Hotel Review: Sheraton Imperial Kuala Lumpur offers an air of old-fashioned charm

Kuala Lumpur has the most affordable five-star hotels in the world, many scattered all over the city so that visitors have some excellent choices no matter which location they are scouting. For the city’s dynamic Chow Kit an obvious go-to is the Sheraton Imperial, a sprawling property that lives up its celebrated brand, from comfortable and spacious guest rooms to several excellent on-site dining options. No less important is what faces the hotel directly across the road on Jalan Sultan Ismail, the comprehensive Quill City Mall which has its own fair share of dining, entertainment and shopping highlights. For those who want to stay in a quiet but convenient area, Sheraton’s location is more than ideal.

The main entrance | Supplied

The hotel’s palatial lobby is well-appointed and quite tranquil, cleverly designed to hide the fact that the building also houses some office spaces for outside businesses. It’s all quite relaxed and unhurried, a scene greatly assisted by diligent staff who clearly value easy check-ins and check-outs for their guests. From there you have access to a great number of options, the most immediate of which is the charming Pavilions Lounge, located up a grand staircase flowing from the lobby and serving as the first-stop in a grand four-floor atrium.

Pavilions is essentially the hotel’s charming bar, but much larger and more dramatic with plush lounges, large artworks and a shiny grand piano. I have been told that most guests use this as the perfect nightcap spot, and it’s most certainly the right ambiance for it – warm and welcoming like a modern Jazz lounge located beneath the property’s busier areas. Upstairs is Essence, the more general of the hotel’s dining venues and where the wall-to-wall breakfast buffet is located each morning; though the aesthetic seems a bit dated, the variety on offer is impressive, ranging various Asian cuisines as well as western staples. For those there during the a la carte lunch, their signature nasi goreng is generous and rich.

The hotel opens even further as you ascend the atrium via elegant staircases that look like they’re polished each day. The most eye-catching is Celestial Court, Sheraton’s awarded Cantonese restaurant which is preceded by a lovely indoor gazebo. Designed to mirror China’s royal dynasties, the restaurant carves out an enormous space in the hotel, stretching into the distance with typically large round tables, each topped with a wide Lazy Susan. Proudly pork free – all dining venues are halal friendly – the long list of dim sum and substantial dishes should keep guests well satisfied, seeming most suited for a long, leisurely lunch of dumplings, noodles and – my favourite – a soupy mango dessert.

Villa Danieli | Supplied

Crawl up a short staircase from the Celestial Court and turn to your right, the glass door leads to the beautiful outdoor area with a large pool and the hotel’s awarded Villa Danieli, an Italian trattoria with the best designed interior of the entire property. It’s European in style, of course, warm and inviting with an intimacy that the other dining venues lack. The menu is also a stunner, featuring big Italian reds and a comprehensive selection of Italian food including pizza, pastas and some seriously rich desserts.

Swimming Pool | Supplied
Views of KL Tower | Supplied

The pool is especially beautiful just as night starts to creep in, as views of the impressive KL Tower loom in the distance, the structure glowing its famous shade of bright purple to make for a stunning backdrop. It’s best experienced as guests climb into a cosy little cushioned area next to the pool and light up with a historic looking shisha.

The Mandara Spa | Supplied

Those after true relaxation should of course seek out the property’s award-winning spa, which is also the location of a well-stocked gym, spread out with top-end equipment. A good tip would be to grab something from the downstairs Toastina CafĂ© & Bar following any cardio sessions, it’s a western-friendly pub-style eatery with healthy grab-and-go options so offers a more casual alternative to all the other restaurants.

Though even the entry level rooms are quite large (around 42 sq metres), a Sheraton Club Room is a necessity for guests who want an exceptionally comfortable base for their trip to Malaysia’s capital. It’s particularly valuable seeing as the rates start from MYR450 (that’s around AU $138) a night, and considering what you get for the cost that’s more than reasonable and reiterates the aforementioned, that KL has the most affordable five-star accommodations in the world.

A Sheraton Club Room starts with a small bathroom immediately by the entrance, right before guests walk into a sizable, carpeted lounge room with a classic aesthetic, a spacious work desk in the far corner and a homely couch set-up facing the television, mini-bar and storage. Bright burnt orange tinges give the room some much-needed personality, capturing some old-world glamour when set against the neutral, wooden furniture. It’s not as modern as similar category hotels in South-East Asia, but the charm is undeniable.

The bedroom is just as big as the lounge area, featuring one of Sheraton’s exceedingly comfortable Sweet Sleeper beds with 300-thread count linens and all the trimmings of what one would expect from an ideal bed. The mattress is softer than usual, but firm and supportive, consistent with other Sheraton properties that I’ve stayed at in other countries. The bedroom’s television is relatively small compared to the one in the lounge rooms, and quite far from the bed, positioned in the opposite corner to a rather plain looking three-seated couch. The real sense of space here comes from the windows, stretched all around the room to pull plenty of natural light, featuring thick double-layered curtains to block the sun when needed.

The en-suite bathroom and large walk-in wardrobe (which also features a safe, desk and mirror) are consistent with the quality of the suite, the bathroom especially stunning with it’s floor-to-ceiling marble and twin basin. All the expected toiletries are provided and there are more than enough towels so that re-stocking seems unnecessary. Behind a heavy glass door is two twin showers facing each other, positioned in front of a spacious wall-to-wall bathtub, a sight most worthy of the Sheraton name.

Sheraton Club Lounge | Supplied

Chances are if you’re staying the suite you also have access to the Sheraton Club Lounge, which is a must an extra layer of peace and quiet in what is already an incredibly relaxed hotel. The lounge is well spread out and offers spectacular views of the city, along with all the usual benefits like a separate breakfast buffet, which selects some of the best options from the same one in Essence, and snacks/beverages (non-alcoholic) served all day. A spread of complimentary canapes and cocktails are served in the evenings, timed for sunset which is a stunner if you pick your place carefully.

The lobby’s charm is quite expressive of the entire experience at Sheraton Imperial, it’s dated but perfectly comfortable sticking true to it’s old-fashioned aesthetic. Of course, that confidence also comes with knowing you have a perfectly placed hotel, right across from a big mall and just 50 metres away from a convenient Monorail station. The additional staff on duty help make the whole experience even smoother, and for those who want to breakaway from their idyllic getaway there’s always the dusty but vibrant Little India that lines the street immediately to the hotel’s left side. This is the location of several lively dance clubs, street stalls and – a bit further – a convenience store which is open until late.

Rates for a Sheraton Club Lounge at the Sheraton Imperial start at MYR450 (AU $138) per night.

Address: Jalan Sultan Ismail, 50250 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Contact: 1800 073 535 (for calls from Australia)
Website: sheratonimperialkualalumpur.com

The writer stayed two nights as a guest of The Sheraton Imperial.

Feature image: Pavilions | supplied.