Ipoh might not be on everyone’s Malaysian travel itinerary, but the city certainly packs plenty of appeal: enchanting Buddhist cave temples nestle in nearby limestone cliffs, British colonial buildings clash with time-honoured Chinese shophouses, and a growing arts scene and coffee culture make it a hipster hangout. If all that tempts you, here are the top hotels and places to stay in Malaysia’s unsung tourist hotspot.
Bali meets Malaysia meets… a Japanese ski lodge? The design influences of the Ipoh Bali Hotel might be a bit tough to pin down, but the bamboo, bricks, lamps, antique woods and soft lighting come together in rooms that are just plain warm and inviting. Located at the edge of Ipoh’s historical city centre, trees, water and rocks provide reminders of the natural world.
The exterior facade of Ipoh’s Bedrock Hotel suggests a collection of weatherbeaten picture frames – a theme that makes it only as far as the lobby. By contrast, the 10 rooms are clean, contemporary and modern. What’s more, there’s an emphasis on service here, and a location in the city centre means you’re only steps from some of Malaysia’s most lauded street food.
This design-forward building – a modern Ipoh landmark – boasts spacious, contemporary, light-filled rooms with the kind of puffy hotel beds you’ll want to leap on. A wiser idea perhaps is a jump into the rooftop pool – also the vantage point for some of the best views of Ipoh. A handful of food and beverage outlets just might distract you from exploring the street food options that are only a short walk away.
With an exterior that calls to mind a sultry, sleek, high-end chain-link fence, Ipoh’s M Roof Hotel & Residences makes clear from the get-go that its selling point is its design. As such, the rooms boast touches such as splashes of colour, quirky pillows, unique paintings and city-inspired photos. A downside is that this style is a 20-minute walk from the city centre.
If you made it this far south of downtown Ipoh, you probably didn’t miss this hotel, with its exterior covered in upcycled wooden shutters. Inside, rooms are more spacious than those of its sister properties, but are decked out with the same flair – think eclectic touches in bold black and white inspired by jazz and vintage R&B. An in-house Japanese restaurant and boutique take the M Boutique Station 18 beyond a simple collection of rooms.
If you require that elusive intersection of style and convenience, opt for this branch from Ipoh’s M empire – the one located closest to the city’s centre. You can’t miss the imposing brick facade here; inside, the 93 rooms are unconventional and fun, with antique bric-à-brac, bold, colourful patterns and yes, more red brick, establishing the quirky, eclectic theme.
Located south of the city centre, the building’s bold, geometric appearance sets the theme of Ipoh’s Manhattan Hotel. Inside, the spacious rooms are decked out in white, gray and black, with occasional notes of green. You won’t find pastrami, but the offerings at the in-house New Yorker Cafe are about as close as you’ll get to Big Apple-style food in this corner of Malaysia.
The relatively conservative, somewhat imposing exterior of Ipoh’s Regalodge Hotel conceals 86 rooms that pack intermittent if restrained bursts of flair. Think minimal lines, bold colours and, depending on your room, quirky touches – typically in the form of some unique wall art. An added bonus is the hotel’s location a short walk to Ipoh’s city centre.
Slate grays and warm lighting set the calming tone at the Merton Hotel. Enter a room to find walls of brushed concrete and design elements and furniture that are just barely verging on industrial. Located 9km (5.6mi) southeast of the city centre, the Merton is a wise choice for those who need to be situated near Ipoh’s Sultan Azlan Shah Airport.