The Hilton Kota Kinabalu is the newest addition to the burgeoning hospitality scene in this popular East Malaysian tourist hub. With 305 rooms, it is the first and only Hilton property in Sabah.
During a recent trip to the East Malaysian state, I stayed at the Hilton Kota Kinabalu for a night. The first thing that strikes you immediately as you enter the hotel lobby is the stunning chandelier that twists and turns around the high ceiling – like water droplets when it rains. The hotel’s main reception area is certainly huge and belies Kota Kinabalu’s status as a mid-sized city.
Premium Executive Room
I stayed in one of the hotel’s Premium Executive Room with a king-bed configuration. At 42 square meters, it was a spacious affair with Hilton’s trademark minimalistic design coupled with a fusion of natural motifs – a homage to Kota Kinabalu’s position as an adventure/nature destination. The first thing I noticed as I entered the room was how the bed was set without a single wrinkle (check out the photo of the bed!). It was similar to what I experienced at Hilton Kuala Lumpur.
The square layout of the room allows for plenty of seating spaces – from the ottoman in front of the bed to a full-fledged sofa by the window and an ergonomically-designed chair by the desk. You would notice that there is essentially no clutter here. The desk is as clean as can be and the traditional hotel directory for example has been incorporated in the Smart TV from which guests can browse through the available services and facilities of the hotel, aside from watching their favorite programmes of course.
The room carries all the creature comforts you would expect from the brand but a notable feature is the motion sensing technology that controls the air-conditioning and lighting. There is no need for you to put in your keycard into a slot when entering your room. The lights and airconditioning will just turn on automatically. Similarly, when going to sleep, you can turn off all the lights with just one button by the bed.
Compared to the lower room types, the Premium Executive Room doesn’t feature one of those see-through windows from the bathroom – which is totally fine, of course. This is due to the layout of the bathroom where the sink faces that side of the wall. In the lower category rooms, the bathroom is semi-open with the shower set against the wall facing the bed.
The bathroom itself is quite spacious with a separate enclosure for the toilet and shower – the latter with rainshower facilities. The room does not come with a tub. If this is important to you, you can get one with the next higher category room – the Executive Suite. As with other Hilton properties, toiletries come from Peter Thomas Roth – personally one of my favorite hotel toiletries brands.
Executive Lounge at Hilton Kota Kinabalu
For everyone’s reference, I was able to get the following details on the Executive Lounge benefits when I dropped by during my stay:
- Breakfast from 6:30 to 10:00AM during weekdays and 6:30 to 10:30AM during weekends and public holidays
- All-day refreshments while the lounge is open, which is from 6AM to 10PM
- Evening cocktails which come in two sessions – first is from 5 to 6pm, during which children are welcome. From 6 to 7pm, it transforms into an adults-only affair.
- WiFi in the lounge
- Private check-in and check-out
- Complimentary pressing of one item per stay
- Concierge services
The lounge itself is quite spacious and I love how it shared some similarities to the one in Hilton Kuala Lumpur. For example, you get a high ceiling – the lounge is actually two storeys high! Also, you get a set of stairs leading to the upper floor.
Unfortunately, I checked in quite late in the evening so I was not able to see exactly what the property offered during evening cocktails. But I thought it was a nice touch how they separated it into two sessions to cater to different segments of their clientele.
Facilities at Hilton Kota Kinabalu
The property has what is supposedly the largest outdoor rooftop pool area in all of Sabah. It was certainly huge and I already spotted quite a few guests sunbathing there early in the morning. For gym buffs, there is a modest fitness center with a complete set of equipment for a workout.
Rooftop Poolside Bar & Grill
Located at the topmost floor, the Rooftop Poolside Bar & Grill is the property’s other dining outlet. The focus here is on Western cuisine which they do very well. The venue also has what is the only wood fire oven in Kota Kinabalu.
I had dinner there as soon as I arrived. The steak is one of the highlights in the menu. Remember to come with a big appetite and with a few other dinner companions!
Aside from the meat, the grill also has a number of seafood options. I tried these gigantic prawns which likewise did not disappoint.
Breakfast at Urban Kitchen
I decided to drop by Urban Kitchen, the all-day dining restaurant for breakfast. The buffet comprises a number of sections including your typical Western as well as pastries, Chinese, a health food corner as well as Malaysian fare such as nasi lemak. The variety was in keeping with some Hilton properties such as the Hilton Sukhumvit Bangkok. For the hotel’s price point, it was reasonable.
That being said, I enjoyed the local fare and had more of that during my morning meal. The beef rendang was a nice dish to see in the morning! I typically have a heavy breakfast whenever I stay in a hotel as I prefer to maximize my time sightseeing so the dishes here suited me just fine.
The Hilton brand has traditionally been thought of as a business chain so it was interesting to see how it’s positioned here in an overwhelmingly leisure destination such as Kota Kinabalu. If the hard product is anything to go by, I would say it was positioned pretty well. The minimalistic style permeating the rooms creating a soothing effect that is just nice after a day of roughing it out at the rainforests of Borneo or at the nearby islands. The high tech fittings are also a plus. Similarly, there aren’t a whole lot of upscale business hotels in the city and in that regard, the Hilton Kota Kinabalu may very well find itself carving a niche for itself here.
Hilton Kota Kinabalu
Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman
Asia City 88000
Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia
You can read more of my hotel reviews here.