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An Imperial Stay at The Majestic Malacca

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An Imperial Stay at The Majestic Malacca

To awaken quite alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world. You are surrounded by adventure.
— Freya Stark
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Slightly contrary to the quote above, Malacca wasn’t exactly a strange town to me. It was a destination that held mystique and history, a place we used to road-trip to from Penang when I was a small child but have no real recollection of. So I scheduled a brief stop in this diverse port city before heading to Singapore for my flight home to LA.

I wanted to make the most of my time in Malacca and its rich cultural history, including experiencing the unique style of architecture that the Peranakans fused together from Malay, Chinese, and European influences. I gravitate towards the the juxtaposition of old and new and The Majestic Malacca easily stood out among the choices i was contemplating. Its proximity to the famed Jonker Street area yet with a bit of distance from of the bustle appealed to my love of tranquil settings.

Upon arriving, i immediately felt the warmth of the staff, welcoming and friendly without being overwhelming. The lobby area of The Majestic has preserved its historical architecture and colonial style, with pops of mint green throughout and styled with Peranakan wares and timber wood furniture.

Welcome tea

Welcome tea

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I didn’t mind basking in the sun by the pool as I waited for my room. A short while later, a young staff member showed me to my room, carrying an ornate basket of welcome tea served in a traditional Peranakan pot. After explaining all of the rooms features, she poured a taste for me, and I sipped it slowly, savoring the subtle sweetness of the lychee-infused black tea and the world I had just been transported into in the bright, airy room with all of its colonial-style comforts. I breathed deeply and gazed out at the Malacca River, which winds its way down to Jonker Street, and contemplated where’d I’d explore first.

Loved this claw foot tub

Loved this claw foot tub

Making plans for my short stay

Making plans for my short stay

My favorite part of the hotel was the lobby bar, where guests can interact and mingle, or just lounge while planning their next outing. A unique highlight was their Gin O’Clock, where at 5pm on Fridays, the bar cart is stocked with garnishes, liqueurs, and recipes beautifully printed cards for traditional cocktails with a Malaccan twist, unique to the culture and area. Although i’m not normally a gin person, i tried the Gin and Tonic, with their house-made pandan-infused gin (Pandan is the ‘vanilla of the east’) and i wish i could’ve taken a bottle home! Another popular one was the Malacca Collins, which includes a splash of Gula Melaka syrup, a sweetener unique to Malacca and Malaysia. Made of sugar from local palm trees, Gula Melaka evokes hints of chocolate, caramel, butterscotch, or coffee, depending on how its processed and distilled.

Although I couldn’t quite fit a spa appointment into this quick trip, Spa Village at the hotel is known for its therapies based on the healing traditions practiced in Peranakan culture. By combining age-old traditional remedies sourced from indigenous ingredients, the treatments offered are believed to cleanse, replenish and reinvigorate, both physically and mentally.

I spent most of my two days exploring the vibrant food and cafe scene in Malacca, and the Majestic was the perfect respite to return to after a day of being out and about in the heat and bustle.

Where else do you like to stay in Malacca? I’d love to hear more about your adventures below in one my favorite cities in Malaysia.

The Majestic Malacca | 188, Jalan Bunga Raya, Melaka, 75100 Melaka, Malaysia

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Hotel Review: 24 Hours at The Robey Chicago

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Hotel Review: 24 Hours at The Robey Chicago

After two days staying and exploring the downtown Loop area of Chicago, we were ready to switch gears to a more neighborhood vibe. We came across The Robey on a whim, just during a quick search online, and were immediately drawn into its modern, minimal design with a touch of art deco details. We loved its location in the Wicker Park neighborhood and the fact that it was a part of the Design Hotels group of properties cinched the deal - we knew it would be the perfect way to spent our last 24 hours in the Windy City. 

Set in a gorgeous Art Deco building from 1929 and converted into a cozy boutique hotel that doesn't feel like it has 89 rooms, every detail from the moment you step through the doors contributed to the feeling that every detail was thoughtfully executed. 

I always love the feeling of an actual key on a keychain vs. a key card.

I always love the feeling of an actual key on a keychain vs. a key card.

The hotel is named after Robey Street – now  Damen Avenue.

The hotel is named after Robey Street – now  Damen Avenue.

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Due to budget, we ended up in one of the smaller room layouts, a little corner nook on the 3rd floor. And yet, we were impressed with the use of space, the carefully selected amenities, and the amount of window light flooding in. Everything in place was exactly what was needed - not too much, not too little...from the carefully constructed nightstand, to the frosted glass separating the bedroom and the bathroom.

