For my second night in Kuala Lumpur, I redeemed my AMEX Platinum Charge’s annual free night certificate for the Banyan Tree Kuala Lumpur.
Now, if I’m honest, I can’t say I’ve been the biggest fan of the Banyan Trees I’ve visited so far (Bali, Koh Samui, Lang Co). It’s not that any of these stays have been bad per se, it’s just that Banyan Tree plays it a little too rustic for my liking. For the amount of money you pay, it sometimes veers more antediluvian chalet than barefoot luxury.
But then again, that could very much be a me problem. After all, Banyan Tree’s entire USP is sustainability, and building an ultra-modern glass and concrete property in the middle of the jungle would be rather antithetical to all that. In that sense, complaining about rooms and facilities not being cutting-edge would be like getting angry at a cow for mooing.
So why did I pick the Banyan Tree Kuala Lumpur? Because it’s a very different sort of Banyan Tree. Opened in 2018, this property departs from the chain’s usual playbook of far-flung destinations, billing itself as an “urban sanctuary” that doesn’t so much seek to be away from the madding crowd as an oasis within it.
And while this isn’t Banyan Tree’s first attempt at a city-centric hotel, Kuala Lumpur is one of the newest. If there was one property to change my mind about the Banyan Tree brand, it’d be this one.
|🏨 tl;dr: Banyan Tree Kuala Lumpur|
|The Banyan Tree Kuala Lumpur feels every bit at home amidst its urban setting, with luxurious bathrooms and well-executed breakfast the highlights.|
|👍 The Good||👎 The Bad|
Banyan Tree Kuala Lumpur: Arrival and check-in
The Banyan Tree Kuala Lumpur is located in the Golden Triangle area at the heart of Bukit Bintang. While the traffic can be nasty, you’re within walking distance of all the major shopping, eating and nightlife locations. There’s also an elevated covered walkway that will connect you directly to Pavilion Mall.
The ground floor lobby is eerily quiet and almost libraryesque. That’s because it’s merely a reception area; check-in takes place on the 53rd floor. In fact, the hotel’s 55 rooms and suites occupy occupy the top seven floors of the 59-story Banyan Tree Residences, so you’re guaranteed a commanding view.
Up on the 53rd floor, we were warmly welcomed and ushered to a couch for check-in. Welcome drinks were served, together with some tasty coconut biscuits and wet towels.
Our room wasn’t ready yet when we arrived at noon, so we went to do a spa treatment first and returned later to pick up our keys.
Signature Banyan Retreat
The 55 rooms and suites at the Banyan Tree Kuala Lumpur are split into the following categories:
|Room Type||Room Size||No. of Rooms|
|Banyan Retreat||51-63 sqm||14|
|Signature Banyan Retreat||63-67 sqm||15|
|Signature Sky Retreat||54-67 sqm||18|
|Sky Suite||62 sqm||4|
|Sanctuary Suite||90 sqm||2|
|Sky Sanctuary Suite||116 sqm||1|
|Banyan Tree Suite||313 sqm||1|
The AMEX Platinum Charge complimentary night voucher books you into the lead-in Banyan Retreat Room, which ranges from 51-63 sqm (a 20% variation in room size is surprising, but probably down to the architecture of the building).
Prior to arrival, I asked about upgrades and received the following quotes.
- Signature Banyan Retreat: MYR 85 nett
- Signature Sky Retreat: MYR 138 nett
- Sky Suite: MYR 1,378 nett
- Sanctuary Suite: MYR 2,120 nett
- Sky Sanctuary Suite: MYR 3,180 nett
- Banyan Tree Suite: MRY 9,450 nett
I decided to upgrade to a Signature Bayan Retreat for additional space, since it was only ~S$25 more, and was assigned to room 5505.
Rooms were designed by Sydney-based Studioaria, whose portfolio also includes the St. Regis Bangkok, Langham Hotel Melbourne and Porterhouse Hotel Sydney. The interior is soothing on the eyes, with warm lighting, dark wood furniture and light coloured walls. All rooms come with Bose sound systems and Smart TVs.
Near the entrance is a luggage storage nook (slightly stained, as you’ll see in the photo below) and bar area. Complimentary mineral water and coffee is provided, and refillable on demand.
The mini-bar has a few chargeable drinks and snacks inside, but still has space for personal items. Fortunately, this isn’t one of those “booby trapped” smart fridges that automatically bills you should you so much as molest a Snickers.
Other Banyan Trees I’ve visited have come up short in the work desk department (and again, that’s probably why I’m not a good fit for the brand- who visits a Banyan Tree resort to work?), but this setup was much better. The desk was located near the entrance to the room, behind a privacy lattice. What I liked is that they provided two chairs, allowing The MileLioness and I to do our work together.
Wi-Fi connectivity clocked in at 32 Mbps down and up, which was sufficient for Ultra HD or 4K Netflix streaming with no buffering issues.
The king-sized bed offered an excellent night’s sleep (I believe they’re using Simmons mattresses), though the sheets were perhaps not as high thread count as you’d expect at a property like this.
