Piccolo Hotel is located along Jalan Bukit Bintang which is renowned for its high-end shopping outlets. To be exact, the hotel building sits right between two retail outlets, namely the Starhill Gallery and the Lot 10, while fronting across the busy street of Jalan Bukit Bintang lies The Pavilion which is Kuala Lumpur's latest shopping mall. There are several hotels located within a walking distance nearby, such as The Westin Hotel & Residences, The JW Marriott, KL Plaza Suites and The Grand Millennium.
Being on a major shopping thoroughfare, access to Piccolo Hotel is relatively easy via the KL Monorel station of Bukit Bukit, from which a leisurely walk should take less than 5 minutes. Driving into the hotel building can be somewhat confusing as Jalan Bukit Bintang is a designated one-way street and one should approach it from either Jalan Tun Razak or Jalan Raja Chulan that connects to the northeastern access of Jalan Bukit Bintang. A one-storey basement parking is accessible on the side of the hotel building and usage is complimentary for staying guests.
There was fairly little to be written about Piccolo Hotel on a historical perspective. What was previously known as Wisma Peladang probably since the 1960s or 1970s underwent a complete retrofit since 2006 without much fanfare until the 13-storey building takes into shape of a modern and glitzy look that is hard to go unnoticed. Slowly but surely the crowd took notice and a number of news reports began to appear on the soon-to-be-opened establishment. Piccolo Hotel finally opens in the early part of 2008 without any extravagant launching events or something to that effect. At the writing time, the hotel was at the tail end of its soft-opening mode as a majority of its facilities have been completed. The hotel is managed by a little known entity that goes by the name of Absolute Prestige Sdn Bhd, which paid RM45 million for a 60-year lease on the former Wisma Peladang. The company has recently been acquired Berjaya Land Bhd via a 51% share sale but Absolute Prestige Sdn Bhd still retains itself as the hotel management entity.
Prior to its soft opening, Piccolo Hotel was featured in several news articles with regards to its unique marine-themed concept. That alone can be considered a fresh concept for a boutique hotel in which the management tries to set itself apart from other new hotels that are mushrooming in the area. Entering the main lobby from the sidewalk of Bukit Bintang (or aptly known as the Bintang Walk), the marine concept is not immediately noticeable. In all honesty, it looks like a regular hotel lobby with placements of two modern F&B outlets, a small lounging area, a concierge counter on the opposite end of the entrance as well as a poorly-marked reception desk at one corner of the main lobby. As I was arriving from the basement parking (and somewhat lost my way due to ambiguous signage), I was greeted by the sight of the concierge counter but none of the reception desk. Upon finding myself to another desk that "looked" like a reception, I had to confirm whether it was indeed the reception desk. The two reception staff politely nodded and I let out a suggestion that the reception desk should be marked with a clearly signage just like what the hotel had done with the concierge counter. While I won't hold it against a new boutique hotel, the signage situation should be improved as surely I was not the only first-timer who had trouble finding my way from the basement elevator to the main lobby. Anyhow, the reception area is done in a stylish yet minimalist design. A white marbled floor is met with white walls and white reception counter on one side and a floor-to-ceiling glass window on the other. True to its Zen-like minimalist agenda, the reception area does look spaciously empty which is not exactly a bad thing, really. A number of bright-yellow fabric chairs are placed alongside the glass window to spruce up the area a little bit, while a staircase leads down to a side entrance with neon-like fountain feature.
Piccolo Hotel offers 239 rooms of various categories, all in stylish and contemporary designs regardless. Despite the varying sizes and furnishing, each room embodies its natural marine-themed by way of an elongated canvas poster depicting actual underwater images such as sea anemones, soft or hard corals, stinging hydroids, sea fans as well as tropical fish. To say that the hotel emanates a full-blown marine theme is probably an overstatement, really, but giving credit where it is due, the effort to portray the rich marine biodiversity of Malaysian waters is very much commendable (being an avid scuba diver myself). As of the categories, there are 28 Deluxe rooms of 24 sq-metre of built-up space, 169 Premier Deluxe rooms (32 sq-meter), 21 Studio rooms (39 sq-metre), 10 Executive Studios (42 sq-metre) and 10 Piccolo Suites (79 sq-metre). In general, each room is equipped with choices of twin-, queen- or king-bedding configuration, writing desk, VOIP telephone, wireless internet access, 32-inch Samsung LCD TV, electronic safe, mini fridge, coffee/tea making facilities, clothing wardrobe, bedside control panel, separate WC and standing rain shower. The Studio, Executive Studio and Piccolo Suite categories come with an additional cushion sofa and coffee table while only the Piccolo Suite category features a kitchenette and long bath. This review shall cover the first-hand experience of staying in the Premier Deluxe room of Piccolo Hotel.
