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I recently took an around-the-world trip from NYC (with a stay at the new Park Hyatt New York) and then on to Tokyo for 62,500 AA miles and $5.60, with award seats on American’s A321 first class JFK-San Francisco (SFO) and JAL’s Boeing 777-300ER first class SFO-Tokyo Haneda (HND). I hadn’t visited Tokyo for a long time, but it took me no time at all to fall back in love with the city during my stay at the Andaz Tokyo. I was then on to Kyoto and The Ritz-Carlton Kyoto, followed by a Malaysia Airlines flight bound for a whirlwind trip to Kuala Lumpur—and a one-night stay at the city’s Le Méridien property.
This Le Méridien is pretty convenient for first-time visitors, business travelers and anyone on a layover—like I was during my visit. Set in Brickfields, an administrative zone just outside the central city, the hotel is just 20 minutes from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) and next door to the city’s main train station, Sentral; from the station’s pedestrian walkway, there’s a door that leads right into the hotel.
I loved the psychedelic theme in what the hotel calls the Arrival Experience, which is the portion of the entryway before the actual lobby. With extreme-zoom graphics of tropical fish along with walls, it looks not unlike a disco ball. It’s set several levels off the street (atop the train station and a shopping mall), so by the time you arrive for check-in it already feels like you’re being taken care of after the noise of the outside world lowers to a hush.
A Classic Room with a King bed starts at MYR 300/$84 US when booked 30 days in advance; the standard prepaid rate starts at MYR 400/$112 US, and the flexible rate starts at MYR 480/$134 US. There’s an upgrade offer that starts with a Club Suite for MYR 720/$202, as opposed to MYR 750/$210 US average rate. Be aware that the rooms higher up on either side of the building have great city views, so make sure to ask for one of these when you book.
An SPG Free Night, available on Classic and Deluxe Rooms, is 7,000 Starpoints. But with a Starpoint equal to 2.4 cents and a Deluxe Room going for an average of MYR 338/$95 US, it’s more worthwhile to pay outright. I paid $180 US for my suite, and I got an SPG upgrade from there. The upgrade was awesome and easy; I did it through the SPG app just a couple of days in advance and received 500 bonus Starpoints for doing so. (You have to pay with your American Express card to earn those points through the app.) However, I did miss the boat on the new elite benefits for SPG 50-night Platinum elites, which starts in March.
I checked in via the Club Lounge. I love when a hotel club area actually feels like a restaurant or sleek lounge and not just an extra large hotel room with a pastry bin and coffee machine. Well done.
The Club Lounge is on the hotel’s 33rd floor, overlooking the Kuala Lumpur skyline and available only to those who stay in Club Rooms, Club Suites and Terrace Suites, so it’s not like you’ll encounter a ton of traffic all day and night.
My suite was absolutely huge, if fairly anonymous and a bit dated. This is a massive hotel that caters to conferences and events, which doesn’t really translate into personalized touches in the rooms.
Still, my suite had some great features, like an international power socket, a BOSE iPod/Phone dock, and a comfortable bed with reading lights that didn’t blind me. Also, the views of the skyline were near-mind boggling.
The suite featured a full dining room, which I’m sure is used for meetings as well. Again, views took center stage.
The adjoining kitchen was a decent size; I know a lot of New Yorkers who would like to have one this nice, even if it was lacking in style.
Plus, the WiFi was free, a perk extended in all the property’s Club Rooms and Suites, as well as Terrace and Penthouse Suites. (Even if this hadn’t been the case, my SPG Platinum status would have earned me free WiFi.)
The bathroom was enormous, with double sinks, a tub and huge walk-in shower, and great lighting.
There was even a view from the tub—in case you’re an exhibitionist.
As I was only here for one night I didn’t take advantage of the pool or gym areas, but the gym is shared with the Hilton and fully equipped. From the scuttlebutt I’d heard, it’s actually considered the best gym in town. The pool was outdoors and huge, and with a water slide and plenty of patio area; it seems to be super kid-friendly.
No complaints here. From the check-in at the groovy Club Lounge to the enormous suite and jaw-dropping views, my stay at Le Méridien KL was a good one. With a bit of a make-over my suite could be one of the best I’ve ever stayed in, but it had everything a suite needs and the roominess more than made up for it. There’s no telling how much longer these cards will be around and available for new applications because of the Marriott takeover, so now might just be the perfect time to apply. Apart from hotel redemptions, you can transfer Starpoints to over 30 airline partners, and now also transfer points from Starwood to Marriott Rewards at a 1:3 ratio, opening up even more redemption options.
There’s no telling how much longer these cards will be around and available for new applications because of the Marriott takeover, so now might just be the perfect time to apply. Apart from hotel redemptions, you can transfer Starpoints to over 30 airline partners, and now also transfer points from Starwood to Marriott Rewards at a 1:3 ratio, opening up even more redemption options.