Many places attempt to weave local and cultural influences into a modern building’s design, but few manage to get it right without being tacky. Thankfully, The RuMa Hotel & Residences isn’t one of those.
Part of Urban Resort Concepts’ portfolio, the hotel made its debut in the city late last year and was designed in collaboration with Shanghai-based design firm MQ-studio. Taking inspiration from Malaysian influences, the hotel’s designs proudly showcase how traditional designs can be given a modern update when tastefully done. In fact, even the name of the hotel derives from the Malay word “rumah”, which means house – or home.
Stepping into the hotel is like entering a quiet sanctum where the rush of the city won’t reach you. Although the lobby may be bustling with activity, generally the hotel is extremely quiet. This is especially noticeable in the guest-accessible floors, where the silence is comforting and even the elevators don’t ding. Copper is a common feature in the lobby, but it’s not just there to make the space look good – it actually pays tribute to the past mining industry, which played a big part in the development of Kuala Lumpur.
Other local elements that you’ll find upon entering the hotel include the dramatic “birdcage” fashioned out of terracotta surrounding a bronze water fountain, referencing the birdcages that used to hold canaries to check gas leakage in mining areas. Perhaps one of the more iconic features in the lobby area is the central showpiece by local fashion designer Bernard Chandran, a glimmering outfit reminiscent of the traditional Malay baju kebaya.
Close to the Golden Triangle but not close enough that you’re constantly hearing the buzz of traffic and tourists, The RuMa Hotel’s location on Jalan Kia Peng is perfect and somewhat secluded. For those who are not planning to get here by car, it’s also perfectly walkable to the hot spots in the city centre, such as the Pavilion KL and Suria KLCC shopping mall, restaurants, and numerous bars.
The luxury hotel boasts 253 rooms and suites, and we got to stay in the Grand Room. Unlike your regular beige hotel rooms, the ones in this hotel are full of character. The colour palette is earthy and features plenty of local natural materials. For example, the rattan-woven chairs and bed headboard, the copper sinks in the bathroom, as well as art pieces and sculptures that look like heritage pieces from actual kampung houses.
Amidst the cultural elements, the design is still a key point in the rooms. Little but impactful details such as the coffee table that swivels into a working desk and hidden switches that pop out from the walls make for convenient features in the room. After all, work never truly escapes us. USB charge points can also be found throughout the room because you never know if your smartphone runs out of juice.
It goes without saying that the bed is top notch and comfortable enough to lounge in all day long – partly thanks to the sumptuous 330-thread count Egyptian cotton bed sheets. Two basins in the bathroom also ensure that you won’t have to fight for space with your travel partner. The bath area comes with both a rain shower and a bathtub – a luxury that you won’t often find in similar room types of most hotels in the city.
Lucky for you – and us – one of the best Modern Malaysian restaurants in the city can be found in The RuMa. Atas is helmed by executive chef Tyson Gee. He may not be local, but his willingness to do due research on the Malaysian food culture – even travelling to obscure states in the country – has turned the menu into a fine piece of art. Just take a look at his rendition of Kristang cuisine, and you’ll know what we mean.
Since the hotel’s opening, Atas has gone through a menu update. The new selection of dishes is more finely tuned, featuring more foraged ingredients as well as products from local artisans, including cheese made by Malaysian cheesemaker Milky Whey Cheese and homemade tuak from the weekend Borneo market in Seri Kembangan.
There’s only one restaurant in the hotel, but they do it well enough that it’s sufficient. The breakfast is also held in Atas, with a small but punchy selection of continental buffet offerings.
However, take our advice and go for the made-to-order breakfast selection instead. You’ll get fine renditions of typical Malaysian breakfast dishes, including nasi lemak, a rich and brothy version of the Asam laksa named Laksam, and more.
If afternoon tea is something you look out for in every hotel, you should definitely try the afternoon tea set at Librari on the lobby level. Over on the sixth floor, try out some post-dinner drinks and snacks at Santai while looking out to the view of the city.
The RuMa has the usual offerings of a modern-day hotel: an infinity pool for the best Instagram photos, a 24-hour gym so you can work out anytime you like, and an indulgent spa to pamper yourself senseless.
Both the pool and gym are located on the sixth floor of the hotel, a veritable oasis of greenery that will make you feel like you’re miles away from the city. The spa – UR Spa – is also located on the sixth floor, tucked away in a quiet corner. It also houses a Truefitt & Hill barbershop, in case you feel like getting a trim during your time here. For a full review of the spa and its treatments, read more about it here.
Perhaps one of the best things about The RuMa is its check-in and check-out flexibility. Any time within the 24-hour time frame is free game, eliminating the hassle of calling beforehand to request for an earlier check-in time or a later check-out time.
Convenience aside, the hotel makes for a delightful stay that is sure to thrill the design enthusiast in you. It tastefully combines traditional Malaysian design flairs with contemporary values, making for a space that is comfortably familiar to locals, yet not too exotic for foreign tourists.
(All images: The RuMa Hotel & Residences)