Last November I was in Kuching to attend a dear friend's wedding at Grand Margherita Hotel. Since the wedding reception was at night and I reached Kuching in the evening after work, I decided to stay at the hotel itself for convenience sake.

Located along Kuching Waterfront and right smack in the heart of Kuching city, the hotel's strategic location ensures that it remains one of the most sought after accommodation among tourists. The famous Cat Statues were just opposite the hotel, and the famous seafood eatery, TopSpot within walking distance away. Conveniently, Sarawak Plaza Shopping Complex is just adjacent to the hotel.

Through Booking.com, I booked the twin deluxe room at RM300++ for two nights. For a four-star hotel, this is certainly a good deal.  

Since the wedding dinner ended late and my kids and mom were getting tired, I sent them to the room before joining them half an hour later. So please pardon the messy room photos because I was too tired to put them away for decent photos, LOL!

Our room was appointed with two queen size beds, facing a car park outside the window. If you want a room facing the river, the rate might be different, since that is how they price their rooms. The work desk is adjoined to the vanity desk. The room is also equipped with flat screen plasma TV which is mounted on the wall.

I regretted not getting the Superior room though, because when I checked their website, their Superior rooms have undergone renovation and looks really new and modern. Maybe the hotel is renovating its rooms by stages so hopefully if I stayed here again, the deluxe room will spot a brand new look. During our stay, it still looks pretty old and tired:

A pair of settees, a standing reading lamp and side table agains the window

The beds were quite comfortable despite its rather outdated look (no lumpy mattresses!)

The vanity area (please ignore the mess!)

TV and work desk. The electrical plugs were sadly in not so good condition

Entry walkway

Other amenities in the room is pretty standard. You'll find the coffee / tea maker, mini fridge, IDD telephone, safe box, hair dryer, iron and ironing board, and bathrobes (albeit very thin bathrobes!) in the room.

Iron and ironing board

Safe box

Coffee / tea making amenities

The usual available options of instant coffee & tea!
Mini fridge is empty though
As usual, my kids love the hotel bathroom that comes with a bathtub, regardless of the condition of the bathroom. 

This bathroom has never been updated since the '70s, maybe?
The hair dryer needs to be put in the museum, it's so obsolete!

The highlight of any hotel stays for my kids!
Toiletries are so... pathetic.
Thankfully, where the hotel lacks in terms of rejuvenating their tired and old-looking room, they make up with delicious breakfast. I love their rice congee (perfect condiments) and nasi lemak. Their pastry selection is not too bad either.

Something modern looking at last, their cafe was packed with guests enjoying the breakfast selection

Overall, if you are looking for a staycation, this hotel is not meant to cater to that expectation. This hotel is however highly recommended for tourists because of its location in the middle of tourist sightseeing attractions. 

Rating: 8/10

P/S: I would like to take this opportunity to wish my blog readers who are celebrating Christmas, a very Merry Christmas! Have a good holidays! ^_^
If you are looking for a 'home away from home' type of accommodation in KL, you won't be disappointed with the choices out there because there are more and more hotels adopting serviced apartment concept coming up, like The Capri by Fraser which is located in Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur.

Part of the Frasers Hospitality Group, the hotel residence boasts new experience where work merge with play, and the result is casual atmosphere with business needs combined. Walking into the lobby and seeing rows of iMac for guests to check emails or surf the Internet is proof of the hotel's effort to infuse work with play (Apple is of course always associate with the lighter side).

This was my first experience of booking a serviced apartment, and I was pleasantly surprised to discover that it offers value for money, yet at the same time you can get similar experience as staying in a regular hotel.

Although The Capri is located rather out of the way of KL city, there's a PUTRA LRT station (Universiti station) nearby (though you have to take a taxi to go there) that is just 5 minutes away. For those who just want to have a stroll in a shopping mall nearby, Nexus is just next door. So it is pretty convenient if you ask me.

