Malaysia is on the rise thanks to these must-visit hotels

With its dynamic cities, exceptional food and idyllic rainforest-swathed islands that are fringed by miles of white sandy beaches, Malaysia is a jumble of Asian cultures that makes the country worth visiting over and over again. And with a slew of new hotels that have recently opened, there's no excuse not to pop by this truly extraordinary country.

Alila Bangsar hotel
(Image credit: press)

Alila Bangsar
Kuala Lumpur

Occupying the top seven floors of The Establishment, a mixed-use skyscraper, in Kuala Lumpur’s affluent Bangsar neighbourhood, the 137-room Alila Bangsar hotel has been outfitted by Shanghai-based practice Neri&Hu who has created an urban retreat by imparting its signature low-key aesthetic with lots of slatted timber, marble, understated lighting and custom-designed furnishings in calming white, sun-drenched tones. On the top three floors are the open-air swimming pool, best experienced at sunrise, and Entier, the modern French restaurant, where chef Masashi Hirouchi works a menu based on nose-to-tail dining with dishes such as the roasted spring chicken in salt crust dough served with chicken fat mashed potato. If this isn’t your thing, the colourful maze of textile shops, jewellery stores and restaurants of Little India are just a 10-minute stride away.

58, Jalan Ang Seng, Brickfields; T: 60 3-2268 3888;; Rates from: £60

Eastern & Oriental

On the banks of the Andaman Sea, the pearl of Penang is the Eastern & Oriental Hotel, founded in the 1800s by the Sarkies brothers who were also behind Raffles in Singapore and The Strand in Yangon. A favourite of a kaleidoscope of VIPS from Rudyard Kipling to American actor Douglas Fairbanks,the property is divided into two complexes: the Heritage Wing (the original tower), which houses 100 suites, while the Victory Annexe, a newer block built in 2013, is home to 122 guestrooms. With the historic core of Georgetown right on your doorstep, there's lots to see, do and eat. Just make sure to come back to the hotel for traditional afternoon tea at 1885.

10, Lebuh Farquhar, George Town; T: 60.4 222 2000;; Rates from: £109

Eastern & Oriental Hotel corridor

(Image credit: Matthew Millman)

Four Seasons Hotel
Kuala Lumpur

Located in the city’s buzzy Golden Triangle neighbourhood, with lush views over KLCC Park, the the 209-room Four Seasons property can be found in a sleek mixed-use skyscraper designed by local firm NRY Architects. Without straying from the brand’s MO for understated luxury, global firm Wilson Associates layered the guestrooms with tactile leather details, double layered curtains and textured wallpaper in muted grey tones that don’t detract from the views. Three of the six bars and restaurants have been outfitted by Hong Kong-based AB Concept, who brought the outside in with lots of natural light and floral motifs, particularly at Yun House, where chef Jimmy Wong’s double-boiled black garlic and sea whelk soup is a must-try.

145, Jalan Ampang; T: 60.3 2382 8888;; Rates from: £180

Four Seasons Hotel Bedroom

(Image credit: press)

Ritz Carlton

On a wooded promontory on Langkawi's southwest coast, the Ritz Carlton is a jaw-dropper. Seven years in the making, the hotel further highlight's the island as Malaysia's leading luxury destination with a 119 suites and villas, some with private pools and views of the Andaman sea; an indulgent overwater spa that offers treatments inspired by the healing and beauty rituals of Malaysia's shamans and midwives; and a series of top-notch culinary offerings. So, aFter spending the day on the stretch of powdery sands, head to Horizon, for a sundowner, before making your way to The Beach Grill, which serves up a menu that focuses on freshly caught seafood, like the delicious garlic prawns with chilli and coriander.

MY-09, Jalan Pantai Kok, Teluk Nibung; T: 60.4 952 4888;; Rates from: £400

A wooded promontory on Langkawi’s southwest coast

(Image credit: press)

Seven Terraces

Occupying a row of pre-war shop houses, which have been carefully restored, Seven Terraces is a grand tribute to the past with lots of period details from tall wooden doors to traditional winding staircases. Within the core of historical George Town, just around the corner from the Guan Yin temple and the hawker stalls of Chulia Street, the hotel's faultless location is hard to beat. After exploring the city, head  back for a lazy afternoon of laps in the small pool, complimentay afternoon tea and a flick through the plenty of books that are on hand, before tucking into the delicious Indochinese dishes at the hotel's Kebaya restaurant.

