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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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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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Friday Five: 5 Essential Stops In Santa Monica: part 1

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Friday Five: 5 Essential Stops In Santa Monica: part 1

Sometimes, its easy to take your immediate surroundings for granted, even in a place like Santa Monica, where the ocean air is always evident. For today's Friday Five, I'm excited to share a few of our local favorites; places old and new that we love spending time at over and over again. 


1. Bergamot Station

Bergamot Station: 2525 Michigan Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90404 | @platformbergamot

While the east side of Los Angeles tends to get most of the credit for all of the hip, artsy haunts, the west side has it's gem, Bergamot Station, tucked just next to the 10 Freeway. A former railroad station from 1875 to 1953, Bergamot Station debuted its transformation into an art gallery in 1994 after Santa Monica City purchased the land from Southern Pacific Railroad to prevent it from being split up and sold. Now as one of the Metro Stops along the Subway to the Sea, it's possible to see over 40 galleries en route to the beach. Current favorite at time of this post: Moses@90 at William Turner Gallery. With so many galleries in one spot, there is almost always an opening or event happening, attended by lots of westside locals. 

Cool courtyard corner at  Robert Berman Gallery

Cool courtyard corner at Robert Berman Gallery

So much light and space at  Latin American Masters Gallery

So much light and space at Latin American Masters Gallery


2. Blue Plate Oysterette

Blue Plate Oysterette: 1355 Ocean Ave, Santa Monica, CA 90401 | @blueplateoysterette

Whenever the seafood (aka oyster) mood strikes, there's no question about where to go. Just minutes away and never disappointing, Blue Plate Oysterette is the go-to restaurant in our household. Sometimes our frequency there alarms us... "Are we becoming creatures of habit?", we wonder...However, each time we place our order of a dozen oysters, the lobster mac, and a crisp glass of wine or prosecco  and settle into the cozy, intimate atmosphere, we are reminded us of why we return again and again. On a gorgeous day (more often than not), sitting on the patio watching the sun set over the Santa Monica Mountains is simply icing on the cake. 

Ocean facing exterior of BP Oysterette.

Ocean facing exterior of BP Oysterette.

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3. LOVE ADORNED

Love Adorned: 2923 Main St, Santa Monica, CA 90405 | @loveadorned

While there is no shortage of shopping on Main Street, Love Adorned is in a class of its own. Stepping into this gorgeous boutique is an instant mood-lifter (possibly because of the huge skylight pouring light right into the middle of the store). Sure, it will make you want to redo all of your decor or rearrange your living room, but feeling inspired is one of the best parts about traveling and discovering, whether at home or abroad. Originating in New York by Lori Leven, the eclectic boutique focuses on handcrafted goods both from her own travels and from local artisans. There is also an cactus garden tucked in back with cute outdoor goods displayed along with a little seating area to soak up the Santa Monica sun. 

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4. COAST AT Shutters On The Beach

Shutters On The Beach: 1 Pico Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90405 | @shuttersca

Whether you're here to grab a cocktail and appetizer or staying at one of the legendary ocean facing rooms, Shutters On The Beach and it's sister property Casa del Mar are two classic beachfront hotels in Santa Monica. Arrive before sunset and snag a seat on the ocean-facing patio with a drink (maybe two) in hand and observe the beach goers, bike riders, rollerbladers and surfers reveling in that so-cal lifestyle. California-inspired bites like spicy guac and roasted rainbow cauliflower are available as you linger over one of the best happy hours on the West Coast.  

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Mini lobster rolls from the lobby bar menu

Mini lobster rolls from the lobby bar menu


5. TWILIGHT CONCERTS AT THE PIER

Twilight Concert Series: Santa Monica Pier | @santamonicapier

There's nothing quite like that gold-hued Southern California light at dusk that exists only on the West Coast. No matter many beach visits we've clocked or how many times we've seen the hazy outline of the pier and the mountains behind it, that light has the power to reenergize and reinspire. And to be in it's presence during live music is even better. Every Thursday from July to September, the Twilight Concert series at the pier draws locals and tourists who picnic and gather on the sand for free music by renowned artists (this year's lineup included indie faves Mayer Hawthorne and Unknown Mortal Orchestra), a truly memorable experience. 

