In this review, we will stay at the citizenM Hotel in the Bukit Bintang neighbourhood of Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia.
Arrival at the airport
After my great flight in Saudia’s business class I arrived fully rested at Kuala Lumpur Airport despite the long journey of three flights it took me to get to South-East Asia.
There were some big queues at passport control but fortunately Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) has separate immigration queues for business class passengers which only had one person waiting in line.
Getting to the hotel
To get from KLIA to Kuala Lumpur’s city centre you can the airport train, bus or a taxi. As taking the train or bus would still not get me directly to my hotel and required at least another change of public transport, I opted for the taxi to cover the 33 miles from the airport to the citizenM hotel.
There are several sorts of taxis which you can take at KLIA. I opted for the pre-paid airport taxis as it gives most peace of mind as you do not need to worry of drivers trying to overcharge you or rigging the meter.
As KLIA is located 35 miles out of the city centre of Kuala Lumpur, it takes at least an hour to reach downtown KL, even at times when the traffic is light.
Hilariously, my taxi driver was initially unable to find the hotel despite it being located on a major thoroughfare as he never heard of the name ‘citizenM’ before. Only when we finally found the hotel and saw the hotel name sign did he say in true South Park ‘shitty wok’ style: “Ah you meant the shittyzenM!”
It was hard to contain my laughter.
Selecting a KL hotel
For my one-night stay in Kuala Lumpur I had opted for the citizenM hotel (which is written with a lowercase c according to the hotel’s own style guide) as it ticket off all the boxes on paper.
Even though hotels in KL are generally well-priced, I managed to snag a great rate of 197.32 MYR (44 EUR) for a king room including breakfast. Given that the hotel is centrally located in one of the best areas of the city and had great online ratings, it seemed like a good choice.
For those who are unfamiliar with citizenM: it is a chain based in the Netherlands which brands itself as “offering an affordable luxury lifestyle” to “a new generation of modern travellers”. The target audience is clearly millennials and young professionals, to whom the hotel chain offers open work spaces in the lobby.
Currently there are 20 citizenM hotels around the world. The citizenM in Kuala Lumpur was only opened in 2019 and still felt rather new when I arrived.
My first impressions of the hotel were great looking at the beautifully decorated lobby with its high ceilings. Yet I could already notice during check-in that citizenM is not like your average hotel. There isn’t even a reception desk as to speak of!
Rather, there is a high top table on which some tablets are placed for self check-in. First you need to fill in your own personal details into the system and scan your passport, although there are hotel employees around to help you with the entire process. Once done, you need to pay for your stay by putting your bank card in a payment terminal in case your room is not prepaid.
When this is all done, you can grab an empty hotel key card which you need to hold against a card reader to load your room details onto it. You can then proceed with your hotel key card to your room.
This might perhaps all sounds rather complicated (some steps were for me!) but fortunately I found the reception staff to be wonderful. They pro-actively came over to welcome me to the hotel, asking if this is was my first time staying at a citizenM hotel.
When I confirmed that this was indeed the case, the receptionist couldn’t have been more helpful in guiding me through every step of the self check-in system. He also told that if I have any requests or questions during my stay, I could always ask them.
At later points the reception staff indeed proved to be helpful when asked about Kuala Lumpur’s public transport and some general restaurant tips.
I had booked a king room with double bed for my night’s stay. Upon check-in I could decide whether I wanted a room facing the big avenue in front of the hotel or one towards the courtyard in the back. I chose the former.
My room was located on one of the upper floors of the hotel, which can be accessed by both lift and staircase. The corridors and public spaces of the hotel all looked fresh and seemed to be taken well-care of.
Just like you would expect from the chain, the rooms at the citizenM aren’t the typical ones you would expect to see at a Hilton or other business hotel. If one word describes the room decor best it is probably ‘quirky’. Whatever your own style preferences are, you for sure cannot call the room design boring!
Upon entering the room the first thing you note is the wash basin, which is not placed within the bathroom but rather inside the room itself. To the left is a door to the actual bathroom, which has a separate shower cubicle.
The king room had a large, high double bed which was placed against a big window overlooking the street. Another unusual design feature is that the length of the bed is exactly the same as the the room, meaning that you need to climb on the mattress and to crouch towards the window in order to look outside.
There were plenty of sockets next to the bed, as well as a small desk with chair. At the foot-end of the bed a flatscreen TV was placed against the wall. A cute cuddly toy was placed on the bed as well, which I thought was a nice touch.
I though that the mattress and bedding were of excellent quality and I had a great night of sleep. Even though my room faced the main street, there was no noise pollution.
One thing to note is that everything in the room is controlled by tablet. Whether it is the TV, the window shades or rollers, the air-con and even some of the lights. It is all part of the citizenM brand of wanting to be a modern hotel for youngsters.
Although the controls were easy to operate, your granny might certainly struggle with it and wish she’d booked a more old-fashioned hotel!
Each room contains a fridge as well as some basic amenities and toiletries which you would expect in a chain hotel.
Toiletries are all in dispensers as part of a drive of the hotel to be eco-friendly (which is admirable). There are however some packaged kits next to the sink such as a dental kit in case you forgot your toothbrush at home.
The packaging is also definitely quirky. Some of these packs contained some cliché motivational slogans, while others such as the hairdryer had outright funny texts printed on them.
Breakfast is served each morning in an open area next to the lobby. Even though the breakfast spread was by no means extensive, the quantity was certainly not bad. More importantly, the overall quality of all produce was rather good.
Both Western as well as Asian breakfast favourites were available. There is freshly made bread, croissants and pastries, cold cuts, scrambled eggs, sausages, fried potatoes, steamed buns and congee among others.
