Tim Roxborogh checks into the Majestic Hotel, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Downton Abbey in the tropics.
Facilities: The Majestic has a plush Drawing Room, Reading Room and even a Cigar Room where you're provided with what the hotel describes as "classic and luxurious smoking jackets". Other favourites are the Screening Room (showing Golden Age Hollywood black-and-white films) and the Orchid Conservatory where you take high tea among hundreds of blooming orchids. There are also several gorgeous restaurants and cafes of a suitably 1930s-ambiance, two swimming pools, a gym, a spa and a barber shop.
History: Built in 1932, the Majestic was the most opulent of all Kuala Lumpur's colonial-era hotels (Malaysia became independent in 1957). Other than a period of being hijacked by Japanese officials during WWII, the Majestic stayed open until competition from newer 5-star hotels forced a closure in the 80s. After a dozen years as an art gallery, the property lay dormant until a multimillion-dollar refurbishment between 2008-2012 saw the Majestic re-emerge as one of Southeast Asia's definitive historic hotels.
The property: The original 1932 structure (called the "Majestic Wing") has 47 rooms, while the 10-year old, 15-storey tower ("Tower Wing") has 253 rooms. Crucially, the Tower Wing was designed to match the pre-WWII glamour of the Majestic Wing. The main lobby is in the Tower Wing but with its old-world chandeliers, marble floors and grand columns, many guests are fooled into thinking it must've been part of the original hotel.
Room: Even though we were in a Junior Suite on the 15th floor of the newer wing, it felt like we'd been transported back to the 1930s. The enormous suite came complete with a four-poster bed, chaise longues, a standalone bathtub and a separate study. Views were across the city to the former royal palace (now a museum) and the surrounding lush jungle.
Location: Close to the National Mosque, Central Market, Chinatown and Merdeka Square. Great for architecture buffs with the hotel within walking distance of some of Kuala Lumpur's most striking historic buildings, including the Railway Station (1910) and the copper-domed masterpiece that is the Sultan Abdul Samad Building (1897).
Price: Amazing value at as little as $150 for an entry room, $250 for a Junior Suite and $350-550 for the absolute top suites such as the Governor or the Premier.
Would I Return? I already have.