Review: Ancient Thai Spa, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

I spent a recent weekend in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. (Read earlier article)

It was a busy weekend with many family activities but that did not stop me from making a quick run to a local Thai Spa; the Ancient Thai Spa. I had discovered this gem of a Thai Massage in my last trip to KL and it was a return visit for me.

The Ancient Thai Spa is located at one end of Jalan Alor, the famous open air food street, that is famously associated with Bukit Bintang, the ultimate KL shopping triangle. Almost every tourist that comes to Kuala Lumpur would have visited Bt Bintang or Jalan Alor as part of local culture initiation. You have not been to Kuala Lumpur if you have not been to Bukit Bintang or Jalan Alor.

The very busy Jalan Alor food street just off Bukit Bintang
The very busy Jalan Alor open air food street; just off Bukit Bintang

Open air food stalls will open in the evening
Open air food stalls will open in the evening

Ancient Thai Spa offers a quiet haven at one end of busy Jalan Alor
Ancient Thai Spa offers a quiet haven at one end of busy Jalan Alor

The spa offers private parking - where chauffeurs dropped off business executives
The spa offers private parking – where chauffeurs dropped off business executives

In fact, Bukit Bintang is lined with foot reflexology and massage shops. You cannot take two steps without being approached for massage services. While prices are generally lower, these shops are open and noisy, and not quite my cup of tea for a relaxing massage.

Hence, I was glad to discover the Ancient Thai Spa, which is clean, air-conditioned, does not hard-sell, hire only Thai massuers and offers calm and peace in the hustle and bustle of busy Bukit Bintang. Best of all, it offers authentic Thai massage services.

The receptionist is a local Malaysian Chinese and the rest of the operations are operated by Thais. Prices are a little higher than most shops along Bt Bintang but are still acceptable. Certificates proudly displayed indicate that the shop is endorsed by the Thai embassy, Malaysia Police and all the masseurs has attained at least a 2nd Thai ancient massage Certification level. You do feel relaxed in such a shop

The spacious reception areal
The spacious reception area

Multiple certifications that vouch for the skill authenticity of the shop
Multiple certifications that vouch for the skill authenticity of the shop

The foot massage area - decked in a pleasant blue
The foot massage area – decked in a pleasant blue

Private partitioned area for body massage
Private partitioned area for body massage

Body massage and foot massage are carried out by mostly middle-age male and female Thai masseurs. From their mild mannerism, lack of English skills and good massage skills, you can tell they’re not from the commercial areas of Patpong or Bangkok in Thailand but probably from the inner provinces.

It is good that you tell your masseurs if you can accept a hard massage because Thai massage from authentic masseurs trained from the ancient Wat temples can be a no-holds bar for hard cracks and twists. Not many of us can take the ultimate Thai ancient massage and it may be better to opt for Thai oil massage or request for a milder version of the massage. For me, the harder the better.

But I had to surrender too when it came to Thai foot massage. Unlike Chinese or Japanese foot massage, Thai foot massage utilises a stick to poke at the pressure points instead of only using fingers. If you cannot take the pain from normal foot massage, Thai foot massage will send you up the wall.

Again, pain is proportionate to the light and floating feeling you have on your feet after a painful foot massage, but ultimately it is up to you if you can accept the initial pain. Be warned, if you cannot take normal foot massage pain, do not try Thai foot massage!

We had both body and foot massage and ‘floated’ our way out into the busy Jalan Alor after our treatment. Just nice to hit the Jalan Alor food stalls at 6pm when they’re just starting to start up for night business. A most pleasant way to spend time in Kuala Lumpur!

Address:
One end of Jalan Alor; off Bukit Bintang

Size of Spa: About 15 partitioned treatment rooms and 15 foot massage chairs
Friendliness: Friendly and professional
Pricing: 1 hour massage starts at M$70. Other treatment and massage services start from that price onwards. Discount available for visits before 3pm.
Others: Sport, ladies and pregnancy massage are also available

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Review: Traders Hotel, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

A family occasion found me in Kuala Lumpur(KL) Malaysia, again, just a couple of months after my business trip there.

