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The Big Six: Malaysian coastal hotels

Pangkor Laut Resort, Perak

This luxury private island retreat offers seven dining options: try Chinese fare at Uncle Lim's Kitchen; pan-Asian at Fisherman's Cove; or Japanese at Jamu Bar. There are also yoga classes, jungle treks, and the heavyweight task of lifting cocktails beside the infinity pool. Stylish villas with bamboo interiors all come with verandas and outdoor bathtubs. One lavish suite is even named after Luciano Pavarotti, who visited in 2002.

Pangkor Laut Resort, Pangkor Laut Island, Lumut, Perak (00 60 5 699 1100; pangkorlautresort.com). Villas start at US$322 (£215), room only.

JapaMala Resort, Tioman

The tiny island of Tioman – off the east coast of Malaysia – is covered by a ridge of jungle and surrounded by coral reefs, making it popular with wildlife fans. Emerging from the wilderness is JapaMala Resort – a series of wooden cabins and hilltop villas. Many of the sarangs have private plunge pools and balconies; all come with iPod docks and espresso machines. Dining options include the Tamarind Terrace, serving Indochinese cuisine, and Mandi-Mandi restaurant, perched on a jetty with idyllic views of the South China Sea.

JapaMala Resort, Kampung Lanting, Tioman (00 60 9 419 7777; japamalaresorts.com). Doubles start at RM450 (£91), including breakfast.

Gayana Eco Resort, Sabah

Located on Gaya islet off the coast of the Bornean state of Sabah is this environmentally-minded hotel. Dedicated to protecting local coral reefs and aquatic life, it incorporates a marine ecology research centre. Meanwhile, 52 stilted villas form a crescent around the bay, each with its own gazebo. The infinity pool and Alu-Alu Restaurant, which is decorated with aquariums, continue the watery theme.

Gayana Eco Resort, Malohom Bay, Gaya Island, Tunku Abdul Rahman Park, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah (00 60 8 844 2233; gayana-eco-resort.com). Villas start at RM1,210 (£245), including breakfast.

Bon Ton Resort, Langkawi

Eight antique Malay houses meet at this secluded island resort. Even the most basic – Blue Ginger – comes with a sundeck and outdoor tub. Inside, there's a four-poster bed, and oversized beanbags and bright rugs abound. Profits help fund an animal sanctuary.

Bon Ton Resort, Pantai Cenang, Langkawi (00 60 4 955 1688; bontonresort.com.my). Villas start at RM490 (£99), including breakfast.

Tanjong Jara, Terengganu

The emphasis is on relaxation at this east coast spa resort. Designed to resemble a 17th-century Malay palace, its 99 rooms are dressed with white linen and polished timber. All have ocean or garden views, with floor-to-ceiling windows.

Tanjong Jara Resort, Batu 8, Off Jalan Dungun, Terengganu (00 60 9 845 1100; tanjongjararesort.com). Doubles start at US$350 (£215), including breakfast.

G Hotel, Penang

The design ethos of the G Hotel is sleek and minimalist. The cocktail bars mix up martinis, while sushi and teppanyaki feature at the Japanese restaurant. Overlooking the main strip of Gurney Drive on Penang island, the G Hotel benefits from a cluster of bars, restaurants and malls nearby, as well as a string of seafront hawker stalls.

G Hotel, 168A Persiaran Gurney, Penang (00 60 4 238 0000; ghotel.com.my). Doubles start at RM429 (£87), room only.