“We’re all about the views here,” declares Alana Sze, the marketing and communications manager of Banyan Tree Kuala Lumpur. It’s Friday night and on our agenda right now is a steak-stuffed dinner at Horizon Grill, the sky-high flagship restaurant of the new luxury hotel at level 58. As we cut and tuck into a generous chunk of Kyushu beef, we also soak up the scene of scintillating skyscrapers — both old and new — reflected like a mirage in the darkening space outside.
Occupying the top seven storeys of the Banyan Tree Signatures Pavilion Kuala Lumpur building, the 55-key urban resort affords a multifaceted vista of KL’s stunning skyline, albeit an ever-changing one. No doubt, the world-famous 20-year-old Petronas Twin Towers still dominate the urban landscape; but other glass-walled lofts have been boldly built to vie for viewer’s attention. Akin to graffiti, where one artist would write over another’s mural as a prevalent tactic of tagging, some of these soaring developments have latched onto the city’s much-loved silhouette — even blocking it, and causing quite the commotion. Take the game-changing 65-storey Four Seasons Place Kuala Lumpur, located mere metres away from KLCC, as an example. The current third-tallest building in the country has obstructed prime views of the emblematic Twin Towers from certain angles — much to the dismay of many residents and tourists.
Thankfully, Banyan Tree Kuala Lumpur and its hotel guests are hardly affected by the rising changes in this concrete jungle. The hospitality brand’s first outpost in Malaysia sits at the perfect spot, opposite the popular Pavilion shopping centre, plus overlooks — from a good distance — the bewitching hue and cry of KL’s capricious skyline. Even a dip in our suite’s own bean-shaped bathtub grants us an imposing vision of the mainstay KL Tower and other Lego-blocks of buildings.
For the ultimate oasis in the sky, opt to stay in the Banyan Tree Suite, which will be ready in the near future. Our sneak peek into the duplex penthouse unveiled an expansive space, simply inundated by framed cityscapes. Moreover, the pinnacle room-type has been spotted to come affixed with a gargantuan round soaking tub, with a backdrop of the Twin Towers in all its full-fledged glory.
And there seems to be no escaping an eyeshot of the towering Twinsies from almost every step taken within Banyan Tree Kuala Lumpur. From sipping cocktails at Vertigo, the highest hotel rooftop bar in the city centre at level 59; to swimming at the hotel’s open-air, mid-sized pool. Even afternoon tea is elevated with a peek of those peaks. But don’t let them distract you from the ravishing relishes presented on the table during the 2.30-4.30pm snack session. A turn to the right, after entering the hotel’s lobby, will lead you to Altitude, the all-day, business lounge-like area with a bar, where you can enjoy the midday indulgence. Reservations are a must as seats fill up pretty fast.
Unlike most afternoon tea rituals, where every morsel is brought out all at once, Altitude’s attitude towards tea service is to serve the savoury bits first, never mixing them with the sweet stuff. Bite into bite-sized sandwiches, and scoop up some sea urchin creme from elegant blue-and-gold tableware. The spicy-smooth curry cappuccino is also to die for, in which we quickly downed before sinking our teeth into the accompaniment stick of crab meat-stuffed grissini. A three-tier tray of desserts follow suit, with a quadruplet of melt-in-your-mouth mini scones sitting at the base, and as the crown: A pair of doughnuts hanging from a Banyan tree root made of chocolate. Pair the treats with a pot of tea — we recommend the Taiwanese Formosa Oolong infused with pomegranate for a zesty kick. Then, sit back, sip on and take in the sunlit city.
A stay at Banyan Tree Kuala Lumpur, or any other Banyan Tree for that matter, is surely incomplete without experiencing the top-notch, in-house spa. One can get a foot massage, while looking down at the riveting pulse of the city, projected through the floor-to-ceiling window. Our beautifully appointed couple massage room affords therapy for all the senses — sights definitely included. Though the smells would stay with you longer. Focusing on a non-clinical approach, many of the spa products used are scented from au naturel ingredients such as turmeric, honey, goat’s milk and jasmine green tea.
Undeniably, impeccable service was executed by our masseuse, Doleres, during the 150-minute Malaysian Bliss treatment but the entire staff at Banyan Tree Kuala Lumpur deserves high credit too. From the friendly concierge team to the pleasantly surprising fact that most servers at the restaurants recognise guests by name. Well, it’s not all about the views then. Service is assuredly of higher order here.