When it comes to a luxury staycation, Kuala Lumpur’s city centre is not short on supply of five-star accommodation, but when it comes to finding a place that stands out from the cookie-cutter hospitality experience, not many hotels spring to mind.
Opened in 2018, The RuMa Hotel and Residences is one such place that possesses a unique personality that stands out from the many five-star spots in the city. Weaving local and contemporary influences, the hotel aims to bring a “cultural revival” right in the heart of the urban sprawl. The RuMa means ‘home’ in its most literal sense. It is a hotel that captures all the intimacy of a home, run by an accomplished host. A stay will inspire you to uncover the city’s origins and colonial heritage in a contemporary and luxurious setting that exudes the soothing qualities of a true ‘Urban Resort’.
There is a strangely familiar feeling once you step foot into the hotel as if you are walking into the home of a friendly and warm host. The charming and amicable staff add to the personal touch, while the beautifully designed surroundings create an experience that is historically rich, yet surprisingly modern.
Step through the entrance and you will be greeted by the impressive sight of the hotel’s antechamber, or “the birdcage,” a design nod to Kuala Lumpur’s tin mining history, mimicking the bird cages that would house canaries to sniff out any toxic fumes emitting from the mines. The space also serves as the transition zone in which the guest will leave the outside world behind and step entirely into the bespoke world of The RuMa.
The entire property is filled with similar design elements signifying the city’s storied past. The grand staircase in the lobby area is another example of an innovative design with a link to the tin mines, shaped into a drilling rig-like structure that stands majestically from the mezzanine floor of the lobby. The grand staircase, which leads to the hotel’s main restaurant, ATAS, is also a nod to the city’s colonial heritage, inspired by the imposing staircases often found in colonial mansions.
Traditional Malay craftsmanship also takes centre stage throughout the hotel’s decor. I spent my three-day, two-night stay at the hotel’s spacious Deluxe Suite with its wooden floors, airy interiors, neutral tones and huge windows facing a spectacular view of the Petronas Twin Towers.
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A little rubber bonsai tree sits in the foyer of the room, a homage to the city’s other big industry, rubber. Besides the spacious suite space and cosy interiors, what guests also enjoy from a stay in the Deluxe Suite is the perks of early check-in and late check-out – a convenience that not many hotels offer, making it perfect for business stays or leisurely weekends away from home with the family.
Meanwhile, antique collectors and art enthusiasts will be delighted to spot authentic traditional furniture and art throughout the hotel. Take the cabinets and wooden beams sourced from various heritage homes around Malaysia for example.
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The hotel managed to track down these one-of-a-kind pieces thanks to close-knit connections with specialist consultants in various fields. The antique columns at the main entrance were restored to their original glory by a restoration artist specialising in timberwork. Impressively, the hotel’s representatives were even able to track down the original pictures of these columns from the antique dealers in Jonker Street, Malacca. For items that are distinctively traditional, they seem to fuse effortlessly into the hotel’s modern-day decor.
After checking in, I made my way to the hotel’s UR Spa. Here, the walls are adorned with Kelarai Weave artwork, a type of traditional weaving technique mastered by the women of Terengganu in Malaysia’s east coast. By showcasing the artwork throughout UR Spa’s hallways and massage rooms, the hotel aims to bring to light and preserve this age-old art technique in a tastefully modern way.
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The full-body massage here also takes inspiration from traditional methods to soothe the body and reinvigorate the senses amidst the spa’s calm ambience. For those looking for a quick fix, UR Spa also offers express massages and treatments such as a 30-minute shoulder and upper body massage. Something city dwellers would appreciate.
When it comes to dining, the hotel is no stranger to Kuala Lumpur’s thriving fine dining scene. The hotel’s ATAS restaurant is renowned for fusing contemporary dining with local inspiration. I had the opportunity to taste Chef Mandy Goh’s new Cultural Heritage menu.
While this is not my first visit to ATAS, which is the hotel’s fancier dining establishment compared to the casual poolside bar SANTAI and the hotel’s SEVEN bar, it was refreshing to see ATAS transformed into a more casual spot during breakfast where guests can venture to the open kitchen and pick from a buffet of local and international dishes such as congee, mee rebus and nasi lemak.
For a hotel located right in the heart of the city, The RuMa Hotel and Residences certainly offers a laid-back atmosphere missing in most chain establishments. The hotel’s deep respect for tradition and finding beauty in the old and the new brings a unique character to the location and shows that good design can contribute to an unforgettable stay. Once you arrive here, you enter a world that revolves around you.
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