Well, at least this time it’s for pleasure and not work. Hence, I was free to choose my hotel and again, I check in to Tripadvisor for my choice of hotel. The top hotel consistently appearing in Tripadvisor for KL was Traders Hotel near KLCC(Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre). I decided to go along with Tripadvisor’s readers’ choice.

Most time, I find Tripadvisors’ readers to be spot-on with their choices. I had been very happy with their recommendation for my last few trips. I wasn’t quite sure about the recommendation for Trader’s Hotel though; sometimes, I find the reviews, especially the sweeping positive reviews, had raised expectations to a level that perhaps when real delivery does not meet, you become even more disappointed. It’s like waking up to find that Santa Claus does not exist.

Welcome to Trader's Hotel
Welcome to Trader’s Hotel

Nice spacious room
Nice spacious room

The disappointment started when we arrived at the driveway of the hotel. We were dropped off in a limousine driven by a relative. We thought we would get a warm reception. How wrong we were.

The bell-hop did open our car door. That was it.

No one helped me with the luggage. No one told us that the reception is on the fifth level. So, we were left dangling at the driveway lobby before self-discovering that we had to make our way to the fifth level.

The check-in reception at fifth level only had 3 counters. The queue was long; because 2 of the check-in staff were busy explaining and detailing the delights of Kuala Lumpur to check-in guests. Sure, I’m sure the hotel needs to live up to their high ranks in Tripadvisor for service beyond expectation but surely it makes more sense to pass on to concierge and guest relations to explain the delights of KL and not keep check-in guests waiting especially as some of them may had arrived after a long flight and want to be checked in quickly.

Work desk area
Work desk area – note the splotchy lights in the room

Corny sink design
Nice toilet but check out the corny sink design

Wonder how much is Evian water at the convenience store
Wonder how much is Evian water at the nearest convenience store

Many reviews rave about the view of the Twin Tower - this is my room's view
Many reviews rave about the view of the Twin Tower – this is my room’s view

During the check-in process, the check-in staff must have overheard that it was my birthday. She did not offer any greetings but we knew she overheard because that night, we found a small birthday cake in our room. Nice touch by the hotel but I remain unimpressed. Why? Because F&B delivered the cake without a cover and we were only back in the room at midnight and I wasn’t keen to eat a cake that was left exposed for 8 hours!

After checking into the room, we made a bee-way to the nearby KLCC for our family activity. We had read about the hotel’s buggy service in Tripadvisor and was looking forward to the short ride to KLCC. Again, it left us slightly disappointed as the buggy can only take 6 people at a time and the driver did not really differentiate between hotel guests and outsiders although the signboard clearly indicated it was for hotel guests only. Many in the shuttle queue were obviously not hotel guests and this can be expected when the shuttle service is situated right next to the convention centre and it’s horde of visitors!

Drop off point is on a side-road; reception on the fifth level
Drop off point is on a side-road; reception on the fifth level

KLCC is just next door; note Twin Tower in background
KLCC is just next door; note Twin Tower in background

The shuttle that brings hotel guests to Twin Tower
The shuttle that brings hotel guests to Twin Tower; if you can get a seat

Walking distance to the Twin Tower shopping mall and offices
Walking distance to the Twin Tower shopping mall and offices

I was looking forward to good food in the hotel. I found that there was only one restaurant serving standard international cafe fare. Not interested.

I asked a coat and tie staff near the cafe for recommendations for nearby restaurants. Unfortunately, we couldn’t communicate; I think he’s a Nepali and we couldn’t understand each other’s English.

Like all overworked executives, even on holidays, I had brought some reading materials. If you note in the photos, you’ll see that there are no reading lamps at the arm chair or work desk area; only splotchy ceiling lights that make reading of small text difficult. This is definitely disappointing for a hotel that is aiming for the business visitor.

One of the highlight of the hotel is the indoor sky lobby swimming pool. By night, it’s a clubbing scene by the pool and by day, it offers guests a spectacular view of the twin tower while relaxing by the pool. But it’s really an enclosed narrow pool and because it is a bar cum lounge by the pool, I found myself swimming and coming up for air and cigar smoke at the same time. I hated it!

