KL's neighbourhood hotel hopes to inspire guests to try new things

The main staircase in the hotel lobby is made from repurposed materials, including old railway sleepers. — Photos: Hotel Indigo Kuala Lumpur On The Park

While tourism recovery in Malaysia has been coasting steadily along this year, things are expected to move at a faster pace within the next few months. This is thanks in part to the government’s recent decision to implement a visa exemption rule for China and India tourists to Malaysia.

Of course, other factors and efforts by stakeholders and tourism players in the different sectors should be mentioned too. In aviation, for example, the addition of many new international and domestic flight routes by Malaysia Airlines, AirAsia and Batik Air (and the reinstating of some old routes that were shelved during the pandemic), as well as the increase in number of daily or weekly flights, has certainly helped with arrival numbers.

Tourism Malaysia, meanwhile, has been busy promoting the country’s wonderful attractions at many international travel markets, exhibitions and conferences, and also coming up with unique holiday programmes and packages. State tourism boards and agencies, especially those that are kicking off their own “Visit Year” in 2024 (Melaka, Perlis and Perak), are working at full speed to improve services and infrastructure, in order to welcome more tourists in the coming months.

Not forgetting too, the hotel and hospitality sector, which has helped contribute to the increase in tourist numbers and expenditure by offering unique experiences, clean and safe environments (no bedbugs!), and attractive room rates. In the past year or so, several new properties have cropped up too, and not just in the big cities.

These properties include hotels and resorts from major global brands like Hyatt, Marriott, Hilton, Accor, Minor Hotels, Melia and IHG, and they are spread all across the nation.

One of the latest openings is Hotel Indigo Kuala Lumpur On The Park, an IHG property that sits in the heart of the city, overlooking Bukit Nanas and the grand KL Forest Eco Park.

The hotel overlooks Bukit Nanas and is surrounded by the KL Forest Eco Park.The hotel overlooks Bukit Nanas and is surrounded by the KL Forest Eco Park.

The hotel has a whimsical feel to it, with lots of local culture and motifs weaved into the overall design. Familiar Malaysian items like rattan furniture, tiffin carriers and Peranakan tiles are found in guestrooms and other spots, like the restaurants and poolside.

There’s also a big focus on sustainability, with a vertical garden, a gorgeous staircase made from old railway sleepers (railroad tiles) and unused steel bars that were saved from the hotel site’s construction, and an art installation made from plastic bottles all found in the lobby.

The lobby also houses plenty of books by local authors, and guests are able to buy them.

In fact, many items in the guestrooms are available for purchase, like the hand-woven baskets by the Penan community in Sarawak. Proceeds from the sale of these baskets will go back to the community.

“Hotel Indigo Kuala Lumpur On The Park celebrates the people, places and experiences that make the neighbourhood one-of-a-kind. We are excited to be able to share these stories and inspire local discovery as our guests forge meaningful connections with this wonderful city and its people,” said Hotel Indigo general manager Ashleigh Garside.

Globally, the hotel brand prides itself in being a “neighbourhood hotel”, holding on to the belief that travellers should always see the world through local neighbourhoods, in order to have a better understanding of the place, its people and cultures.

It is said that each Hotel Indigo property has its own distinct design and character, influenced and inspired by the surrounding neighbourhoods. Hotel Indigo Bali Seminyak in Indonesia, for example, is reminiscent of a traditional Balinese house, with lots of wooden fittings and furniture.

Hotel Indigo's Bali property is one of a few that is not a city hotel. — Hotel Indigo Bali Seminyak Hotel Indigo's Bali property is one of a few that is not a city hotel. — Hotel Indigo Bali Seminyak

Also, the spacious lobby lounge features chairs of different shapes and sizes, representing a culture that is said to be unique to Bali. “The space is meant to replicate a community hall, and in Bali, whenever we hold community meetings in these halls, everyone would bring their own chairs to sit on. This is why our chairs are all different here,” explained Ian Kusuma, the hotel’s director of marketing and communications.

In October, the brand launched “The World’s Neighbourhood Hotel” campaign, “designed to celebrate how guests can discover, or rediscover, some of the most inspiring and culturally rich neighbourhoods in and outside the hotel”, according to its statement.

Based on a survey commissioned by the brand, most travellers feel that it is important for the hotel they are staying in to be connected to the locals and its surrounding neighbourhood. This is said to help inspire guests to be more open to try new things and meet new people.

Some also say that connecting with locals allow them to have a different perspective on things.

The hotel overlooks Bukit Nanas and is surrounded by the KL Forest Eco Park.The hotel overlooks Bukit Nanas and is surrounded by the KL Forest Eco Park.

Rajit Sukumaran, managing director of IHG Hotels & Resorts, South East Asia & Korea said in a statement: “The insights from our survey continue to reiterate the importance of providing an authentic stay experience that’s reflective of a hotel’s destination.”

Under the campaign, Hotel Indigo properties around the world (currently there are 150, with over 120 in the pipeline) will also be curating unique “neighbourhood” experiences for guests, to ensure an authentic local stay.

In Bali, one of the experiences the hotel arranges is a surfing lesson, where guests get to learn with trained local surfers. Those who already know how to surf will be shown the top spots in the area to catch the best waves.

Spa sessions are also on the cards, as the property has a beautiful wellness facility, and the treatments incorporate Balinese herbs and essential oils, and traditional massage techniques.

At Hotel Indigo Kuala Lumpur On The Park meanwhile, get recommendations on where to find the best eats in the area, from fantastic street food fare to elevated local cuisine and beyond. Otherwise, guests can also stay in and savour some delectable delights at either of the hotel's two dining spots: Wok Star and The Silver Monkey.

Relax and unwind at The Silver Monkey.Relax and unwind at The Silver Monkey.

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