It may not have the cutting edge of Hong Kong or the tropical sizzle of Singapore, but thanks to its mixed heritage, Kuala Lumpur is chocker with fabulous design, fashion, food and art.
From the village vibes of artsy Bangsar to ultra-mod malls like Publika, KL has something for everyone. Better still, you can traverse all the best bits in just one day – simply follow our 24-hour art and design-centric itinerary and have your gimlet-eye at the ready.
Like any capital, KL is home to all the big hotel names and mega-chains, but for a more individual experience, snag a suite at pared-back urban boutique doll Sekeping Sin Chew Kee. Occupying a colonial townhouse (spot the decorative iron sculpture on its facade), this characterful abode boasts an airy, bare-brick lounge and a dinky faux-grass courtyard, while rooms – sporting sleek woods and crisp white linens – are minimalist and faff-free. Original architectural features and quirky road-signs-as-art keep it KL real.
Sekeping Sin Chew Kee, 3 Jalan Sin Chew Kee, Bukit Bintang. +60 1 7207 5977. sekeping.com/sck
All settled, petal? Hail a cab and make your way to Bangsar, the city’s ever-evolving residential hub, which plays host to an array of arty nooks and cafes. New to the breakfast circuit is Dr.INC, conveniently situ’d behind lifestyle store Nala, shelving contempo, Chinese, Malay and Indian decor and trinkets. Perch in the courtyard to enjoy all manner of breakfast spoils, cakes and slices amid a sea of original handicrafts and artwork, or simply pick up a coffee to go.
Among all the local and int’l galleries to be found in this bustling nabe is the not-to-be-missed Richard Koh Fine Art. Repping Southeast Asia’s finest talents, this eclectic stable of works include emerging and est. artists like homegrown Chang Yoong Chia and Gan Chin Lee, as well as a collection of fab vintage furniture.
Cap off your gallery gander by reviving yourself at Hammam Bangsar, a Moroccan-style retreat but a short cab ride away. Touting dreamy, Middle-Eastern decor and a menu of decadent body treatments including ancient bridal facial masks, body polishing and aromatic massages. Spa-aahhh…
Dr.INC, 8 Jalan Kemuja. +60 3 2283 4698.
Richard Koh Fine Art, 2F-3, 2/F, Bangsar Village II, Jalan Telawi 1, Bangsar Baru. +60 3 2283 3677. rkfineart.com
Hammam Bangsar, 3F7-3F8, Bangsar Village 2. +60 3 2282 2180. hammamspas.com
Art n’ lounging makes for hungry work, so when the tummy rumbles, refuel at nearby Bakar. This crisply modern, white-tiled eatery accented with neon signage fires up BBQ-style cuts on the Josper grill alongside an array of intricately crafted, Nippon and Korean inspired dishes and desserts.
Bakar, 11b Lorong Kurau, Taman Weng Lock, Bangsar. +60 3 2280 0073. thebiggroup.co/bakar
Now, you have two options. The first is to hop back into a cab and scoot west to Petaling Jaya to scope out the upcoming PORT Commune, a repurposed warehouse host to a rotating roster of art exhibitions, fashion launches, and creative workshops.
Alternatively, zip north via cab to Publika mall and have a gander at experiential media and exhibits at Map @ Publika, before scratching your retail itch at the neighbouring mall. A wealth of shopportunity prevails, including LUXE faves D.D Collective for Jonathan Liang’s on-trend men’s and women’s threads, crafty nook Kaleidoscope for lifestyle bits, and Arcadia for an eclectic selection of vintage furny repping an East London vibe.
PORT Commune, 3 Jalan 51/201, Seksyen 51, Petaling Jaya. +60 3 7781 2228.
Map @ Publika, G2 Block A5, Solaris Dutamas, 1, Jalan Dutamas.
Dinner and Drinks
Aunty Amex flexed, head back across town, stopping for a pre-booked dinner at fine Malaysian diner Bijan. This low-lit, commodious charmer with a flora-engulfed deck serves up traditionally flavoured fare such as duck rendang and odor rusuk, accompanied by a nifty wine and cocktail list.
Still got a pep in your step? While the style set shimmy to vertigo-inducing Marini’s on 57 for tipples and va-va-vistas, for something more low key, opt for PS150; a grittier, moodier rendition of Hong Kong’s beloved Ping Pong Gintoneria. Enter through an unassuming doorway masked by a faux toy vendor that leads intrepid drinkers past a series of curtain framed booths through an open-air courtyard to a brick-walled drinking den. Bottoms up!
Bijan, 3 Jalan Ceylon. + 60 3 2031 3575. bijanrestaurant.com
Marini’s on 57, 57/F, Menara 3 Petronas, Persiaran KLCC. +60 3 2386 6030. marinis57.com
PS150, 150 Jalan Petaling, +60 3 2022 2888. ps150.my
For more hot tips on Kuala Lumpur, bag a the LUXE Kuala Lumpur guide…