I hope I do not sound overbearing naggy by now. The rooms are great. The hotel infrastructure is great. Everyone smile at the hotel. The hotel is definitely on par as any of the 4 and 5 stars hotels out there. But after reading so many grand reviews in Tripadvisor; I must say that I feel letdown because I was expecting more.

Maybe there are reasons for the good reviews. Like the fact that the hotel is a short walking distance to the Petronas Twin Towers. Like if you have the right facing room (we did not), you’ll get a fabulous view of the Twin Towers. Like if you’re attending a conference/exhibition at the convention centre, it’s right next door. Like if you take public transport, there’s a light rail station nearby. Like the fact that Wifi is complimentary throughout the hotel including the rooms.

Swimming by day - note the loung/bar area
Swimming pool by day – note the lounge/bar area and possible cigar smell

Clubbing scene by night - no swimming after 6pm
Clubbing scene by night – no swimming after 6pm

Night view of the Twin Tower from the Pool area
Night view of the Twin Tower from the Sky Pool area –
compensation for those without the room view

Will I recommend this hotel? I’ll say why not if you’re on a business trip or if you are attending to events at the convention centre or Twin Towers. It does have business function advantages.

If you’re a leisure traveler, I’m not sure if this is the right hotel and you should be able to get better hotels elsewhere in Kuala Lumpur that are better suited for the holiday visitor.

Traders Hotel
Kuala Lumpur City Centre

50088
Malaysia

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Bukit Bintang Massage, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Bukit Bintang, MalaysiaLast weekend, my hubby and I made a quick, overnight trip to Kuala Lumpur(KL), Malaysia. The trip was via a coach from Singapore and we started at 8am and was in KL by 2pm. We checked into the Bukit Bintang Hotel along the busy Bukit Bintang Road. Bukit Bintang Road is a touristy area with lots of shopping malls, eateries, open air markets, cafes, no-frill spa boutique etc.

Our main purpose of this trip was to eat cheap, shop cheap and of course enjoy the massage at half the price as compared back home.

After our breakfast the next day, we decided to check out the spa boutique within the hotel. Unfortunately, there wasn’t any massage slot available and more importantly, the price was quite steep and not much different from home. As Bukit Bintang is one of the busiest street in Kuala Lumpur, we were quite certain that we would be able to find something cheaper and even better.

We noticed a few spa boutique signboards just across the road from our hotel. We walked into the 1st spa and they were not opened for business yet as it was only about 10.30am. We inquired about their service and price. The prices were reasonable. Since they were not ready for business, we walked further down to explore the rest of the spas. The second spa was located on the 2nd floor and they were open and ready to accept customers despite the early hour.

The place was nicely decorated with Oriental Chinese decor and Chinese soft music completed the ambiance. We decided to try their foot reflexology. We were then lead into the massage hall by our therapists. Wow, the place is like an ancient Chinese Palace Chamber with more than 100 massage beds and each bed was individually separated by soft, flowing curtains thus ensuring some degree of privacy.

Both our therapists were from China. Their reflexology strokes were so good that our 60 mins sessions passed so quickly. During the treatment, we found that they worked from 10am to the next following day 2am. This is so tiring work!

After the treatment, I went back to the 1st spa to try out their Aroma massage & body scrub. My hubby went shopping and we agreed to meet 2 hours later at the hotel lobby.

The therapist led me to the upper level. The 1st level was for foot reflexology, 2nd and 3rd level were for body and facial treatments. I was led to the 3rd level as it was meant for ladies only.

The therapist applied the sea salt scrub on my whole body and followed by a 90mins aroma massage. Her skills were good and she ensured every part of your body were being massaged with the right pressure. Both the body scrub and massage cost me MYR182 (US$55) which would have certainly cost me twice back home.

After my massage session, I walked back to the hotel to meet my hubby. We went for a quick lunch and it was time to end our short trip with another ride back on the coach.

Location of Spas: Row of shophouses opposite Bukit Bintang Hotel, Bukit Bintang Road, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Size of Spa:
1. First spa was three levels with individual small rooms on the 2nd & 3rd level
2. Second spa was one level with more than 100 beds in a large common hall
Friendliness: Friendly receptionist and masseurs
Facilities:
1. Shower rooms only
2. None
Pricing: MYR60 to MYR80 for one hour session (US$20 – US$25)

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