It’s not very often that you come across a hotel that feels like home. I mean sure, some hotels are super comfortable, some opulent and luxurious, some designed with families in mind, but really at the end of the day, they are still hotels and still a far cry from home. Well, not always! At least not at Temple Tree at Bon Ton in Langkawi! From the serene gardens to the rustic, yet luxurious villas filled with eclectic furniture and antiques, a stay at Temple Tree feels more like a home-stay than one at a hotel.
From the moment we arrived we were made to feel at home. As we entered the reception area housed in the ‘Straits Club House’ (also home to a restaurant, bar, library and pool room) we received a warm welcome and were all invited to sit down before being given a delicious, exotic (non-alcoholic) cocktail. As we walked along an avenue of trees to our villa, we were told all about the property – it’s history, facilities and nearby places of interest. I knew straight away, just by the way the staff talked about Temple Tree, that it was indeed a very special place! Temple Tree gets it’s name from an actual Chinese temple sitting beneath a tree on the property. This temple is believed to bring luck to those who pray within it.
Temple Tree at Bon Ton is located in Pantai Cenang, just ten minutes drive from Langkawi airport and 5 minutes from Pantai Cenang beach. Next door to Temple Tree is Bon Ton Resort. While under the same management, they are separate hotels, however guests are permitted to use the restaurants and swimming pools at both.
All of the villas on the property are between 70-110 years old, and are of either a Malay, Chinese, Indian or Eurasian heritage. While referred to as villas, they are actually individual houses which have been relocated to Temple Tree from the Malaysian mainland.
The Penang house was built in the 1930’s and is a single story house with a bright and colourful theme throughout. It offers separate accommodation at the front and back, however has an interconnecting door in the middle and can be used as one big house.
The Chinese house is a 100 year old two-story Farmhouse and offers separate accommodation on the ground and upper floor. It is decorated with traditional Chinese furniture and a red and black colour scheme.
The Black & White house was built in the 1940’s and is a single story house adorned with colourful glass windows and boasting an understated black and white colour scheme throughout.
The Colonial house is a large, two-story 1920’s stately home and has four separate accommodation quarters.
The Estate is an old ‘workers house’ which has been converted in to 5 hotel rooms. These rooms are ideal for couples and are bright and colourful boasting high ceilings and colourful and unique furniture and antiques.
The Plantation is an old two-story building and offers 6 different accommodation options including one and two bedroom suites.
We stayed in the Penang house and as we are a large family, used both the front and back sections. The house itself is inviting and bright, boasting high ceilings, crisp white walls and timber floorboards throughout. Each room is filled with an eclectic mix of antique and colourful furniture as well as a cool collection of unique rugs, ornaments, lamps and cushions. As with any house built nearly 100 years ago, it has a very rustic, lived in feel to it adding to the charm and character of the place.
The zone at the front of the house, called ‘Penang 1’ offers 2 spacious bedrooms, a bathroom with shower and toilet as well as a separate bath room featuring an incredible wooden bathtub and a lounge/sitting area as well as a small area for storage. The back section ‘Penang 2’ features one bedroom, a large bathroom also with wooden bathtub, a storage room and a living room.
Each section has airconditioning as well as many fans throughout. The splashes of colour everywhere – the rugs, the chairs, the cushions, made the whole house feel so warm and inviting. I could easily have spent the whole day inside, sitting in an old chair reading, or indulging in a luxurious bubble bath. But there were five children eager to try out the swimming pools who would make sure that was never going to happen……
There are two swimming pools at Temple Tree and another one next door at Bon Ton. The pool near to the villas is quite unique, long and skinny, almost like a roman bath and the water is not too deep which is great for kids. Each pool is surrounded by sun lounges and umbrellas. We spent most of our pool time at the pool near our house as we had it all to ourselves, however we did walk over to Bon Ton at one point, a beautiful setting, surrounded by palm trees and amazing traditional huts.
There is a restaurant in the Straits Club which serves up lunch and dinner. We didn’t eat here, instead opting to go to the nearby restaurants and night markets. I did hear from several people however that the food, while expensive by Langkawi standards, is of a very high quality. Next door at Bon Ton, you can find ‘Nam Restaurant’ considered to be one of the best in Langkawi, as well as a gorgeous gift shop selling boutique gifts and souvenirs.
Instead of a breakfast buffet, like many of the hotels in Malaysia tend to offer, the Temple Tree provide a continental breakfast basket for each room. This basket, complete with fruit, yoghurt, juice, bread, spreads and homemade cake is delivered to the rooms the night before. We actually thought this was fantastic. Not only was it light and healthy and meant we didn’t have to race to get ready in the morning to be at a dining room before breakfast finished, but think about all of the food wastage that would normally come from breakfast buffets. No wastage here!
I really cannot fault the service. The staff are friendly and accommodating and made us feel right at home. Nothing was too much trouble and we were always greeted with a big smile. Each evening staff come to the rooms to turn on the mosquito repellent plug-ins and deliver the following mornings breakfast. We were brought ice water as we sat by the pool at Bon Ton. I was lent a power adapter when I realised mine was the wrong kind. When our children found an injured baby bird by the pool they took it to their on-site animal shelter which cares for stray animals. Due to this shelter, which is funded by profits made from Temple Tree, you might see some cats wandering the property. They are friendly and our children thought it was wonderful sharing a hotel with feline friends.
Our Final Verdict
Unique, tranquil and homely, Temple Tree was an absolute pleasure to stay at. The villas are spacious and luxurious, yet rustic and encompassing, a real taste of Asian heritage. It really is the perfect place for any family looking for a laid-back, carefree getaway. The children will love the pools and the resident cats, and Mum and Dad will love the open spaces, relaxed environment and little touches of luxury and style throughout!
Disclaimer: We were sponsored guests of Temple Tree. All experiences shared and opinions expressed in this article are our own.