An ode to Kuala Lumpur’s underground
The Chow Kit weaves retro design and contemporary art into one of the city’s prettiest hotels.
Chow Kit was once synonymous with the seedier side of Kuala Lumpur. But with the opening of a namesake hotel last December, its transformation into the city’s hippest new neighborhood is complete. Rather than shying away from its sordid past, the Chow Kit, the 113-room debut property from Malaysia-based Ormond Group, celebrates it, thanks to the design vision of Brooklyn’s Studio Tack (Anvil Hotel, Scribner’s Catskill Lodge).
Where the retro custom furnishings create a general old-school ambience, the hotel’s artworks bring a more defined sense of place. Liza Ho, the art consultant enlisted by Studio Tack to curate The Chow Kit’s collection, had three main goals: create a heightened sense of intimacy between guests and the hotel; represent all eras rather than focus on the historical, and spark curiosity in the Chow Kit neighborhood of today. To that end, she commissioned new contemporary pieces from Malaysian and Southeast Asian artists to sit side-by-side with archival images of the area. A picture wall in the dining room is where it all comes together, giving you plenty to pore over on the walk up to the mezzanine.
“Chow Kit has always been a transit zone and a very important historic part of Kuala Lumpur, which has been neglected for many years,” says Liza Ho
Snug suites — some just 220 square feet — are meant to evoke gambling dens, while vanities and armchairs sport copper trim that recalls the area’s 18th-century history as a metal-mining boomtown. Even the coziest rooms offer floor-to-ceiling windows to optimize sight lines in a building that stands only five stories tall. Each room features all the modern essentials a traveller needs – Free high-speed WiFi, Luxury Linen, Bespoke Organic Toiletries by Jeanie Botanicals and Smart TVs.
Downstairs, the ground floor lobby connects contemporary sleekness with local vernacular: the front desk, bar, and public space surround an open kitchen that offers new riffs on Malaysian street food.
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Doubles from $85: www.thechowkit.com