Hotel Review: The Majestic Malacca, Malaysia
Helen Oon visits Malacca, one of the fourteen Malaysian states and stayed in a hotel that was true to the local heritage.
Entering the grand lobby of The Majestic Malacca is like stepping back in time with echoes of the past. The high ceiling, solid timber staircase and beautiful floral floor tiles of Spanish origins evoke an air of opulence and wealth in days of yore.
I feel like a family guest being welcomed by the host ushering me into their luxury home. Pretty receptionists in traditional Nonya costumes of embroidered top known as kebaya worn over printed floral sarongs, greet me warmly.
Large jars of coconut sweets, preserved sour plums and peanut cookies are placed around the lobby and guests can help themselves to the snacks. These are the traditional treats that I enjoy as a child and it brings back happy childhood memories. I feel like a child in a sweet shop dipping my handsinto the jars sampling the lovely treats.
This was once the home of a wealthy rubber tycoon who built this splendid mansion in 1927 at the height of the rubber boom. No expense was spared in the building of the mansion with its imported tiles, stained glass windows and expensive fittings.
After his death, it was sold to a businessman who converted the mansion into a hotel which he named The Majestic Hotel. It catered mainly for the British planters and in the 1950s and 1960s, the hotel was the epicentre for grand balls and banquets for the high society, movie stars and foreign dignitaries at the time.
It declined as time went by and before it closed its doors in 2000, it had downgraded to a less salubrious guest house. It was acquired by YTL Hotels in 2006 and restored to its former glory and reopened as a luxury classic hotel in 2008.
A guest relation personnel escorts me to an annexe behind the mansion where all the bedrooms are housed. In the room, she pours me a cup of hot Jasmine tea which has been kept warm in a brocade-lined basket with a lid, a typical tea-cosy of Chinese heritage. While I enjoy my fragrant tea, she points out the various features and amenities of the room which includes free internet access, tea-coffee making facility and a supply of mineral water. I have travelled two hours from Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia and I am grateful for the refreshment and air condition.
The bedroom is bright, spacious and elegantly furnished in neo Asian-colonial chic in muted colours accented with dark teak panelling and cream silk drapes. The four-poster bed is luxuriously decked in fine cotton sheets and fluffy pillows to ensure a goodnight sleep. The bathroom has shuttered screen walls that can be pulled back to make an open-plan room. The stand alone claw-feet bathtub has a view of the television screen so one can luxuriate in a nice warm bath and catch up on the news at the same time. A silk chaise longue is placed strategically by the floor to ceiling window to enjoy the river view across the road. With a good book and a cool drink, it is very tempting to just laze about on it and savour the ambience of the room.
But Malacca is a city that shouldbe explored. It is listed as an UNESCO World Heritage site, steeped in history founded by a Sumatran prince who gave the name to the city. Its strategic position in the spice trade route prompted the Portuguese to colonise it in 1511, followed by the Dutch in 1641 and ceded to the British in 1826 until it became part of Malaya in 1957. The hotel lays on a free walking tour of the main historical part of Malacca along the river twice a day led by their resident guide.
Malacca is the centre of the Peranakan culture, a unique mixed race of immigrant Chinese and the Malays in the 15th century. The men are called Baba and the women Nonya and its culture is manifested strongly in its local cuisine and architecture. The Majestic Malacca takes you to the very heart of the Peranakan culture notably the spa treatment in its award-winning Spa Village.
Each treatment is crafted with the healing philosophy of the Peranakans inspired by traditional Chinese medicine using local herbs and spices. A rejuvenating spa treatment amid a tranquil surround is the perfect energy booster to explore this 600-year-old city and trace the footsteps of its heritage legacy.
Prices start from £90/€110/$140 room only. Click here to check live prices and availability.
How to get there?
Rent-a-car from the airport. The North-South Expressway allows easy access into Malacca. Exit at Ayer Keroh on the North-South Expressway and travel south through the Lebuh Ayer Keroh (Ayer Keroh Road) following the Pusat Bandar (city centre) signage. It takes about two hours to travel by road from Kuala Lumpur to Malacca and approximately three hours from Singapore.
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