History of Majestic Hotel KL is a perfect example of a great heritage hotel. Can you believe that this old beauty was closed for business for nearly 30 years? Me neither! This was the noblest hotel in that area, built back in 1932, in the golden post-World War I times. At that time, Kuala Lumpur was a thriving city with amazing potential. A huge credit for hotel’s success was the Railway Station, which opened its doors in 1917.
Thanks to designer A. B. Hubback, it remains an iconic building in Kuala Lumpur, to this day. Until the Petronas Twin Towers were completed in 1998, this Railway Station building was the most photographed icon of the city. A part of this building was also a fully booked hotel, called the Station Hotel. This was a sort of luxury hotel, but not for the most demanding guests. In that time officers, tourists, and businessmen were looking for something more and they found it across the street. By 1935, the Station Hotel and Majestic Hotel were the leading hotels in KL.
First Modern Hotel in Kuala Lumpur
The Majestic was the first modern hotel to meet all standards in order to fit into the luxury hotel category. It was built by Dutch architect Van Leangeanderg of the firm Messrs Keys & Dowdeswell. They used new technologies in the form of reinforced concrete and new materials as well. Classical motifs pared-down with art deco ornaments, a geometric look and clean lines were considered real eye candy back in those days. Originally, this building wasn’t even meant to be a hotel, but rather a block of luxury apartments. After the recession, the owner a successful businessman Towkay Loke Yew opened it rather as a hotel with luxury rooms.
In the beginning, they had 51 spacious rooms. As a matter of fact, this place was an overnight success and became the hub of social life and the center for high end wining, dining and entertaining. This mighty building was a meeting point for many writers, singers, politicians, dignitaries and, later on, film stars. Impact of World War II’s spread everywhere, and so Majestic felt consequences as well. During the Japanese Occupation from 1939 to 1945, the hotel served as a transit camp by the Japanese. In 1945, after the Japanese had surrendered, one Japanese soldier committed suicide inside his room. The rumor is that his ghost haunted room 48 until the hotel closed in 1984.
Majestic Hotel History After WWII
After WWII, when the British returned to Malaysia, the Majestic resumed its status as the pre-eminent hotel. The business was as usual and the hotel was a famous spot for those wanting to indulge in afternoon tea. Must be remembered, at the rooftop club, people came together to discuss independence from Great Britain. They were the founders and members of UMNO, Dato Onn Jaafar and Tunku Abdul Rahman, who went on to become Malaysia’s first prime minister. By the time the nation declared its independence in 1957, the glory days had passed and the Majestic began its downward spiral. By 1984, there was more competition in town and the Majestic just couldn’t handle it.
They closed their doors in 1984 in order to house the National Art Gallery. In 1995, the Government, Syarikat Tanah dan Harta Sdn Bhd (a Finance Ministry Inc company) and YTL Corp Bhd signed an agreement to privatize the National Art Gallery building project. YTL group built and completed the new art gallery on Jalan Termeloh, off Jalan Tun Razak, in KL, in exchange for the Hotel Majestic.
Majestic Hotel and YTL
Sadly, the hotel didn’t receive approval to be refurbished and developed until 2008. The YTL group started with the work and this beauty came out more than perfect. The architect in charge was Zaidan Tahir, he collaborated with the interior design firm Duoz Sdn Bhd, which was also behind the refurbishment of two of YTL’s other heritage properties. One is the Cameron Highlands Resort and the other is Majestic Malacca. The restoration went perfectly in both projects.
In this Majestic Wing, you feel completely like in a colonial atmosphere with all the details in the décor. Tahir chose to stick to the hotel’s original part as much as possible. Suites are an adaption of the earlier rooms, during the improvement process also the staircase has been renovated. Even the walls have been repainted with a plaster and lime mix used in colonial times. After the renovation, the Majestic Wing had 47 suites over five floors. They didn’t only restore the old wing but also added a new building. This is the Tower Wing in an art deco style, which compliments the original building.
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The novelties were the Smoke House and the orchid observatory. The Tower Wing has 300 bedrooms, decorated in colonial style with wooden floors, black and white tiles in the luxurious bathrooms and all modern appliances. As an example the bathrooms are equipped with TV screens, so guests can watch their favorite show while soaking in the tub!
In the Tower Wing, there is also a modern fitness center and a huge terrace with a swimming pool located on the 4th floor. However, The Majestic Hotel is a heritage hotel and the new owners know how to keep this jewel alive. In our next post, we will write about our experience at this outstanding hotel and try to show all the beauty of this building through our photos.
Sources: https://www.thestar.com.my/lifestyle/archive/2012/12/17/contemporary-heritage-in-refurbished-hotel-majestic/; http://majestickl.com; The Classic Collection: Heritage Hotels & Luxury Lodgings from East and West, Kim Inglis