Kathie goes to KL

Dec 5th, 2004, 12:03 PM
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Kathie goes to KL

Ok, here is the long-awaited report on KL. I'm just back from a three week trip and am still feeling the jetlag, so please excuse my typing. I'm going to post this report is small sections to try to avoid the dreaded Fodors posting problems.

As some of you may remember, this trip to KL was a last minute change from our intended destination. We knew we would be in KL during Hari Raya (the celebration at the end of Ramadan) and that many things would be closed for a couple of days, but were ok with that, since we planned to use the first couple of days to recover from jetlag.

I've been to KL twice before and never found ti a very exciting city, but thought I'd give it another chance.

We arrived in KL in the early afternoon after the short flight from Singapore on SIngapore Air, First Class. Good flight, edible airplane food, attentive service. (As I mentioned in my Changi Airport post, the First Class section of the Silver Kris lounge in Changi is the best airport lounge I've ever seen.)
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Dec 5th, 2004, 12:18 PM
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We hired a car into KL. Next time, I would take the train. We took the train on the way back and it was great. There is a special service called e-XKL that includes porter services (at each end of the train ride), your train tickets and a Mercedes from the train station to your hotel for 110 RM (under US$30) for two people each way (a bit less than the car into town). It's very fast and convenient. Trains leave every 15 minutes, and go non-stop into the KL in 28 minutes. It takes over an hour by car from the aiport into town.

As per the recommendation of several peope on this board, we stayed at the Ritz Carlton. We booked an Executive room for US$126 a night. The Executive room is very large, with a living room area with a sofa, chair, desk, large entertainment center, a bedroom area with a King bed, a separate dressing room with huge closets, and a very large and well -equipped bathroom. The rooms are in Ritz Carlton decor, with high quality traditional furniture. More than half the rooms at the RC KL are Executive rooms. The standard room was US$101 (prices from www.asiahotels.com). I didn't see the standard room, so can't comment on the amenities. The RC KL is the only RC world-wide that has 24 hour butler service on every floor. Our daytime butler, Vijay, was fabulous. We utilized him a lot, and his services made our stay wonderful.

We had access to the RC Lounge, which serves food trhoughout the day. We generally had room service breakfast in our room (included in the room price), but we did go to the club for tea and canapes or for free cocktails and canapes in the evenings. Since we were recovering from our long flight, it was nice to be able to go to the Club and have something light to eat any hour of the day.
Kathie is offline  
Dec 5th, 2004, 12:44 PM
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The Ritz Carlton has a nice spa. There is steam, a sauna, and a whirlpool plus a gym and swimming pool. There are treatment rooms for massage, which somehow we didn't manage to use while we were there. One disappointment was that the steam room malfunctioned the first day we were there, and because it was Hari Raya they were unable to get it fixed while we were in KL. We did use the whirlpool to wash away some of the jetlag.

The RC is well-located in an area with upscale hotels and shopping. there is an adjacent Marriott, the Westin is very close as is the Regent.

We checked out a couple of the nearby shopping centers. We went to Times Square and Starhill, and KLCC malls with brand-name merchandise. While I did buy some sandals, I'm more of a craft shopper, so didn't find much to buy at the various shopping centers. For people looking for brand name merchandise, KL has an excellent selection. It also has malls that specialize in knock-offs, but I didn't visit those.

We visited the Royal Selangor factory. We hired a taxi and had the driver wait for us. They offer tours, and have a nice store. The prices are the same for Royal Selangor whther you buy at the factory or in one of the many retail stores. I was looking for a newly issued design, and the factory was the only place in KL where I saw it. (I did see it in a store in Singapore later.)

While the malls were open during Hari Raya, while small speciality shops that I was more interested in were closed. Indeed, I was unable to visit the antique store that Guenmai recommended, as the owner took the whole week of Hari Raya off. I was also unable to visit the textiles place in the Central market beacuse it was closed. However, many of the shops in the Central market were open after taking two days off. I did some craft-buying at the Central market, (found a fabulous Khmer silk Ikat) but had hoped to find more crafts at the craft center, Karyaneka. There was a nice crafts museum located there that was worthwhile, but the shops at the center didn't have anything of interest to me. The shops seemed to have mass-produced "crafts" as opposed to unusual items or high quality items.

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Dec 5th, 2004, 02:14 PM
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We had several excellent meals in KL. The best was at the restaurant Frangipani (recommended by our butler). The food was absolutely exquisite! We had a fabulous dinner with appetizer, main course and dessert plus a bottle of good French wine for about US$150. Yes, it was an expensive dinner, but it was worth every penny. I would return to Frangipani - gladly!

We also ate at the French Restaurant at the Shangri-La, Lafite. We went there for lunch, with the plan of eating from their prix-fix menu. Unfortunately, that menu was VERY limited. I don't eat red meat, and both apetizers and one of the two entrees were red meat. So we "bit the bullet" and ordered from the a la carte menu. The food we had was excellent (but not exceptional). Everything was perfectly prepared, but it lacked the inventiveness and suprise of the food at Frangipani. A three course meal with a bottle of French wine came to US$225 (!!). While we enjoyed our meal, I cannot say that it was a good value for the money.

One night, we ate food from the MediterAsian restaurant at the RC, Rossini's. The restaurant was closed that day, but the chef was working, and our butler made arrangements for us to have a three course menu served in our room, course by course. The food was excellent, and the price was very reasonable, about US$70 for three courses each including a glass of wine each.

