Our pick of the best
If you’re wondering where to stay in Kuala Lumpur, here is our pick of the best places to stay—read on also for our comparison of the key areas along with an overview of the best time to visit Kuala Lumpur.
Malaysia’s capital, Kuala Lumpur has an amazing range of places to stay, from back to basic dorm rooms right through to quite comfortable modern hotels, spread across a few main centres of the city. If you’re one for filtering through thousands of options, we’ll send you straight across to Agoda (4,392 properties) or Booking (1,989 properties), but if you’re after a shorter list, please read on.
Being an enormous capital city, there are plenty of different districts to stay in. Bukit Bintang, Little India and Chinatown are three which have been traditionally been the most popular with independent travellers—mostly due to their convenient placement for sightseeing, food and drink, public transport, or all three. These are the areas we mostly concentrate on below. If you’re looking to stay in Brickfields, up in KLCC or over in PJ, the above mentioned Agoda and Booking are a good place to start.
When choosing between Bukit Bintang, Little India and Chinatown, the easiest way to break it down is by your stomach, Bukit Bintang has by far the broadest selection of bars and western eateries in the city, Chinatown is best for, well, Chinese and other Asian food and Little India is best for, you guessed it, South Asian food.
While this is a very subjective call, personally we find Chinatown the most interesting area to stay in, followed by Little India then Bukit Bintang. The first two still have many older period buildings, street markets, terrific food, and other goings on, while Bukit Bintang is being rapidly gentrified and is less interesting to explore—it is very convenient for malls and shopping though.
Kuala Lumpur really has no good or bad time of year to visit. A spike in prices, accompanied by a dip in availability, is associated by major holidays, like Christmas and Lunar New Year. But it really is not that noticeable. The Muslim fasting month of Ramadan has no negative impact on visitors. In fact, the only noticeable difference is that food courts become blissfully quiet during the day. If you’re going to be in town over one of the major festivals, say Deepavali for example, making a booking in advance, while not essential, is prudent.
Weather wise, KL is hot and humid all year round. Heavy rain showers are a regular occurrence, all year round. Most commonly they occur in the late afternoon, and are often accompanied by thunder and lightning. Most days, the temperature peaks at low to mid 30s (Celsius), with a cool day being mid 20s.
For backpackers, Kuala Lumpur boasts plenty of hostels, some great, some not so great. Two budget dorms (with beds under 25 ringgit) which we were quite impressed with were The Icon in Pudu (roughly halfway between Bukit Bintang and Chinatown) and Grocer’s Lodge in Chinatown. The former is a modern, new, no frills hostel, while the latter is in an almost 100 year old building and should be considered very much an “old style” hostel.
If you want to spend a little more and like your dorm beds with a few mod cons, then two standout places are BackHome (from around 50 ringgit) in Little India and Paper Plane (from 70 ringgit) in Bukit Bintang. Backhome is deservedly popular, runs excellent food walks and has a very convivial atmosphere, while Paper Plane, with a slightly out of the way location, will appeal to those not wanting to be in the centre of things but wanting clean, smart and friendly lodgings. While not officially a hostel, 1,000 Miles Hotel has some excellent dorms (from 69 ringgit) and also some compact but immaculate private rooms (from 109 ringgit). It also has a great location in the heart of Little India and a rooftop sundeck!
Edging up out of dorms and into private rooms, we had two favourites, the older Orange Pekoe (from 70 ringgit) in Bukit Bintang and the brand-spanking-new (as at late 2017) Ahyu Hotel (from 100 ringgit) in Little India. Both of these were clean and well kept and Orange Pekoe's larger rooms struck us as very good value.
Looking for more comfort or something a little more special? Anggun Boutique Hotel (from 212 ringgit) will appeal to those looking for old-world charm while still enjoying a central Bukit Bintang location, while over in Chinatown, we were very taken with the new (as at late 2017) Tian Jing Hotel—good for lovers we say (from 230 ringgit).
For something totally out of left field, but with a swimming pool front and centre, the rustically charming Sekeping Tenggiri (from 220 ringgit) was a surprisingly great find, but, located in the back blocks of Bangsar it is not ideal for sightseeing unless you’re ok with a 30 minute walk (or a cab ride) to the train station.
If you’d prefer a more modern hotel-style choice, we have two recommendations—KL Journal (from 310 ringgit) right in the centre of Bukit Bintang and Hotel Stripes (from 299 ringgit) a little north of the centre of things. Both offer impressive rooms, roof top swimming pools (Hotel Stripe’s pool in particular is great), multiple restaurants and all the frills, but in both cases be sure to shop around online for a competitive—mid week stays in particular can deliver terrific discounts.
One final note, in a city of literally thousands of hotels, the above is but the briefest of snapshots and if you’re after more options, head to Agoda and/or Booking. Particularly if you are just looking for a cheap room with a private bathroom, but are not fussed about how memorable the property is, there are hundreds of totally forgettable places you can find on the online agents!
Stuart McDonald co-founded Travelfish.org with Samantha Brown in 2004. He has lived in Thailand, Cambodia and Indonesia, where he worked as an under-paid, under-skilled language teacher, an embassy staffer, a newspaper web-site developer, freelancing and various other stuff. His favourite read is The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton.
Our top 10 places to stay in and around Kuala Lumpur