I booked a three-bedroom apartment for our stay, with the rate under RM1000 per night (it was around RM700++). When we entered the unit, we were impressed at how spacious it was considering the price that we paid. 

Really spacious walkway

All of the rooms are tastefully decorated in earthen color and white washed walls and cabinets, exuding a sense of simplicity yet chic look. 

Modern look triumphs at Capri by Fraser KL

The room with single bed comes with work desk
  
You can comfortably do your work here since WiFi is free.


The other bedroom comes with queen bed

The master bedroom comes with its own bathroom
And a bathtub as well

The master bathroom has separate shower area with frosted glass for privacy.


Vanity area

Plenty of hand and face towels provided

Malin+Goetz toiletries, but I don't really fancy the aroma.

There is also a common bathroom / toilet with shower cubicle and vanity area.

The guest bathroom

Bathroom with a view! Just don't stand naked at this area, although I think the window uses reflective glasses so people can't see from outside.

What I really love about the hotel apartment is the well-equipped kitchenette complete with electric kettle, built-in microwave, cutleries, plates and mugs, sink area, electric stove, and a fridge. You can opt to wash your own clothes (please request for detergent from the housekeeping team) and even dry them using their Electrolux washer-dryer machine. No more dilemma on whether to pay exorbitant laundry charges or bringing back dirty laundry (I always hate unpacking because it means piles of dirty laundry to do once I reach home).

The kitchenette is equipped with stove, fridge, microwave, sink, kettle, cutleries and tucked inside the drawer under the microwave is a washing machine with drying function.

The sink area, next to it is the fridge
The dining table sits 5 persons, and opposite dining area is the living area.

The dining area is adjacent to the living area

Living area which can comfortably accommodate 3-4 persons.

Somehow I feel that the furniture in the living area are rather a mis-matched bunch, with grey and green sofa, white coffee table, and green carpet. It is as though the living area was not planned out extensively.

The sofa in the living area

Due to our tight schedule, we did not manage to check out their infinity swimming pool (looks gorgeous from the photos on their website). Our room rate comes with breakfast (another wow factor) although they could improve on the breakfast menu variety. Parking is complimentary for guests staying at the hotel.

Overall I think it is worth every penny spent to stay here. Perhaps if they can provide shuttle service to the nearby Bangsar Shopping Centre or The Gardens, it can attract more leisure-seeking visitors to stay here since access to public transport is the only drawback of staying here.

Rate: 9/10
Dear Daughters,

Three days ago, both of you turned 4 years and 2 years old respectively. Apart from the same birth date, you two are nothing alike at all. It is like living day and night simultaneously. I am constantly amazed that I carried both of you in me and yet, produced two different characters.

One angelic traveler sitting watching outside the window, and one fidgety traveller

My precious angels,

A year ago, I missed the opportunity to pen a letter to you both because at that time I was busy with my dissertation writing. It was a regretful thing because looking back, I couldn't remember the important milestones that you both conquered at that age. This time, I'm determined to finish this letter even though the warm bed is beckoning me. Many years later, I hope you would appreciate this...

[pause: Khadeeja has just woken up and crying looking for Mommy. Sigh].

[Un-pause]

Khadeeja my little warrior,

At this age, you have started to pick up a lot of words. Mostly from your sister because she is your walking, talking and breathing encyclopaedia. Your favourite expression is, 'What are you doing?' You like to imitate sounds, even the GPS giving directions, which cracks me up. You are also highly independent, always asking to clothe or feed yourself.

You love reading books even at this age. Usually, you choose your own book and ask me to read it to you over and over again. However there is one hobby that you like which I guiltily succumb to - watching Youtube. Whenever I need some peace or just want you to stop being fidgety, I will whip out my iPhone and let you watch videos of Play Doh toys. Somehow, both of you are fascinated by these videos.

