Malaysia is often overlooked in favour of its neighbour Thailand when it comes to indulgent Asian escapes. But for high-end luxury and great value, it’s hard to beat. And in addition to the gorgeous resorts, there are an astonishing variety of cultures and landscapes to be found here. From the islands of Langkawi and Pangkor and former trading ports of Malacca and Penang, to the central highlands and jungle paradise of Borneo, here’s our address book of Malaysia’s best luxury hotels and resorts.
Pangkor Laut Island
What’s the edge: The privilege of Pangkor Laut Resort is the fact that the entire paradise island of ancient rainforests, secluded bays and pristine beaches is reserved exclusively for guests of the resort. Join the resort’s resident naturalist, ‘Uncle Yip’, on treks to discover the forest, take a sunset cruise on the teakwood junk, or unwind in the award-winning spa.
Kuala Terengganu (east coast)
What’s the edge: Tanjong Jara is an unmistakably Malay affair – a sanctuary of luxury and wellbeing surrounded by fishing villages and the South China Sea. You can take jungle treks to South East Asia’s highest waterfall with the on-site naturalist ‘Captain Mok’ or enjoy Chef Anne’s bespoke menu-free restaurant. Tatler voted the spa the world’s best, while lead therapist Pak Yaya has been ranked in the top seven in the world.
What’s the edge: The Datai is a peaceful retreat surrounded by virgin rainforest and the beautiful Andaman Sea. Sleek, secluded villas are set on meandering forest paths leading to the white sandy beaches of a private bay.
What’s the edge: The Andaman on Langkawi is a remote pocket of peace and luxury on Langkawi. There’s a nearby fringing coral reef on Datai Bay and an abundance of rare wildlife and flora to discover.
What’s the edge: Cameron Highlands Resort is a gorgeous colonial-style boutique retreat surrounded by a beautiful landscape of tea plantations and rolling hills. Elegant rooms and suites feature French doors, timber-beamed ceilings and plantation shutters, while afternoon tea in in the Jim Thompson tea room is a decidedly English undertaking. The Cameron Highlands Resort is nostalgic, classic and luxurious.
What’s the edge: The Banjaran Hotspring Retreat is a sanctuary for the senses. The 25 luxury villas offer holistic wellness and spa experiences with typically Asian grace. Located just two hours from Kuala Lumpur, the resort is surrounded by towering limestone cliffs, natural caves, geothermal hot springs, pristine jungle and waterfalls.
What’s the edge: Step back to a time when Javanese, Indian, Arab and Chinese merchants plied their trade across the oceans of Asia. The Majestic’s suites are sumptuously appointed in rich teak and fine silk. The whole experience is one of timeless elegance.
What’s the edge: The remarkable ‘E&O’ as it’s known has been welcoming travellers for well over a century with the promise of the grand style of the British colonial era. In a way this stalwart has come to reflect the history of the island itself. Gorgeous suites are superb and the service second to none.
What’s the edge: Penang’s most stylish address, the G Hotel is bold, beautiful and modern. Contemporary comfort is the catchphrase here. It all starts with the striking atrium lobby, awash in splendid lighting and designer touches, and continues to the rooms and suites with breathtaking coastal views.
What’s the edge: Gayana Eco Resort’s overwater villas rest at the edge of a lush coral reef island off the coast of Borneo. With an on-site Marine Ecology Research Centre guests can take part in protecting and restoring the marine eco system. With views of Mount Kinabalu on the horizon just begging for gazing eyes and plenty of activities to keep you occupied, you can do as much or a little as you please.
What’s the edge: Bunga Raya is a secluded island hideaway that is as sensual as it is exotic. The 48 timbered hillside villas are framed by white sand and coral ocean on one side and virgin jungle on the other.
What’s the edge: The new Gaya Island Resort is located off the coast of Borneo on Pulau Gaya, near Kota Kinabalu. A natural conservation area, Pulau Gaya is the largest of five islands that make up the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park.
Surrounded by coral reefs and fringed with golden sandy beaches, protected mangroves and rocky outcrops, the island has a hilly landscape, covered with lush tropical rainforest and an abundance of unique flora and fauna.