In some ways, I was more excited about my two days in the Cameron Highlands than I was my five days in Kuala Lumpur! A simple Google-Image search of ‘Cameron Highlands’ earlier in the year meant I instantly became obsessed with needing to visit them for myself. The mountains looked so green and bouncy!
I’ve always been a city girl at heart but I definitely have a soft spot for mountains that are insanely leafy-looking or mountains that overlook a city. (Special shout-out to Taipei and Hong Kong!).
As I planned to only be in the Highlands for two days/two nights, I treated myself to a stay at the gorgeous Cameron Highlands Resort, having been swayed by a small discount through my Hotels.com membership.
To get to the Highlands, you can book a car and driver to take you from central Kuala Lumpur, rent a car yourself, or take a taxi. All car options take around 3 hours from central KL, depending on traffic, and can be expensive. Alternatively, you can book a seat on an air-conditioned public bus for only RM70 (approximately US$16) but the journey will be about 5 hours. I took the public bus option and it was perfectly fine. You also get to see plenty of stunning higher-up views on your journey than you would traveling in a low-down car. I booked mine with ‘Bus Online Tickets’ and had no problems.
From the moment I arrived at the Cameron Highlands Resort, I felt like a princess. I couldn’t tell whether all the staff members were all extremely good at their jobs or whether they all took a genuine liking to me! Everyone was incredibly friendly and helpful. In part, I think this is down to the Resort only having 56 rooms so everything has a cosy and personal touch; staff will refer to you by name without prompt and enjoy chatting to guests if you engage them.
Upon arrival, I was served some complimentary chrysanthemum tea in a beautiful crystal glass whilst they checked me in. I hadn’t had any before but it was good – fragrant and sweet, but not overly so.
My room was utterly divine – I’ve always wanted to sleep in a four-poster bed! I couldn’t imagine what the other rooms looked like if mine was one of the most basic ones! Needless to say, I was delighted with it but also disappointed because I’d only have two days in which to enjoy it!
After settling into my room I headed for afternoon tea in their Jim Thompson Tea Room. There were several different local teas to choose from and a good selection of sweets although I found the savoury offerings somewhat lacking. Overall, as yummy as everything was, it wasn’t quite the best afternoon tea set I’ve had – that title is still held by London’s One Aldwych! Their Charlie and the Chocolate Factory themed set is truly unique and delicious. I enjoyed it so much that I’ve gone twice! (Check out my photos and review of that here).
After polishing off my afternoon tea spread, I spent the next 3 hours willing myself to be hungry again in time for dinner. I’d signed up to their meal plan and so wanted to get my money’s worth! Providing you’ve got the appetite/stomach space, it’s a great deal because for a flat-fee, you can eat whatever you want from their a la carte menu at any time of day.
Whether you decide to go with the meal plan or not, breakfast is all-inclusive. They don’t have a large selection of breakfast buffet items but it’s certainly enough to set you up for the day (fresh fruit, pastries, cereal, yoghurt, etc). They also have a menu selection of hot items, such as pancakes, omelettes, and poached eggs. I was particularly partial to their waffles and pineapple fritters.
My favourite meal I had was actually the only one I didn’t take any photos of! Again, I was clearly enjoying myself too much. I ended up having a steamboat dinner in the resort with a Canadian man, Will, who lived locally. Random, I know. Will was loitering in the restaurant’s bar as he was friends with one of the waiters and his waiter-friend ended up sitting us together to eat since steamboat is better shared! (Steamboat is basically another word for ‘hot pot’ dining. Google it and have a look). I’d never had steamboat or hot pot before and it was super tasty, as well as great fun. And my dinner companion, Will, was so friendly and had plenty of funny stories to share. Unfortunately I never saw him again as I was leaving Malaysia the next day, and we didn’t swap contact details, but it was a wonderful serendipitous few hours.
Ultimately, my favourite part of my stay at the Cameron Highlands Resort was the genuinely friendly staff. On my last night, Sherrie, one of the front-of-staff managers, asked if I would like to take part in the daily fire-lighting ceremony in which they invite a select guest to light the fire. Of course I accepted! They very sweetly took a photo of me lighting the fire and printed it into a Cameron Highlands photo frame for me as a souvenir! They gave me a free cocktail too and later that night they delivered a tiny rose to my room. I was truly spoilt!
The manager, Emmanuel, was such a down-to-earth and genuine person too. On my last night, a waiter bought over a plate of strawberries and chocolate sauce which Emmanuel had ordered for me which came with a delightful handwritten note from him. I had met him earlier in the evening at the fire-lighting ceremony and it touching to see in his note that he’d remembered what I’d told him about my travels around Asia.
During my stay, I had an unfortunate run-in with an inappropriate male guest and although I didn’t feel comfortable telling staff about it at the time (I may or may not write a blog post about it later), I did mention it later in the hotel’s online survey and Emmanuel sent me an email whilst I was Singapore apologising for it and saying how he wish he could have assisted me. Although the hotel wasn’t at all at fault for what happened, I was still really touched by Emmanuel reaching out to me to apologise, even though I had left the hotel a week previously. They must see so many guests come and go yet it’s a testament to their service that they genuinely care about individual guests on a personal level. I’m even still in touch with two staff members via Facebook!
Overall, I had a wonderful stay at the Cameron Highlands Resort and I truly hope to visit again, and for longer, some time soon. In my next post I’ll bet sharing my outdoor adventures in the Highlands, which means plenty of green tea-plantation photos! Stay tuned.