With 169 units, the Premier Deluxe category forms the majority of room offering in the hotel. At 32 sq-metre of space, one would write it off as among the smallest in any Deluxe category, yet from my observation, the Premier Deluxe room looks sufficiently spacious due to a number of well-optimised designs. For example, the 32-inch Samsung LCD TV is neatly fitted to the wall while the working desk forms an integral part of the board as opposed to a conventional furniture. Some amenities such as water kettle, electronic safe and mini fridge are well-concealed inside various compartments as to further optimise the space utilisation. The flooring is done in beech-coloured timber strips which exudes some opulence while a king bed is decorated in a plush and comfortable arrangement of high-quality linens and pillows. As expected, the colourful canvas poster really spruces up an otherwise neutral ambiance by way of adding a spectrum of hues from the underwater world. Another interesting attribute of the Premier Deluxe room is the introduction of an island sink between the bedding area and the bathroom. It may take a while to get accustomed to brushing your teeth or wash your face while facing the bedding area but I find the concept to be fresh and unique. A host of bath items are neatly arranged on the marble top of the island sink and upon closer inspection, you will notice a KOHLER brand name is engraved on the water tap of the wash basin. The water closet (WC) and the standing shower are featured separately with frosted glass door each. The rain shower experience is decent if not fantastic. Since each room is equipped with complimentary wireless internet access, I decided to give it a go and I was very much enthralled by the network speed. A quick bandwidth test gave an internet speed reading between 1.5 Mbps to 2.0 Mbps which was impressive and very similar to the bandwidth speed that I had previously experienced at The Ritz Carlton and JW Marriott Hotel. Overall, I would rate the experience of staying in the Premier Deluxe room as fantastic, with some improvements could be worked on the slightly soiled bathroom when I first checked in as well as streaks of graffiti on the wall (unfortunately we still have irresponsible hotel guests among us).
Being a fairly small boutique hotel, guest facilities hosted by Piccolo Hotel are rather restricted to a number of F&B outlets and a spa centre. There are no swimming pool, fitness centre or the likes in the hotel. Located on the 2nd floor of the main lobby is the Morino Kaze Fish Spa outlet, which apart from offering the commonplace feet cleansing, also offers traditional Japanese-inspired massages and therapies. On a quick count, there are three F&B outlets within and adjoining the hotel building, namely the Island Bar, the Clique Bar and the Ristorante L'Opera, although only the last two outlets are located right inside the hotel itself. The Clique Bar is a trendy lounge with choices of outdoor and indoor drinking area. The outdoor section is facing the busy footpath of Bintang Walk, hence it seems to be popular in the evening to patrons who intend to see the crowd passing by. The indoor section is done in a more secluded fashion with dimly-lit drinking tables overlooking a piano. The indoor and outdoor section is partitioned by a serving bar counter. Meanwhile, the Ristorante L'Opera is an all-day dining outlet which is located opposite the Clique Bar. Just like the renowned Piccolo Mondo Restaurant that used to reside at the original place, the Ristorante L'Opera retains the former's authentic Italian selections such as the wood-fired pizza varieties. As part of the room package, I had the chance to sample the so-called Italian breakfast at the Ristorante L'Opera. The hotel further sets itself apart by offering a la carté breakfast menus instead of going the orthodox way of never-ending buffet spreads. I had experienced two other hotels that opted for unlimited a la carté dishes for breakfast, namely The Ritz Carlton and Hotel Maya, and in both occasions I was well impressed. At the Ristorante L'Opera, I was handed in a simplified breakfast menu of 3 choices, two of which were of regular, bland-sounding Western-English-American garden varieties, while the Italian menu caught my attention (although I am having the hardest time to recall their various names). Unfortunately, the breakfast dishes are not unlimited but don't sweat on that. The two dishes should be more than enough to satiate your empty stomach although I need to admit that I had some difficulty in understanding what the waiter was saying (read: terrible English of foreign-employed worker). The first dish arrived in an oversized plate and I could not say I was unimpressed with the presentation. Two Italian-style poached eggs complimented by slices of garlic bread while shreds of orange peels were sprinkled to enhance the look (and taste). After I literally cleaned my plate, the second dish arrived albeit in a more subdued manner and somewhat less decorated. This one was more of a boiled potato immersed in flavourful wild mushroom gravy that was pretty good as well. A warm cup of freshly-brewed coffee finally cleansed my palate before I ready to take off.
Overall, the experience at Piccolo Hotel was acceptably fabulous. The interior designs are hard to be faulted but some elements of guest service could be further brushed up (read: poor signage, unclean bathroom, wall graffiti, poor command of English) when the hotel is fully ready for its big and official opening.
Very modern overall. Stylish and functional Premier Deluxe rooms. Free internet access (read: NOT many hotels in KL offer this one). Exquisite Italian breakfast that is worth a try. Some minor issues on services and general upkeep. A very much recommended hotel stay for the whole marine-theme experience.