Another place that was recommended to us was Shook's, located in the Starhill shopping center. This restaurant has 4 separate kitchen, each producing a different kind of cuisine. As you can imagine, the menu is quite a weighty tome. The food we had was excellent, and the price was reasonable, about US$53 for three courses (including one glass of wine).

Other meals we ate at small local establishmnets. The food everywhere we ate was very good.
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Dec 5th, 2004, 02:27 PM
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Oops! One correction, the Mercedes/train/porter service to or from the airport is 130 RM for two people, about US$35.

Comments on the butler service: As everyone knows, the RC is renowned for its personalized service. At the RC KL the keystone of the personalized service is the butler. While all of the RC were very gracious, and we were greeted by name by every employee when we went to the lobby or to the restaurant, etc, our butler Vijay gets the credit for making our stay exceptional. For those of you who haven't stayed someplace that has 24 hour butler service, you're probably asking :what would I do with a butler?'" At the RC the butler delivers your room service breakfast, and will deliver coffee or tea any time you ask. The butler makes sure your laundry is picked up and delivered (have I mentioned that your laundy is done for free at the RC?). The butler can tell you where to shop in KL for a particular thing you are looking for, can recommend restaurants and make reservations, can arrange a special in-room meal as Vijay did for our Rossini's dinner. It's like having your own conceirge. Do you need something else in your room? Vijay brought an additional chair to our room for ease of eating our breakfasts and our lovely dinner from the rooms service table. Basically any request you can think of, the butler can arrange.

Vijay is the butler for the 10th floor. He did part of his college in Canada (at Edmonton - think of the climate contrast!) so his English is excellent. You can ask for a particular floor when you make a reservation.
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Dec 5th, 2004, 02:36 PM
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So, after this trip did I conclude that KL is the most exciting city in Asia? Well, no. Somewhere Bob concluded that I moved to KL since I hadn't posted anything during my three weeks away. I have to admit that the RC is building "The Residences" which made me wonder what ir would cost to buy one (imagine living in a RC! ahhhhh...) I am aware that KL din't get to show itself off on this trip because of our timing, Hari Raya was more disruptive than I had anticipated, with some people taking the whole week off. Thus, several stores I really wanted to visit were closed the whole time we were there. But KL has increasing numbers of excellent restaurants, and the dollar is still strong in KL (maybe not for much longer, as the Malaysian govenment is considering allowing the ringgit to float against the dollar). The real highlight of this trip was staying at the Ritz Carlon. $126 per night for a very large Executive room, including breakfast, Club access, full laundry service, 24 hour Butler service, etc. was a real bargain. I'd return to KL just to stay there agin.!
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Dec 6th, 2004, 12:00 PM
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Great to have the trip report. It's too bad the antique store I recommended was closed. Yes, the Ritz Carlton is fabulous in KL. I,too, was on the club level, with a butler, and about 6 culinary presentations(as they call them) a day...included in the price of the room. One doesn't even have to eat outside of the hotel if one doesn't desire to. I plan to drop in on KL in summer 2006 when I plan to rent a serviced apartment for 2 months in Bangkok and then zip to KL from Singapore, hopefully on the Orient Express. So, I'll give KL another try too. It's not an exciting city, but a very interesting one...especially architectually and it has interesting and inexpensive shopping,too. Happy Travels!
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Dec 8th, 2004, 01:18 AM
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Thanks for the report Kathie, I must admit, I had been waiting to hear what your trip had been like.

It sounds like the Ritz Carlton is great. I'm hesitating between the Ritz and the Mandarin Oriental for our stay in KL next March. Did you have a chance to visit the Mandarin at all?

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Dec 8th, 2004, 01:41 PM
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kathie..no time to read tonight but i look forward to reading it upon my return on tuesday, next week..bob

hello from london..
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Dec 13th, 2004, 07:02 PM
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i'm home and have read it....i am thinking too that i should give k/l another try...i had 2-3 days there 10 years ago and thought it was the pits...
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Dec 13th, 2004, 07:32 PM
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Welcome home, Bob!

Yes, I found KL had more to offer than on my two previous stops there. And I'm looking forward to the Ritz Carlton again.
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Dec 14th, 2004, 04:39 AM
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RC is a great value there in KL however I don't think the French meals were (IMHO). Is there a french restauant that doesn't break the bank? We don't partake of french food. Hey what about Malaysian food after all you are in KL not Paris?
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Dec 14th, 2004, 06:01 AM
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Bill, I have to agree with you that the meal at the Shangri-La was not a good value. However, I would go back to Frangipani, as the food was exquisite. And for a Seattleite, a meal like that with a good bottle of French wine, tax and service for US$150 is a reasonable deal.

We ate Malaysian food in the hotel (good food, good prices) and at a number of nearby places that were good, but not exceptional. The best Malay places in town were closed for much of our visit due to Hari Raya, and when they re-opened, their reservations had all been snapped up before the holiday. Our butler recommended several places, but was unable to get us reservations at any of them. Oh, well... next trip.
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Jan 17th, 2005, 03:26 PM
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Thank you for the KL report and sharing your experience!
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Jan 17th, 2005, 05:10 PM
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Kathie-you travel like I wish I could. Five star! I'm not a big KL fan, however we found the shopping & food were very good in July last year. A good value destination for you guys and us too. Thanks for the great report.
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