Hilton Kuala Lumpur – Trip Report – Blackout, Closed Pool, & No A/C!

by Adam

This is part ten of my Bali / Kuala Lumpur trip report and includes my review of the Hilton Kuala Lumpur. I selected the hotel after overwhelming positive reaction from Point Me to the Plane readers when asked which property was their favorite in KL. The Hilton is also ranked as #6 of 228 hotels on TripAdvisor in KL with very positive reviews. Unfortunately, the Hilton did not live up to the recommendations…

The Hilton Kuala Lumpur is a category 6 property. My options when booking were to pay $125 per night, use 40,000 points per night, or use 20,000 HHonors points & pay $69 per night. Since the room was priced so reasonably, I decided to pay the $125 per night. I felt that it was a relatively low value for a 40k redemption or the 20k plus $69 cash & points redemption, which would have only saved me $56 per night. The plan was to stay two nights but I ended up staying only one night and then moving to the Westin.

The KLIA Express, a high-speed train directly from KUL airport, brings you to the station directly across the street from the Hilton in only 28 minutes. It was excellent (once I made it from the low cost terminal to the main terminal) and I was able to easily walk into the lobby of the Hilton. Walking through the lobby I noticed a lot of construction going on (even though it was after 10pm) and the front-desk had been temporarily relocated to accommodate for drilling. I proceeded upstairs and checked-in at the Executive Lounge located on the 38th floor. As a Diamond member, I was given an executive room just down the hall from the lounge. Check-in was easy and they had me sit at one of the lounge tables with a drink and some snacks while they prepared everything.

The room itself was nice and semi-modern, with an open spacious feel…

All seemed well as I was waiting for American’s new livery presentation at 9am CST before heading out to explore. Unfortunately, soon after the announcement all power was switched off in the hotel, including the A/C!

When booking the hotel, the Hilton website had an alert that stated that “Sudu & Senses restaurants are closed for refurbishment”, no other advisories were or are given. The Hilton website today list the following warning:

I also received a letter a check-in that stating that while repairs were happening, there was no expected disruption to guests staying at the hotel.

Well, it turns out the letter couldn’t have been more off. The power was cut at midnight and the room was pitch black besides the emergency lights. Obviously without power there is no air conditioning or internet. Now, the rooms have no windows that open, meaning that the room was quickly very hot (it was still 90 degree outside at midnight). I called the “MAGIC” team and asked why the power was out and when they expected it back on. I was informed that this was a PLANNED outage for construction purposes and that I should have received a letter under my door informing me of the situation. Strange that no one seemed to mention it at check-in only two hours earlier. I was told that the power would be back on between 4-5am. I guess the rationale was that most guests would be sleeping at this time, however the room was sweltering and I can’t imagine that many were able to sleep. In addition, the elevators were not working! What a disaster, luckily it was late and I tried to force myself to sleep.

After a restless night without much sleep, I headed to the lounge for breakfast and to find out if there were any other planned outages. I was told that there might be a short one at 2am the next night but otherwise all power should be on for the remainder of my stay. Hmm, what exactly is short??

As a Diamond member (same for Gold), you can choose to have breakfast in the lounge or down at the restaurant. I opted for the lounge breakfast which was nice and like the other breakfasts on this trip, included food from all three meals…

The lounge serves light snacks and coffee/tea from 11-4 and then does a full happy hour with food and unlimited drinks from 6-8. The lounge is huge with multiple rooms and floors, all with great panoramic views and modern furnishings…

Before leaving the lounge I asked if there was anything else I should know about in terms of construction etc. I was told that the pool was also closed for the next few weeks! What? Another non-disclosure on the website and at check-in. I was informed that I should have received a letter and since I didn’t they would send someone to slip the note under my door. I was disappointed, this was one of the major advantages of the hotel, everyone remarked how nice the pool area was after a day of sightseeing. The pool was supposed to be very large with slides, cabanas, and great views. It was actually one of the reasons why I was comfortable staying outside of the city (the Hilton is a 12-15 minute monorail or train ride into the city center). When I went downstairs this is what I found instead:

Guests were allowed instead to use the adjoining Le Meridien pool…

That was enough for me. In the elevator I logged on to the SPG app and booked myself a room at the Westin, what was originally about $50 more per night was now only $12 additional for a last minute non-refundable rate. Good enough for me! The Westin was also located right in the center of the city which would be more convenient for exploring the city and the pool was actually open! In the end, I’m so happy that I was forced to switch. I loved everything about the Westin – the service, the Petronas Towers views from my room, the lounge, the amazing breakfast (the best of the trip and perhaps the best I’ve had in Asia), and of course the location. More on the Westin in my next trip report.

I headed back upstairs, grabbed my bag and told the lounge to check me out and cancel my reservation for that night. I did inform Hilton that I thought it was very wrong to not disclose the lack of electricity/AC/internet and closed pool on their website or at check-in and that it would have very much altered my decision to stay there. Late last week I received a letter from Hilton notifying me that they were sending me a Be My Guest certificate good for one night plus tax at any property worldwide. I think that’s fair…especially for the $125 I spent on the Hilton KL.

With A/C, internet, and an open pool, I think the Hilton would have certainly been a really nice property to stay at. Getting from the airport to the hotel is very convenient via the express train. The commute from the hotel into the city was relatively easy and short, though I still think I’d pick to stay at the Westin next time around. Being located in the center of the city with an equally good lounge and excellent service seems to be worth it for me. I like having the ability to walk out of the hotel and explore, something you cannot do at the Hilton.

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Petra February 15, 2013 - 8:10 am

An unfortunate experience for you. I had stayed at this hotel for a week in Aug 2012 and everything was excellent since there was no construction back then. I was able to stay 7 nights for only 148k points and upgraded to exec since I was Gold. The Westin hotel was not ready then so that wasn’t a choice for me as I would have loved to try that hotel.

Santastico February 15, 2013 - 8:58 am

Kuala Lumpur is the best place in the world to experience very high end properties for very cheap rates. Why stay at a Hilton when you can stay at Ritz, Mandarin Oriental, Shangri-La and many other high end Asian options?

Damon February 15, 2013 - 10:36 am

The Westin, Kuala Lumpur, is my favorite hotel to stay while in that city.

Love the location, room, view and services. Never had a bad stay there.

Troy February 15, 2013 - 11:32 am

Out of interest was the rate below what it normally was? Given the eating facilities, pool closure and general construction work going on?

E February 15, 2013 - 11:38 am

That food court across the westin is ridiculous.

Travel Summary February 15, 2013 - 1:11 pm

I stayed here a few years ago and really enjoyed it, though I agree it is a bit out of the way. It’s too bad you had such a terrible experience, but I would think the free night certificate more than makes up for it since it’s easily worth $400+ if used properly!

PatMike February 15, 2013 - 1:56 pm

I loved the Westin KL as well. Coming from Singapore, we took a bus that dropped us off right by the Westin.
There are a number of bus companies that serve Singapore to KL. Our hotel concierge in Singapore set us up with the one with a drop off near the Westin. The bus was quicker and much less hassle than a flight. I also prefer the KL downtown area to the KLIA express area. Nothing much to do or see there. The Westin has the mall with the great food court across the street. We also had a view of the twin towers from our Westin room.

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