By Christopher Tan
As a long-established bustling suburb looks to house more commercial, infrastructure and residential amenities, a stylish hotel is just the perfect tonic to meet its growing needs.
At first impression, situating a hotel in Cheras, a well-known township for its’ infinite labyrinth of housing estates and endless traffic congestion, may not be the most ideal location for many of us.
Similar to the guarded reaction of several of my office colleagues when I mentioned about Silka Cheras, Kuala Lumpur being located in the heart of Cheras, I was initially apprehensive of what the latest hotel opening under the fast-growing Dorsett Hospitality International hotel group had to offer.
After all, this was a locality that I will always find excuses to avoid coming over to; misread date on wedding invitation cards, GPS failure during office colleagues’ birthday bashes and ill-timed last-minute wife’s demand to be her shopping companion whenever there are house warming parties over that area.
Since I was not able to use any of those excuses when assigned to undertake a media review of this hotel, after spending a weekend there, I came away somewhat surprised by my stay and drove home with a better understanding of the rationality and practicality of such a hotel location.
First up, Silka Cheras is located within the premises of the new Cheras Sentral shopping centre. Redeveloped from the previous Plaza Phoenix, the mall boasts of several leading retail brands and shopping conveniences.
Throughout the short stay, I found it remarkably convenient to fill my time as I zipped in and out between my room and the mall over two days. From chilling out at Starbucks, The Loaf and getting my favourite bite from Subway, I even had time to catch a movie over at TGV Cinemas and also to stock up on the depleted groceries supply at home from Jaya Grocer.
Other prominent retail brands housed at the shopping centre include Uniqlo, Somerset Bay, Sushi Tei, Old Town White Coffee, Kenny Rogers Roasters, Chatime, Giordano, Guardian Pharmacy and Celebrity Fitness.
Shifting back our focus to the hotel, I found Silka Cheras to be surprisingly relaxed and unpretentious. Even though there was a packed conference at the time of my stay over in the Cheras Room, its main function room catering to small and medium-scale meetings, banquets and events, I did not experience any congestion at the lobby, lifts or along the passageways. Possibly the mall and its many coffee bars, cafes and restaurants provided the added places for those delegates to meet and chat outside the hotel.
I was told that the Cheras Room can be separated into two smaller meeting rooms named Cheras I and Cheras II for customers requiring smaller discussion facilities and also for private and family events.
“The hotel’s interior was designed to offer a high level of comfort at great value with added benefits and convenient services to the value-conscious guests. We aim to capture the segments of family, leisure and corporate business travellers in Klang Valley,” said Christina Toh, area general manager of Silka Hotels, Malaysia.
When it comes to the most important area of a hotel, the hotel’s accommodation is second to none, even when compared to a higher star-rating facility. Silka Cheras provides busy business executives and travellers 319 guestrooms comprising four room categories – Superior, Silka Room, Studio and Silka Suite. All the rooms feature functional, modern interior and convenient fittings such as wall-to-wall window, writing desk and a 32” LED TV that epitomises the essence of the Silka brand; comfortable, hassle-free and convenient.
For someone who is very demanding when it comes to hotel room’s comfort and furnishings, I found the Silka Suite truly of a higher class than many of its peers. Ideal for the romantic couple or business executives who prefer the open concept feel, the spacious 42-square metre suite is bright and airy with natural sunlight flittering through the full length semi-circular windows and sufficiently well-lit.
Nice touches such as a cosy seating space, comfortable bedding, sofas and pillows in complementary colour tones, a separate walk-in rainforest shower and an open bath makes the suit one of the best amongst city hotels.
“As radiated through the design and decor in the rooms, we strive to offer a fuss-free yet fun and colourful experience. All the guestrooms are spacious yet contemporary in design with innovative layout and efficient use of space,” said Toh.
Being spoilt for choice from the adjacent shopping mall when it came to food, I was perhaps initially guilty of being overly critical of its food fare. Decked with rows of transparent glass spheres draped intricately from the ceiling, the semi-curved Curvz Café seats 110 persons and opens from 6.30am to 10.30pm.
The eatery offers a mix of both local specialties and international favourites infused with Asian-British elements. Buffet and a-la-carte breakfasts are available in the morning, while a scrumptious spread of international buffet are served for lunch and dinner. The Silka International Weekend Hi-Tea is available on weekends and public holidays for just RM45++ per person served from 12 noon to 4.00pm.
Amongst the must try signature dishes of the hotel’s award-winning Chef Badrul Hisham include his inimitable cream of wild mushroom soup, Silka prawn mee, kampung style fried rice and chicken schnitzel.
Once the weekend came to a close, I was completely bought over by the convenience of building a hotel next to a shopping centre. While the concept is not entirely new as there have been other hotels similarly sited locally and around the world, at least now I have an encouraging reason to visit Cheras.