A heady mix of boutique hotel and sales galore in a shopping capital is every fashionista’s cocktail of choice.
It was not long after checking in that I melted into my complimentary robe and draped myself on the fab fuschia lounger. I leisurely drank in the spectacular view of the ‘Garden City of Lights”, as Kuala Lampur is affectionately known.
KL is a sprawling concrete jungle of towering office blocks and imposing mega malls. This is a city geared for the serious shopper, with a long list of designer boutiques, popular western brands and even some of London’s favourite high street stores on offer.
It’s not so much a question of what to buy, but where to buy.
Don’t be fooled by the glossy leaflets boasting about the merits of shopping centres and must do activities.
The MO Outlet was described as the best place to source a multitude of designer bargains – with a free shuttle service to boot. Upon arrival, I discovered why the ‘shuttle’ was in fact a people carrier with room for only four passengers. This was not a mall, but rather a store with two levels and a coffee cart. Since I now had to wait for the shuttle to return, I tried to make the most of the experience.
The women’s clothing on offer was a limited range of mostly dowdy and horrendous creations reminiscent of a retirement village in Florida. The only saving grace was a rail of Hugo Boss and a few items in the Milo’s range. The gold pencil skirt and teal sleeveless collared top could probably tempt me from the Boss sale items. I was more taken by the flirty skirt and top from Milo’s though. Despite managing to fall in lust with a dreamy purple Hugo Boss dress, I easily resisted the urge to splurge.
I was a bit peeved to discover that the complimentary coffee on offer if you made a purchase over RM 100 (£15) did not include a latte. I grumpily sipped on my Earl Grey and waited for the shuttle, equally unimpressed by the heavy downpour in progress outside.
I aimed closer to my hotel for the next shopping hit and didn’t regret it. Kuala Lumpur City Centre not only has the benefit of being housed in the famous twin towers, but also offers a multitude of stores over many levels. Any fashion hungry enthusiast will devour the designer boutiques, department stores and Malay specialities - and I was ravenous!
This must surely be what heaven is like. Chanel, Hermes, Prada, Gucci, Marc Jacobs, Todds, Pucci, Christian Lacroix, Hugo Boss, Armani, Banana Republic, Escada, Anya Hindmarch, Furla, Cole Haan, Pucci, Max Mara (I am out of breath but the list goes on and on) all under one roof.
I quickly realised that these designer delights were not participants in a carnival of any kind. Some had ‘special promotions’ which meant a smattering of goods on sale, but most were normally priced with not much savings to be had. The exchange rate has little effect too, despite the RM7 you will get for every £1.
Vincci and Nose are without a doubt my favourite Asia store finds. They are the fast fashion junkie’s solution to footwear and accessories. The sleek shop fittings and fetching ad campaign rivals that of any high street store too.
My shoe fetish and the astonishing bargains to be had meant that even after the purchase of 3 new pairs of shoes right on trend – I was still left wanting for more. The prices were fit for any festive occasion even without sale prices, so why not indulge myself a little?
KLCC centre is connected to avenue K, a complex with a handful of designer stores mixed with a few more European favourites. Bottega Veneta makes it worth the detour. An impeccable space with samples of their leather artistry unassumingly displayed. I started tingling with anticipation as I pushed open the glass door. The air was cool and crisp – probably to accommodate the feverish reactions of dedicated fans like me.
For another hot spot move on to The Golden Triangle. It offers a selection of the finest shopping complexes within easy reach of each other. Go all “Pretty Woman” in Starhill Gallery – a luxurious centre catering for only the elitist of shoppers (high-end boutique stores only). If you don’t have a sugar daddy on hand, venture towards Bintang Walk.
Lot 10 and Times Square are perhaps less exclusive, but still house many leading brand names. Event halls are filled with tables of heavily discounted merchandise, the first sign that the city is in the midst of a self-proclaimed sale carnival!
I came across two department stores: essentially the leading participants in the mega sale carnival. Parkson and Isetan had a mixture of both new season and sale items. There are plenty of discounts on brand names to be had here.
If you are starting to feel slightly annoyed at the impact of globalisation (if I wanted to shop at Dorothy Perkins and the like I would have gone to Blue Water), Sungei Wang is an absolute must.
A hub of local activity comprising of a few floors of what can best be described as indoor market kiosks. It was here that I found on-trend accessories, faddish styles and quirky designs at fantastic prices. Knock-offs were everywhere too, but the flippant store names like ‘OriginalFake’ were at least worth a grin. Besides, I loved the fashion ingenuity of what I was witnessing – an ecclectic mix of designer inspired garb mixed with edgy emerging fashion and cheesy chic. The quintessential cherry on top is that my fashion finds can be enjoyed at Primark prices without the bother of mass duplication.
When the hot sticky air or torrential downpours combined with frenzied sprees began to take their toll – I escaped to the cool confines of my studio on the 20th floor at Hotel Maya. There’s nothing like a quick dip in the hydrotherapy pool (with Jacuzzi style air jets to target achy muscles) or a visit to the Sky Lounge to revitalise and help stay inspired.
Petaling is KL’s Chinatown, which I decided to give a go. The hotel offered free transport to and from the night market. I was excited to see another dimension of the city. A visit to the touristy spots like Central Market, the Lake Gardens and the Orchard and Hibiscus Gardens had proved to be rather disappointing, so I was hoping that this would be different.
It wasn’t. Everything was offensively fake and garish. From the moment you enter you are bombarded with haggling salesmen and crowds of people weaving their way through the tiny walkways. I felt saddened that this was all that was on offer. Perhaps an even more devastating realisation was that there was obviously a huge market for these goods – otherwise there would not be so many vendors. After clawing my way out of the market I did manage to find a little handicraft shop where I picked up a few trinkets. The food vendors cooking on the sides of the street, or crouched low scrubbing humungous pots and pans were also rather intriguing to watch.
The beauty of KL is that no matter where you go you can be sure to want to buy something. It’s a sparkling metropolis with a mountainous backdrop, a city unlike any other. If you are after relentless shopping and one-stop fashion hot spots, consider KL.
As there’s no better way to work on your tan then whilst strolling from shop to shop…