The days when we can get on a plane to go somewhere new and check into a hotel seem like another lifetime now but there’s no reason why we can’t recreate the beautiful settings we would encounter at home. Here's some design inspo from the chicest design-led hotels around Malaysia.
From its artfully rendered concrete envelope to the abundant natural light found throughout, KLoé Hotel in downtown Kuala Lumpur is a designophile’s dream. The easy elegance of the spaces belie the amount of detail that went into them, this is particularly evident in the artist lofts which were inspired by studios and are outfitted with the appropriate paraphernalia for guests to get lost in creative pursuits—namely art, music, books, food, and gardens. While the themes of the rooms ensure they feel cohesive, the designers have eschewed being too matchy-matchy which is crucial if you want an effortlessly eclectic vibe.
Room to Grow features rattan furniture and lighting in natural hues but the wooden shelving and console are stained in a dark walnut shade. To bring it all together, a soothing green accent has been used in the soft furnishings. Similarly, Room to Draw features honey-coloured wood in larger pieces with infusions of walnut in the armchair wooden details and beech coloured frames. A rich saffron hue complements the different shades of wood while ensuring a harmonious whole.
Inspired by Penang’s colonial past, The Prestige hotel in the island’s UNESCO core zone is a fantastic example of heritage references made relevant for today’s social media post-happy tourist. Singapore-headquartered Ministry of Design transformed the dilapidated ex-warehouse into a whimsical interpretation of classic Victorian forms and motifs. One of the main takeaways from The Prestige (apart from the fabulous selfies) is how the designers managed to mix patterns with aplomb.
Take for instance the Glasshouse restaurant in the lobby which combines geometric floor tiles, diamond-shaped wall trellis and patterned fabrics yet the tableau is invigorating rather than irksome. The trick is the having enough expanse of a solid colour (white in this case) which will allow the patterns to “breathe". Balance is also important and the angularity of the floor tiles echo the patterned trellis. Similarly in the loft suite, where the lush tropical vibe of the banana tree wallpaper somehow does not jar with the intricate bronze detailing and panel wainscoting. How this was pulled off is mainly due to the swathes of clean white walls and flooring which mitigate the potentially overwhelming outcome.
Located in an unlikely part of Kuala Lumpur, rather than gloss over the neighbourhood’s less salubrious history, The Chow Kit chooses to celebrate it with a hotel which has a mysterious speakeasy mood. Designed by Brooklyn-based collective, Studio Tack, who excel at reimagining retro spaces through a contemporary lens, The Chow Kit has a rich historical feel but with enough modern touches to ensure it doesn’t feel like a stuffy museum.
How this was done was balancing vintage features with clean modern touches. For instance, the lobby lounge which feels like the home of a well-heeled culture connoisseur with its mix of object d’art and antiques furniture. This motley mix looks cool and charming when set against the rawness of the unfinished brick floor. Wicker, a material which could easily go down the retro route is carefully chosen with clean lines or to accent sofa backs. The rooms have a undeniable moody vintage feel abetted further by the brocade loveseat and finely millworked headboard but equilibrium is struck with the elegantly minimal coffee table and lighting.
Located along Johor’s east coast, the Anantara Desaru Coast celebrated the resort’s unique location. Although Desaru may not seem like a new destination, the Anantara was designed for guests to experience luxurious seaside living in an ecologically sensitive setting. Featuring contemporary architecture by WOW Architects and interior design by EDC Interiors, the 20 private pool villas in particular were inspired by vernacular design. From space planning to material choices, design elements reference indigenous architecture and craftsmanship while keeping it thoroughly modern so that the effect is chic rather than contrived.
How this was achieved is through taking traditional forms but streamlining them for a modern context. Take for instance the room in the Sea View villas featuring a swing on its terrace. Reminiscent of the swings ubiquitous in the kampung, the swing here is pared down and reincarnated in a circular form with upholstery in contemporary solid colours. In the Lagoon pool villas, the wall panelling reminiscent of kampung houses is applied here to decorative effect but without the woven palm leaf materials. Carved wooden panels are also included but stylised so that they do not look out of place in a luxurious modern hotel room.
See also: The Coolest Hotel Pools In Malaysia