You always amaze me every day. For example, one day were were at the parking lot when you pointed at a signage pole with black and white stripes. You said, 'Tiger!' I was puzzled, as I searched for any picture or figurine of the animal, but there was none. Suddenly it clicked (sorry, poor Mommy is slow!) and apparently the stripes reminded you of tiger stripes. You also pointed at a plant which grows horizontally in Makyeng's backyard and proclaimed it as 'crocodile', because the bark is rough and thick, maybe like crocodile skin.

My sweetheart,

The thing that amazed me the most is your ability to recite a du'a recently. You recited it heartily although the pronunciations were wrong at certain places. Other times, you demonstrated your understanding of a concept when you are able to come up with your own song using a familiar tune, like 'Mommy finger, Mommy finger' and you switched it to 'Mommy sleeping, mommy sleeping' because I was doing exactly that. Sleeping. I think you will have no problem academically, Insya Allah.

You figured this place as a good place to hang out and chill

Baby girl,

People say that little girls are made of sugar and spice. It may be true because for a tiny person, you are spicy and all spiced up for life. Your sister is intimidated by your fierce nature and your quick hand, always ever ready to hit out at your sister who is almost twice your size.

Posing with Hello Kitty won't disguise the fact that she is one tough cookie
If that is not enough, you like to scream at other kids who annoy you. One day we were having lunch at McDonald's when a young boy refused to let you in at the play area. You stormed back to me, stood behind me and started a shouting match. Incorrigible words were exchanged at high pitched tone, as Mommy and Makyeng looked on in pure astonishment. When did you develop this gungho manner?

'Mommy said I'm gung-ho!'

Looking back, I always knew that you have strong determination and a temper to match. From the moment you bawled your lungs out when the doctor pulled you out of my tummy, to the night you steadfastly refused pacifiers and cried until I gave in and offered you the real deal. In a way, you are like me. We don't like to give up, and would persevere even though it makes us miserable. Just like those times you were determined to lug heavy toys upstairs, all the time screaming and crying in anger because it was too heavy or too large for you to carry it by yourself.

Despite this very fierce demeanor, you have a big heart and do not hesitate to share your stuff with your sister. After hitting kakak, you would show remorse and would pat her on her back and pacify her saying, 'Dah, dah...'

Moving on to my firstborn, Khayla. If your sister is a spice, you are the sugar. The sweet-natured, yet the babyish one. Didn't I tell you that you two are like night and day?

Khayla my ray of sunshine,

There was a time when I worried because you hardly uttered a word when you were at Khadeeja's age. Two years later, your vocabulary is now stunning. Despite going to Malay medium daycare now, you continue to speak in English and adding new phrases which you learnt from your favourite cartoon or tv shows like Hi-5 and your ultimate favourite movie, Frozen. Just now, Khadeeja fell down as we were walking (or running) around the hotel lobby and you put on your most concerned expression and asked, 'Will Khadeeja be alright mom?'

Sweet as sugar!

Last month for example, you correctly used the phrase, 'check it out!' as in asking me to check out your poo-poo. It was hilarious though, and because you always come out with hilarious expression, I normally post them in my FB status. Just so I won't forget that you are extremely funny at this age!

You are an ardent fan of Frozen especially Queen Elsa. Sometimes you refer yourself as Elsa, like, 'Elsa want to watch tv!' and refer your sister as 'Anna' as in Princess Anna. Because you love the movie so much, your father was compelled to buy you Queen Elsa costume, which you wore almost all the time, day and night. From singing by heart all the songs in the movie, you turn to acting and I am most stunned to witness your very dramatic expressions as you act out your favourite parts in the movie.

In Queen Elsa costume

My little diva,

I totally understand why you don't get along with your sister... Being a gentle soul, you easily get upset when Khadeeja is being boisterous, rough and simply fierce. But must you over-react most of the time? Like the time when you two were playing in the bath tub and suddenly I heard you crying and sobbing, 'Khadeeja shouting with Khayla!' Yet, I didn't hear Khadeeja making any sound. Apparently, any little sound Khadeeja makes is too hard for you to handle!


