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The hotel is located in Bandar Baru Bangi, just 15 minutes outside Putrajaya, the new administrative capital of Malaysia. Its location is rather strategic, with numerous expressways linking into the town of Bandar Baru Bangi itself, namely the SILK Highway (also known as the Cheras-Putrajaya Link), North South Expressway (or PLUS Highway) with exits at Kajang or Bangi toll booths which directly connect to the town centre, as well as the upcoming South Klang Valley Expressway (SKVE) which links the Cheras-Kajang-Bangi areas to Klang.

There aren't that many options for public transportation to get to the hotel. The closest KTM Komuter rail station is at either Kajang or UKM, both from which you will still need to hire a local taxi.

Hotel Equatorial often advertises itself as one of the closest international-class hotels to the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) in Sepang with driving distance is estimated at about 45 minutes.

I was rather surprised when seeing the hotel is now known as Hotel Equatorial Bangi-Putrajaya. Perhaps taking advantage of its close location to Malaysia's new administrative capital, the hotel proudly presents a great alternative for accommodation in and around the ever-growing city of Putrajaya.

To me, the hotel has what it takes to be a favourite lodging option for discernible business travelers to both Putrajaya and Cyberjaya, not to mention the older suburbia development of the towns like Cheras, Kajang and Bandar Baru Bangi itself. The hotel is set on top of the hill amidst the dazzling greenery of the 27-hole Bangi Golf Course. Its location certainly gives out a homely resort-feel to the staying guests.

The hotel boasts a modern architecture with a hint of Mediterranean-style resort across its 8-storey building which is painted in soothing cream colour. Greenery is the order of the day at this hotel - its main entrance is lushly landscaped with tropical plants and colourful shrubs whilst its main courtyard at the back hosts an award-winning tropical garden with eye-soothing koi fish pond, soft-murmuring waterfalls and impressive carpeting of Bermuda grass.

I really loved the lobby area which sits on top of the 3rd floor of the hotel building. It boasts an open-air lobby concept with spacious lounging area which spans across from the reception counter to the conference halls. I was particularly impressed with the collection of rattan-made cushion sofas that are sparsely put together to create an intimate social conversation place among the hotel guests. Overall, big thumbs up for the overall relaxing ambience initiated by various sections of the hotel.

In general, there are 3 types of accommodation available at the hotel, namely Superior (165 units), Deluxe (78 units) and Executive Suite (9 units). I have stayed in a Superior room back in 2003 and a Deluxe room in 2007. Overall, I was contented with my experience when staying at either of these types of room. I found both Superior and Deluxe rooms at the hotel are nicely-appointed in a somewhat minimalist design with generous usage of Asian-inspired decor such as the woven bamboo-strip walls in the hallway and TV cabinet, teak-coloured furniture such as the writing desk and the lounging table, etc. The queen-sized bed is plush and comfortable with white-coloured bedsheet which goes really well with the neutral-coloured wallpaper used extensively inside the room. The noticeable difference between a Superior and a Deluxe room is mainly their sizes as well as the choices of either one-seater or two-seater cushion sofa in the small living area inside each room. For those who often read my many hotel reviews, you would have noticed how I despise carpeted floors, but I am willing to make peace with the ones in this hotel as the overall design blends nicely together to create a homely ambience.

At the room entrance, there is a spacious 3-door walk-in closet that is big enough to store your luggage and other things. The colour TV provided in the room is quite old and outdated, what more with many city hotels today have upgraded to 30-something-inch flat-screen TVs or heaven-sent LCD plasma TVs (read: KL Hilton Hotel). The bathroom is satisfactorily wide with separate sections for the shower stall, bath tub and wash basin. Interestingly, there is a phone extension in the bathroom, just to make sure you do not miss any important calls.

I really loved the swimming pool at this hotel. While it is of average size, the overall landscaping at the pool is truly impressive. The towering coconut trees and the well-manicured flowering shrubs have created a natural oasis feel to the pool area. Added to that are numerous vistas of the beautiful 27-hole Bangi Golf Course which can be enjoyed partly from the pool area. The are plenty of sunbathing chairs and sheltered umbrellas provided around the area, though I could do away with the plastic-made chairs that took away some aesthetic value of the free-formed pool (Hint: Timber-made chairs would be much better). Interestingly, the swimming pool features a jacuzzi right in the middle of it which is a nice setting amidst the soothing greenery.

The hotel hosts three restaurants and two cocktail bars. The main all-day dining outlet is Café Lavista which is located on the ground floor with fabulous view of the tropical garden, koi fish pond and the rolling golf course. There are choices of indoor and outdoor dining at Café Lavista with delectable selections of local and international fares. I thought the buffet lunch that I had was scrumptious with my selection of chicken lasagna, a small slice of cheese pizza, assam laksa and sauté calamari. The interior design of Café Lavista is also nicely done, bearing some resemblance to the ones in downtown Kuala Lumpur with its light-green dining chairs, hardwood dining tables, glass windows as well as exquisite kitchen bars.

I have also tried a simple sushi dinner at Kampachi Restaurant, which is an Equatorial Hotel's signature Japanese outlet, very much similar to the one I patronised at Malacca Equatorial Hotel a few years ago. Nonetheless, I felt that the internal dining arrangement at Kampachi Restaurant is below my expectation. The interior fitting of Japanese decor is ordinary at best. My 6-sushi course menu was also forgettable and did not justify the price that I paid which I could easily get from any express sushi bars at Isetan or Jusco.

Other than that, the hotel hosts a great Chinese restaurant called Golden Phoenix which specialises in Szechuan and Cantonese cuisines on the same floor as the hotel lobby. The two beverage outlets at the hotel are Poolside Bar, which is naturally located by the swimming pool, and Tee Off Lounge at the ground floor with partial indoor-outdoor seating arrangement amidst the landscaped garden.

In a nutshell, Hotel Equatorial Bangi-Putrajaya is a very nice place to stay for both leisure and business travels. I was satisfied with the overall experience at the hotel.

March 2007

A surprisingly good hotel to stay in the southern area of Kuala Lumpur. Immaculate landscaping, nice rooms, beautiful hotel ambience and great guest services.


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