KL is awash with both budget and luxury hotels, although many of the cheapies are grubby flea-pits offering windowless boxy rooms, appealing only for their rock-bottom rates. Characterful midrange options are thin on the ground.
Always ask about special deals as practically all midrange and top-end places offer promotions that can substantially slash rack rates. The only time you should book ahead to be sure of accommodation is public holidays, when room discounts will not apply. Chinatown is crammed with budget places (most pretty awful) but there's also a very healthy backpacker scene in the Golden Triangle - this is where you'll find the pick of budget guest-houses and hostels. The best places will fill up quickly, so book ahead. If other locations are full, Little India and the seedy Chow Kit area further north also have plenty of low-priced accommodation, although many places are brothels, or close enough.
In KL budget means hostels offering a dorm bed and budget hotels offering a double room with attached bathroom for under RM100 net; midrange properties have double rooms with attached bathrooms for RM100 to RM400 net; top-end places charge over RM400 to which you'll also need to add 10% service and 5% tax (expressed as ++).
Wheelers Guest House : One of KL's quirkier hostels, Wheeler's has a mini-aquarium, gay-friendly staff and great rooftop terrace where free Friday night dinners are hosted. We also love that it offers home-made yoghurt and muesli for breakfast.
Original Backpackers Travellers Inn : The highlight of this long-established and well-run hostel with perfunctory rooms is its rooftop bar where you can get breakfast as well as hook up with fellow travellers. It also runs a travel agency and can arrange a variety of trips .
Grocer's Inn : Occupying a handsome century-old building that was once home to the Grocers' Association, this backpackers has a decent range of fan and air-con rooms as well as a rooftop dorm and balconies overlooking Chinatown's bustle. The entrance is in an alley, just off Jin Sultan.
YWCA :A throwback to another generation, this quiet establishment tucked away east of Chinatown offers plain but very acceptable rooms with fan, desk and wardrobe. Only for women, couples and families.
Hotel China Town Inn :Even though it's in the thick of Chinatown, a calm atmosphere reigns at this well-managed, good-value hotel. All rooms have attached showers and TV (DVD players can be hired). The more expensive deluxe rooms with windows overlook noisy Jin Petaling market.
Lee Mun Guest House : No-frills cheapie where the cardboard partition walls are covered with a colourful collage of magazine clippings. The entrance is on Jin Sultan..
Hotel Lok Ann : Good value standard hotel, offering clean, spacious rooms with windows, TV, phone and large shower rooms.
GOLDEN TRIANGLE & KLCC
Red Palm : Its rooms are tiny and separated by thin walls, but with its friendly management and colourful, comfy communal areas Red Palm feels more like a home than a hostel.
Green Hut Lodge : A classic traveller's choice, complete with towel-draped 12-bed dorm, noticeboards and staff that speak Bahasa Backpacker. It's spotless and the jungle mural on the lobby wall is rather eye-catching.
Trekker Lodge :In an old apartment block, this place offers pretty much the same deal as the Green Hut Lodge - no surprise, since it's owned by the same people.
Bedz KL : There are only dorms at this smart new choice, shielded from busy Changkat Bukit Bintang by a grove of bamboo. Rain showers, fuss-ball, plenty of internet terminals and souvenir T-shirts are also part of the package.
Classic Inn : Occupying a smartly renovated, yellow-painted shophouse on the southern edge of the Golden Triangle, this is a retro-charming choice with dorms and private rooms (all with windows), a small grassy garden and welcoming staff.
Lodge Paradise Hotel : Although its kidney-shaped swimming pool is currently just for show, this revamped hotel in a four-storey 1940s building couldn't be better placed and promises to offer a great deal once its renovation is complete.
LITTLE INDIA & CHOW KIT
Ben Soo Homestay :Down-at-heel but quirkily charming, this homestay offers just two plain clean rooms with wooden floors and shared bathrooms, and the family who runs it is very welcoming.
Coliseum Hotel ; If high-ceilinged rooms with ancient electric switches and furnishings are your thing, you'll consider staying here money well spent. All bathrooms are shared. Book well in advance, as it's often full.
YMCA : Close to KL Sentral, the rooms here are spotless and come with TV, telephone and that rarity in a cheap KL hotel: a wardrobe in which to hang your clothes.
Citin Hotel : You could hardly get closer to Puduraya bus station, which ensures a steady flow of customers for this cut-above-the-average hotel on an otherwise downmarket strip.
5 Elements Hotel : With rates that include breakfast and a good range of rooms, some with views towards KL Tower, this new hotel makes a credible stab at boutique stylings. We particularly liked the sensuous design motif snaking its way across the corridor and bedroom walls.
Swiss-Inn :Comfortable, clean and centrally located, this is a justly popular choice. The cheapest rooms are windowless but still appealing, with blonde-wood fittings and pastel coverings over spacious beds.
AnCasa Hotel and Spa Kuala Lumpur : Promotions slash the rack rates by more than half at one of Chinatown's best midrange option, which recently added a Balinese-style spa. Comfortable rooms feature satellite TV, small fridge, kettle and in-room safe.
