Langkawi, or to give its official title, Langkawi the Jewel of Kedah – in Malay Langkawi Permata Kedah – Is a tropical paradise. Its beaches are legendary, its skies mostly blue, and the sea is mesmerising. Nothing needed apart from a rather smart hotel. Well, who wants to sleep on a beach, however beautiful?
Langkawi is not just one island but a string of them – an archipelago of more than 100 islands and all set in the Andaman Sea. The mainland is just 30 km away but you will not be thinking about that when you are here. Langkawi, or ‘Island of the reddish-brown eagle’ in Malay, is hypnotic.
Langkawi has several outstanding hotels but perhaps the most iconic is The Danna with its well-deserved 5 stars. It’s located on Telaga Harbour and not far away from Burau Bay (or Teluk Burau) on the west coast of Langkawi Island. The Danna is only 15 minutes (11 km) away from Langkawi International Airport so there isn’t the prospect of a nasty, long and hot ride to get there. Your vacation will start almost as soon as your baggage leaves the carousel.
The Danna stands right next to Telaga Harbour which was built in the style of a Mediterranean seafront town on gleaming boats that wouldn’t be out of place in St. Tropez or Nice.
The Danna is sparkling white and with an entrance canopy that would put the most celebrated London hotels to shame. Its crisply uniformed staff welcome the guest with cooling drinks and soothing towels, while they check in seated on sofas in the spacious reception area.
Everything about The Danna is roomy. Public areas have well-spaced easy chairs in colonial rattan, or cushioned banquettes on which to lounge. Corridors are wide and open to the warm air of the verdant central courtyard. There is a fish pond, and trees bring the lush vegetation of the hotel grounds actually into the building. One might be on the 3rd floor but there is the perception that one is staying in a bungalow, albeit a very large white bungalow.
The Danna is polished, pruned, and preened to the highest of standards. If there was a 6th star then The Danna would have it in its firmament. The facilities are first class and it boasts the largest pool on the island, with multiple levels for the enjoyment of both splashers and lappers. It’s an infinity pool that seems to flow into the sea just beyond.
The beach here is pristine with white-blond sand. The sea is as warm as a bath and tempting for a dip on hot afternoons. There are plenty of loungers and shady pods in which to snuggle with a tall drink and a good book. One will likely spend the first couple of days just listening to gentle waves and summoning the energy to turn the page.
The Danna Hotel boasts 125 guest rooms and suites and all of them are well appointed. They have rich fabrics, dark wood, excellent views of sea or harbour. There might be a hint of old colonial times but there is every item of technology that any modern guest might want. If work isn’t far away then there are three high-tech meeting centres, ideal for business gatherings of any size.
So you have relaxed in the sun and slept in a sumptuous room and now you will be ready for food. Planters is the largest of several restaurants at The Danna and is on the ground floor, overlooking the swimming pool. It’s open every morning for a legendary champagne breakfast which will have guests lingering over both Asian and European items such as Chinese noodle soups and American doughnuts.
The ambiance changes for dinner. Lights are low and the restaurant is calm with menus being pored over and conversation turning from the day’s activities, or lack thereof, to the dishes on offer. The menu presents a wide array of both Malaysian and European specialities but I can highly recommend the local selection. Try the Malay Platter that will give a taste of this vibrant cuisine. Everything is fresh and of the best quality.
Yes, Planters is rather formal on most nights but each week there is a barbecue buffet with a huge spread of dishes, both Eastern and Western, on which to graze. Entertainment on those evenings is provided by the staff. These young men and women dress in national and regional costumes and perform traditional dances to the delight of enthusiastic and camera-toting crowds.
Strait’s & Co. is a small casual restaurant located on the ground floor and is totally different. It’s colonial but in brighter tones with a floor of, possibly, Portuguese tiles and the ambiance of a tearoom. That’s perfectly apt as they really do offer afternoon tea here as well as snacks and light meals. This is the place to find a reviving cuppa and a cake.
The Verandah is stunning. It’s actually a lounge with elegantly high ceilings, pillars and a proper bar. This is, without a doubt, the spot for a pre-dinner cocktail or a pre-beddybys nightcap. There is a list of house cocktails here that are unmissable and at extremely reasonable prices. A few of them contain fruit so at least you can feel noble while enjoying some of the best drinks on the island.
The Spa here is popular and offers a comprehensive menu of treatments and therapies. The massages include Traditional Malay Urut (soft-tissue manipulation), Aromatherapy Massage and Traditional Balinese Massage. There are The Body Scrub Treatments and The Body Wrap Treatments, a Romantic Bath or Cleopatra’s Milk Bath. There is Spa Care for Hands and Feet, along with Luxury Facial Treatments. All this isn’t just for the women of the party: there is also a Gentlemen’s Facial and kid’s spa treatments too.
The Danna is one of the best hotels in Asia. It lacks nothing but shows a contemporary take on the best of colonial design, the most refined of local cuisine and an opportunity to unwind in the most comfortable of surroundings. Every aspect of The Danna is generous and memorable.
The Danna Hotel
Telaga Harbour Park
Phone: 604 959 3288
Hotel review by Chrissie Walker © 2018