Accommodation, Australia, Experience, Oceania, Travel

Hotel Review | The Urban Newtown

Knackered from rush-hour traffic on a Friday night, The Urban Newtown beckoned like a nest to a tired hatchling. Amidst the bustle of busy Newtown, it stood distinctively, sporting an iconic Fintan Magee on its facade.

Winter has just come, and my body was just getting used to the cold. But Newtown begged to be explored. After all, it was Vivid Sydney season. If anything, the city was never more alive.

Accommodation, Asia, Experience, Malaysia, Travel

HOTEL REVIEW | Hatten Hotel Melaka

Savage Garden had it down pat: “I knew I loved you before I met you.”

That’s how Melaka was to me. That distinctive red square in photos that tugged at the heartstrings. That ruin on a hill that beckoned for my coming. That beautiful mess of a Jalan that even on TV, smelled of good food and better coffee.

Contrary to what most guidebooks say, I knew in my heart that Melaka couldn’t be downplayed as A Day Trip from Kuala Lumpur or “A Weekend Escape from Singapore.”

So when an opportunity appeared out of thin air, I jumped on it. Coming straight from a 2-week media trip in Indonesia, I was haggard as hell. But it was Melaka, so even if it meant having to catch an early bus out of Kuala Lumpur with a suitcase full of dirty laundry, I was ecstatic.

The Hattten Hotel Experience

Hatten Hotel - Words and Wanderlust 10
Lobby of Hatten Hotel

Hatten doesn’t short-change the luxury it offers: this, I knew the moment I walked into its doors.

Soaked in warm, almost golden light, the lobby spelt opulence. A massive chandelier ran through the expanse of the centre ceiling, paving one’s eyes to a lounge set before a feature wall. A number of smaller lounge sets peppered the foyer— a gesture of comfort for waiting guests.

CoffeeVine

I, however, opted to wait for check-in while caffeine-binging at CoffeeVine. Strategically accessible through the hotel lobby and the Hatten Square shops, CoffeeVine was a modern-day rabbit hole that served the freshest skinny latte and the best blueberry cheesecake.

While enjoying my latte, the marketing dynamo in me gasped in admiration at how the Hatten brand is carried over even to the tiniest of details. For instance, the emblem on CoffeeVine’s coasters, stirrers and serviettes.

Paying attention to the nitty-gritty was something that Hatten has flawlessly achieved. And that, sure spoke volumes.

Deluxe Suite

Hatten Hotel - Words and Wanderlust 47

My room was a Deluxe Suite on the 16th floor with sprawling city and sea views. The door opens to a small lounge with an LCD television. A plate of fresh fruits awaited my arrival, with tea and coffee facilities tucked away in a corner. A glazed glass wall divided the lounge from the rest of the suite.

“Perfect!” I exclaimed, glad at how suited the layout was for digital ninjas like myself. Carefully, I wheeled my luggage to the side, getting it out of the way so I can photograph the immensity of my albeit temporary, luxe abode.

My bed was king-sized, with the softest sheets and fluffiest pillows. Sleep-deprived for days already, it was almost hypnotic, to say the least. A study table that doubled as a vanity stood at the foot of the bed, a subtle reminder of the narratives I was yet to write. The marble-tiled ensuite was pristine, and had a rainshower shower head to boot.

The Melaka Cityscape

But the true feature of the room, posh as it may be, was a ginormous, almost floor-to-ceiling  glass window. Outside, a panorama of the historical Melaka Raya bound in an embrace by the equally historical Malacca Strait, flaunted itself.

“I could live here,” I surmised, before burying myself in the comforts of my bed.

Hatten Hotel - Words and Wanderlust 18

Chatterz All-Day Dining

When the initial elation of my staycation eased to a manageable level, it also dawned on me how I was famished. After a quick shower, I headed down to the 11th-floor Chatterz All Day Dining Restaurant.

Consistent with Hatten Hotel’s casual chic interiors, Chatterz did not disappoint. An entire hall of culinary delights awaited guests, with a team of very hospitable men and women who made sure everyone was well-attended to.

I was pleasantly welcomed by one of the waiters and was led to a table near the dessert bar. I looked around and was surprised to see that there were actually a number of other patrons dining. Only, the layout of the place— what with its high ceilings and well-placed dining tables— conveyed an illusion of space . It was a pleasure to have felt as if I had a private space despite being in a buffet hall.