Number Eight Guesthouse : Although it's starting to look a little worn, Number Eight's minimalist design remains super-stylish and its value-for-money rooms, some with TVs and DVD players, leave most competitors standing. It does its bit for the environment with solar-heated water.
41 Berangan :This sleek new property offers zen-style simplicity and innovation: the two courtyard rooms have been built inside shipping crates. There are a couple of cheaper rooms with shared bathrooms.
Alpha Genesis : The rooms are spacious with contemporary furnishings that verge on boutique territory. The deluxe rooms at the front have great views towards the Petronas Towers, and you can rent DVD players (RM25 per day).
Radius International Hotel : Excellently located for the bars and restaurants of Changkat Bukit Bintang, this pleasant hotel offers some great promotions and high standards as well as a decent-sized pool.
Hotel Capitol : Go online to get the best rates for this pleasing contempo-rary-styled hotel. Check out its loft-style and premium corner rooms for their hip furnishings and good views. Guests have access to the nearby Federal Hotel's swimming pool.
Piccolo Hotel : Striking marine images decorate the rooms at this new hotel that's going after the boutique crowd. Practically perpetual promotional rates and an excellent location make it a fine choice for business or pleasure.
Royale Bintang Kuala Lumpur : Stylish property offering spacious, comfortable rooms (with high-speed internet access, cable TV, complimentary newspaper), a bar, restaurant, and reasonable-sized gym and pool.
Prince Hotel & Residence Kuala Lumpur : The Prince offers outstanding value for its modern, cream-coloured rooms. Some nice facilities include a kids' club, and its serviced apartments are good for long-term stays.
Bintang Warisan Hotel : Attractive small hotel with a pre-lndependence facade but modern rooms.
Coronade Hotel : Behind Lot 10, but with good views from upper floors. Swiss-Garden Hotel, High-standard rooms and facilities.
Tune Hotel :This innovative operation uses the low-cost approach of local budget airline Air Asia: book online well in advance and it's possible to snag a room with a bathroom for under RM50. The basic rate, however, just gets you the room - air-con, toiletries, wi-fi access are extra. Each floor is sponsored, which means you'll find yourself gazing at an ad for, say, McDonald's, Maggi or Nippon Paints in your room and along the corridors. There's also a branch next to the LCC-T (Low Cost Carrier Terminal).
Hotel Noble :Staff are polite and the ambience is smart, clean and comfortable at this modern hotel on the doorstep of Little India. Rooms with a bathroom come with minibar, safety deposit box, coffee-/tea-making facilities and TV.
GOLDEN TRIANGLE & KLCC
Impiana : The chic Impiana offers spacious rooms with parquet floors and lots of seductive amenities, including an infinity pool with a view across to the Petronas Towers partly marred by construction of yet another luxe hotel in the KLCC quadrant.
Pacific Regency Hotel Suites : These upmarket self-catering studios and serviced apartments are fine value compared to rooms of a similar standard at KL's other five-star properties. Head to the roof to enjoy the rooftop pool and Luna, one of the city's best bars.
Westin Kuala Lumpur : The Westin's spacious rooms are modern and appealing, and it's easy to see why long-term residents love its serviced apartments, which have full kitchens and glassed-in balconies. It also has a good gym and stylish restaurants and bars.
Traders Hotel Kuala Lumpur : Lovely as it is inside, you're going to want to opt for a room with a view across to the Petronas Towers at this contemporary-design addition to KL's portfolio of luxe hotels.
Shangri-La Hotel :Ajaw-droppingly opulent hotel with an impressive range of facilities and several top-class restaurants. The rooms are spa-cious and well equipped.
Hotel Maya : Even though it re-mains one of KL's most stylish hotels, the Maya is beginning to show wear and tear in its sleek timber-floored studios and suites. Rates include airport transfers, as well as a host of other goodies.
Hotel Istana : 61 The Istana's soothing rooms -where beds sport batik throws and there are fresh flowers - stand in contrast to the high glitz of its lobby, which boasts giant columns and Malay motifs. There's also a good-sized swimming pool in a garden setting.
KL SENTRAL & LAKE GARDENS
Hilton Kuala Lumpur : The super-stylish Hilton's contemporary 'innovation rooms' boast 42-inch plasma TV screens, with X-boxes and PlayStations available if you happen to have left your own at home. Sweeping city and Lake Garden views and on-the-spot access to KL Sentral are pluses, along with a fab range of restaurants and bars.
Carcosa Serf Negara :Secluded in the lush greenery of the Lake Gardens this heritage property is split beween two colonial mansions: Carcosa, once the residence of British government representative Sir Frank Swettenham; and Seri Negara, the official guesthouse. There are 13 conservatively designed, spacious suites, very much suited to non-rock star VIPs. For a taste of how the other half live consider splashing out on a meal in the Dining Room or on the hotel's traditional afternoon tea (RM69).
KLIA TRANSIT HOTELS
If all you need to do is freshen up before or after your flight, you might find the Airside Transit Hotel useful. The hotel includes a fitness centre, business centre, spa and sauna, and all rooms come with attached bathroom and TV.
The budget Tune Hotel (opposite) has a branch nextto the LCC-T,while the luxurious Pan Pacific KLIA is linked by a bridge to the main KLIA terminal.
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