Each bedside had a universal power socket (though one was occupied by the room phone) and two USB Type-A charging ports. Master switches and presets for working, relaxing and nighttime were also present.
On the far end of the the room was a seating area, though it’s a bit of an odd place to have one since you’re facing a wall. There’s no TV here; all you have to stare at is a painting.
Now, if you’ve been looking at the room and thinking it’s kind of narrow, that’s because it’s really split into two equal-sized rectangles. The show-stealing bathroom is allocated the same space as the bedroom, and my word do they make good use of it.
It’s so large you can run laps around it, with his and hers sinks, lit mirror panels, and a generously-sized dressing table. The view (of a bare concrete skyscraper under construction) is unfortunate, but that aside I’d say this is one of the nicest hotel bathrooms I’ve seen since the Andaz Singapore.
The oversized shower area has a deep soaking tub that easily fits two, plus a chromotherapy shower with three shower settings: rain, column or cascade. Chromotherapy, for the uninitiated, refers to mood lighting, with seven different colour settings.
If there’s one fly in the ointment, it’s that the shower head was badly misaligned. When you switched it on, the water shot in all directions instead of falling straight down. We asked the maintenance team to fix this, but after 30 minutes no one had come to the room. Since we had dinner reservations, I went to the front desk and they arranged for us to use a temporary room…where the shower had the exact same issue. It’s the kind of thing you’d hope they’d be more proactive about fixing, since the bathing experience is clearly intended to be one of the highlights.
To the hotel’s credit, they made up for it by providing a complimentary bath experience, a “honey milk and rose beauty soak” that came with a bottle of wine and chocolates.
On the other end of the bathroom was a walk-in wardrobe with bathrobes, a safe, weighing scale and ironing board.
This led into the toilet area, with an electronic TOTO bidet seat which lifted automatically and misted the bowl when it detected movement.
Breakfast is served at Horizon Grill on the 58th floor, from 6.30 a.m to 10.30 a.m daily. It came included with my AMEX voucher; otherwise you’ll pay RM140++ per adult (S$40++) and RM75++ per child aged 6-12 (S$22).
Both indoor and outdoor seating is available. The outdoor area has some pretty fantastic views of the Kuala Lumpur skyline, though it can also get very warm once the sun comes out.
Breakfast consists of two parts: a buffet selection and a made-to-order a la carte menu.
The buffet spread had fruits, pastries, cold cuts, cheese, a bread station with a toaster, porridge, and a full honeycomb.
That served as a good appetiser while we waited for the arrival of the made-to-order menu. I was impressed by the variety of options on offer, and it’s all-you-can-eat.
The food quality was much better than your average hotel breakfast, with the local items being the predictable winners. Our favourite item was the signature nasi lemak, served with a delicious tiger prawn sambal. The prawns were fresh— not that springy, frozen stuff that a surprising number of upscale hotels use — and so good we requested more of just that.
The sharp-eyed amongst you may have spotted a sparkling wine display in the first photo of this section. It’s not just for show. At the Banyan Tree Kuala Lumpur, you can have a bubbly breakfast if you wish, and the pour is a surprisingly decent Mionetto Prosecco DOCG .
I thought that was a really nice touch that elevated the breakfast to something a little more special.
The Banyan Tree Kuala Lumpur offers an open air, sheltered pool on the 53rd floor, with panoramic views of the Kuala Lumpur skyline. You can see pretty much every major landmark in the city, be it the KL Tower or the Petronas Twin Towers.
The 1.2 metre pool is rectangular-shaped and suitable for lap swimming, but the water is almost painfully cold. In any case, the views are best enjoyed from outside the pool, because when inside the pool your views are blocked by the numerous concrete pillars.
The jacuzzi might be a better bet, since it’s perched on a ledge that gets some direct sunlight.
The 24-hour fitness centre is located on the 53rd floor near the swimming pool. Inside is a range of Technogym equipment with built-in entertainment systems.
Fresh fruit, water and cold towels are available, together with sanitised headsets.
You can’t stay at a Banyan Tree without visiting the spa, and I made bookings well in advance of arrival.
The regular spa menu can be found here, with a 60 and 90-minute body treatment costing MYR 428 (S$122) and MYR 558 ($160) respectively. However, I found that it was cheaper to buy spa vouchers from the hotel’s online shop, which reduced the prices to MYR 371 (S$106) and MYR 477 (S$136) respectively.
The treatment was flawless, as you would expect from a Banyan Tree spa, though some of the flourishes you might find at more elaborate spas (e.g. electric blankets) were missing.
Tea and fruits were served post-treatment.
The Banyan Tree and I will have to agree to disagree on whether their resorts are rustic or rundown, but when it comes to their urban settings, the Kuala Lumpur property is one I’d happily return to any day.
The highlights for me were the luxurious bathrooms and well-executed breakfast, with easy access to the Bukit Bintang area the icing on the cake. This is certainly a place I could recommend redeeming your AMEX Platinum Charge voucher, or even splashing out a little extra for a stay.
Have you visited the Banyan Tree KL before? What was your take?