We were traveling with our 1 year old son and they even had a crib they wheeled into the space - not an ugly yet functional crib that would have served its purpose just fine- but a beautiful white mini-crib that looked like it had its rightful place in the minimally designed room. I knew then that we'd definitely come back the next time we found ourselves in Chicago - that mix of child-friendly yet visually appealing details is so rare in most accommodations! 

We enjoyed taking our time settling in the room, reading the carefully curated publications displayed on the marble coffee table, and simply luxuriating in the afternoon light pouring through the window after a drive across town earlier that morning.  

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In search of a midday drink and nibble, we moseyed downstairs to check out the bar/cafe on the 2nd floor, which also happens to double as a popular workspace for locals in the know during the day. 

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The next morning before checkout, we headed downstairs and had breakfast at Cafe Robey, conveniently located in the lobby. Its always a nice bonus having a good breakfast option in the hotel that doesn't make you feel like you're missing out on a favorite neighborhood spot. By the time we settled into our food, the place was a nice, slightly buzzy mix of locals and visitors, giving it a feeling of it being a warm neighborhood favorite instead of just a place that locals avoid.

For how design-centric the hotel is, we loved that it was also family-friendly, basically satisfying our travel criteria all in one. It felt casual yet intentional, stylish yet not uptight. If you happen to be there without children, the rooftop bar and pool is highly recommended. The pool was still under construction during our visit (which happened during a wet spring anyway), but I can imagine many glorious summer days spent on the rooftop surrounded by panoramic views of the city along with the bar's handmade cocktails. 

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if you have the time for more Chicago adventures, read on for more design-centric sights in this iconic city.

The Robey Chicago | 2018 W North Ave, Chicago, IL 60647 | (872) 315-3050

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A Visual Tour of Frank Lloyd Wright's Architecture Studio in Oak Park, Chicago

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A Visual Tour of Frank Lloyd Wright's Architecture Studio in Oak Park, Chicago

Frank Lloyd Wright is synonymous with iconic American architecture, and thus its impossible for any design aficionado to visit Chicago without a pilgrimage to his home and studio in Oak Park, just outside the city limits.  Although my husband, an architect himself, had been here many times, we went once more so I could see this historic landmark where FLW spent about two decades designing multiple homes in the neighborhood and exploring design elements that lead to the famed Prairie Movement. 

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Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.
— Frank Lloyd Wright

On our last morning in Chicago, we hopped into our rental car after a hearty breakfast at The Robey Cafe and drove away from the skyscrapers into Oak Park, a quintessential American upscale suburbia with lush green lawns and stately Craftsmans. Just down the block is another Chicago landmark-  Ernest Hemingway's childhood home, another significant sight worth visiting if you have ample time in the area. 

I highly recommend arriving early before the tour and doing a leisurely stroll of the neighborhood, where 25 homes and buildings in this small area were designed by Wright, making it the largest collection of Wright's buildings in the world. Oak Park retains its quiet splendor and its quite enjoyable to wander around, imagining it at the time when two great American icons spent time here. Curbed Chicago has a pretty comprehensive description for the walking tour with brief descriptions of the various homes designed/remodeled by Wright.

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The studio and home is only accessible by guided tour so purchasing timed tickets online before arriving is highly recommended. We milled around the gift shop while waiting for the tour to start and had the luxury of roaming the house with a relatively small group and a very knowledgable guide.

It was pretty incredible walking through the drafting room, seeing where the drawings for so many buildings began as sketches and formed into full fledged buildings still standing today. Wandering inside the home structure and taking in the details and intentional way he continued to expand his vision while committing to using particular architectural elements felt pretty inspiring. All the restored details and prized artifacts blew me away by how timeless they remain. 

Hopefully you'll get a chance to stop by and admire the home as well! 

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FLW was a fan of Japanese prints, many of which were displayed in the studio area.

FLW was a fan of Japanese prints, many of which were displayed in the studio area.

Timeless exterior.

Timeless exterior.

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Picturing all of the life and creativity happening in this beautifully lit space.

Picturing all of the life and creativity happening in this beautifully lit space.

Manicured gardens outside.

Manicured gardens outside.

Memorabilia in the bedroom.

Memorabilia in the bedroom.

Below are a few of my favorite homes in Oak Park with the FLW stamp, all pretty distinctive and yet belong perfectly on the block. 

