Besieged by the upraising boutique and business hotels around town, the 22-storey Hotel Equatorial Melaka still stands at its best after all these years. With its recent renovation and upgrading on its guest rooms, this charming “Old Lady” strikes back to suit all needs in the heart of history, mylifestylenews writes……
Melaka has a surprisingly large number of hotels and while the city is not extremely large, it is still all about location. The Hotel Equatorial Melaka business hotel has 496 elegantly appointed guestrooms and suites offering stunning views of the Straits of Melaka and St. Paul’s Hill. Set in the heart of historical Melaka, it offers a touch of elegance and contemporary design in its newly upgraded rooms, and while it may be more of a business resort, it does also offer some great leisure facilities.
The hotel is a showcase of local heritage, culture and tradition, reflected in every way, from its unique architecture to warm service and specialized restaurants. The hotel itself is built on the site of the original Melaka Rest House, which was an old colonial house of hospitality dating back to the early 1900’s, so what it provides within is a taste of hospitality that harks back to the old days.
It is ideally located within a few minutes walk from the historical sites and trails, shopping complexes, night spots, as well as the famous Jonker Street – a haven for antique collectors and bargain hunters. Of course, it is all about Melakan hospitality and what an interesting history this port city has in terms of historical influences that have created such a warm hospitality which this hotel excels in, while providing the convenience of the modern world.
We were perched in a 20th floor aerie, with a spectacular view overlooking the Straits of Melaka, enjoying the comforts of our Premier room. A welcome tea refreshment was delivered promptly after arriving in our room, along with a cold face towel, which was very welcome after the excessive temperature outside. The newly renovated room is tastefully furnished along elegant and contemporary designs and has a soaring ceiling height, which is so welcoming, as low ceilings dampen one’s sense of enjoyment especially after Hong Kong. Despite the dated bathroom with the shower still being in the bath, it is one little niggle in a property of this caliber, with the 3-sided wrap around window daybed adding that memorable touch and this becomes one of the highlights of the room.
The Hotel Equatorial ensures that you have plenty of leisure options to relax with, including a huge free-form swimming pool, a floodlit tennis court , a spacious gym with his and hers jacuzzi, saunas and steam rooms, so it won’t be all work and no play with these options to choose from.
Despite Melaka gaining its title as one of the UNESCO World Heritage listings in 2008, multiple development in different directions turn this charming little town into commercialism instead of maintaining its heritage assets at it best.
Walking along the narrow streets is one of the best ways to discover the historical Melaka but you must be able to bear the heat and humidity. Umbrellas, hats, sunscreen, sun block lotion, lots of bottles of waters seemingly are the necessity which you can’t do without while touring around by foot in the historical city. A 38c of heat is more than discomfort, finding a shaded “Kaki Lima” - a five-foot walkways where possible during your sightseeing is the best way to fight the heat simultaneously. But, mind you, after a few good blocks, you may begin to lose your interest to farther your journey especially getting bombarded by the commercial tourist stores/shops with repetition of merchandise offered along Jonker Street.
Jonker Street has now turned “Junker Street” by selling mostly Made-In-China junk plastic merchandise with 100% commercialism. The street turns into a pedestrian night market every Friday and Saturday from 6pm onwards. It is all depends on what’s your version of night market pleasure, if you were to seek for the real UNESCO World Heritage site with this weekend “pop-up” outdoor stalls dominating the street with mainly repetition of street food stalls lacking an identity and personality, so it is just another Patong Beach in town. It can be a heaven or hell.
Melaka has a very vibrant dining scene, and you don’t have to leave the confines of the hotel to get some authentic tastes of Melaka. One of the most enjoyable experiences we had was dining in Seri Nyonya Peranakan Restaurant. To avoid being a classic tourist, the best thing to do now is to find a café with a much personality hidden along the alley ways to cool your body heat before the heat stroke strikes you.
We pop into the hotel’s outdoor dining terrace K5 ‘Kaki Lima” Street Bistro which overlooks the bustling streets of Melaka Raya and also offers some authentic Melaka flavours with a contemporary twist combining the memories of the good old days and the trends of today. The smoked duck pizza with caramelized onion and cheese was sensational.
The Nyonya Laksa and Duck Noodle Soup were equally fantastic, with seriously delicious flavours and portion sizes that will not leave you disappointed by any means. It is refreshing to have such liberal portions and affordable prices to match in an international hotel setting and it is open 24/7, as Melakans never want to stop eating, plus the live telecast showing live sports games and MTV.
Breakfast is in the Rest House Café (named after the building on the original site) and offers all the expected buffet selections along with the standard a la carte menu, however, the food quality and service is not on par with the other outlets in the hotel from what we sampled. That being said, at least knowing how busy a buffet breakfast can be in such a big hotel, there is a key focus on local specialties, so if you want to go local for breakfast, choices are aplenty.
Melakans do enjoy their night life and there are many bars and night clubs to choose from. The Flo Lounge exudes an air of elegance with plush sofas and comfortable armchairs to unwind with your cocktails. This crossover sports bar/DJ lounge has been divided into different zones to peak your interest, with a snooker table corner, electric darts corner, a long bar table and spacious dance floor.
The Flo Lounge
Melaka is awash in fascinating history which has always been a favorite destination for both local and international travelers and so this hotel is a destination within itself. It has been an icon in this port city for many years and the locals certainly embrace what it has to offer. There are some areas that need a little updating, but we have it on good authority that some major renovations are afoot shortly.
Tried & Tested:
Design & Decor: 3.5/5
Food & Beverage: 4/5
Room Amenities: 3/5
Food & Beverage ( K5 & Seri Nyonya Peranakan Restaurant)
Tel: +6 06 282 8333