There was a wide selection of food, traditional and western alike. It wasn’t bad. But food, as perhaps everyone would agree, is one thing that should always, only befit superlatives.

To be honest, my food experience was a bit underwhelming. Perhaps, being in Melaka, a gastronomic capital, raised expectations a bit. I thought, “if Hatten could somehow harness that insatiable passion for food that the city is known for, undoubtedly, that would earn them their 5th star.”

Splash Pool Bar

Hatten Hotel - Words and Wanderlust 26

Late in the arvo on my second day in Melaka, I went to see the Splash Pool Bar on the 12th floor of the hotel. I walked straight to one of the high chairs and ordered french fries from the boy manning the bar.

He was gracious, but looked perplexed, seeing me order food and tuck my tummy in at the same time. “Ah, no worries,” I shook of his worries. “No need to be skinny to be sexy. I only need french fries,” I said laughing.

“Right away, miss!” He nodded in  agreement.

After walking the length of the infinity pool, I took a dip and marvelled at the contrast of colours in the skies. “The Golden Hour”, photographers would say. A group of kids broke my brooding, after I overheard them saying they’d do laps. I invited myself and joined in, much to the amusement of their parents who were watching by the sidelines.

When my french fries arrived, I excused myself and got up to the bar. There, I went on brooding, admiring the teeming cityscape sprawling below.

Hatten Hotel - Words and Wanderlust 9
A bronze sculpture; part of Yang Berbahagia Datuk Wira Erik Tan’s personal fine arts collection.

Alto Sky Lounge

Alto Sky Lounge at the 22nd floor was hands down, the best place to see sunset in Melaka.  Exclusive and luxurious, the sky lounge can be likened to my previous experiences in Helipad Bar at the Bitexco Tower in Ho Chi Minh and in Fuego Troika Sky Dining in Kuala Lumpur.

As a solo traveler, I treasured my solitude. Very seldom did I get sentimental and miss people whilst on the road. But that afternoon was different. I was enthralled by an event so spellbinding, I wanted nothing less than sharing the experience with a beloved.

That’s what Hatten Hotel’s grip to the world, I guessed. Whilst it wowed patrons with its central location and superb environment, it was in little packets of less-known secrets— like having a top-floor bar with priceless views of the sunset— that true magic was kept.

So I picked up my phone and shot a rare message to the boylove:

“Wish you were here.”


Hatten Hotel Melaka
Hatten Square, Jalan Merdeka,
Bandar Hilir, 75000
Melaka, Malaysia
Phone: +60 6-286 9696

To book a discounted stay, click here.

Disclaimer:

Hatten Hotel Melaka very kindly sponsored my stay in Melaka for 3 days and 2 nights in exchange for a review. Opinions expressed in this post are my own and do not necessarily reflect the view of the hotel.

Accommodation, Asia, Experience, Indonesia, Travel

HOTEL REVIEW | Alila Seminyak

Lemongrass. Its soft, citrusy smell lingered in the air as I aimlessly sauntered into the colossal foyer of Alila Seminyak in Bali. A tunnel of refreshing breeze from the oceanfront met my arrival— an architectural genius made possible by epic use of high ceilings, open-plan design and cross ventilation.

A couple of ladies garbed in colours of the beach, rushed to my side bearing trays: one with cool drinks, and the other with damp towelettes. I dug both at once; potent antidotes against the unforgiving Bali sun. On the table was also a tray of more artillery : after-sun spray, insect repellant, hand lotion and face mist.

“This is like a welcome spa,” I exclaimed, touched at how attuned and sensitive Alila was to the needs of their guests.

Hotel Review - Alila Seminyak 34
The lobby design of Alila Seminyak taps on the tenets of simplicity and symmetry.

The Penthouse

Whilst waiting for my room, the staff at the hotel very hospitably offered a tour to the penthouse. Bad idea. Because after seeing the penthouse—after being in one for the first time ever— I almost didn’t want to be anywhere else anymore.

Imagine waking up in a king-sized bed in a room with views of the Indian Ocean; where the worst of your woes is you cannot make up your mind whether to enjoy a relaxing bath in a fancy tub or take a dip in a private infinity pool.

