Alila Bangsar: An urban retreat in KL with a heart for sustainability

  • Malaysia
  • Monday, 19 Aug 2019

The landscaped pool and courtyard area is the heart of the hotel. Photo: The Star/Wong Li Za

There's a popular saying that goes, it’s the little things that count. And when it comes to this 5-star boutique hotel, the saying cannot be more true.

But first, let’s look at the big picture.

Alila Bangsar occupies the top floors of a 41-storey building located between Brickfields and Bangsar. Room floors start from level 35 upwards, with the lower floors of the tower comprising serviced residences.

The word Alila means “surprise” in Sanskrit. As you enter the ground floor reception area, a lush, landscaped garden within a double-height space offers a calming sight.

At the hotel lobby, located way up on the 41st floor, a similar green setting awaits, along with lots more natural lighting, staying true to its “urban oasis” concept.

Both the architecture and interiors of the 143-room hotel were designed by internationally renowned Neri & Hu Design and Research Office, a multiple award-winning inter-disciplinary architectural design practice based in Shanghai, China. The hotel interiors exude a warm and relaxing feel, featuring a neutral palette of gray stone, white plaster and Balau wood.

“The owners appreciate simple materials, integrity of design and the whole celebration of natural materials, and you can see it in the stone, bronze and natural wood details,” said architect Lyndon Neri, in a video explaining the design concept.

The hotel’s interiors exude a warm and relaxing feel, featuring a neutral palette of grey stone, white plaster, Balau wood and landscaped gardens. Photos: The Star/Low Lay Phon
The hotel’s interiors exude a warm and relaxing feel, featuring a neutral palette of grey stone, white plaster, Balau wood and landscaped gardens.

The hotel facade is characterised by a sleek, structural grid in dark finish, which stands in contrast to the white interiors within. The cladding further acts as a barrier to the outside bustle.

To the left of the lobby is where the pulse of the hotel lies. A flight of stairs takes you down to a landscaped courtyard, where you will find the swimming pool, a bar, gym and an expansive view of the city below.

“This courtyard area gives you the sense of serenity that is much needed in the city. The idea of ‘urban oasis’ is brought into the building; a blurring between landscape and architecture,” said Neri.

The facade of Alila Bangsar is characterised by a sleek, structural grid in dark finish.

This atrium spans three stories high and is defined by a grid of columns and beams which frames the panorama of the city. Neri added that they made sure this same concept is brought into the rooms in the form of an indoor courtyard.

“There is this intermediate space at the end of each room, a reading area with a sofa, where you navigate between the interior and exterior. Even though you are high up in the building, there is this sense that you (are outdoors), yet you are not quite outside,” he explained.

The landscaped pool and courtyard area serves as the heart of the hotel. Photo: The Star/Wong Li Za

A rooftop bar – which boasts a 360-degree uninterrupted view of Bangsar, Brickfields and KL city centre – is another proud design feature of the hotel.

Big on sustainability

Recently, Alila Bangsar was proudly accredited with the EarthCheck Benchmarked Bronze status. EarthCheck Certified is the world’s leading environmental certification and benchmarking programme for the travel and tourism industry. It measures and regulates operational indicators such as energy, emissions, water, waste, community involvement, paper use, cleaning and pesticide use.

“Sustainability is one of our brand pillars, that’s why its very close to our hearts,” said Aaishah Bohari, sales and marketing director, when met at the hotel.

Energy efficient practices include maintaining ideal temperature settings; window tinting to reduce heat penetration and maintain the cool temperature inside the building; and reducing the number of lifts in operation during off-peak hours.

Other initiatives include harvesting rainwater to water the plants in and around the hotel, and using natural chlorine generated from salt to chlorinate the swimming pool, which is a much safer option. One thing clearly missing from all its rooms are plastic water bottles. Instead, glass bottles are found, easily refillable from a filtered water dispenser located in the Living Rooms.

Soap dispensers come in the form of bamboo bottles in the bathrooms. Photos: The Star/Low Lay Phon
Instead of plastic water bottles, glass containers are placed in all the rooms to reduce plastic use.

To further minimise plastic usage, room amenities come in paper packaging and soap dispensers are contained in bamboo bottles. Suite guests are provided bamboo toothbrushes, while other guests have the option to purchase them at a reasonable price. To promote a paperless environment, check-in is done via tablets, while an app is available for all guests to access newspapers and magazines from a mobile phone. IPTV technology further allows guests to access destination and facilities information on their TV.

“In September, we also plan to launch the Giving Bag programme, where a recyclable bag will be placed in all rooms for guests to leave good condition clothing behind to be donated to the underprivileged by the hotel,” said Aaishah, adding that Alila Bangsar celebrates its first anniversary on Sept 28.

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