24-Hour Room Service: Fairlane Hotel, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

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The Independent Travel

Kuala Lumpur's name translates as "muddy river junction" in Malay but today this is a modern city at the heart of Asia. Huge office blocks such as the Petronas Towers share ground space with cheap curry centres, mosques, Chinese temples and street markets where haggling remains the way of life.

Kuala Lumpur's name translates as "muddy river junction" in Malay but today this is a modern city at the heart of Asia. Huge office blocks such as the Petronas Towers share ground space with cheap curry centres, mosques, Chinese temples and street markets where haggling remains the way of life.

The 20-storey Fairlane Hotel goes some way to reflect this watershed between Old World and New. An ultra-modern, glass-clad high-rise, its atmosphere is anything but antiseptic. The staff's unfailing courtesy and professional pride gives you the sense that they value their guests' custom, and the hotel strikes a happy balance between business travellers, Europeans en route to Australia, and Asian families on holiday.

Eating here, as throughout Kuala Lumpur, is a pleasure. The Makan Makan restaurant offers classic Malay desserts such as cendol (shaved ice, coconut milk and jellies). You may, though, prefer to leave the karaoke devotees in the bar to their own entertainment once the sun goes down. The impressive all-you-can-eat buffet breakfast includes Canadian pancakes, scrambled eggs, beef sausages and an assortment of noodle dishes.

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION

The Fairlane is in the central Bukit Bintang area of town and your locator is the Lot 10 shopping precinct full of well-priced designer labels. From here you are 40 minutes' walk, or a £2 taxi to the Central Market and 25 minutes walk from the space-age Menara KL tower.

Hotel Fairlane, Jalan Walter Grenier, Kuala Lumpur (00 60 3 2148 6888, www.hotelfairlane.com.my).

Time to international airport: goodbye to predatory taxi drivers - the new airport express train takes 28 minutes to get to KL Sentral station, cost £7 one-way; it is a quick cab ride from there. A taxi all the way costs about £40 and takes one hour.

ARE YOU LYING COMFORTABLY?

The 243 rooms are all sleekly equipped, though a touch functional. The furnishings include sofas and wide beds for easy sleeping. The upper floors offer fantastic views - you will see the mid-afternoon thunderstorms rolling down the hills into town. Bathrooms are shower only but spacious and eye-catchingly designed from marble. There are 60 "summit rooms" and four "summit suites".

Freebies: Buy your breakfast vouchers at reception when you check in and you'll get three days' for the price of two, working out at £3 each. Return visitors get free fruit and a "welcome back" note.

Keeping in touch: the internet room on the top floor is pricey - better to use a cheaper outlet in the adjacent shopping centres.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Double rooms costs from £70 per night if you walk in; book through an online agency such as www.asiatravel.com and this will drop to £40 or less - four-and-a-half-star luxury for the price of a half-decent English B&B.

I'm not paying that: try the YMCA hostel, complete with tennis court at 95 Jalan Padang Belia, Brickfields, 50470 Kuala Lumpur (00 60 3 2274 1439, fax: 00 60 3 2274 0559, e-mail: hostel@ymcakl.com), a double room with air conditioning costs £16.

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