Six atmospheric bars and cafes in Malaysia
By Joanne Lane
Malaysia is renowned for its wonderful dining experiences in its many streetside stalls, markets, hawker centres and fine restaurants. But it also offers travellers equally fine opportunities to have a quiet drink or two, be that a high tea, a juice or cocktail. This selection of bars and cafes from across Malaysia ooze a colonial charm, classic architecture, hip scene or fantastic location.
Geographer Cafe, Melaka
The Geographer Café in historic Melaka is located in an old Chinese shophouse on a busy corner of Jonker Street. Thanks to this location patrons have a fantastic opportunity to enjoy the character and charm of the old town with many of the buildings nearby dating back to more than 100 years – in fact the oldest Chinese temple and Muslim mosque in Melaka are located nearby. The Geographer Café is the perfect place to dine, enjoy desert or a signature cocktail – available as both alcoholic and non-alcoholic. They also have a regular program of live music and jazz.
83 Jalan Hang Jebat, Malacca Town, Tel. +606-281-6813
This English-style bar with a club room atmosphere is but one part of the incredible package of the Eastern and Oriental Hotel. It was named after Robert Townsend Farquhar, Penang’s former Lieutentant-Governor and has classic wooden paneling, wooden stools at the bar or deep armchairs to sink into over a quiet drink or two. They serve beer and cocktails including their signature drink the Eastern & Oriental Sling. They also serve traditional pub food. The other alternative in the hotel is Sarkies corner that serves tiffin lunch from Monday to Friday. Sarkies Corner has great views onto the lawn and over the sea.
The E&O hotel itself stands as testament to the British colonial era and today is considered an important part of the Penang story. It was established in 1884 by the Sarkies brothers, also responsible for the Raffles Hotel in Singapore. It featured in several stories by the author Somerset Maugham, a regular guest.
10 Lebuh Farquhar, Tel. +604-222-2000.
Charlies Restaurant and Bar, Heritage Station Hotel, Kuala Lumpur
The neo-Moorish, slightly cavernous surrounds of the train station set the scene for a step back into KL’s colonial past in the Heritage Station Hotel. And a good place to experience the imperial air, if you’re not an overnight guest, is in the bar. Charlies Restaurant and Bar features old wall hangings, arched Moorish windows and original floor tiling that dates back to 1910. As with the basic, no-frills accommodation the bistro offers affordable meals and beverages. Today the Heritage Hotel is a Heritage Building and its worth riding the old elevator for a further chance to soak up the nostalgic atmosphere.
Bangunan Stesen Keretapi, Jalan Sultan Hishamuddin,Kuala Lumpur. Tel. +603-2273-5588.
Smokehouse Hotel and Restaurant, Cameron Highlands
For an experience right out of British colonial history in Malaysia, visit this English Tudor style hotel that dates back to 1939. Located in the Cameron Highlands it’s the perfect climate for an experience of old England too with cooler, misty and often wet weather. This makes it the perfect place to indulge in a drink by the fireplace or even high tea of scones and strawberry jam in the gardens outside.
Tanah Rata, Cameron Highlands, Tel. +605-491-1215.
Frangipani, Kuala Lumpur
It doesn’t boast the colonial ambience of other places in this list, but the Frangipani is hip and happening. It’s also new with a modern overtone to the whole place and a similar crowd. It’s a good place to enjoy a few cocktails, hang with an elegant mix of people and you could follow it up by heading to the restaurant afterwards. This features a French influenced menu. The new wine bar, Bibitus, on the ground floor, also has a similar French theme to its wines.
25 Changkat Bukit Bintang, Tel. +603-2144-3001
Cameron Bar, Lakehouse, Cameron Highlands
The Cameron Bar or pub is a great way to soak in the old warm charm at this Tudor style country house in the highlands. With characteristic décor of a real English pub and a cosy log fire to set the scene, it’s the perfect place to have a sundowner or retire after dinner. An English style afternoon tea with scones and jam is also served on the Lakeside Terrace from 3-5.30pm daily.
30th Mile Ringlet, 39200 Cameron Highlands, Pahang, Tel. +605- 495-6152
If you enjoyed this article and would like to find out more about travelling to Malaysia, please visit the Tourism Malaysia website
Joanne Lane (Australia)
Joanne Lane is an Australian freelance photojournalist based in Brisbane. A love of writing from an early age led her to complete a university journalism degree in 1996 with the idea of pursuing sports journalism, but she soon found the constraints of the newsroom too much. The travel bug soon hit and Jo has now travelled to some 40 countries or more and lived in a few as well, writing and documenting her experiences for newspapers, magazines and online sources around the world. For more details, see www.visitedplanet.com.