Taking its name from the Sanskrit word for 'state of mind', Villa Samadhi boutique hotel offers a luxurious departure from the hustle and bustle of Kuala Lumpur. Located in the Malaysian capital's leafy embassy district, this Malay-styled temptress will seduce with lantern-lit paths, a curvaceous central pool and ultra-private rooms.
Noon. Check-in is 2pm, but flexible subject to availability.
Double rooms from £239.86 (MYR1,300), including tax at 16 per cent.
Rates include à la carte breakfast.
Bespoke experiences are yours for the picking: ask about pamper sessions at nearby day spas, or private cooking classes and market tours with the chef.
At the hotel
Gardens, laundry, free WiFi throughout. In rooms: flatscreen TV, DVD player, minibar, Samadhi toiletries. Luxe Cribs and above feature private plunge pools, and Sarang's also have kitchenettes.
Our favourite rooms
Luxe Sarang 15 lured us in with its oversized bathroom, complete with an open-to-the-elements plunge pool, soothing water feature and double rainwater shower. For even more space, book the top-tier Loft, which features a striking sloped timber ceiling in the bedroom, expansive living area and sun-drenched deck with plunge pool (skinny dippers take note: the rooftop bar overlooks this inviting space).
Surrounded by cabanas and tropical gardens, the blue-tiled, lagoon-shaped pool weaves through the heart of the hotel. Ladders from ground-floor terraces allow guests to swim out from their rooms.
Fill your suitcase with designer sarongs and swimwear for long afternoons in a poolside cabana.
Team a stay here with a stint at sister property Japamala Resort, on idyllic Tioman Island, known for its laid-back beaches and diving.
The hotel is suitable for children aged 16 and older only.
Stake a claim at one of the pool-view tables, or lunch in one of the cushioned cabanas outside.
The guest-only dining room is a laid-back affair, so casual is the way to go.
A giant silk lantern takes centre stage in the Dining Room, a pavilion-style restaurant overlooking the pool. Excellent breakfasts start with tropical fruits, cheese and freshly baked goods before your choice of hot main is served – standouts include flaky roti canai and indulgent eggs Benedict. For lunch and dinner, the menu is a mix of Malaysian and Italian cuisines, with choices spanning fragrant yellow seabass curry and grilled prawns with squid-ink risotto.
Come sunset, the terrace Bumbung Bar opens for a short-and-sweet hour-long service of free cocktails and canapés. Don't miss the 6.30–7.30pm nightly session, when the bartender shakes up specialties such as the Travel to Japamala of roasted apple, cinnamon and vodka, or a punch-packing Eliya Grapefruit cocktail of gin, tea and grapefruit jam. The bar only stays open for an hour and only seats six, so arrive early to bag your spot (or enjoy a cocktail in the restaurant, instead).
Chef Affendi and his kitchen team call it quits at 9pm. The bar is open 6.30 to 7.30pm
There's no room service as such, but you'll find snacks and wine in your well-stocked minibar. Ask nicely and kitchen may be able to rustle something up for you too.
Located in Kuala Lumpur's hustle-free embassy zone, Villa Samadhi is within easy reach of the city's attractions.
Global flights touch down at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA). The main carriers plying these routes include British Airways (www.britishairways.com), Malaysia Airlines (www.malaysiaairlines.com), AirAsia (www.airasia.com) and Singapore Airlines (www.singaporeair.com). It's worth noting that AirAsia flights land at a second airport, a 20-minute taxi ride from the main hub. If you catch a cab from the airport, don’t bother negotiating a fare with a random cabbie outside: buy a fixed-price taxi ticket to ensure that you arrive at your hotel without haggle-induced stress.
The non-stop, high-speed KLIA Ekspres service (www.kliaekspres.com) whooshes from KLIA to KL Sentral Station. It’s zippy (faster than a taxi at any time, let alone rush hour), air-conditioned and reliable. And when you leave, do it in style: check-in alongside savvy jet-setters at the Kuala Lumpur City Air Terminal (KL CAT) inside KL Sentral Station before you get onto the KLIA Ekspres. Sentral Station is 10 kilometres from the hotel. From here you can simply hop in a taxi.
