Charm from a bygone era
The Jesselton Hotel was Kota Kinabalu’s first post-war hotel.
Built in 1954, it was refurbished in 2008 in pseudo-colonial style, which today is looking a little dated. Regardless, it’s extremely well maintained and oozes charm.
The central location on Gaya Street is hard to beat, unless a sea view is required. Entering the marble foyer you are transported to another era — think plump chintz-covered armchairs, baby grand piano, historical photos. It’s not quite Downton Abbey, but perhaps a little like grandma’s parlour. The well-appointed rooms have large picture windows, some with street views, and some onto a rather ugly alley behind the hotel — request a street-facing room. The style is plush with carpeted floors, solid wooden furnishings, and all sorts of details alluding to Kota Kinabalu’s colonial history.
While the overall effect feels a little old-fashioned rather than historical, we can’t deny it’s comfortable. All the amenities you would expect are supplied, including bathrobes and sarongs for a local touch. Soft and inviting beds are decorated with floral runners and white linen. Modern facilities include a flatscreen TV, minibar, free WiFi and plenty of power outlets. Marble bathrooms are complete with bath tubs, and the deluxe rooms have bidets. Staff are gracious and helpful. A pith-helmeted doorman only opens the doors on a Friday; other days you have to do it yourself (!). The services of a London cab for airport transfers is advertised on their website, but is no longer. The hotel’s in-house restaurant, Kudos, serves ‘modern British’ dishes using local produce and has an extensive wine list. It gets good reviews in its own right.
The Jesselton Hotel is a good midrange option for those looking for a bit of old-world service — it was good enough for Pope John-Paul (before he was pope) and boxer Mohammad Ali. Rightly popular, bookings are essential.
Address: 69 Jalan Gaya, Kota Kinabalu
T: (088) 223 333; F: (088) 240 401
Coordinates (for GPS): 116º4'40.13" E, 5º59'5.36" N
See position in Apple or Google Maps: Apple Maps | Google Maps
Room rates: 120 to 250 ringgit
What we were quoted as a walk-in.
|Superior double room||240 ringgit||240 ringgit|
|Deluxe double room||263 ringgit||263 ringgit|
|Suite||496 ringgit||496 ringgit|
Sally spent twelve years leading tourists around Indonesia and Malaysia where she collected a lot of stuff. She once carried a 40kg rug overland across Java. Her house has been described as a cross between a museum and a library. Fuelled by coffee, she can often be found riding her bike or petting stray cats. Sally believes travel is the key to world peace.
Our top 10 places to stay in and around Kota Kinabalu