The Best Hotels in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia

Le Méridien Kota Kinabalu is a five-star hotel with views to match
Le Méridien Kota Kinabalu is a five-star hotel with views to match | Courtesy of Le Méridien Kota Kinabalu / Expedia
Photo of Michelle Leong
27 January 2021

In the shadow of Mount Kinabalu, the tallest mountain in Southeast Asia and fantastic to trek, Kota Kinabalu is the capital city of Sabah state in East Malaysia. It’s a great stopping off point to visit Mount Kinabalu Park Botanical Garden, cruise on the Klias River or snorkel in Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park, but offers plenty of attractions itself, including the Waterfront and Gaya Street Sunday Market. Here’s our pick of the best hotels for you in the city.

Stanton Hotel

Hotel
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Stanton Hotel
Courtesy of Stanton Hotel / Expedia

Between the airport and the centre of Kota Kinabalu, Stanton Hotel is a fine place to base yourself. The grand colonial building, complete with a red telephone box outside, once housed an insurance company. Today, the compact rooms retain a formal look thanks to a muted grey colour scheme but comfy beds and friendly staff ensure you feel like you’re at home, not in the office.

TOOJOU Hostel

Hostel
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TOOJOU Hostel
Courtesy of TOOJOU Hostel / Expedia

Calling all digital nomads, TOOJOU is made for travellers like you. With modern dorms and private rooms, speedy wifi and co-working spaces, a rooftop bar and an adult-size spiral slide in the lobby, this is the coolest place to work, play and stay on a budget in Kota Kinabalu. If you can drag yourself out of your beanbag, check out the giant mural by graffiti artist Kenji Chai on the exterior of the building.

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Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru Resort and Spa

Resort, Spa Hotel, Hotel
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Shangri-La's Tanjung Aru Resort and Spa
Courtesy of Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru Resort and Spa / Expedia

If you’re looking for luxury, you’ll find it at Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru Resort and Spa. With 10ha (25 acres) of beautiful gardens, a private jetty, healing spa and six trendy restaurants and bars, you might be tempted to spend your entire vacation within the resort. However, when you want to venture out into the city, you’ll find it only a 10 minute drive away.

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Hotel Sixty3

Hotel
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Hotel Sixty3
Courtesy of Hotel Sixty3 / Expedia

Within walking distance of Gaya Street Sunday Market, the most popular day market in Sabah, you can head out of Hotel Sixty3’s front door and be enjoying some tasty street food within moments. Don’t forget to browse the local crafts and souvenirs before returning to your spacious room with earth toned interiors for a peaceful night’s rest.

Le Méridien Kota Kinabalu

Hotel
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Le Meridien Kota Kinabalu
Courtesy of Le Méridien Kota Kinabalu / Expedia

Right on the waterfront, you get great sea and city views at Le Méridien, especially from the rooftop bar, Rooftop @ Le Méridien. And in your room, when the sun sets, you can watch the vivid red and gold colours through floor-to-ceiling windows. There are other restaurants on site including Favola, serving classic Italian food with local ingredients and a modern twist. On Jalan Tun Fuad Stephens, this hotel is close to the night food market, handicraft market and waterfront.

Hyatt Regency Kinabalu

Hotel
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Hyatt Regency Kinabalu
Courtesy of Hyatt Regency Kinabalu / Expedia

The Hyatt Regency Kinabalu is what you’d expect upscale hotels to be – spacious, stylish and with plenty of amenities. It has six restaurants and bars, a fitness centre and an outdoor pool ringed with cabanas. Street markets and shopping malls are within walking distance and if you request a room on the higher floors, you’ll have sweeping views of the sea.

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The Magellan Sutera Resort

Resort, Hotel
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The Magellan Sutera Resort
Courtesy of The Magellan Sutera Resort / Expedia

If you really want to splash out, the Magellan Sutera Resort is the place to stay. The hotel boasts an exclusive beachfront with fine, pale sand, artistically landscaped swimming pools and the largest convention facility in Kota Kinabalu. For a relaxing treat, book yourself a Balinese massage at the Mandara Spa, where you can unwind under an open-air pavilion or in a private room.

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  • Zara’s Boutique Hotel

    Boutique Hotel, Hotel
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    Zara's Boutique Hotel
    Courtesy of Zara’s Boutique Hotel / Expedia

    The colourful exterior of Zara’s Boutique Hotel’s hints at the vivid decor of its rooms and suites. With striped carpets like a Thousand-Layer Cake – a classic southeast Asian desert – and silken cushion pillows, this hotel is a great place to rest your feet after a long day shopping at Imago Shopping Mall. Hotel facilities are basic, but the buffet breakfast selection more than makes up for it.

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    Hotel Eden54

    Boutique Hotel, Bed and Breakfast
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    Hotel Eden54
    Courtesy of Hotel Eden54 / Expedia

    This no-frills hotel is good value and aesthetically very clean and understated. You get friendly staff and a central historic downtown location in Gaya Street close to bars, eateries, the Suria Sabah Shopping Mall and the ferry to Labuan and other islands in Sabah. The hotel is popular with business travellers and has an intriguing palette of colours.

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    Little Gaya Hotel

    Hotel
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    Little Gaya Hotel
    Courtesy of Little Gaya Hotel / Expedia

    The Little Gaya Hotel really does have plenty of gaya, meaning style. Wooden floorboards, standing lamps and faux-fur rugs in selected suites help inject this budget hotel with some glamour. While facilities are basic, breakfast is included, and local eateries are within proximity.

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    Sky Hotel

    Hotel
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    Sky Hotel
    Courtesy of Sky Hotel / Expedia

    The Sky Hotel boasts a rooftop pool to go with its name, along with a spacious deck. Other facilities include a fitness centre, laundry room, luggage storage and the Green Table Restaurant, serving vegetarian cuisine. In your room, you’ll find an LED TV, a coffee and tea maker and a refrigerator.

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    Emma Sparks contributed additional reporting to this article.

    These recommendations were updated on January 27, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.