If, like other guests, you've steered your sportscar into town, there's free parking available at the hotel.
Worth getting out of bed for
Culture vultures should call into the National Visual Arts Gallery, which offers a spectacular introduction to Malaysia’s arts scene. If you’re looking to add to your personal collection, leading local curator Valentine Willie's gallery, Valentine Willie Fine Art exhibits works by south-east Asia's finest artists. Retail is the lifeblood of the city, with sprawling malls such as Suria KLCC and Bukit Bintang. If you prefer a more down-to-earth shopping experience, haggle with street traders in Chinatown and the Central Market. For upscale boutique treats, head to the suburb of Bangsar, which is rapidly becoming fashionista-central, or to the eye-catching Lee Rubber Building, where fans have dubbed Peter Hoe Evolution & Beyond the Shanghai Tang of Malaysia. There’s plenty to do in and around KL that doesn’t involve bargain-hunting. The Kuala Lumpur Bird Park is one of the world’s largest covered aviaries and is home to a photo-friendly array of feathered folk. To experience Las Vegas, Asia-style, head out to Genting, a colossal casino and theme park an hour away in the Titiwangsa mountains.
The finger-on-the-pulse Villa Samadhi team is also responsible for three of KL's hottest eateries. Tamarind Springs is set in the jungle-clad outskirts of town in Taman Tun Abdul Razak. This serene series of breezy dining rooms blends wooden furniture with statement lanterns and carvings for a romantic retreat that feels far removed from the swarming city. Tempting pan-Asian tastes at this award-winning eatery include native fern salad, Thai soups, and tropical-fruit desserts. Classic Thai and Burmese flavours are on show at Tamarind Hill, a rustic-luxe restaurant that's been transplanted to the heart of the city on Jalan Sultan Ismail. Nearby, sleekly styled Neo Tamarind is the place to go for mod-Thai bites and seductive cocktails.
Get a cool caffeine fix at Artisan Roast Coffee at the TTDI centre on Lorong Rahim Kajai. The home-style cakes and slices are worth a nudge, too. Brunch on scrambled eggs, sausages and stellar sandwiches at Antipodean Café, a hip, Kiwi- and Aussie-inspired hang-out on Jalan Telawi in Bangsar.
Mingle with the KL style set at poolside SkyBar, perched on the 23rd floor of the Traders Hotel, with jaw-plummeting views of the Petronas Towers. Book ahead to score one of the cushioned alcoves overlooking the city. Rooftop roost Luna Bar on the 34th floor of the Pacific Regency Hotel, is similarly lofty. Sink into one of the loungers that line the lap pool and order a berry martini.
Tucked away in an upscale corner of Kuala Lumpur, with the Petronas Twin Towers looming grandly in the distance, Villa Samadhi presents a cool proposition for couples who can’t decide between a resort or city getaway. Instead, it offers a chilled-out retreat with all the trappings of a buzzy metropolis – from luxe shopping malls to vivacious hawker markets – on your doorstep.
Shaded by swathes of young bamboo, the villa is easy to spot thanks to its distinctive grass-thatched roof, a lone concession to traditional Malay architecture amid the neighbouring high commissions and embassies. Framed by epic blue skies and palms, it’s oddly thrilling to leave the city behind as we enter what feels like our own private villa. We are bid a silent wai greeting by Samadhi’s resident Buddha statue, palms pressed together, before we step into the tranquil lobby area to check in over lemongrass juice and ice-cold towels.
Our Sarang suite (Indonesian for ‘nest’) is one of four similar, charming boudoirs at this cosy 21-room property. Fitted out with a rustic wooden slat for a lock (a padlock provides added security), the bedroom-meets-living space has a distinctly Asian flavour with its recycled teak walls and floors – we even have our very own Buddha to watch over us – while a squashy cream sofa adds a contemporary twist. The suite also boasts a generous kitchenette, although with an abundance of restaurants just waiting to be sampled nearby, our activity here is likely to be limited to making tea and coffee. For a dash of romance, retreat-style, all bathrooms at Samadhi are equipped with an oversized plunge tub for a pre/post dinner soak.
