Sunday, 5 June 2011

Hotel: Pacific Regency Hotel Suites - Kuala Lumpur

On the last few days of my recent trip to Penang I stayed over in KL for four nights before returning to the UK and rather than returning to the very good Melia Hotel I decided to try somewhere different. So, I booked Pacific Regency Hotel Suites, in Jalan Punchak near Jalan P Ramlee for around RM 260 per night, initially for 2 nights, through Agoda (see travel links).

On arrival in KL I had the misfortune to get a taxi driver who didn't know where the hotel was and KL was even heavier in traffic than normal due to a movie or something being shot near Jalan P Ramlee. Luckily I had purchased a voucher for the journey from KL Sentral otherwise the meter would have soared as we went round and round trying to find the hotel. The driver was also less than skilled at reading maps as I tried to point out the hotel on Google Maps saying, "we should turn here", "where?", "here", "where?", "back there", "but where", "too late now", you get the picture. In fact, had it not been pouring with rain I'd have got out and walked. Oddly, despite being monsoon season I found I got by without an umbrella in Penang. In KL though, come 4 or 5pm it did rain most days for between 1-3 hours and some days it rained really hard!!! Umbrella definitely needed for KL in monsoon season IMHO!!

Once we did arrive I checked in and both the entrance to the hotel and the reception areas are attractively styled and the staff were very helpful and courteous, if somewhat amazed about my ill-feted taxi trip that too 1.5 hours (in normal traffic, supposing a direct route, it would take more like 20 minutes). I was given a room on the 29th floor and had been upgraded to a Superior Room. So, what was it like?

Well, I have too say I wasn't THAT impressed. The room itself was very spacious but the decor it has to be said was somewhat lacklustre and all a bit dull. The room had a distinctive musty smell to it indicating it was perhaps less than regularly used with the air going slightly stagnant with the lack of air con. The furniture was also older in style, made of very dark wood which, alongside the beiges and browns of the decor made the room look somewhat flat. It was however VERY spacious, clean and tidy and the bathroom was enormous with a large walk-in shower and a bath. There was also ample storage. Being a serviced suite there was also a kitchenette with dining table and this area had the only window in the room. In fact it was the location of the window which did not help the light in the main bedroom as the kitchen area is much narrower than the bedroom and separated from it by a partial partition wall so the bedroom was never light really. The air -con was also quite noisy. Thankfully, after 3 years in the UAE and the 50 degree heat of their summers I found I rarely needed to use A/C while in Malaysia, probably a godsend in this case as I'm not sure I'd have been able to sleep with what sounded like a Harrier jump-jet with it's engine at idle just next to the bathroom!! Overall the room was OK to be honest but I can't say I really felt happy in it, it had a more utilitarian and functional feel to it than anything and failed to give me that relaxed and contented feeling that some hotel rooms are able to do.

Location wise the hotel wasn't brilliantly placed. It's walkable to the Bukit Bintang/Chankat area but did not feel as close as the Melia, it was also not so conveniently placed as the Grand Millenium, for the busier shopping areas around Jalan Bukit Bintang. That said you will likely pay RM 80-100 more for a room at the Millenium unless you were able to get a very good deal (but from stays in other Millenium hotels I suspect it would be worth it) but the Melia could be had for about RM 240 per night (at the time of writing). The location was OK but it just felt a bit out of it.

Facilities wise I didn't get to use much. I did eat at the restaurant in the Lunar Bar, a roof-top restaurant, disco and pool bar area which may well get popular at weekends (but maybe not so popular as the Sky Bar at Traders Hotel). The meal was somewhat unspectacular I have to say. I started with a wild mushroom soup which did seem to be lacking in one essential ingredient, wild mushrooms, and which was more rich and creamy than tasty, much too creamy for my taste. This was followed by a T-bone steak which was poorly cooked. I am a qualified chef so I have some idea of how steak should be cooked and my preference is always for a steak, regardless of how 'well' you want it done, be seared on a VERY hot grill or under a salamander such that it imparts a good flavour to the exterior and crisps any fat somewhat. The best that could be said for this steak was that it was cooked, just cooked, with a pale brown unappealing colour and an even more unappealing taste. Maybe other dishes at this restaurant are better, maybe at 11:00pm the grills had been turned off and were not so hot, but as a paying customer I do expect a degree of quality and if restaurants are unable to deliver to their normal standards, they should tell you.

I did have ocassion to use the Business Centre at the hotel to get some documents printed off and the staff were friendly and helpful. The prices were OK but if you were in town, as with any hotel, you could probably get printing and copying done for a tenth of the price at anyone of shops providing this kind of service. One thing that was very useful was that the hotel had a permanent executive (blue) taxi station right by the front door so getting a taxi at any hour was easy and the taxi company staff, and indeed the drivers, were very helpful and friendly. I'm sure I put on a kilo with all of the local take away delicacies they kept insisting I tried. A very helpful and pleasant bunch!! That said, I think most people are if you treat them with the respect, dignity and manners that you'd expect to be accorded to you rather than the, frankly, somewhat atrocious attitudes you see displayed by some people, but especially tourists and visitors some of whom have a vastly over-inflated view of their own self-importance!! As I have also said before the staff at the hotel were also very helpful. The only annoying factor, and this may be the same at some, but I know not all, hotels was that when I wanted to extend my stay by two nights for visa completion, they could not do the same rate at reception such that I had to book again through the internet. There were difficulties with Agoda that day so it was somewhat frustrating. Indeed I did even contemplate checking out and booking in at the Grand Millenium to give that a try but as I had a busy enough day the next day I couldn't be bothered to factor packing, check-out and check-in in to the itinerary as well. The staff clearly have their hands tied in this regard though and, other than that, service was faultless and all of the staff were very helpful and friendly.

Overall I wouldn't go so far as to say I wouldn't recommend the Pacific Regency Hotel Suites, it was an OK place to stay, just OK, depending on what you are looking for. If you need a kitchen it's maybe ideal but for me I would rather have the more attractively styles rooms of a normal hotel and would most likely opt for the locations of the Melia and Grand Millenium when visiting in future.

2 comments:

  1. Have not come across a decent cheap small hotel yet (under RM100 a night), the nearest is Tune Hotel but the rooms are getting dirty now it is a few years old. One cheap hotel I stayed in had a camera in the ceiling (thought it might have been a fire alarm but it wasn't) - making sure I didn't misbehave? Sure there are plenty around but as I only stay a couple of days on the way to Thailand or Philippines I have not put in the effort. I am interested in KL myself, as a possible retirement destination, as I would never invest serious money in PI or Thailand, and would like to own a condo Out East, but at the moment prices and exchange rates do not inspire!

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  2. Yep, a struggle at that price in KL I think. About the best I have been advised of is by a friend of mine who sometimes uses the Sunway Hotel but even that comes in at RM 180 including breakfast and taxes (via Booking.com). It's rooms are clean and tidy and it is well placed in the centre though.

    Feel the same with regard to Pl and Th. Prices in Malaysia not SO bad outside Penang and KL but they sure were a LOT cheaper and, as you say, the exchange rate (in my case £/MYR) is not spectacular!! Maybe the Olympics will bump the sagging £ up some. Here's hoping!!

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