I have so many fond memories from our time in South East Asia, but there is one in particular which will forever be etched on my mind for all the wrong reasons. We were having lunch at a popular Chiang Mai restaurant, and all around us families, couples, and large groups of friends were all happily devouring the delicious food while drinking water from plastic bottles, poured into plastic cups, sipped through plastic straws. The ridiculousness of that sight is one I will never forget; what brief amusement it caused soon gave way to despair. Single-use plastic consumption is a hot topic right now. We can no longer deny the damage it is causing to our environment and I think we all have a responsibility to do something about it. A certain someone and I are slowly but surely reducing our plastic usage which means being more conscious about sustainability when it comes to making all sorts of consumer choices… and hotels are definitely one of them!
We have become those guests who leave some constructive feedback as to how a hotel might consider changing some of their habits to become more sustainable – we’re not evangelically demanding anything, merely planting the achievable seeds for change. We did, however, recently come across one hotel where no hints or suggestions were needed because they have already gone ahead and eliminated all single-use plastic from their property, the first hotel in Asia to do so. Let me introduce you to akyra TAS Sukhumvit, a five star boutique hotel which is the newest property in the akyra portfolio and the first to implement the company’s stance on being single-use plastic free…
Still half asleep and in my morning daze, I was momentarily perplexed as to exactly where I was when I woke up that first day at the Luang Say Residence. The familiar crow of an energetic rooster is one we have heard all over our travels through Asia, and yet, my immediate surroundings took me to another world. ‘You’re in Luang Prabang’, I reminded myself… a pretty little town with a UNESCO Heritage Site title under its belt and an unshakable French influence. Which brings me right back to the Luang Say Residence and all makes sense again. This gorgeous hotel is well-regarded as one of the best in town, and within minutes of our arrival, I knew exactly why.
In stark contrast to the small but heavily-populated streets of the town centre, the Luang Say Residence is a sanctuary for those in need of rest and relaxation. At this point in our travels, we welcomed that idea and are not ashamed to admit that we spent a lot of our time in Luang Prabang simply chilling out at the hotel. If we weren’t in our suite we were most likely to be found down by the pool… The stunning French colonial style buildings set in lush, tropical gardens made for an inviting combination. Add the excellent restaurants and impeccable service, and the thought of spending the day at the Luang Say Residence was simply irresistible!
After weeks of eating solely out of melanine plates and bowls, usually perched on stools at a wobbly plastic table, the sight of a well set table at Macalister Mansion was a welcomed one. Hawker centres hold a special place in my heart but there are also times when one wants to have a meal they can linger over. Preferably without the soundtrack of woks being fired up and pots clanging, and away from the glare of other hungry diners eyeing up your seat. The Dining Room at Macalister Mansion provided this brief oasis; you won’t find any of Penang’s famed street food here but you will find a fine-dining experience good enough to make you think you’re sitting in London’s Mayfair. In a country like Malaysia where hawkers reign supreme, this is a rare find indeed!
Macalister Mansion is named after Sir Norman Macalister, one of the first Governors of Penang. I’m not sure what he would have made of the transformation, but personally I think they have done a marvellous job restoring this colonial mansion into an exclusive eight bedroom boutique hotel in the heart of Georgetown. While each of the unique rooms has a luxurious but sleek approach to their design, the common spaces are where the artistic flair truly shines. We spent our first few moments at Macalister Mansion in their delightful Cellar, sinking into the oversized leather couches, eyes darting around taking in the trinkets carefully placed across the room. Before we got too comfortable, we moved into the Dining Room, another stunning space with tables set around a striking white tree centrepiece. The Penang we already knew felt like a world away…
Since being named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008, the little city of Melaka has seen itself transform into quite the darling of the Malaysian tourist scene. The people are coming in droves to explore the history, culture, and cuisine of Melaka and as a result more and more hotels seem to be popping up all over town. In the midst of the old stalwarts, international chains, and boutique guesthouses, is Rosa Malacca. This new property is a rare gem that provides both the friendly, welcoming atmosphere of a cosy boutique hotel and the stylish, modern design of the larger chains – the perfect combination, if you ask me.
Rosa Malacca is located away from the busy streets of Jonker Walk, which we found to be more of a blessing than a curse. It’s only a brisk fifteen minute stroll or short Uber ride away, but once you step through their huge double doors, you will feel like you’re in another world. After a day of sightseeing in the hot Melaka sun, we were grateful for this oasis. The industrial chic look and feel of the hotel is quite striking, and it’s obvious that Rosa Malacca has been designed with a lot of care and attention to detail. I loved that every inch of the hotel looked beautiful, but also felt casual and comfortable – this new kid on the block is definitely not just a pretty face!