After our brief stay in Langkawi, Malaysia, my friend and I continued on to Kuala Lumpur, where we had booked a two-night stay at the Le Méridien. Starwood has no shortage of hotels in KL, where other options include the Sheraton Imperial, Westin, Aloft Sentral, and the upcoming St. Regis and W, both opening towards the end of this year.
The location of the Le Méridien is perfectly ideal for those who are looking for convenience to and from the airport. Literally just across the street from Sentral Station, and exactly 28 minutes on the KLIA Ekspres train to the Main Terminal, Le Méridien shares a twin tower complex with the Hilton Kuala Lumpur. Since we were arriving on Air Asia via the Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT), we first needed to board a shuttle bus, which took us to a connecting station to catch the KLIA Transit train. The total journey from the LCCT is considerably longer, taking approximately one hour to arrive at Sentral Station.
Le Méridien Kuala Lumpur
Upon arrival, we walked out the north exit, crossed the street, and entered the Le Méridien/Hilton entrance from the ground-level doors. After taking the elevator up to the lobby level, we came upon a funny "choose your own adventure" moment, where one set of doors takes you to the Hilton lobby, while the other leads to the Le Méridien lobby:
The Le Méridien lobby was beautifully modern, with a backdrop of colorful LED lights behind the check-in counter and plenty of couches and seats for lounging in the circular atrium. A coffee shop and wine bar nearby offered a place to recharge or relax, and free WiFi throughout the lobby allowed guests to catch up on email and work. Unfortunately, complimentary WiFi has not been extended to the rooms, although Platinum and Gold members do get this perk automatically.
With a couple of Suite Night Awards remaining, my friend again graciously upgraded us to a Le Méridien Club Suite. At the check-in counter, our agent welcomed us to the hotel, then directed us up to the Club Lounge on the 33rd floor for the remainder of the check-in process. While this seemed like a nice gesture, it actually was more of a hassle than anything else.
The Club Lounge is quite stunning, however, and we returned later in the afternoon for snacks and drinks. An attendant took our drink orders while we completed checking in. Finally, after receiving our card keys, we left the lounge and took the escalators down to our suite.
The Le Méridien Club Suite was nice, although not spectacular (kind of hard to beat the Executive Pool Suite we had at The Andaman Langkawi). Essentially the size of two standard rooms, the suite included a half bathroom near the entrance corridor, a living room with a comfortable couch and working desk, a large bedroom with a king bed, and a master bathroom with separate tub and walk-in shower. Six complimentary bottles of water were provided.
Le Méridien Club Suite entrance
Separate walk-in shower
The room was spotless and the decor was pleasant, although slightly dated perhaps when compared to the newer Le Méridiens throughout Asia. Maybe this is the best way to put it: there was absolutely nothing negative about the room that took away from the stay, but at the same time, there was nothing about it that stood out either. It felt like the quintessential big international chain hotel. I have read that room renovations are in the works for early next year, so it may be worth it to check out the hotel later in 2015.
The expansive views from our suite were magnificent. A couple of tall towers across the street blocked about half the skyline, but it certainly didn't detract from the overall scenery. Since the location is a couple of miles from the true center of Kuala Lumpur, it is not easy to see the Petronas Towers, especially since all the rooms face north and south, while downtown is east of the hotel.
View from the suite
At around 6:00 pm, we headed back up to the Club Lounge again to enjoy some drinks and snacks. I haven't experienced too many hotel lounges in my lifetime, but I dare say this was truly a standout, and it certainly was the best part about the Le Méridien Kuala Lumpur, in my opinion. The space was quite large, with enough open seats available even when it got a bit crowded during rush hour. Of course, the views from the 33rd floor were spectacular.
There were a number of attendants milling about, collecting empty plates and taking drink orders, although you could also go up to the open bar and pour yourself something from the decent selection of beer, wine, and liquor. The food spread was much larger than I expected, with dozens of hot and cold entrees, as well as fruits and desserts. I ended up eating more than I was supposed to, given the fact that we were going to visit the Jalan Alor food street later in the evening.
Illy coffee freeze and cappuccino machine
Too much food... oops
As a Platinum member, my friend and I were given complimentary daily buffet breakfasts, which could be taken either at the Club Lounge or downstairs at the Latest Recipe restaurant. We chose the restaurant since the selection seemed to be much better. There was about a 10-minute wait each morning to be seated, not because of a lack of space, but mostly because there was a noticeable shortage of staff.
While the buffet spread was outstanding, the layout was somewhat confusing. Sometimes, restaurants take the "open kitchen" concept a bit too far, and it becomes hard to distinguish where to line up and what exactly is on display. Also, since a number of the stations required chefs to cook your food to order, and clearly they were short on staff, it became a waiting game to fill up your plate. Otherwise, the quality was top-notch, and the sheer number of different dishes available was astounding.
Latest Recipe buffet breakfast
Cook to order roti rolls
Cereal and candy wall
Western breakfast entrees
With only two nights at the hotel, we didn't get a chance to check out the large pool, which is also shared with the Hilton next door. It is supposedly the "largest free-form swimming pool in Kuala Lumpur", and features family-friendly slides. There is also a full fitness center and spa, along with five restaurants on site. If you're visiting any city for more than one night, however, I always recommend getting out of the hotel and dining about town, especially in Asia, where night markets abound.
Despite its distance from central Kuala Lumpur, being a stone's throw away from Sentral Station means quick and easy access to almost all major parts of town. For a stay of multiple days, purchase a Touch 'n Go reloadable card, which grants access to virtually all metro lines, toll roads, and even many merchants.
The Le Méridien Kuala Lumpur is an SPG Category 3 hotel, meaning awards cost 7,000 Starpoints per night, or 3,500 Starpoints + $55 using Cash & Points. However, with standard rates starting at just $92 USD per night, it makes much more sense to just pay out of pocket and earn points for the stay instead.