Where to Stay in Kuala Lumpur: Chow Kit – an Ormond Hotel


When citing gentrification success stories, the neighborhood of Chow Kit in Kuala Lumpur should come to mind. Even though it has a history that walks a fine line between exhilarating and dark, the once-infamous red-light district has seen tremendous transformation in recent years.

Where to Stay in Kuala Lumpur
Photo: Chow Kit Hotel

Since the Chow Kit neighborhood's streets and alleyways are inseparably linked to a vibrant canon of past anecdotes, these tales have been preserved in the district's stunning renaissance, which is replete with art and eccentric new architecture.

Where to Stay in Kuala Lumpur
The lobby connects the Bar to the Kitchen, Lounge, Function rooms and to its sister hostel, the Momo's

Counted among many quirky cafes, hip bars and trendy hang-out places, is the boutique-looking The Chow Kit by Ormond Hotel.

Hip hotels in Kuala Lumpur
The hotel is near several interesting spots which makes an early morning walk a must activity

The Chow Kit is conceptualized by Ormond Hotel to bridge the city's past into the present. Drawing inspiration from its heritage-laden surroundings, guests are re-introduced to Kuala Lumpur’s colorful character through its 113 rooms that blend tradition with contemporary designs.

Kuala Lumpur travel guide
Various works of art curated by The Black Room owner Liza Ho can be found displayed in the lobby.

I had the good fortune of staying at Chow Kit by Ormond Hotel for a few nights during the latter half of our almost weeklong trip to Kuala Lumpur with Cebu Pacific Air and fellow travel writers.

A Colonial and Noir Vibe Persists

It was already nighttime when we arrived at the hotel. After a full day of exploring the city of Kuala Lumpur, all I wanted was to crawl into to a soft bed. That plan was nixed when we walked inside the lobby that appears like a setting from a 1950’s noir movie.

Kuala Lumpur travel guide
Fancy a drink at the bar

Artworks, framed photographs, vermillion to red crimson layered rugs and tiles, richly patterned fabrics, and artisan lounge chairs and sofas glowed golden in the low-key lighting of the entrance hall and the bar, creating a striking contrast between shadows and light.

Kate Alvarez
Framed photographs and old newspaper clippings related to the history of Chow Kit neighborhood hangs on the wall

Suddenly, I feel like spending more time in the lobby with a glass of rum in hand or any other drink.

Ruth Dela Cruz
The Chow Kit Kitchen & Bar is a favorite even among non-guests of the property

I think about this as the bartender at the hotel’s bar — The Chow Kit Kitchen & Bar — shakes a cocktail drink to serve to a lady in long black gown. I figured, I can be the Humphrey Bogart and have a drink with her. But I needed to shower first. Most of all, I am badly in need of a sleep.

Where to stay in Kuala Lumpur
My room is classified as the Den, the simplest in the hotel but equally well designed

I proceeded to my room where it opened to a modestly sized layout. What it lacks in roomy space, it surely made up with its aesthetics. 

Places to see in Kuala Lumpur
The industrial rain-shower room and other interesting details enhances the room's design

A hint of colonial style with some European décor touches and brass accents plus a floor to ceiling glass window had me drooling at its interior design in a jiffy.

Koryn Iledan
The Den, named after Chow Kit's historically infamous gambling den - the Chow Kit

A little alteration to the bathroom had me perplexed at times. Since the bathroom basin is located near the bed and outside the shower room, I always find myself bringing my toothbrush inside wondering briefly where the sink is.

Michelin-approved Stay and Eats

When an establishment is featured in MICHELIN Guide's "Best Hotels in Malaysia", it better be an amazing hotel and one that also offer good culinary delights.

Where to eat in Kuala Lumpur
The breakfast I had during our stay the dinner platter we ordered

The Chow Kit by Ormond Hotel is not only highly recommended by MICHELIN but also named by Travel + Leisure and the World Travel Awards as among the best new hotels in the world.

I had my first taste of The Chow Kit Kitchen & Bar the next morning on our breakfast. While they don’t offer a buffet, the ala carte menu seems well curated with lots of interesting food items to try.

A Wes Anderson Film
The private function room called "The Library" is decorated by the production designer of a Wes Anderson movie. Kidding.

Of course, I ignored everything but the Nasi Lemak which arrived artfully plated with a quarter of fried chicken and the standard fare of toasted peanuts, crispy anchovies, cucumber, and a boiled egg, all of which were enhanced by the oozing redness of sambal sauce.

Lot Deleste
For those who wants a larger space may book the Towkay Suite or the Boss Suite

On our final evening, we dined here, where we sampled a variety of their offerings, including their signature platter of sambal merah, hijau, and nasi ulam. The aromas, spices, and flavors that wafted from the kitchen and onto our table were indescribable.

As far as architecture, comfort and culinary go, factors one always looks for in choosing a hotel, the Chow Kit by Ormond Hotel ticks all the boxes and then adds some more. There’s a sense that local history, arts and culture are given significance in this property and as a guest, one is inclined not only to enjoy a convenient stay, but also learn a thing or two about this colorful part of Kuala Lumpur.