Hotel Check: The Majestic Malacca

WHAT’S IT LIKE? Originally built as a private mansion by a prominent businessman in 1929, the Majestic Malacca was converted into a hotel in the 1950s. YTL Hotels restored and reopened it as a luxurious boutique hotel in 2008. Its old-world colonial charm is unique to Malacca: Portuguese porcelain flooring, Malaysian teak wood fittings, neo-Victorian architecture and the warmth of Peranakan hospitality. From the doorman to the front office staff, there is an endearing friendliness typical of a small town, alongside the superior services of a five-star hotel. A Peranakan custom, guests are warmly welcomed with a pot of hot tea served in their rooms. The large jars of coconut candy, preserved plum and biscuit in the lobby for guests to help themselves to is disarming. You almost feel like a visitor in a rich relative’s home. The celebration of this rich heritage extends beyond the female hotel staff wearing kebayas, a traditional blouse-sarong combination. Educational two-hour guided walking tours are available daily by the hotel’s expert resident historian. 

WHERE IS IT? The hotel is located on the banks of the Malacca River, in a historic location where once the river was busy with Chinese junks and spice traders’ boats. Just across is Kampung Morten, where generations of Malays have settled since the 1920s. Located in Jalan Bunga Raya, the street itself is famous for its hawker stalls that have sold fried oysters and wonton mee for many decades now. It is a 15-minute walk to Jonker Street and the town centre. 

ROOM FACILITIES All rooms are equipped with broadband internet connection, a desk, power points and a flatscreen TV. The highlight is the bathroom, with beautiful marble flooring and a vanity counter. A regal claw-foot tub beckons for long, blissful moments to soak your stress away. There is also a glass-encased rain shower. The wooden screen doors fold up, allowing you to open the entire bathroom. This lets you have a bubble bath while watching a movie on cable TV. While there is a safety deposit box, it is too small to store a laptop.

RESTAURANTS AND BARS To have breakfast at the hotel’s signature restaurant, the Mansion, is a must. There is a timeless decadence to being transported back to colonial times, as waiters formally serve kaya (coconut jam) toast and croissants, freshly-squeezed orange juice, tropical fruits and omelettes. The five-course Nyonya lunch set (MYR55 or US$16.6 per person) is a great introduction to authentic local fare. Dishes such as assam prawn (prawn in tamarind sauce), ayam kleo (chicken in coconut gravy), terung sambal (eggplant in chili paste) and the creamy bubur chacha dessert are served in the library. Less exotic dishes include fish and chips, served at lunch, and pan-seared fillet mignon for dinner, both delicious.

In the evening, a pianist plays classic standards. The restaurant staff is extremely attentive. From cognac to vodkatini, the first-floor bar can satisfy every desire. 

BUSINESS FACILITIES The hotel does not have a business centre.  Instead, the front desk staff will gladly print files on their computer or make photocopies for you. There are four meeting rooms, geared for small meetings and corporate events. They have Wi-Fi and comfortably seat 10 to 50 people. 

LEISURE FACILITIES The Spa Village celebrates the local healing tradition. Peranakan Chinese day beds, ornate traditional wood carvings, pastel porcelain wall tiles and a swimming pool produce an authentic setting for relaxation. The spa offers a soothing hair treatment, based on a 12-day Peranakan wedding ritual. All treatments are tailor-made for each individual’s cool or warm energy. To balance cool energy, a hot nutmeg and rice rolling body massage soothed my aching back and muscles.

Next to the spa is a glass-enclosed gym, nestled between the mansion and the swimming pool.

Maida Pineda

 

FACT FILE

HOW MANY ROOMS? There are 54 guest rooms, including two suites housed in a separate building right behind the Mansion. Room sizes range from 35sqm Deluxe rooms to 70sqm suites. 

ROOM HIGHLIGHTS An inviting silk-upholstered chaise longue which allows you to sit and take in the view of Malacca River at sunset.

PRICE The internet rate for a Deluxe room is US$250 and US$650 for the suites. 

CONTACT 188, Jalan Bunga Raya, 75100 Melaka, Melaka State, Malaysia, tel 606 289 8000, www.majesticmalacca.com

 

VERDICT

Checking into The Majestic Malacca is a romantic journey into the past. They successfully manage to transport you into a time where superior service, elegant bedrooms and bathrooms, pampering and heritage were treasured. It is also a rich lesson in Peranakan culture and Malaccan history. All these details make this hotel endearing for sophisticated holidaymakers and weary business travellers alike. 


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  • Its wonderful to read about the revitalised Majestic. I remember the hotel in the 1980s when i worked in Singapore and used to escapoe to Malacca for a breath of sanity after the sterility of the Lion City. In those days, the Majestic was gracefully subsiding into the mud of the Malacca river. The rooms were very basic, with massive fans on the ceiling but no proper air con. There were iron baths but no showers. Meals were “planter colonial” – egg and chips, steak pie, mulagatawny soup, a bit like the Coliseum Cafe in KL without the queues. Like the E and O in Penang (also fading when i used to visit there), I always thought the Majestic had the potential to be another Raffles or Oriental but on a smaller scale. Great to read this review – I must get back there some time.

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