Having escaped the frenetic energy of KL – I keep thinking we’re in Seminyak or Samui – I complete the fantasy by stepping down the balcony ladder straight into the pool for a leisurely dip. Sumptuous gold silk lanterns blow idly in the wind overhead and guests recline on day-beds, heads in magazines, sheltered by palms. Mr Smith is flopped on a chaise longue on the terrace sipping a TWG tea (its signature blend, the 1837 Black, is a real find with a lingering aftertaste of caramel, he raves). Save for the faint buzz of dragonflies gliding over the pool’s surface, the air is silent and downtown Kuala Lumpur seems more like 50 minutes away, rather than just 15.
Ravenous, back in the suite, we crack open the jars of free home-baked biscuits (standouts include pistachio and chocolate chip) and dried fruit: fragrant guava, juicy papaya and chewy pineapple. Nibbling away, I notice with pleasure that there is nothing vaguely businessy in this Asian-inspired cocoon (although rest assured there’s WiFi).
After exploring the buzzy hub surrounding Petronas – below the two towers there’s a lively square where we order flat whites at Italian bar/restaurant Svago and watch the dancing KLCC fountains – we return for complimentary cocktails at the hotel’s Bumbung Bar. Like Samadhi’s restaurant, Mandi-Mandi, the bar is only open to villa guests and has a delightfully sleepy ambience akin to a lone bar on a quiet beach. Over star anise-spiked cocktails, we recline on vibrant embroidered cushions by the airy window.
Dinner beckons at sister restaurant Tamarind Springs, suggested by resident manager Cherie Al-Jufferey. We savour Indochinese fare served in Ampang’s natural forest reserve under palm-fringed roofs soundtracked by the gentle hum of crickets. The salty Vietnamese duck-egg omelette is a winner. Chic red and black decor contrasted with curtains of bamboo sets the scene as flickering candles illuminate wooden Buddha statues. In such a serene spot as this, Mr Smith and I keep forgetting we’re in Kuala Lumpur – it’s like checking into Villa Samadhi all over again.
Energised by a deep, dreamless sleep between pristine white sheets, the next morning we drift over to Samadhi’s only restaurant, Mandi-Mandi, where timber flooring and bare white walls make for a minimalist feel. Banana muffins and home-made bread are proffered alongside a platter of fruit and another of cheese, cured meats and grapes. My coconut waffle sets the scales tipping even further, as does Mr Smith’s nasi lemak, a steaming round of rice with hot chili and anchovy sauce topped with a boiled egg, while a kopi ban – espresso, honey, banana and milk dusted with cinnamon – packs a caffeine buzz Malay style.
It’s difficult to extricate ourselves from the soporific surrounds of Villa Samadhi with its dangerously comfortable day-beds and restful pool ambience, but we know it would be madness not to chow down with the locals at one of the city’s hawker markets. In the Bukit Bintang quarter, we discover that Jalan Alor, a mouth-watering stretch of Malay, Chinese and Thai food stalls, is worth a visit if only for the cheap beer and authentic Malaysian staples such as bak kut the (literally ‘meat bone tea’) soup. Keen to seek out a less touristy experience, Mr Smith and I also pull up a stool at muslim restaurant Nasi Kandar Pelita, a 10-minute walk from the hotel, where Mr Smith – adventurous as ever – orders a gloriously spicy kari kepala ikan (fish-head curry). Reflecting that it’s been a very food-led trip – my shorts are definitely tighter when we head back home to Hong Kong – we discover the best mango lassi of our lives at Sangeetha in Lebuh Ampang, KL’s Little India, where Indian restaurants and sari-filled stores abound.
There’s one final culinary adventure back at the hotel, before we reluctantly turn the padlock on our ‘nest’, as a Malaysian salad of tofu and satay sauce with green beans and beansprouts for lunch sets our tastebuds singing. Mr Smith is doubly impressed as the waiter has remembered how he takes his coffee.
Motoring down our peaceful leafy street to the airport, I’m as surprised as ever to hit the KL traffic after the calm of the villa. For indecisive travellers such as Mr Smith and I, who can never choose between city or retreat when booking a break, Villa Samadhi really has delivered the best of both worlds.