Life is tough at the moment. If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram (I’m @carawaters on both) you’ll know that I’m currently exploring Malaysia and Singapore on a two week holiday with Meat-and-Three Veg. There’s lots I want to share on here but I couldn’t wait to tell you about the beautiful Temple Tree resort on the Malaysian island of Langkawi. Just five minutes drive from the airport we arrived hot and sweaty and stepped in the door of an old but airy renovated Malaysian home to be greeted by a dosing cat and an icy cold pineapple mint tea.
Owned by Australian Narelle McMurtie and Alison Fraser, Temple Tree is the sister resort to the more well known Bon Ton directly next door. It’s unlike any hotel I’ve ever stayed in. Instead of rooms the hotel is made up of a series of old Malaysian houses each one beautifully restored. We are staying in the “Black and White” house with brightly coloured stained glass windows and intricate lattice work. Perched up on stilts so the breeze can get in the house reminds me of an old Queenslander. It’s beautifully decorated with antique Malaysian furniture, a huge four poster bed draped with mosquito nets and a decadent free standing wooden bath tub right in the middle of the bedroom. We loved the black and white house although it is the closest to the road so if you have a choice you are probably better off picking one of the quieter houses which is located further back.
There’s a stunning pool overlooking wetlands which stretch as far as you can see and MTV and I manage to spend many happy hours lying poolside reading and using the free hotel wifi which even extends as far as the pool lounges. People come from outside Temple Tree and Bon Ton to eat at the hotel’s restaurants (even Rick Stein is supposed to be a fan) and our meals there show us why. Temple Tree’s restaurant called the Straits Club has more of a Western menu.
Eaten on the verandah overlooking the pool, Straits Club offers a fusion of European and Malaysian influences like the tortellini (RM 38). The pasta was cooked perfectly with a slight bite to it and stuffed with pumpkin and fetta cheese. So far pretty standard but then it was teamed with plump raisins soaked in tea and crunchy spiced cashews and dribbled with a citrus dressing giving the whole dish a very tropical feel.
Of the mains the standout was the tender roasted chicken (RM 52) which was rubbed with five spice and teamed with a hot and sour mango salad giving a sweet kick. From the specials the crusted seabass (RM 36) was super fresh and slathered in a creamy coconut and turmeric sauce. Desserts trod the same fusion path like the apple crumble (RM 26) which came with the more interesting addition of guava alongside the standard custard and ice-cream.
On our second night at Temple Tree we went next door for dinner to Bon Ton. Both hotels have their own unique feel with Bon Ton offering beautiful views over the wetlands and a bar area where you can have drinks and watch as the sun goes down. If you can gather together enough guests BonTon hosts Malaysian dinners (RM 90 a person) which are served in the traditional way so you share all the food from big bowls in the middle of the table.
The ayam masak merah of chicken slow cooked on the bone in a pungent bright red sauce had a great depth of flavour to it. Acar nenas, a salad made up of fresh pineapple, cucumber and peanuts was the perfect refreshing antidote to the heat of some of the dishes. Pancakes wrapped around a crunchy caramelised palm sugar mixture were a flourescent green colour from the pandang leaves used to flavour them. Slightly disturbing in appearance they still achieved that classic trifecta of pancake, sugar and creamy home made gula melaka ice-cream.
The only complaint guests seem to have about Temple Tree and Bon Ton on sites like Trip Advisor is the lack of a cooked breakfast. Instead each night you are left bread, yoghurt, fruit and cake in the fridge in your room to make your own breakfast in the morning. For me this wasn’t a drawback at all. I loved being able to have breakfast when I felt like on the verandah of the Black and White house and the simpler and lighter food was fine in such a hot tropical environment.
One thing worth bearing in mind about the hotels they are also a sanctuary for dogs and cats. If you love animals you will be in your element and if you don’t all you need to do is shoo the occasional cat away. I didn’t have an issue with it at all and I am sometimes allergic to strange cats. Its just one of Temple Tree’s little idiosyncrasies which makes it so different to your average hotel. What loved most about Temple Tree was the proudly Malaysian feel to the place. You couldn’t be anywhere else in the world and staying here imparted a real sense of the country’s history and culture. It has also left me with a lasting addiction to that pineapple and mint tea.
Gourmet Chick was invited to review Temple Tree Resort. All food and drinks were paid for independently.
Details: Temple Tree at Bon Ton, Pantai Cenang, Langkawi, Malaysia Ph (+604 955 1688 / 3643)
Damage: Pricey. Room rates start at RM570 a night.