Rustic yet polished, Rosa Malacca does boutique like no other

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More than a competent hotel, Rosa Malacca is the epitome of retro done right. 

Making a building look effortlessly retro isn’t as simple as stripping the cement to let the bricks lay bare. Some developers do this to woo millennials but there is an art to the architecture that bridges the narrow gap between presentation and pretence. 

It is an art mastered by the bright minds behind Rosa Malacca, one of the southern state’s newer offerings which looks like it had been standing tall since the days of the Portuguese colony. 

Locals who have been forced to see their skyline suffocated by concrete may rue Rosa Malacca as a hipster’s paradise designed to draw tourists to the centre of Banda Hilir. Half of that is true – tourism makes up a significant chunk of the economy here after all. But there is more than brick-walled pretence than meets the naked eye. 

Without stepping in, there’s already evidence of great effort in the little cues that complement the red bricked façade. The awnings on its first floor for example, blend flawlessly with the walls to imbue the otherwise one-dimensional structure with a vintage-European character. Also at play are metal bits painted in black, from railings to water pipes, that form a natural colour palette alongside the earthy hue of brick and greyness of plain concrete in between. You don’t need to be an architect to appreciate this level of detail. 

If anything, things get turned up a notch inside, where Rosa Malacca’s distinct architecture is amplified by its tasteful furnishings that play along with the structural aesthetic. It’s the kind of interior design that gives the waiting area a welcoming sense of occasion despite being as big as an entry hall of a terrace house. The same design cues help the cute 24-hour front desk gel with the quaint café and beautiful courtyard that flank it ever so fluidly. The latter, which lets natural light flow right through the hotel, is a nice homage to Malacca’s traditional shophouses built in colonial times. 

In terms of look and feel, Rosa Malacca is easy to love and hard to fault. But how does it fare as a place to spend the night? 

Naturally, the same brick-and-mortar concept extends to the rooms, which is easy on the eye. The space complements the modern-rustic theme too – even the entry Deluxe room offers a generous 27 square meters in total. But bear in mind that Rosa Malacca’s rooms go for as low as RM200 per night, depending on the season. It’s easy to be fooled by the upmarket illusion created by the room’s steel-framed furniture against walls of brick and grey. But as far as room provisions go, there’s nothing here exceeding natural expectations in the sub-RM300 price range. It’s still a mighty comfortable place to spend a long weekend in. Just don’t turn up expecting heated toilet seats and a menu of Tempur pillows. 

You still get some decent amenities for your money, including a rooftop gym and a breakfast spread well-stocked on local delights and continental staples laid out in the aforementioned courtyard. It’s a lovely setting for a quick bite, and so is the connecting Bica & Co Café. But Malacca is a treasure trove of Malaysian cuisine, so it’s only natural to leave some room for food hunting between visits to the A Famosa fort and the Stadhuys, among other famed heritage sites. There is a lot in store for first-time visitors of this historical state. And as you step into Rosa Malacca again after a long day of sightseeing, its Instagrammable interior welcomes you with the same impact as it did when you first checked in. Rosa Malacca’s biggest strength is easily its visual charm that supersedes many hotels a class above it. More than that, it keeps your Malaccan adventure alive as you fall asleep within its red-bricked walls.

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