Singapore has done a fine job in recent years of putting on the ritz and shedding some of its reputation as one of south-east's Asia's least exciting capitals, and it's now the turn of its oft less-fancied northern neighbour Kuala Lumpur to inject some urban pizzazz.
The Malaysian city has made a good and elegant start with a major "refresh" (never a "refurbishment" these days) of the nearly 20-year-old, 364-room Ritz-Carlton Kuala Lumpur in the Malaysian city's lively Golden Triangle district.
Alexandra Champalimaud – a leading New York-based interior designer whose portfolio includes the Dorchester London and the Waldorf Astoria New York – has performed a suitably understated makeover of the KL property's rooms, public areas and facilities.
The result is befitting of a Ritz-Carlton, and it comes not a moment too soon. The impressive revamp coincides with some stiff competition in the form of the newly opened 208-room St Regis Kuala Lumpur.
Either way, compared with the increasingly expensive Singapore, where its dollar is at parity or better with its Australian equivalent, five-star accommodation in KL can come at a remarkably affordable price.
A spacious deluxe room – complete with full butler service, city or pool views and a marble bathroom and separate shower and tub – at the Ritz-Carlton Kuala Lumpur can cost less than $200 per night.
And then there's the "sensory sound bath room" – the only one of its kind in Asia – in the hotel's spa where the 10-minute "sound bath" experience involves the frequencies of a "symphonic gong", designed to harmonise "subtle energy and nerve paths", leaving the guest as refreshed and rejuvenated as the hotel itself.