“Uncompromisingly luxurious boutique hotel with a gourmet restaurant and lagoon-style pool, 10 minutes from the Petronas Towers”
Some rooms were still a work in progress when we visited, but we liked what we saw. Each is different, though a continuous - and very stylish - theme runs throughout. Natural tones such as ochre and sienna are used as a backdrop for interesting textures (polished dark wood, concrete made to look like leather), and sleek furniture sits under low-hanging lanterns adorned with tassels or swathes of silk.
All rooms are vast - even the cheapest Crib room - and come with kingsize beds so high you almost need a ladder to climb into them. You also get a terrace or balcony with a daybed, air-conditioning, a minibar, complimentary tea and coffee, and all the usual electronics (satellite TV, DVD players, iPod docks, WiFi).
Our favourite was The Loft, a huge room (sometimes called The Nest for obvious reasons!) with a private rooftop lap pool to splash around in. You also get impressive views of the city skyline; it’s really romantic. Indoors, there’s sleeping area tucked away under cosy eaves, a spacious sitting area, and a bathroom with a double shower.
Similarly impressive are the Luxe Crib, Sarang and Luxe Sarang rooms, which have a Jacuzzi plunge tub on the balcony or beneath a roof opening in the bathroom.
Bathrooms appear hewn out of the fabric of the hotel. Some resemble airy caverns, with black cement walls polished to a mirror finish and glass ceilings looking up to the sky; others have bamboo poles and grey stone to give a natural feel. But there’s no rusticity about the way they’re kitted out: walk-in rain showers, twin sinks, and fluffy white towels.
The modern Asian cuisine served at Villa Samadhi’s Mandi-Mandi restaurant (open to hotel guests only) is light, refined and gently challenging, with inventive flavour combinations and delicate presentation. Executive Chef Thiti Thammanatr, a Burmese Thai who trained in Vancouver, brings a variety of influences to bear on his elegant plates. Though they're built around healthy, organic components, they’re made much less virtuous (and much more delicious) by devilish slices of truffle, cream, and lashings of chocolate.
Our dinner started with mushroom soup accented by coffee, kaffir lime and a spoonful of truffle oil, and accompanied by green tea bread and orange butter. Our main was a feather-light tranche of salmon served with a punchy lime salsa, a naughtily creamy bisque-like sauce and huge king prawns. There was no pretence of healthiness in our dessert of moelleux au chocolat with candied orange though, in all fairness, it came with some low-cal berries.
Breakfast mixes Malaysian dishes with international favourites. Choose from a range of freshly pressed juices, delicious smoothies, tropical fruit, home-baked muffins and cakes, and cold meats and cheeses.
There’s further indulgence at the hotel’s private rooftop bar, Bumbung, where the manager hosts free nightly cocktail gatherings in front of city skyline views from 6.30-7.30pm. And down by the pool you’re kept hydrated throughout the day with complimentary chilled water, fresh fruit and homemade lemongrass and pandan leaf infusions.
If you fancy a change (though you probably won’t), 2 of KL’s top restaurants, Cilantro and MiCasa, are within walking distance. Also worth sampling are the chic Il Tempio, Neo and Tamarind Hill, all run by Thiti when he’s not behind the scenes at Mandi-Mandi. Frequented by well-heeled KLites, ex-pats and visitors in the know, they’re easily accessible via the hotel’s shuttle service.