During my lengthy jaunt through Southeast Asia (which included my visit to Angkor Wat, flights on Egyptair and Lufthansa, and stays at the Best Western Sweet and Suites and Four Points Sheraton Bangkok), Kuala Lumpur served as my nexus point within the region. When I first arrived into KUL it was for a quick one night layover before heading back to the airport to catch my flight to Siem Reap, Cambodia. On my return from Bangkok, I was scheduled to stay in KUL a bit longer so that I could do a bit of relaxing, sightseeing, and of course gorge myself on local Malaysian delicacies. Thus I needed to secure a hotel for one night during my layover, and then again for a lengthier stay before returning to Chicago after hopping around the region for awhile.
As I mentioned in my review of the Best Western in Siem Reap, this area of the world is notorious for having high quality brand name hotels available at relatively inexpensive prices. KUL is a city that definitely fits into this mold. When I was researching my accommodation options for my two stays, I noticed that several nice properties were being offered between $80 – $125 USD per night. These options included the Hilton, the Westin, the Sheraton, and the hotel I ultimately selected – the Le Meridien.
My research into the various properties that interested me on this stay indicated that they all provided a relatively high level of satisfaction to those who ended up staying at the properties, so ultimately I ended up selecting the Le Meridien because it was the cheapest option for both of my timeframes. Le Meridien is also one of the brands under the Starwood hotel loyalty program, which is currently my preferred choice. As a mid-tier elite in the program I was able to receive free internet access, which is an important perk for someone who likes to be linked in when on the road. I was going to be gone for a little over two weeks over the course of this trip, so I needed a way to connect with friends and family while I was on the go.
LOCATION & CHECK-IN
One thing that worked out extremely well with the Le Meridien was its location. It’s directly across the street from Kuala Lumpur’s KL Sentral station. This is the end point for the KLIA Ekspres Train that runs directly from the airport into the city centre, making it a convenient dropping off point to access more public transit or grab a taxi. This meant that for both of my stays, I was able to clear immigration, grab my bag, hop on the train and be in the lobby of the hotel within an hour. Signage within KL Sentral was clearly posted in easy to view locations directing you to the Le Meridien (and the Hilton as they share a lobby). You simply have to make your way to the central lobby of the train terminal and exit near the taxi doors. You can cross the street (there’s a cross walk with light) and you’re already under the awning for the two hotels’ driveway. Total walking time from exiting the train to the hotel lobby was approximately 5 minutes at a quick pace.
In terms of positioning within the city the hotel’s location is probably best rated as mediocre. The location adjacent to large public transit hub makes accessing other areas of the city fairly easy. The area around the hotel is rather lackluster though. There really aren’t any tourist attractions within walking distance, and the area itself is rather industrial/business-oriented. If you’re someone who likes to be in the thick of the action with lots of restaurants and attractions right outside the hotel, this isn’t an ideal location for you. If you’re someone who appreciates a good deal on a nice property and doesn’t mind commuting to the action, then continue reading….
The check-in experience for both of my stays left a lot to be desired. There were only two agents working the desk each time I checked in, and sadly there were quite a few folks waiting for attention. Some folks were checking in, some folks were checking out, others simply wanted assistance with directions. The staffing at the desk was less than the workflow called for, and I ended up spending more time than I’d like standing between black ropes waiting to be assisted. Once I was in front of an agent things immediately improved though. Both agents who assisted me with check-in were extremely friendly and gracious. Both remembered to thank me for my loyalty and acknowledged my SPG elite status, outlining how I could use my status at this location.
With my room key in hand, I was sent off to locate my room. And this is where the confusion set it. The hotel was going through a renovation of several public spaces so things during my stay were a bit difficult.
The check-in desks were located on the ground floor of the building. The actual lobby for the Le Meridien was located several floors above this. You needed to take a set of elevators directly to the right of the check-in desks up several floors. You then exited the elevator and made your way to a long hallway with the Le Meridien logo above the door that led you to a set of escalators that you must take for another two floors. You’ve now officially made it to the lobby of the Le Meridien! Now continue walking through the lobby and find another bank of elevators. These were the elevators that will take you to your desired floor. To be honest it was a bit frustrating the first time I checked in, but by my second stay I was quite used to the lay out and was able to navigate it like a pro. Needless to say the entire time I was there I’d see a countless number of clueless guests wandering the building trying to locate the elevators/escalators/hallway/lobby. It’s something that definitely detracted from the overall ability to enjoy the hotel.
The good news? It seems Le Meridien has finished the public space renovations and there’s a lot more intuitive connectivity between the public spaces. I’ve yet to return to the hotel but have seen several photos posted since I stayed and it looks like a nice improvement was made and that there are more staff on hand to deal with customer inquiries and check-ins.
