The grand lobby

There are some slick hotels in oil-rich Kuala Lumpur, but the Grand Millennium has to be one of the best. Located in the famous Golden Triangle, Gavin Haines found it the perfect base for a weekend in Malaysia’s bustling capital.

First impressions

The alarm bells must have been ringing. The last time my girlfriend trusted me to book accommodation was in 2003 and we ended up arriving in Zagreb at midnight with nowhere to stay. Her expectations must have been low. Little did she know I’d booked us into one of the sleekest hotels in Kuala Lumpur, the Grand Millennium, which had swayed me with its central location, outdoor swimming pool and the sexy photos on its website, which were tantamount to hotel porn. 

Grand Millenium Kuala Lumpur review - FacadeThe Grand Millennium hotel is grand by name and grand by nature
Grand Millennium Kuala Lumpur
So when our taxi pulled up at the Grand Millennium (grand by name and grand by nature), she wore the expression of a kid at the gates of Disneyland. I tried not to look impressed. However, I couldn’t keep up the pretence in the foyer, where a live pianist was nonchalantly tapping the ivory.

Sticking with the grand theme, the high-ceilinged foyer is dominated by a gaudy chandelier – I kid you not, this thing is about the size of a bus. There are acres of marble, more water features than a garden centre and there’s a touch of art deco about the check-in lounge – not that we hung around long enough to notice. “You check in in the executive club lounge, Mr Haines.” Of course I do.

Upstairs we were given refreshments while the smiling employees took care of the tedious check-in business. They handled this fairly expediently and we were soon shown to our room.

Ideal for...

Business and pleasure. This vast hulk of opulence might not be the most romantic of hotels, but its central location, impeccable service and on-site leisure facilities make it as popular with couples as it is with families and business trippers. 

The room

Grand Millenium Kuala Lumpur review - RoomThe rooms have a contemporary feel and views of the bustling city below
Grand Millennium Kuala Lumpur
Our 16th-floor executive club room was modest in size and understated in aesthetics. Disappointingly, the contemporary décor in our room had evaded Asia’s vibrant influences and was kitted out in a style that I imagined wouldn’t be too different from its sister hotel in say, Dubai. It was the kind of high-end homogenisation that still makes you feel important. 

Everything was in five-star order; the king-size bed was more comfortable than mine back home, the pillows were the size of cirrus clouds, and there was a complimentary selection of fresh, tropical fruit which we tucked into whilst gazing out of the floor-to-ceiling windows. We couldn’t see the Petronas Towers from our room, but we had a great view over the bustling Bukit Bintang, which is the city centre’s main artery.

All the other amenities were present and correct (free internet, air conditioning, tea- and coffee-making facilities, complimentary newspapers, magazines, a plasma TV, etc) and the bathroom looked like something out of a Roman baths; there was marble everywhere and a shower big enough for a five-a-side football team. The towels were the kind of thick, fluffy affairs that make you want to pack them in your suitcase, and there was also a bath should we have fancied a soak.

Best room

The presidential suite; aesthetically similar to ours, but with much more space and betters views of the city.

Eating and drinking

Grand Millenium Kuala Lumpur review - BistroThe bijou bistro serves anything from tea and biscuits to chicken tandoori
Grand Millennium Kuala Lumpur
One lazy afternoon we peeled off our sunloungers and headed inside for a late lunch. Sadly, this was a disappointment, albeit the only one of our stay.

The hotel boasts five restaurants in total, which take guests on a culinary tour of the globe. However, by the time our stomachs started to rumble, only Bistro 160 was open – our decision had been made for us. Located in the foyer, the bijou bistro serves anything from tea and biscuits to chicken tandoori – we ordered the latter, along with a prawn laksa curry, on the waitress’s recommendation.

The service was impeccable, but sadly our food was far from it; both dishes were cold. We didn’t have time to take them back, so we made do. They tasted perfectly good, but we regretted not going back to nearby Jalan Alor, where wizened women cook to-die-for street food for a fraction of the price and where a bottle of beer doesn’t set you back a fiver.


Grand Millenium Kuala Lumpur review - PoolThe hotel's huge pool is perfect to cool down from the heat
Grand Millennium Kuala Lumpur
Despite the vast quantities of curry we consumed down Jalan Alor, we dodged the gym like Chris Moyles. We weren’t the only ones; on the numerous times we walked past this spacious exercise room it was empty. All that modern high-tech equipment was lying idle, perhaps the million degree temperatures outside had put guests off exercise.

In a bid to escape the oppressive heat, we took every opportunity to make use of the hotel’s excellent outdoor pool. There were a few families using the facilities and the odd macho man hanging out poolside like it was Muscle Beach, but there was no difficulty getting a sun lounger and the large pool meant we weren’t bumping into other guests. 

Room for improvement?

Even for a five-star hotel, the drinks were extortionate and the food wasn’t a patch on the stuff being sold down the road for a snippet of the price.

Out and about

Walk out the door of the Grand Millennium and you’re right in the thick of it. Welcome to the Golden Triangle, famous for shopping, nightlife and food. The bustling streets around Bukit Bintang are teaming with bars and restaurants for all budgets, although the shopping remains fairly exclusive with its glut of high-end luxury outlets.

Nearby, Changkat Bukit Bintang is one of the hippest streets in Kuala Lumpur. Popular with travellers, expats and well-heeled locals, they are lured here by swanky cocktail bars and the promise of late-night revelry in one of the street’s clubs or pubs.

This energetic entertainment hub is also home to some top eateries including Bijan Bar and Restaurant, which has won a string of awards for its gourmet Malaysian food. However, my girlfriend and I were won over by the incredible street food along Jalan Alor. The road is lined with stalls serving authentic Thai, Malaysian and Chinese cuisine, which is cooked by old women who have been rustling up these dishes for decades. For atmosphere, aroma and flavour, this place is hard to beat.


Grand Millennium Kuala Lumpur
160 Jalan Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur
Tel: +60 (0)3 2117 4888.
Price: Double executive club rooms start at RM540 (£109) per night.

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