BREATHE IN KL

Written by root. Posted in FEATURES

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Published on May 02, 2017 with No Comments

Put your routine on pause at Hotel Stripes with its stories on neighbourhoods past, forgotten icons and rich heritage.

Words ANIS RAMLI
Images HOTEL STRIPES KUALA LUMPUR

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Mohamed, the soft-spoken staff of a decades-old briyani shop on Jalan Dang Wangi, is not sure he’s ready for so much cool to land on his block. He wipes the drinks counter swiftly, peeks outside and shook his head after catching sight of the newly minted Hotel Stripes with its raw brick façade.

Hotel Stripes is the latest addition to descend on this central KL neighbourhood of generation-old eateries and traditional WWII shophouses, blocks from the glamorous Bukit Bintang shopping strip. It is fast transforming this once non-descript enclave into a new hangout of urban chic.

The small lobby-cum-reception will surprise. A solo sofa decorates it, sitting under a double spiral pendant chandelier that hangs from a curved ceiling. But if waiting around seems unthinkable (the area can get a tad stuffy with sudden multiple check-ins), then buy time at The Snug upstairs. True to its moniker, this place drips with cosiness and is perhaps the star of the property. It’s also where breakfast is served and the place you go to down a cappuccino between runs and grab a sandwich (or salad) from the fridge. “The grab-n-go concept is very popular among our guests,” says Hotel Stripes Manager, Alvin Khoo. “It’s easy for guests who do late check-ins or those doing working lunches and multitasking.”

Mohamed shook his head again at the term “grab-n-go”. “Is that fast food? I don’t see why people need to rush, rush, rush,” he says. “But that’s KL, I suppose. No, you need to take time to enjoy the food. It’s like how we take time to cook and simmer our curries.”

Perhaps Mohamed does have a point. To Stripe’s credit, there are parts of the hotel that make you want to linger. Case in point: the rooftop swimming pool and sun deck. It goes without saying that the view here is worth to wax lyrical about (and if you do, there’s a vintage-inspired little notebook in every room for you to do just that). Man Tao, the drinks bar, whips up some mean mocktails. The Singtini is the kind of cool, sexy drink you want to have after a relaxing dip in the afternoon – with its sugar-rimmed martini glass that has a blend of elderflower juice, watermelon puree and basil leaf.

More studiedly hip accents can be seen as one enters the bedrooms. Guests will be enveloped in browns and creams – practically the only colours except for the splash of blue on the carpets. Conventional gives way to chic, with the likes of a Hollywood LED vanity mirror, an egg-style stool by the writing desk and sleek pendant drop light as fixture. The best of the room range is the Executive Studio, with a bit more room to lounge in, a sofa bed and a tub in the bathroom (though we wished for extras to actually run a bubble bath). Book the unit that offers the view of downtown KL’s only green lung, the KL Forest Eco Park, and you’ll sleep beneath the gaze of the iconic KL Tower that, on some nights, light up for special occasions. How’s that for a personalised vista?

The hotel’s indelible vibe continues at its other F&B outlet, Brasserie 25, a relaxed French bistro. The sequence of little booths gives this place a relaxed and warm ambience and, while it’s not haute cuisine with froths and foams, the menu includes some fine French classics. Start with French onion soup, foie gras and escargot before taking on regional brasserie fare such as the cassoulet duck confit with lamb sausages and braised beef cheeks. Its French afternoon tea, le gouter (pronounced “luh goo-tay”), is a great introduction to how the sybaritic French endure afternoon nibblets. This daily fare serves up crackly-crusted macarons, buttery madeleines, luscious éclairs and other noteworthy sugar-ladened bites that go perfectly well with a strong espresso.

For all its city-chic, edgy-minimalist feel, Hotel Stripes remains deeply rooted in the neighbourhood’s past. Mere steps from it is many of KL’s famed food institutions. On Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman (“TAR” for short), the city’s thoroughfare for cheap eats and shopping, Capital Cafe is the epitome of the country’s congenial multi-racial relations. Here, two generations of three families operate under one roof to offer Chinese Hokkien, Indonesian Minang and Indian-Muslim fare. The food may be old school, but the flavour is definitely authentic. Right across the hotel, in a simple wooden warung (shack), is possibly the best mee mamak (fried noodles) this side of the valley. Let not its shanty appearance put you off, but guests get a kick from the warung’s name: mee mamak Cowboy. Another establishment not to be missed is on Jalan Dang Wangi – MMZ Bistro, well known for its hearty soups. People come from all over the country – we kid you not – to savour its range of hearty beef bone broth.

“We will always encourage guests to expand their experience with us beyond our property,” says Khoo. “If you talk about KL, this is possibly where it all began.” It is no secret that the hotel’s brick façade, for instance, pays homage to the city’s first brick buildings of the area, replacing the common wood-and-thatch architecture common during the British rule. “It will take guests through the history of the first kiln to be founded in Brickfields and we hope, by them discovering this unique piece of the city’s history, it will also amplify their experience of staying with us.”

 

 

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