SERVICE & STAFF
For both of my stays I had very little contact with the hotel staff. I did not partake in any of the breakfast buffet options and I didn’t stop by the concierge to ask for directions or assistance with any sightseeing activities. Generally speaking I’m a very self-sufficient traveler.
I did feel a little under the weather one day during my stay and ended up taking a nap after a short time out in the city. What I thought would be a quick nap ended up being an extended snooze and I woke up to discover it was almost midnight. Deciding I didn’t want to head out into the city again, I grabbed a room service menu and requested some food be brought up. They promised the food would arrive within 30 minute and sure enough they kept to that promise.
I had a simple chicken curry dish and I was quite surprised by how good it tasted. Typically hotel food is rather bland or safe, but this dish packed a fiery heat and left my stomach doing a happy jig. I wasn’t disappointed with what I received, just a bit in the price tag. Ordering room service (or eating in a hotel in general) is almost never worth the price tag attached. Not much you can do when you’ve got a pounding headache and don’t want to leave your bed though.
For my overnight layover on my way to Siem Reap, I was given what I would consider a standard issue room.
The closet featured a rather plush robe for use as well as various drawers to store clothing. It also featured an electronic safe for storing your valuables. Le Meridien KUL also stocked a canvas bag and umbrella for guest use, which is a nice touch in what can be a rather tropical location at times.
The bed was plush and comfortable, as I’ve come to expect from Starwood properties. The nightstands featured free bottles of water. In fact, free bottles of water were thrown about the room in quite a few locations. In total I counted 8 bottles available within the room to quench my thirst, and based on the signs hung around the bottles’ necks there wasn’t a single charge to be levied for consumption. That’s a great perk in my humble opinion.
The reading lights above the bed were completely worthless though. They reminded me of LED lights, a rather anemic stream of illumination which hardly made a dent into the darkness.
On the nightstand was also a box that featured lighting and room control features. You could change the thermostat, turn on the “Do Not Disturb” light, set your alarm, and turn the lights on/off without ever leaving the bed.
Opposite of the bed was the desk and television stand. The television was a flat screen yet was still an older model product. It seemed a little small for the space, but I suppose that’s not much of an issue. I don’t generally watch television when I travel other than the occasional attempt to keep up on world news. Underneath the television was a small minibar offering your standard assortment of booze, soft drinks, chocolate bars and salty snacks.
The desk space was, like the television, tiny. I really struggle with hotel desks for some reason. It’s very rare that I find a hotel that creates a working space that I want to use. More often than not I end up sprawled out in the bed when I need to do any work, which is not exactly the most ergonomic way to use a computer. Le Meridien KUL is no different in this regard, as the desk and chair provided just didn’t suit my needs. The space was a bit too cramped and the chair was much too uncomfortable for a lengthy sit down.
Through a set of french doors was the rather small bathroom. The french doors were a nice touch that added a bit of class to the room, but it also served to make the entire space seem a bit cramped. You were constantly moving the doors in one direct or another to access the shower or the toilet. Only the sink was readily accessible when the doors were open.
The toilet did feature a rudimentary bidet feature that you’d commonly find in Japan. It had basic “front’ and “back” options to keep you fresh and clean.
The shower was combined with a bathtub. You can see how the french doors block access to the area in this photo.
Amenities within the bathroom where branded with the Le Meridien logo and were pretty lackluster. I can’t even remember the scent that they provided, which should tell you how memorable they were. I’m a bit of a fragrance nerd, so the scents provided by hotels within their toiletries are something I often remember. Le Meridien KUL? Nope, no idea.
The view out the window was decent, though I wasn’t given anything that looked upon the glorious Petronas Towers.
For my second stay I was given a slightly upgraded room. While not technically a suite, I was given a room in a corner of the hotel, and consequently I ended up with quite a bit more space and a much nicer bathroom for that stay. This was nice since it was during this stay that I toured KUL, so the additional space and upgraded bathroom was put to good use. See pictures below for comparison to the standard room above:
Le Meridien KUL is a quality property with a few issues that detract from making it a first class property. In hindsight I can see why it’s consistently priced as one of the lowest cost five star properties in KUL. I certainly wouldn’t hesitate to stay here again though, and I definitely feel like I got more than my fair share of value at $80 USD/night. I’m going to be making my way through KUL again early next year and I’m already considering a third stay at this property if the price remains consistently low for my travel dates. On the flip side, as I wasn’t blown away by the Le Meridien, I’d be curious to see what Hilton offers since they share a building, or to even head over to the more centrally located Westin property to experience a better local experience.
High quality hotel product for a comparatively low cost by US standards.
Location of the hotel makes it an ideal “in the city” hotel option for those coming from the airport or doing an overnight layover.
Location near a transportation hub makes navigating to other destinations within Kuala Lumpur rather simple.
Location is not ideal for those who are interested in a central location close to tourist sights, shopping, and restaurants.
The hotel’s layout can be difficult to navigate for first time visitors, though recent renovations may have fixed that issue.