Fresh juices are available as well. You can order coffee or tea from the lobby bar – which is a nice touch as a proper espresso or cappuccino surely beats a pot of pour-yourself-coffee. Overall, I was certainly satisfied with the breakfast.
An interesting detail about the citizenM hotel is that the public spaces of the hotel are fully utilised. As I already wrote before, the chain is trying to attract a young public with one of the target groups being young professionals. The hotel actually encourages people to work from the open spaces in the lobby.
On my second day in KL I spent the late afternoon doing a bit of work on my laptop from the hotel lobby and can only conclude that the concept indeed works well. There are sockets everywhere, a wide array of seating options ranging from high top work tables to comfy sofas and there is a well-stocked bar.
Overall, I think the public spaces in the hotel are beautifully decorated, making it a nice place to actually spend some time in.
Another interesting detail about the citizenM hotels is that they try to bring their guests closer to the local culture by holding regular cultural events.
During the afternoon, a performance group did a traditional Chinese dragon dance on the occasion of Chinese New Year (KL has a large ethnic Chinese population). It was good fun to watch, although perhaps newly arriving guests might not be as appreciative as the dance groups and onlookers completely took over the entire lobby for half an hour.
The citizenM hotel has an admirable location on one of the main streets of the lively Bukit Bintang neighbourhood. The area is known for its many restaurants, hawker stalls and huge shopping malls and is clearly one of the better areas of town.
Just five minutes away is the night market of Jalan Alor, which is basically a huge open-air food court of restaurants and food stalls and a must-visit on any KL itinerary.
China Town and the Petaling street market is just a ten minute walk away while also the historic sights around Dataran Merdeka square are within walking distance. Only the modern high-rise area of KLCC (Kuala Lumpur City Centre, known for the Petronas Towers) is a bit further away (45 minutes walking or a short public transport ride).
Bukit Bintang is well-connected by public transport, including the monorail, underground and suburban railway lines.
There are also many chain hotels to be found in the KLCC area, although personally I would definitely prefer to stay in Bukit Bintang as it is much more lively and closer to about all of the main KL sights except for the Petronas Towers.
CitizenM is certainly a quirky hotel chain and their Kuala Lumpur branch certainly proves this. Even though I’m technically part of their target audience (millennials, young professionals etc.) I have to say that I don’t consider myself as one. My personal taste is at times rather old-fashioned and normally I try to stay well clear from anything hyped as “cool for millenials”.
That said, the citizenM Bukit Bintang has certainly won me over. Service by the great employees was simply amazing during my stay. The room looked very nice and the bed was one of the more comfortable ones of all my recent hotel stays. Breakfast was very good and I thought that all public spaces such as the lobby with its bar looked aesthetically stunning.
On the other hand, I’m really not a fan of the self check-in idea and of everything in the room being controlled by a tablet. The latter might certainly be off-putting for some elderly people who might not be as digitally literate. The concept and room design is certainly not suitable for every traveller.
Given the great value for money and considering the awesome location in the heart of Bukit Bintang, I can certainly see myself coming back to the citizenM hotel next time I visit Kuala Lumpur.
Trip report index
This article is part of the ‘Lazing in Laos and Gallivanting a Wee Bit Around Asia‘ trip report, which consists of the following chapters:
1. Review: Aegean Airlines Business Class Bucharest to Athens (Airbus A320)
2. Review: Goldair Handling Lounge (Non-Schengen) Athens Airport
3. Review: Saudia Business Class Athens to Jeddah (Airbus A320)
4. Review: Saudia Alfursan Lounge Jeddah Airport South Terminal
5. Review: Review: Saudia Business Class Jeddah to Kuala Lumpur (Boeing 787)
6. Review: CitizenM Hotel Kuala Lumpur Bukit Bintang (current chapter)
7. Kuala Lumpur in One Day: What to See and Do in 24 Hours
8. A Batu Caves Half Day Trip From Kuala Lumpur By Public Transport
9. Review: Plaza Premium Lounge Private Resting Suite Gateway KLIA2
10. Review: Air Asia Kuala Lumpur to Vientiane (Airbus A320)
11. Review: Hotel Khamvongsa, Vientiane, Laos
12. Destination Trip Report: A Day in Vientiane, Laos
13. Guide: Domestic Bus Travel in Laos and How to Book a Ticket
14. Review: Simon Riverside Hotel, Vang Vieng, Laos
15. Trip Report: Vang Vieng – Worth a Stop on Your Laos Itinerary?
16. Review: Villa Ban Phanluang, Luang Prabang, Laos
17. Luang Prabang: The Stunning Pearl of Indochina
18. Guide: Luang Prabang Morning, Food and Night Markets
19. Kuang Si Falls: A Gorgeous Luang Prabang Day Trip
20. Review: Thai Smile Economy Class Luang Prabang to Bangkok (Airbus A320)
21. Review: Ibis Styles Bangkok Sukhumvit 4
22. Review: Air France/KLM Business Lounge Bangkok Airport
23. Review: Garuda Indonesia Business Class Bangkok to Jakarta (Boeing 737-800)
24. Review: Sapphire Plaza Premium Lounge Terminal 3 Jakarta Airport
25. Review: Garuda Business Lounge Terminal 3 Jakarta Airport
26. Review: Review: Japan Airlines Business Class Jakarta to Tokyo Narita (Boeing 787-8)
27. Review: Capsule Hotel Transit Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan
28. Tokyo Stopover: What to See and Do in the Capital of Japan for a Day
29. Review: ANA Business Lounge Tokyo Narita Airport
30. Review: United Club Tokyo Narita Airport
31. Review: Turkish Airlines Economy Class Tokyo Narita to Istanbul (Boeing 777)
32. Review: Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles Lounge Istanbul Airport
33. Review: Turkish Airlines Economy Class Istanbul to Bucharest (Airbus A330)