I have not been to Melaka in a while, so when a friend wanted to head up for a weekend to get some matters settled, I thought it was a good opportunity to visit the historical city.
For those not residing in Southeast Asia, Melaka – also spelt Malacca – is a city in Malaysia, about two and a half hours away from capital Kuala Lumpur. The UNESCO World Heritage listed historic city is famous for its Dutch and Portugese roots and more importantly, the abundance of great food.
For the longest time, Melaka did not have any international-branded hotels, relying on a series of small independent operators to provide accommodations. There are also some larger properties, almost all of which are independently managed.
I was playing around with the Hilton Honors app and realised there was a property – DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Melaka – that has opened in recent years (that’s how long I’ve not been there). DoubleTree Melaka is part of the mixed development, Elements Mall, owned by the Hatten Group and opened in 2016. The project is part of a larger plan called Hatten City, comprising several different developments including commercial, residential and hotel buildings, aimed at shoring up Melaka’s appeal for both tourists and businesses.
My stay at DoubleTree Melaka was in October 2019, and sad to say, the mall co-located with the hotel, Elements Mall, was barely opened, with only the ground floor filled with a couple of tenants. There were a few other outlets sparsely located across the 11-storey high mall, and the rest of the space were shuttered.
DoubleTree Melaka is located on the 12th to 28th floor in one tower of the building. While there is a ground floor lobby, the check-in reception is located on the 12th floor of the building.
The hotel lobby on the 12th floor is bright and fresh, boasting of high ceilings and a great view of the city centre. The lobby lounge and restaurants were tucked to a side of the floor, so that means that the area right in front of the check-in desks were quiet and affords seating for guests.
Parking is also available within the building, from the 5th to 9th floors. Note that the car park is shared with the mall, as well as another hotel on the other tower of the building.
I arrived at about 1pm, hoping to check in before the standard time of 3pm. Thankfully, there were rooms available so we were able to get our rooms. The check in process, however, was painfully slow.
As I was travelling with a group of friends, I requested for a joining room. However, the check-in agent said all of their connecting rooms were between a King room and a Twin room, and they were fully booked in the King room category for the day so they were unable to accede to my request.
This is when I suppose it gets a little contentious. I believe that what differentiates a good and an excellent agent is that for the latter, they will remember the request and offer to check for you later in the day if there’s one available, rather than to say no outright. Nonetheless, the agent offered us rooms that are side by side, so I guess we had to settle for that.
DoubleTree Melaka has over 270 rooms, including 27 suites, across six room categories, including the topmost presidential suite. I booked myself into the entry level room, the twin guest room. At 40 square metres, the room is probably one of the most generous in terms of size for a DoubleTree property.
My room boasted of two generous single beds, a flat screen TV, a work desk more than enough for you to work from your room. You could also opt for a single king-sized bed if you want to.
There is also a mini fridge in the room for guests to use. DoubleTree Melaka doesn’t run an in-room minibar service, so if you needed any food or snacks, you will either have to order from the room service menu, or head down to the 24-hour convenience store on the ground floor of the building to get some.
In the bathroom, there is a separate shower stall and toilet. As with most other DoubleTree properties, most lower grade rooms do not have bathtubs. With all other Hilton and DoubleTree properties, the hotel uses Crabtree and Evelyn amenities, which is always easy on the skin.
While the front desk was able to offer us immediate access into the rooms ahead of the 3pm standard check-in time, the state of the room leaves a little much to be desired.
When I first stepped in, the foyer area – which was not carpeted – was wet. It seemed like the air conditioning wasn’t working well and the condensation dripped from the vent onto the floor. I had to call housekeeping to deal with it, and they sure took their time to come and get it cleaned up.
The room doesn’t rely on a key card to trigger the room electricals, but instead uses motion sensors. While environmentally friendly, I feel this is a wrong move as you will not be able to leave anything in the room to charge while you are out.
With over 270 rooms, DoubleTree Melaka boasts of a pretty extensive range of facilities, although it is short of an executive lounge.
On the recreational front, there is a pretty sizeable swimming pool on the 13th floor, as well as a 24-hour fitness centre. There are also steam rooms and saunas available in the changing rooms, which are open from 6am to 10pm daily. Outside of these hours, the changing rooms are locked so you won’t be able to access them.
In terms of dining, there is a main restaurant, Makan Kitchen, which also serves as the breakfast restaurant. Outside of breakfast hours, Makan Kitchen serves up international fare throughout the day.
The hotel also has an Italian restaurant, Tosca, located near the pool. There is alfresco seating available by the poolside, and the restaurant is only open for dinner.
For the mid-day coffee fix or evening happy hour, you can also head to the Axis Lounge located on the lobby level.
The hotel is also fully equipped with meeting and conference facilities, with an entire level dedicated to it. From a grand ballroom to smaller meeting rooms, this property can also be an option for those corporate retreats.
Similar to DoubleTree in other parts of Asia, DoubleTree Melaka didn’t disappoint in terms of its offering. The rooms are very spacious and the hotel is fully equipped, making it a great property. However, I would caution that the property needs more urgent and pressing maintenance to keep it in its tip top condition. Housekeeping should also have a bit more sense of urgency, given that I had to call them three times over the course of an hour before the wet floor in my room got cleaned up.
The key downside to the property is that the location failed to deliver. The mall that the property is located in is virtually deserted, save for a few pathetic retail shops on the ground floor with barely a handful of visitors a day.
While located relatively near to the city centre and to Jonker Street (we are talking about a five-minute drive without traffic), this often becomes easily a 20-minute drive given that traffic in Malacca is generally terrible. The heat also renders walking impossible.
The vicinity also has very little to offer in terms of sights, although food is in abundance if you are familiar with the local languages and types of local food.
At a glance:
• Room type: Twin guest room
• Room rate: RM339 + 10% tax + 6% service charge + RM12 other taxes (as of October 2019)
• Executive lounge: No
• On-site restaurants: Yes
• On-site parking: Yes, complimentary
• Fitness centre: 24 hours
• Swimming pool: Yes, 6am to 10pm
• Spa: Only sauna and steam room in changing rooms, no spa services