One of the main attractions at the Majestic Hotel is the Orchid Conservatory, where private, intimate events can be held. This botanical marvel is the only one of its kind in Malaysia, boasting a seasonal range of phalaenopsis orchids complete with an afternoon tea session fit for a king and queen.
Carcosa Seri NegaraHistoric mansion Carcosa Seri Negara simply oozes luxury and elegance. Located at the hilltop overlooking Lake Gardens in Kuala Lumpur, this cultural heritage site was once the temporary abode of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in 1989 in Kuala Lumpur.
Built in the late 1800s, the neo-gothic & Tudor revival architecture of Carcosa Seri Negara offers plush interiors and elegant high tea settings in the lovely drawing room or on the charming wrap-around verandah, overlooking the manicured lawn. It's also a popular place for weddings and other luxurious events.
Eastern & Oriental HotelPopularly known as just E&O, this colonial-style hotel is located in another part of Malaysia’s culturally rich heritage states, Penang. Built in the late 1800’s, E&O has been through the highs and lows over the years while maintaining its charm, character and grace.
After World War II, the hotel's occupancy rate dropped to a steep decline as it failed to adapt to the competition. It went through a period of major reconstruction in 1996 before it was reformed back to its former glory.
With the front wing restored and renamed the Heritage Wing, the rest of the hotel was either refurbished or completely remodelled to follow the style of the hotel’s older architectural design, while blending it with contemporary accents.
The Heritage Wing is the historical heart of E&O as its Moorish towers and soaring echo-dome lobby provides the perfect backdrop to a colonial style building with modern amenities. With over 100 elegant suites, take a step back into refined elegance and colonial opulence of the golden age of Penang.
Macalister MansionAnother unique hotel in the heart of Georgetown, Penang is the Macalister Mansion, located along a road named after Sir Normal Macalister, one of the first British Governors in Penang from 1808 to 1810.
Built in the early 1900s, this restored colonial mansion has now become a sophisticated, elegant and luxurious boutique hotel for both local and international visitors looking for a hotel experience like no other.
With the design idea inspired by an old English manor, Macalister Mansion ensures its limited space and room is designed specifically to provide the warm hospitality of an actual home. Even with only eight rooms, the bespoke design of each one exudes elegance while radiating class and comfort.
Clove HallClove Hall was once built on a site which used to be a coconut and clove plantation in the heart of Georgetown, Penang; hence the name. It has since become a luxury homestay for travellers since 2009 after sensitively restoring the building and opening its doors to guests from all over the world.
This private Edwardian Anglo-Malay bungalow provides the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of Georgetown but still remains a stone's throw away from the town.
The main hall of Clove Hall takes travellers and visitors back in time with its colonial and Peranakan-inspired décor. The six individual, well-appointed suites are each fitted with plush four-poster beds, ceiling fans and mosquito nets to give guests a feel of how it was like back in the colonial era.
Photo Credits courtesy of respective hotels
Aside from colonial-themed hotels, here are some lavishly-designed boutique hotels that might peak your interest.