The 5-star hotel has managed to reinvent itself for the younger generation and one has to admit that it has succeeded in its endeavour to remain relevant
by LYDIA NATHAN
A FAMOUS Belgian designer once said — when you get into a hotel room and lock the door, there is secrecy, luxury, comfort. There is reassurance.
It is in the finest details of every surface, every smile and quality of the people within the building that make the difference.
A night at an iconic hotel like the EQ Hotel is a pleasantly impressive affair.
EQ Hotel was formerly known as Equatorial Hotel that was built in 1973 in the heart of Kuala Lumpur. It recently went through seven years of rebuilding.
Stepping into the renewed space is itself an experience. Hotel guests are greeted warmly by front-end staff at a lobby that is spacious and well lit, with glass walls all around, as well as soft plush comfy lounges to rest one’s feet.
A huge copper tooling relief portraying economic activities of yesteryears that had made the country great, from rubber tapping, rice planting to tea growing, and tea growers, is one of the focal points on a main wall.
Food from the Heart
For an authentic array of food, have a taste at Nipah — a Pan-Asian-inspired restaurant that had stood the test of time since it was first opened with its signature dishes that had kept loyal customers coming for more.
German-born chef Jochen Kern, who is now culinary advisor of the outlet, said the previous Nipah had more meat-inspired dishes, but after its rebirth, the management had decided that the outlet caters to more vegetarian-friendly options too.
The lunch buffet does not have a huge variety of food, unlike other hotels’ buffet offerings, but after a few rounds of tasting, it is evident that the quality of food is what Nipah is all about.
There’s also a carving station where chefs would carve cooked meats that are simply falling off the bone.
Nipah also has a salad and cold cuts bar, as well as counters for western cuisine and Indian-inspired vegetarian curries that have the right texture and amount of spices, together with choices of rice or pasta.
An interesting feature in the buffet line is the seafood on ice station, where guests could have fresh oysters from France, cleaned and shucked by a chef before they are loaded onto the plate with choices of sauces including Tabasco and lime. Chef Kern said it is a popular station as the diners need not shuck the oysters themselves.
“It is interesting to watch the chefs clean and shuck oysters. We import them from France, but everything else you see at the station is local. The prawn, squid, cockles and crabs are purchased locally, so everything is very fresh,” he said.
A few dishes are also made to order, including satay, pizzas and Nipah’s famous roti canai.
Delivering on its promise for creativity, the pizza station does not have a set menu. Guests could just tell the chef what ingredients and toppings they prefer and if they like it on a crusty, steaming pizza to be delivered to their tables. Chef Kern said the dishes are made to order, so that nothing is wasted and the quality of the food could be upheld.
“We emphasise on the communication between guests and the chef. We love talking to people and asking them what they like or how they prefer certain meals. All the cooked to order food is brought directly to table by the waiters,” he said.
For the sweet-toothed, EQ Hotel’s signature strawberry cheesecake is not to be missed. It is scrumptious! The consistency of the actual cake swirls with the sweetness and zestiness of the strawberries which are also smooth and rich, but not too heavy. The crust at the bottom is crunchy, which gives the right balance to the whole desert.
Of course the other desserts are delightful too. The éclairs have that beautiful glaze of chocolate over its cream-filled sponge, while the crème brulee is not too sweet and has a lovely caramelised top.
For a local favourite, try the bubur bali with its medium consistency. It is warm and delicious.
The complimentary breakfast buffet at Nipah offers almost all the local staples including nasi lemak, Chinese-styled porridge and a cold cuts station with a variety of salads, mango lassi and granola cups filled with fresh yoghurt and berries.
Another interesting section is a Japanese breakfast station which includes tamago gohan (steamed Japanese rice with organic raw egg), a salmon teriyaki dish, tamago natto (an omelette with fermented soybeans) and a traditional cold soba noodles.
For the healthfreak, there is a superfood salad bar which includes energy-packed ingredients like quinoa, avocado, kale and algae in various types of salad the chefs could make for one — definitely a highlight for someone who enjoys greens.
The choices include a wellness one, the activator, the antioxidant and the detox which incorporate avocado, nori and spinach among other ingredients.
The greens and avocado are fresh, crispy and well-seasoned, while the orange juice is a perfect wholesome dressing, balancing sweet and sour at the same time.
