The Hilton HHonors program advertises that you can get a free night from only 5,000 points – yet category 1 and 2 (10,000 points/night) hotels are very rare and usually the lower brand hotels. I was excited to find a Doubletree hotel in Kuala Lumpur, a full-service hotel near the iconic Petronas Towers! I booked the Doubletree Hotel Kuala Lumpur for a stop-over, it turned out to be a great bargain and I thoroughly enjoyed my stay – find out why!
Location: The Doubletree is located at Ampang Park near the iconic Petronas Towers and KLCC mall. It’s about 1h by taxi from the airport or 1h30min by KL Express train and subway. It’s a 5 minute walk from the Ampang Park subway station or less than a 15 minute walk from the KLCC. The hotel sits on top of the Intermark mall, so you have shops, a grocery store, a food court and lots of restaurants right in the complex. While I prefer hotels near the Sentral train station for easy access to the airport and all over town, this is still a good location with direct train access and multiple malls for shopping, dining and entertainment in walking distance.
Service/Rewards: On arrival, I was greeted warmly with the Doubletree cookies and had a short wait to check-in. The staff offered me the choice to check in in the lounge as a Hilton HHonors Diamond elite member, but I was quite happy for her to do it, rather than walking somewhere else to do the same thing. She was friendly, confirmed my room preference (non-smoking) and was working on her system for a while – it turned out, to find an upgrade to an executive suite – score! Considering I was on an award reservation, I wasn’t expecting that and was excited! She also explained the breakfast options, lounge access, internet and hotel amenities patiently. The lounge staff throughout my stay was equally warm, friendly – something that stood out from previous visits to KL. Housekeeping was thorough and invisible, respecting my “Do Not Disturb” sign and getting the room ready quickly while I was gone!
As a Hilton HHonors Diamond member, I received a Suite Upgrade and Executive Lounge access, the Doubletree provided free (not-so) Premium Internet and delivered a generous fruit and snack plate as Welcome Amenity – that was very well done, especially considering I was staying on points. The award rate of only 10,000 Hilton HHonors points per night (or $40) is a great bargain considering the cash price of over $100 at time of booking. While I’ve seen it for close to $100 including taxes before, it still offers a value of about 1 cent/point or more than twice my estimated value.
Room: The suite on the 32nd floor was large and beautiful. The decor in light-colored wood, beige and brown tones with abstract art in pastel colors had a Scandinavian feel to it and felt light and modern.
The entrance leads to the living room with a seating area with a flat-screen TV, a large desk and a small kitchen area with fridge, sink and coffee/tea facilities. Two large, wooden sliding doors separate the living room from the equally large bedroom. It features a king-size bed and a single, comfortable chair with ottoman. There is another wall-mounted TV across from the bed. The large closet has a iron & iron board as well as a laptop-size safe. Bay windows in each room provide light and a spacious feel. Both, near the bed and work desk there are universal outlets, accommodating European, US and UK style plugs.
Off the bedroom is the large bathroom, with three separate spaces. You enter into an area with a wide vanity, held in marble with a single sink, plenty of space for toiletries and a large mirror. A salon-style hair dryer is provided, as well as a large selection of toiletries, with additional ones on request. To the left is a see-through glass door to a combined bathtub and shower. A wall-mounted, handheld shower and a rainfall shower head in the ceiling are in the area in front of the deep soaking tub – one of the most useful combinations! Another glass door separates the toilet closet, although I’d prefer a frosted glass door for more privacy. The tiles, fixtures, towels and toiletries were of high quality for an upscale feel.
The Premium Internet had a weak signal, was unreliable and slow (for a paid/premium service) at 1.9Mbps average download speed. I did not have a connection for several periods of time, which is not really acceptable at any hotel in 2016!
Restaurant/Amenities: The Doubletree has a large choice of restaurants and amenities. There is a large gym with a good number of cardio equipment and some weight machines and free weights for an average workout. It overlooks the large pool with plenty of loungers. There is a separate children pool around the corner. The gym can be accessed by members (non hotel guests) and has a full locker room, showers and wellness area with dry sauna and steam. All of it is in very good condition and has an attendant during day times, ensuring availability of water, towels, amenities and general cleanliness of the place. I worked out twice and the modern equipment with TV screens on each cardio machine worked well.
The Doubletree manages five restaurants and there are more than 30 restaurants in the complex. The hotel has the “Axis” lobby bar next to the “Cellar Door” winery and a grab & go cafe “Food Store”. Next to the pool and gym, you find the “Tosca” Italian restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating.
The main restaurant “Makan Kitchen” offers the buffet breakfast and all day dining. I checked out the buffet one morning and it has the vast spread typical for upscale hotels in Asia: In addition to a wide selection of pastries, breads, fruit, cereal and yogurt, you’ll also get various Western and Asian hot food dishes and several make-to-order food stations. With plenty of hot and cold drinks on offer as well, there is little that you wouldn’t find! Despite the space being well designed and split into a number of smaller spaces around the central kitchen and buffet area, the space is huge and very busy during the morning.
I don’t need a lot for breakfast and prefer a more peaceful setting, so I chose to eat at the Executive Lounge instead. The selection is much smaller, but still offers a full, hot breakfast. It has a choice of croissants, pastries and breads, cold cuts, cereals, yogurt and fresh fruit, as well as juices and an automated coffee and espresso maker. For hot dishes, there were scrambled eggs, sausages and bacon, grilled tomatoes and hash brownies. It was all nicely presented and staff was available to serve drinks on request. The quality of the food was average for this category of hotel – the croissants tended to be over-baked or kept warm too long, the sausages were bland and the eggs undercooked – small niggles in the bigger picture, but important to some people. There were international and local newspapers available and all of that came with stunning views over KL, including the Petronas Towers, making me a very happy camper.
I also visited the Executive Lounge one evening for the cocktail hour, offering a good selection of hot and cold drinks, wine, beer and liquor, as well as cold and hot Asian snacks. While the snacks were nice, don’t expect them to replace a meal. It’s cocktail hour food in the original sense.
Conclusion: While the Doubletree is not in my favorite location and Doubletree not my favorite brand in the Hilton Group, the great bargain as a Hilton HHonors reward redemption, the beautiful suite, great selection of amenities and restaurants and warm service make it an overall winner and I’d stay again in a heartbeat. If you are looking for a hotel near KLCC or are a Hilton HHonors members, I recommend to give it a try on your next trip to KL. At the cash price or without status, I’d probably prefer the aloft Sentral, LeMeridien or Hilton near Sentral or the JW Marriott in Bukit Bintang that are frequently available at similar prices.