The Federal Kuala Lumpur: The Hotel for Merdeka

These shopping complexes and buildings popped up in recent decades as Malaysia progresses into a developed nation. However, one establishment that has stood the test of time in the area is The Federal Kuala Lumpur, now an institution amongst the hotels in this bustling commercial heart of the city.

The Federal Kuala Lumpur was purpose-built to welcome Malaysia’s Independence, as the first Prime Minister, the late Tunku Abdul Rahman, wanted an international class hotel where foreign dignitaries and local guests could stay before joining him on 31st August 1957, when he declared Malaysia’s independence by announcing those immortal words, “Merdeka! Merdeka! Merdeka!” Thus, The Federal Kuala Lumpur was born along with a new nation.

I’ve probably walked passed by The Federal Kuala Lumpur countless times but it never dawned upon me how significant the hotel is, not just to me but to all Malaysians. As the nation grew and prospered, the hotel stood the test of time like a guardian to Malaysia’s past, continuously innovating its product offerings while remaining relevant to Malaysian and foreign guests. With so much of our nation’s history associated with this hotel I was humbled by my experience staying there.

As I walked into the lobby located on the second floor, I was greeted by rich earthy tones throughout the reception that was very calming especially with its dim lights. While I was being checked-in, my nosy self was inspecting the various displays located opposite the reception that included tableware and utensils with the hotel’s original logo. It was a quick intro to the hotel’s beginnings and its continued evolution. There is even a wall complete with black-and-white photos and news clippings which I’m certain history buffs would appreciate.

One can access their rooms via the lifts at the front or the back of the hotel. I chose to use the one from the front because of its history, as this is the very same lift that has been in operation since they welcomed their first guest. Stepping out from the lift, I immediately noticed how clean and fresh the newly renovated Merdeka Wing looked and felt, evidence that The Federal is moving into the new millennium. The pastel colours with the light wood accents of the corridor leading to my room exemplified the contemporary look but did not forgo their heritage.

My room with its light tones and natural lighting did wonders for me as it lifted my spirits, not that it was down to begin with. It was the little things that made my stay at The Federal Kuala Lumpur a truly memorable one. For instance, the Long Chan bottled soft drinks sourced from Malacca took me down memory lane. I also noticed that the cups used to make tea and coffee were not the standard white ones used in majority of the hotels. Instead, they were the type one would normally find at coffee shops in Malaysia when ordering kopi-o. Instead of white bathrobes, the hotel provides guests with sarongs for the male and batik bathrobes for the ladies. The attention to detail in such instances brings its guests back to the past of Malaysia.

Since I was on the 8th floor, I also had access to the Merdeka Executive Floor located on the same level. Here, guests staying from Level 6 to 9 can enjoy complimentary evening hors d’ oeuvres or breakfast with a hot and cold selection here, or opt for breakfast at the Kontiki Restaurant.

Even though Kontiki Restaurant is relatively new, it honours the late Tunku’s memory with its special menu. During the 50th anniversary of Malaysia’s independence the hotel launched The Tunku’s Kitchen, a cookbook featuring 70 of the first Prime Minister’s favourite dishes, to remember him not just as a leader but also someone all Malaysians can relate to, through his local and international favourite dishes. The dishes featured in the book are also available at Kontiki Restaurant on rotataion. My favourite thus far is the Sambal Petai. Trust me, I don’t eat petai but somehow the aromatic spices and the anchovies cooked with the petai was just irresistible, not too spicy yet bursting with flavours of Malaysia.

Each hotel has its own unique character, but no hotel in Malaysia can take away The Federal Kuala Lumpur’s honour of being the hotel of Merdeka. Whether you are a Malaysian who lives 20 minutes away or a foreigner who’s visiting from 2,000 miles away, I truly believe that a stay at The Federal Kuala Lumpur will not only familiarise you with exceptional Malaysian hospitality but also provide an insight into the rich history of Malaysia.


Address: The Federal Kuala Lumpur: 35 Jalan Bukit Bintang, 55100 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

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