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Travellers' checks

Adam Nebbs


Majestic renaissance Being an inland city, Kuala Lumpur always played second fiddle to places such as Singapore and Penang in the decades prior to the 1960s, when most foreign travellers and tourists arrived in Malaya by steamship. Hotels such as Singapore's Raffles and Penang's Eastern & Oriental were often written about by travel writers, and were therefore far better known abroad than Kuala Lumpur's Hotel Majestic. Criticised in its final days by the local press for its "hushed morgue-like ambience, its peeling columns and decaying waiters" and various other shortcomings, the old property finally ran out of steam and pulled down the shutters in 1984. The National Art Gallery of Malaysia took over the space, but moved out in 1998, and the building then fell derelict. This month, however, the old place has reopened as The Majestic Hotel Kuala Lumpur - or at least as the new hotel's Majestic Wing, as it's overshadowed somewhat by a new adjoining Tower Wing. Operated by YTL Hotels, which also runs the 1920s-built Majestic Hotel in Malacca, to the south, the property is playing up its colonial heritage with a Colonial Cafe and Tea Lounge in the old building and an art-deco spa in what was once the garage. Plenty of ceiling fans and potted palms have been installed in an attempt to evoke the hotel's glory days, and doormen are kitted out in sola topees, baggy shorts and knee-length socks, in authentic 1940s Hollywood style. For more information on the hotel - which is located opposite the grand old Kuala Lumpur Railway Station - and its opening rates, visit


Time for bed John Lennon and Yoko Ono decided to get their money's worth when they spent eight days in bed and recorded Give Peace a Chance in their hotel room at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel (top) in Montreal, Canada, in 1969; but the management probably aren't suggesting a similar schedule in offering guests a chance to "live the life of one of the world's greatest musical icons". In fact, aside from accommodation in the John and Yoko Suite, all that really involves is an unspecified "welcome amenity", breakfast in bed and a John Lennon CD featuring the aforementioned pacifist anthem. The Bed-In for Peace package is priced at C$799 (HK$6,270), double occupancy. Further details can be found on the special offers page at


In the saddle The Stafford London Kempinski hotel (above) is offering guests a range of equestrian encounters courtesy of its new "horcierge" (horse concierge, get it?) service. Activities, arranged in partnership with The Riding Club of London, include the chance to go trotting around one of London's royal parks, lessons in side-saddle riding for ladies, polo or carriage driving, and a personal shopper service for the purchase of jodhpurs and other horsey requisites. The hotel has historical horse connections and rooms in its Carriage House wing, a former stable that housed the thoroughbreds of the nobility, have original stable doors and overlook an 18th-century stable yard. See for further details.


Deal of the week Cathay Pacific Holidays is offering a package to Singapore that starts from HK$1,890 per person (twin share) for economy-class flights and two nights' accommodation at the cheap-and-cheerful Value Hotel Thomson, but for a package price of only HK$2,850, including daily breakfast, you can stay at the Mandarin Oriental. Other reasonably priced higher-end hotels on offer include the Grand Hyatt, from HK$3,130, and the Ritz-Carlton Millenia, from HK$3,340. Alternatively, deluxe pool view rooms in the Shangri-La's recently refurbished Garden Wing (left) are available from HK$4,200. Note that all quoted prices are not inclusive of a HK$788 per person fuel surcharge. Prices also go up at Christmas and Lunar New Year, but the packages will be available until the end of March. For further details and online reservations, go to




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Travellers' checks

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