Stewart Lane, 10200 George Town; T: 60.4 261 8888;; Rates from: £136

Seven Terraces bedroom

(Image credit: press)

Hotel Jen

Located within historical George Town, a short stride from the city's downtown Unesco World Heritage Zone with its cultural jumble of colonial architecture, Chinese temples, mazes of alleys and bustling markets, Hotel Jen brings its own brand of colour and energy to the city's accommodation offerings with a bright and bustling lobby and vibrant guestrooms that look over the hodgepodge of old shophouses. Book a room that has access to the club lounge, where all-day snacks are served and make sure to start your day at Café Jen, which comes complete with a make-your-own noodle cart.

Jalan Magazine; T: 60.4 262 2622;; Rates from: £49

Hotel Jen lobby and vibrant guestrooms

(Image credit: press)

The Datai

For 25 years, The Datai has been a favoured hideout for discerning travellers as much for its incomparable location on Langkawi’s north western coastline enveloped by a 10-million-year old rainforest, bristling with ancient trees, waterfalls and mangroves, as its conception by architect Kerry Hill and interior designer Didier Lefort. Now, after a tip-to-toe refresh – led by Lefort – the legendary 121-room property has reopened to include a re-shape of the lobby, entrance and landscaping, three new Rainforest Pool Villas, a new five-room villa with 24-hour butler service, and a dedicated Nature Centre. Meanwhile, updated technology, a sleek understated colour palette and low-key lighting enhance the guestrooms and five restaurants where, thankfully, the food concepts have remained the same, with The Gulai House still serving its delicious beef rendang.

Jalan Teluk Datai, Langkawi; T: 60.4 950 0500;; £473

Nature Centre of the Datai

(Image credit: press)

The RuMa
Kuala Lumpur

Occupying the first 18 floors of a 37-storey mixed-use skyscraper in Kuala Lumpur’s Golden Triangle neighbourhood, the 253-room RuMa has been outfitted by Shanghai-based firm MQ-studio, who has created an urban retreat with local references inspired by the country’s colourful history: latticed patterns, dotted throughout, are a nod to traditional chequered sarongs; original pillars at the entrance have been salvaged from historic Malaysian homes; and details like the copper ceilings, wall lamps and the grand spiral staircase nod to the country’s tin mining history. Upstairs, the guestrooms – some with views of the Petronas Towers – feature a colonial aesthetic, with lots of rattan. With a 6th floor infinity pool, a spa, round the clock check in and check out, 24-hour butler service for selected suites, access to a complimentary in-room minibar and the freedom to breakfast in any of the hotel’s restaurants there really is no reason to leave. But if you do, KLCC and its array of shops are just across the park.

7, Jalan Kia Peng, Kuala Lumpur; Tel: 60.3 2778 0888;; Rates from: £171

The RuMa hotel entrance with copper ceilings, wall lamps and the grand spiral staircase

(Image credit: press)

W Hotel
Kuala Lumpur

Bringing its signature brand of bold to Malaysia’s steaming capital, the W Kuala Lumpur takes its cues from the city’s melting pot of cultures, resulting in a dynamic festival of the senses with larger-than-life traditional batik motifs, bamboo-inspired chandeliers, and – in the 150 guestrooms – accents like the indigenous ‘wau’ tassels commonly featured on Malaysian kites. Located in the city’s Golden Triangle neighbourhood, explore nearby sites like the Petronas Towers, before coming back to indulge at Yen, one of the hotel’s six drinking and dining spots, which serves up traditional Cantonese fare.

No. 121, Jalan Ampang; Tel: 60.3 2786 8888;; Rates from: £128

W Hotel bedroom with bed, sofa and floor to ceiling window

(Image credit: press)

Melina Keays is the entertaining director of Wallpaper*. She has been part of the brand since the magazine’s launch in 1996, and is responsible for entertaining content across the print and digital platforms, and for Wallpaper’s creative agency Bespoke. A native Londoner, Melina takes inspiration from the whole spectrum of art and design – including film, literature, and fashion. Her work for the brand involves curating content, writing, and creative direction – conceiving luxury interior landscapes with a focus on food, drinks, and entertaining in all its forms