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@hammockliving  at Santa Monica Pier

@hammockliving at Santa Monica Pier


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Friday Five: 5 Essential Stops in Downtown LA's Arts District

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Friday Five: 5 Essential Stops in Downtown LA's Arts District

We find ourselves hanging out in the Arts District time and time again for so many reasons: the dynamic surroundings...ever changing, ever expanding, the eye-catching boutiques, and so many places to grab a bite or a sip...each one it's own unique vision come to life by their creators. Even as longtime LA residents, we always find a new place to explore every time we're in the neighborhood. There's no shortage of creative-driven businesses and this list is sure to change, but at this moment in time, here are our favorites whether you're a local with a busy schedule or you're simply visiting for the weekend. 


1. Hauser Wirth & Schimmel

Hauser Wirth & Schimmel: 901 E 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90013 | @hauserwirth

The newest "kid" on the block, so to speak, this behemoth gallery has made its home in the former Globe Mills complex, a collection of early 20th century buildings of indoor and outdoor spaces originally used as a grain mill. Keeping the original structure intact with raw touches, the wondrous space has been adapted by Creative Space and Selldorf Architects. The inaugural exhibition, ‘Revolution in the Making: Abstract Sculpture by Women, 1947 – 2016,’ featuring nearly 100 works by 34 artists around the world, is housed in the the four indoor galleries. It's incredibly refreshing to see how well each work of art fits into the space it's installed in, and the amount of breathing room given for the audience to take in the work of the featured artists. 

Beautiful concrete craftsmanship frames the information desk

Beautiful concrete craftsmanship frames the information desk

Installation by  Shinique Smith

Installation by Shinique Smith


2. The Springs

The Springs: 608 Mateo St, Los Angeles, CA 90021 | @thespringsla

Stop for lunch at this industrial-chic LA hyphenate a few minutes away. Functioning as a kitchen and juice bar/yoga studio/infrared sauna/healing spa/event space, The Springs is the ultimate wellness oasis. While it has been open for a few years, (original coverage here) the kitchen was recently revamped by executive chef Jasmine Shimoda and has reopened for breakfast and lunch. Below is the namesake Shimoda Roll, made with all the things that are good for you - tempeh, cucumber, avocado, mizuna, radish sprouts- all wrapped in nori and served with a spash of spicy mayo for dramatic effect (and taste). Both the roll and side salad were incredibly tasty and I left feeling great about nourishing my body with such fresh tasting food that felt prepared with care.

Gorgeous light fills the bar and restaurant space.

Gorgeous light fills the bar and restaurant space.

Shimoda Roll with a side salad

Shimoda Roll with a side salad


3. Shreebs Coffee

Shreebs Coffee: 527 Colyton St, Los Angeles, CA 90013 | @shreebscoffee

Originally a pop-up coffee shop now housed in a revamped shipping container, Shreebs is home to a deceptively simple menu of beverages and bites. Every drink is simple yet perfectly balanced and considered. We are big on tea here at Destination Envy and couldn't resist trying the Pink and Yellow tea. Made with hibiscus tea, lemongrass tea, and a splash of lime and simple syrup, it might have been one of the most delicious cold tea combinations we've had. With tea and biscuit in hand, we took our time sipping it in the courtyard, watching as visitors and locals came, went, chatted, and snapped, enjoying this chic pastel patio that also hosts a yoga class every Saturday morning.  

Saturday mornings at 8am - free yoga on the turf. RSVP  here . 

Saturday mornings at 8am - free yoga on the turf. RSVP here

Pink & Yellow Tea, served with a mini cookie from  Breadlounge

Pink & Yellow Tea, served with a mini cookie from Breadlounge


4. Apolis: Common Gallery

Apolis: Common Gallery: 806 E 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90013 | @apolis

Located on a lively walk street: check. Adorable storefront: check. Handpicked selection of inspiring magazines: check. High quality goods sourced from makers around the world: check. In other words, there is no reason not to check out Apolis.  Founders Raan and Shea Parton have created an enticing space that brings to life their philosophy of business empowering social change. 

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5. Westbound

Westbound: 300 South Santa Fe Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90013 | @westbounddtla

End the day (or kick off the evening!) with happy hour drinks and eats at Westbound.  Founded by owner Sarah Meade, the swank space was inspired by the history of the site as a former train station until the 1940s. With a creative mix of house and classic cocktails made using ingredients like pineapple rosemary shrub and chipotle honey, it's the perfect way to kick your feet up after a day of exploring this lively neighborhood.  

Train-style booths lead out to an outdoor patio space

Train-style booths lead out to an outdoor patio space

Oysters with caviar and fermented tangerine ice

Oysters with caviar and fermented tangerine ice


Did I miss one of your favorites? There are still so many places to check out, this may warrant a round 2. Hope to see any must-visits in the comments below! 

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