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Frank Lloyd Wright Home & Studio | 951 Chicago Ave, Oak Park, IL 60302 | 312.994.4000

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5 Chicago Havens for the Design-Obsessed

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5 Chicago Havens for the Design-Obsessed

Sarah Bernhardt famously said, "I adore Chicago. It is the pulse of America" and we couldn't agree more. After a pretty brief first visit, we left wanting so much more...more of the eye catching skylines, more delectable dining, more rooftop-drinking and more coffee shop sipping. That said, if your heart swells at impeccable design and visual bounty, here are a handful of essential stops whether you are working in or passing through the Windy City. 


1. THE HOLLANDER

The Hollander: 2022 W. North Ave, Chicago, IL 60647 | @thehollandergh

A unique combination of hotel, hostel, and hip coffee shop, The Hollander is the picture-perfect hangout. Serving a limited selection of handpicked teas and coffee, the raw interior invites you to linger and read, work, and/or play any of the board games available for guests (hello Jenga!). With loads of window light pouring in from the street and plenty of stylish yet comfy seating, you won't want to leave but when you do, the surrounding Wicker Park/Bucktown neighborhood is full of chic restaurants and boutiques within walking distance. 

Raw + chic interior

Raw + chic interior

Love that hexagon tile

Love that hexagon tile


2. 3 ARTS CLUB CAFE

3 Arts Club Cafe: 1300 N Dearborn St, Chicago, IL 60610 

Located in the famed 3 Arts Club Building, (formerly a home and club for Chicago women in the "three arts" of music, painting and drama) the 3 Arts Club Cafe spectacularly blends classic Chicago architecture with luxurious modern design. The original building was designed by legendary Chicago architects Holabird and Roche and retains its structure and opulent vibe. Beyond the Brendan Sodikoff-operated cafe, the building also houses a wine tasting room, music venue, and floors of Restoration Hardware eye candy. The food doesn't disappoint either: classic menu items are presented in their best possible form, no exaggeration here. The simple-looking charcuterie platter had the most buttery-tasting prosciutto and warm rustic bread. Cocktails were created with care and the gooey grilled cheese sandwich might be one of the best executions of a simple childhood staple. (Reservations recommended.)  

Stunning surroundings at 3 Arts Cafe

Stunning surroundings at 3 Arts Cafe

Charcuterie platter with champagne and peach bellini

Charcuterie platter with champagne and peach bellini


3. ART INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO

Art Institute of Chicago: 111 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60603 | @artinstitutechi

One of the largest and most renowned art museums in the United States, the Art Institute of Chicago sits in the heart of downtown at Grant Park. Founded in 1879, the museum with its new Renzo Piano-designed wing now encompasses a whopping 1 million square feet. With 11 different galleries ranging from Ancient and Byzantine to Architecture and Design, you can either make a day of it, exploring all that this history-rich museum has to offer, or simply focusing on a few galleries and then picnicking outdoors in Millennium Park.

The natural light courtyard here is everything.

The natural light courtyard here is everything.

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4. LINCOLN CONSERVATORY

Lincoln Park Conservatory: 2391 N Stockton Dr, Chicago, IL 60614 

So. Much. Green. If you happen to be in Chicago during a chilly spring or frigid winter, step into this wonderland of stunning flora and fauna. Although its free to visitors every day, a weekday visit is recommended if possible. Take your time and weave through one of the largest publicly owned conservatories under one roof. The main glass-enclosed greenhouse with its 65-foot ceilings is a stunning sight in itself. There are a few detours, such as the orchid room, succulent room, and a children's garden. Our absolute favorite was the Fern Room, a oasis of vines that simulates the lush environment dinosaurs thrived in during prehistoric Chicago.

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5. THE ROBEY CHICAGO

The Robey: 2018 West North Ave, Chicago, IL 60647

When the day is winding down and you are ready to kick your feet up on some 400-thread count sheets and sip some artisanal gin in delightful brass-rimmed cocktail glasses, check into The Robey Chicago. As recent member of the Design Hotels family, you can be sure that every visual and textural detail at The Robey was carefully considered and executed. Despite the cozy size of our room, we were impressed by the layout and shrewd use of limited space. After check-in, head to the rooftop bar Up & Up, a hopping hangout popular with locals where you can take in a 180 degree view of Chicago's famous skyline.

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Hope you get a chance to stop by any of these spots while in town - would love to hear any thoughts and additional recommendations for our next visit!

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