Whenever you spot Pizza Hut, you immediately tell me you are hungry but all you eat is just the cheese in the stuffed crust!

One thing I wish that you would overcome is your habit of meowing instead of constructing proper sentences. You meow-ed when meeting new people, or when you feel particularly babyish. The worst part is when you meow and crawled as if you are a cat instead of a little girl. In public. Khayla, when are you going to outgrow this behaviour?

My little datin wannabe

Yet for all your diva attitude, I get all mushy every time you tell me how much you love me ('Mamak, Khayla love mamak!') and when you tell me that I am your best friend forever. Because I know one day, this love proclamation will be only during rare occasions and most likely done over texts or FB status. One day, you won't even tell me that you are my best friend when you have friends your age who understand your teenage angst more than I will.

Lastly my two pumpkin pies,

I hope that you both will learn to love each other. Be each other's best friend. Enjoy each other's companionship. Be close sisters. You do display your affections to each other but only on very rare, once in a blue moon occasion. When it does happen though, I couldn't resist taking a photo.

Playing together

May you always be my sweet little angels until forever.

Love,
Mak / Mommy (whichever you both are using now)


Last September, I went on a business trip to KL and had the opportunity to stay at The Royale Chulan Damansara. This hotel is not to be mistaken with The Royale Bintang @ Curve, although they belong under the same group and are within walking distance. Nevertheless, even taxi drivers get confused as there is also another Royale Chulan in central KL so if you are heading to the one in Damansara, please mention the location to avoid the mix-up.

I had a horrible start with the hotel simply because they couldn't locate my booking (which was done by my department's secretary). Since the trip coincided with school holiday, all rooms were booked in advance. I arrived at 2.30pm but had to wait until 6.30pm for any unclaimed reservation. I almost gave up but one of the female reception staff decided to let go one of the pre-booked room to me. Her initiative eventually made me change my mind about the whole experience, which initially I had decided to write a horrendous review of the management of reservations (apparently there were several guests who were informed that their reservation was not in the system).

Anyway, I thanked the staff warmly and acknowledged them by their name, so they were nice enough to apologize for keeping me waiting. Due to the lack of choice, I was given a room at smoking floor.

The room is admittedly gorgeous and elegant incorporating British boutique design, where the theme is classic white and beige. I simply love the draperies and the big white and studded armchair as well as the bed headboard.

Love the elegant design

The bed

Iron and ironing board are available in the room

Much to our disappointment, the bathroom doesn't have a bathtub. 

Just the boring ol' shower cubicle

Not even rain shower!

Separate shower and toilet cubicle

The toilet cubicle has frosted glass door, and the other wall actually had shutters if you ahem, want to watch tv while doing your business, I guess?

No peeking while in the toilet please...

Toiletries

I get bothered up actually when hotels provide only one dental kit in the room meant for two, but maybe they expect guests to call to request for additional toothbrush.


Tea making facilities with choices that are so... normal.

LCD TV - nothing much to talk about

While I like that they have the LCD TV mounted on the wall (to save space), you have to have really good eyesight to watch the tv on the bed since the screen is quite small.

View of the entrance

The good thing about this hotel is it is a child-friendly hotel with spacious playroom (you have to pay to use this facility though) and even ice skating rink for the older kids and those young at heart. Other facilities include outdoor swimming pool, gym, spa and sauna, function rooms and restaurants (do check it out, because I think their food is nice).

Overall, I wouldn't mind staying here again, due to its location (walking distance to The Curve, IKEA and IPC mall). Their cafe also serves good food and the room is pretty comfortable. The rate is rather pricey though (RM300++) considering they don't even have a bath tub installed. Make sure to double check and confirm your reservation prior to coming here since my colleague also mentioned that his reservation couldn't be found although he has email confirmation from the hotel.

Rating: 8/10