Blissful Level 29
This level is home to the sunny pool deck area, the gym and the spa, known as Sanctum Spa and Fitness.
The whole floor has a serene, calming feel to it. With its hardwood flooring and soft classical music playing in the background, one could almost forget that it is right smack in the middle of a busy city.
The 25m infinity pool outside stretches diagonally, with its blue cool waters glistening in the afternoon sun, surrounded by pool deck chairs and small cabanas to relax in.
A unique feature the pool has is the underwater speakers that would allow swimmers to still enjoy good music, while they are floating and unwinding. The pool water does not use any chlorine or chemicals, so your eyes won’t sting or get red.
Nestled in the corner is the vitality pool. This smaller-sized specialty is considered a bespoke luxurious pool, operating at a warmer temperature. It has two powerful water jet features that are great for back massages and a hydro back bench in the water where rollers can work guests’ lower back and legs. It allows swimmers to also relieve tired muscles and relax a person all at once.
EQ Hotel has two types of spas — a steam one and a Himalayan salt spa. One is dry and the other wet.
The small room simulates the environment of a therapeutic salt cave, with the Himalayan salt covering one side of the wall, calming the mind and body by releasing negative ions. Breathing in the salty air has many benefits. It is known to be a refreshing and rejuvenating ritual, which also helps people sleep really well.
The hotel also has a special monsoon shower feature, situated in a darkened-like tunnel with changing colours inside. It starts off in three parts — a powerful blast of water to clean the body off, a light mist to relax the body and a normal shower to finish off.
Meanwhile, the hotel gym is a nice surprise, as it has a lot of equipment that guests can use. The room itself has natural sunlight streaming in with mirrors on one side of the wall, making it look larger than it is.
The equipment includes a machine that could cater for eight people called Omni8, treadmills, dumbbells, barbells and kettlebells. Everything is bright, new and shiny.
The spa, all rainforest-themed, offers personalised body massages, foot reflexology and a quick fix for neck and shoulders.
Chic and Sophisticated Rooms
EQ Hotel houses a total of 440 stylish contemporary rooms with six different room and suite types.
You can choose from deluxe room, premier room, studio suite, AHA suite, executive suite and the presidential suite, which is also the largest and can cost up to RM20,000 per night.
The premier room is spacious, bright and has the overtones of subtle yellow in its cushions and bedding. The view? Well, since the hotel overlooks KL Tower and the city centre, the evening panorama is rather breathtaking when everything is lit up.
The bathroom is modern and fully equipped with top quality ceramics finishing. It has a separate entrance and amenities that are very useful, including a miniature bamboo hairbrush, a nail file and bath salts for the bathtub.
What is special about the far-end room on the 38th floor is, the bathtub has a direct outward-facing view — which means one could unwind and read in the bathtub, while soaking in the warm water with a fantastic view.
The glass-encapsulated shower also has magnificent views, while the powerful water jet from the rain shower is particularly enjoyable.
For more privacy, there are automated blinds around the entire room that could be pulled up or down, all controlled by one single button.
Another interesting feature is the Equator Lounge that is located on the 50th floor. Yes, again, with some cool views. It is a whole new level of hospitality. At the lounge, food and drinks are served round the clock for guests — for breakfast, afternoon tea and even post-dinner snacks.
Being on the 50th floor feels like being in one giant living room with comfortable sofas, carpeted floors and flat-screened television sets everywhere — all the while being looked after by attentive hotel staff.
Being served throughout the day are some really nice snacks like cheese truffle balls, bitesized tomato caprese, a cheese platter and some warm buttery tarts and cakes.
Those who like to binge, the menu includes samosas, chicken tandoori skewers, chicken chipolatas and sugar cane prawns with sweet lime mayonnaise. Guests can request for soft drinks, coffee or tea.
To Stay or Not to Stay?
This iconic brand has withstood the test of time. What was once a place known to be a hideaway and meeting point for politicians and dignitaries since its opening in 1973, the hotel has managed to ease itself into the “younger” and better version of itself.
The five-star hotel has managed to reinvent itself for the younger generation and one has to admit that it has succeeded in its endeavour to remain relevant. The hotel not only caters to families and individuals, but for corporate meetings and conferences too.
It is the quality that matters the most, and EQ Hotel has not reneged on it.