Boasting three suites, living and dining areas, and a sundeck, it has all the makings of a truly luxurious and very private retreat in the city centre. What with the Potato Head Beach Club only a stone’s throw away, the penthouse is definitely a cocoon right smack in Bali’s party hotspot.

My Garden Suite

Hotel Review - Alila Seminyak 10
So indulgent I stayed in and turned down a party invitation that night.

Shortly after, I got given the swipe card to my room— a garden deluxe suite, just a level up from the main foyer.

Under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t have afforded something that grand. But in the same way, I also understood why an Alila staycation is worth the splurge.

When I opened my room, I gaped at the surprise. It looked just like the rooms in the penthouse; a chunk off, really.

Panels of solid wood  cut through the room flawlessly, acting as a partition between the main bedroom and the ensuite. Along the corridor, separating the toilet and bath, ran a bench and a mirror backsplash; just the perfect space for the multitude of cosmetics as I was cramming to prepare for the sunset party that the hotel has prepared for Trip of Wonders.

Sunset Cocktail and Farewell Dinner

I’ve been to Bali twice before. But I do not remember basking in twilight as elaborate as it was that afternoon in the Beach Terrace. Perhaps, it was emotions. It was the conclusion of a fortnight’s worth of adventure with fellow travel influencers from all over Southeast Asia. When strangers become friends, goodbyes become a bit difficult.

So we drank the sadness away, and Alila had the perfect signature cocktail for that: Spicy Cha Margarita.

Spicy Cha Magarita Recipe
Don Julio Reposado
Passion Fruit Puree
Agave Nectar
Lime Juice
Red Chilli
Sweet Togarashi Salt

After sunset, we proceeded to a function room inside the main building for dinner. There, we were regaled with an array of delectable dishes— the perfect accompaniment to a night of celebration.

But even with an enjoyable dinner and a brief after-party, my mind was in a perpetual anticipation of the pleasurable night’s sleep that awaited me. What with the extravagance of my deluxe suite, I could hardly wait.

Morning Swim

Early the next day and well before breakfast, I went to one of the three infinity pools of the hotel for a quick morning dip. The walkway leading to the pool were lined with smooth stones on either side. Likewise, leafy vines crawled along the wooden walls lining the corridors. I was still in the building, but it felt like I’ve gone outdoors.

Perhaps, that was the intent of the Alila brand: to bring in the best of nature and meld it with the comforts of modern living. 

I walked along the edge of the pool, watching the angry waves of the Indian Ocean lap against the expanse of the world-renowned Seminyak beach.

When I was done swimming, I lay on one of the beach beds, parched. As if on cue, the pool attendant offered a bottled water and a towel. He also brought in a basket of goodies: sunscreen, face mist, and an after-sun spray, amongst others.

“Breakfast is downstairs, Miss.” he volunteered, guessing that I must be starving, too.

“Don’t worry, that’s exactly where I’m heading next.” I said, ever impressed at how attentive and outstanding customer service was at Alila Seminyak.

Buffet Breakfast

Hotel Review - Alila Seminyak 14
The Big Breakfast Flatlay

Breakfast was world-class. Featuring both indoor and al fresco sitting options, with communal tables to boot, Alila dining aimed to please.

And it did. I devoured platefuls of bacon, the default Times New Roman of all breakfast dishes, bold and italic.

The buffet was traveling in itself: overflowing with the best selection of dishes from homey East to sophisticated West. There was always something that catered to everyone’s palate. And perhaps, that was exactly the point of Alila’s brand of hospitality:

To have a place in the sun for everyone. 

Hotel Review - Alila Seminyak 20
Walking along the length of the infinity pool before the Indian Ocean

Alila Seminyak – Bali
Jalan Taman Ganesha No. 9
Petitenget, Kerobokan
Bali, Indonesia
P: +62 361 3021 888
Email: seminyak@alilahotels.com

To book a discounted stay, click here.

Disclaimer:

Alila Seminyak hosted the Bali leg of Trip of Wonders – ASEAN Batch 2, an invitational trip for travel influencers, as sponsored by Ministry of Tourism – Indonesia. Opinions expressed in this post are my own and do not necessarily reflect the view of the Ministry.