Villa Samadhi review, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Thai boutique resort in the heart of KL

Our rating

4.5 out of 5

THE PLACE

Villa Samadhi, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

THE LOCATION

If it wasn't for a hint of high-rise peeking above the palm trees that populate it, Villa Samadhi's impression of a tropical Thai island boutique resort would be complete. But, no, this 21-room villa-style retreat is positioned right in the middle of the quiet diplomatic district of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia's capital (along with the flashy new Putrajaya), just 10 minutes from the decidedly more frenetic parts of town. And like a true diplomat, Villa Samadhi is awfully discreet, concealed inside a secure compound with a bamboo-clad electronic gate and security detail, making it an excellent choice for business and leisure travellers.

THE SPACE

The reception, restaurant and rooms are centred around a large and inviting pool, designed to resemble a lagoon complete with a scattering of cabanas, with the main buildings sporting resort-style thatched roofs. It could be all rather gauche but somehow this contrived "rustic luxe", as the owners like to call it, succeeds, and Thailand, after all, is just an hour's flying time from here. Such has been the success of Villa Samadhi in Kuala Lumpur since its opening just three years ago that its owners are launching a new property in Singapore in June as well as having assumed management of the famed Blue Mansion (also known as Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion) Peranakan, or Straits Chinese-style, hotel in George Town, capital of the island state of Penang. A new property is also in the works in Sri Lanka. The enterprising owners of Villa Samadhi also operate Japamala, a 13-villa resort on Malaysia's remote Tioman Island as well as restaurants in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.

THE ROOM

Malaysia, one of south-east Asia's most underrated destinations, offers some of the region's best value accommodation, including at the five-star end of the spectrum with Villa Samadhi an exemplar. My attractive and capacious Sarang category suite – a whopping 75 square metres – all polished timber flooring and Asian antique furnishings, features most, if not all, of the mod-cons of a five-star hotel resort. There's direct pool access, a sizeable bathroom with an imposing spa bath-cum-indoor-plunge pool, made from a combination of cement and volcanic gravel. A kitchen is clearly designed for long-stayers but it's a welcome and homey feature for leisure staying for just a few nights.

THE FOOD

Mandi-Mandi is Villa Samadhi's poolside (or it lagoon-side?) in-house restaurant with its rooftop bar Bambung, where Kuala Lumpur's iconic Petronas Towers-dominated skyline can be glimpsed. Yet in a south-east Asian food capital of the calibre and affordability of KL, it'd be a pity not to explore the local cuisine beyond this urban retreat. The task is made easier by the fact the burgeoning Villa Samadhi empire also includes a trio of restaurants: Tamarind Springs (Thai-Indonchine), Tamarind Hill (Thai-Burmese) and Neo Tamarind (Eurasian) to which complimentary transfers can be arranged.

STEPPING OUT

Kuala Lumpur seems to have assumed the title, once held by an improved Singapore, of south-east Asia's least enthralling major city, which is a little unfair considering its food choices are the equal or better of flashier and far more expensive southern cousin. Beyond food in parts of the city such as Chinatown, there's good shopping and nightlife to be enjoyed in areas such as Bukit Bintang though no one could be blamed for not wanting to leave a commodious bolthole like Villa Samadhi at all.

THE VERDICT

"Samadhi", translated from Sanskrit, is the highest form of meditation. And while Villa Samadhi, a clever sleight of hand, is not quite a true transcendental experience it certainly represents a seductive resort-like experience in an unlikely setting. Really, all that's missing is a beach and some crashing waves.

ESSENTIALS

Doubles from $240 a night. 8 Pesiaran Madge, off Jalan Madge, Kuala Lumpur. See www.villasamadhi.com; www.mytamarindrestaurants.com

HIGHLIGHT

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Too many to list here but the well-appointed rooms with their direct pool access are a real treat and novelty in the middle of a major city.

LOWLIGHT

We're not quite sure what to make of the owner's angulated pet tortoise which is exercised around the lagoon and car park by a staff member during the middle of each morning.