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LUXE City Guides gives us the skinny on KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA

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The brand-spanking new LUXE Kuala Lumpur guide hit shelves on 5 May, so we decided to get an exclusive sneak peek of what’s in store for the latest addition to the LUXE City Guides. The lovely ladies at LUXE City Guides are giving us the lowdown on a few of the best hotels, restaurants, bars, and shops (of course!) in the fabulous Garden City of Lights. In addition, Sassy readers will receive a 10% discount for a limited time – simply enter “SASSYLUXE” upon checkout; offer valid via www.luxecityguides.com until 30 June (score!).

She may be Southeast Asia’s youngest capital, but Kuala Lumpur boasts a fabulously mixed heritage that means you’re in for a riot of culture, colour, fashion and art. This is the place where mosque minarets nestle alongside Hindu and Buddhist temples, all set among the modern skyline and tropical vegetation. And let’s not forget about the food… stretchy pants on, sleeves up, and prepare to chow down!

 

ACCOMMODATION

KL is certainly not short of its share of hip digs, with atmospheric abodes ranging in style from charming colonial to shabby chic – the following are our fave picks…

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Hotel Majestic
An illustrious 1930s buidling restored to its former five-star glory, the palatial Hotel Majestic comes with exclusive add-ons, like the gent’s cigar den, on-site barber, private kitchen and high tea in an orchid-filled glasshouse. Clink!

Carcossa Seri Negara
If you’re after something less wham-bam glam and more old-school cool, then colonial charmer Carcossa Seri Negara is the one for you: an idyllic heritage mansion set in 40 acres of clipped, verdant grounds, with comfy suites, Malay bites at Veranda, and trad tea in The Drawing Room. Oh, and did we forget to mention your own personal butler?

Sekeping Sin Chew Kee
For the cost-conscious traveller who doesn’t skimp on style, there’s the pared-back hipster crib Sekeping Sin Chew Kee. This basic boutique spot has faff-free rooms, complimentary WiFi, communal kitchen and cavernous bare-brick lounge, plus a see-and-be-scene bar and shimmy spot, Barlai.

 

DINING

Whether you’re a first-timer or frequent flier to KL, be sure to pack a hearty and adventurous appetite – this city’s dining scene is a manifold delight of scents and spices…

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Sri Nirwana Maju
You simply cannot visit KL without trying one of the myriad street eats, and one of our favourites is the always busy South Indian curry house, Sri Nirwana Maju. You’ll likely have to queue (or wrestle a few Malaysian grannies to the ground for a table), but the banana leaf bliss that awaits is well worth it!

Fiercer by Fierce Curry House
Want to skip the curbside crowd without sacrificing flavour? Then pencil in a stop at the Fiercer by Fierce Curry House. Don’t be fooled by the stone-cold polished interiors – a sassy spice n’ sizzlefest awaits, so put your tastebuds on high alert and have tissues at the ready.

Cantaloupe
If yet more elevated eats (literally!) are what you seek, get high at Cantaloupe. Cantaloupe is hotshot chef Chris Bauer’s French degustation darling that sits on the 23rd floor. The bi-level restaurant headlines the glittering, 3-tiered Troika Sky Dining concept, with casual Italian trattoria Strato upstairs and wine-lover’s haven Claret downstairs, perfect for smart pre- and post-dining tipples. Just don’t look down!

 

NIGHTLIFE

Whether you’re after a glass of Prosecco against the city’s best moonlit panorama, or hoping to locate the unmarked entrance to a sultry speakeasy, here are our top picks for the all-important after-party…

The Roof 2
The Roof

Escape the hoi polloi and follow clued-in hipsters to KL hotspot, The Roof. This shimmy shack is a short trek away, but with its grassy rooftop perch and dapper gent’s den, it’s easy to see why locals have deemed it worth the cab jaunt.

Tate
For something a little more hush-hush, head to The Intermark and keep your eye out for the top hat that hides sleek speakeasy Tate, an Ivy League-ish, prohibition themed bar full of buttery leather armchairs and delightfully inventive tipples.

Pisco Bar
Is a laid-back Latino hangout more your style? Then the buzzy, bare brick Pisco Bar should nicely sate your thirst with its tight edit of classic cocktails… including a mean sour. BCN stylin’!

 

SHOPPING

Unlike so many of its Asian sister cities firmly in the grip of chain store-itis, KL is full of delightful, indie boutiques. We’ve picked the best of the bunch, from artisan home-ware to handmade fashion and accessories – just remember to bring a spare suitcase…

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Standout store KitaKita is the ultimate shopping haven for Malaysian-made ceramics, glass, batik fabrics, woven baskets and beaded necklaces from a host of carefully selected artisans.

To feather your nest, head straight to homeware heaven Peter Hoe Beyond (and bijou sister shop Peter Hoe Evolution, while you’re at it) for a vibrant expanse of India-inspired lamps, cushions, pareos, bags and baubles.

For flighty, feminine, figure-enhancing fashion, luxe local label Nurita Harith has two prêt-à-porter collections, go-for-broke bespoke, and elegant bridal-wear too.

And if you’re tight on time, skip the schlep around town and maximise your shopping opportunities at Starhill Gallery. This one-stop pleasuredome of fashion and food also has 50,000 square feet of hair and beauty in the Pamper Zone.

 

ACTIVITIES

From Hindu hideouts to Muslim monuments, concert halls to art galleries, and nature treks to culinary tours, KL offers a diverse range of activities to entertain every traveller’s whim…

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15km north of the city lie the must-see Batu Caves, impressive limestone grottos that come complete with a 272-step glute workout, legions of thieving macaques and a temple of Hindu statues endowed with more body piercings than an ageing punk. TIP: When descending, turn right for NFP tours of fascinating eco-site Dark Cave, where fruit bats, millipedes and rare spiders scuttle among the lofty rocks. Not for the faint-hearted.

At the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia, moon over the panoply of intricate calligraphies, Mughal gems and Oriental textiles, then pop on a headscarf and sashay across the jalan to view the relics and traditions in action at Malaysia’s national mosque, Masjid Negara. If contemporary art is more your scene, then you’ll love the Wei-Ling Gallery, a restored Brickfields pad now home to a cache of tiptop Malaysian works.

 

TIPS & TRICKS

·         Forecast: there’s one prevailing weather type here – hot and humid. Pack/dress light unless you like a moist moment

·         Traffic: rush hour deadlock can seriously impact your plans, so always allow extra time; Friday traffic is snarly due to compulsory lunchtime prayers, so if possible, plan to travel well before or after 2pm

·         Taxis: all cabs are meant to use their meters, but often try to haggle, so take the pricier blue cabs who don’t (or download local app MyTeksi, which brings up your driver’s license deets and meters the journey)

·         Etiquette: slip off your shoes before entering someone’s home, and opt for decent attire in places of worship – faux fur knickers nay, head-covering shawl yay!

Screen Shot 2014-06-05 at 1.05.49 PMGrab your copy for $80! Available online here.

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