A weekend in Malacca

A Famosa fort Malacca photo

The 16th century Portuguese A Famosa fort in Malacca.

Malacca (or ‘Melaka’ in Malay) is a state with a capital city of the same name situated about a two-hour drive south of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Often called the ‘historic state’ of Malaysia, Malacca can trace its history back to the 15th century when Parameswara, a prince from Temasek (present-day Singapore) settled in the area and founded a settlement. Located strategically at the narrowest point of the Straits of Malacca (till this day, one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes), Malacca grew rapidly into a regional powerhouse with merchants from all across Asia arriving at its port. Through the centuries, it was conquered, first by the Portuguese, then by the Dutch and was finally handed over to the British in 1824. Remnants of these trading and colonial influences are still visible in Malacca.

On my recent visit to Malaysia, I decided to spend a weekend in Malacca with my Mum and sister. It had been more than 20 years since my last visit and I’d heard so many great things about Malacca, especially since it received UNESCO World Heritage status in 2008. What I found was a lively place with gorgeous architecture, amazing food and an infectious vibe.

A weekend in Malacca at Casa del Rio

We arrived in Malacca after a two-hour drive from Kuala Lumpur and quickly found our hotel: Casa del Rio. The hotel is conveniently located in the heart of the historic city centre fronting the Melaka River.

casa-del-rio-melaka-hotel-photo

Casa del Rio fronts the Melaka River.

The Mediterranean character of the hotel was unmistakable, with its large central courtyard featuring a reflective pool and fountain, and beautiful tiles. We were welcomed with a refreshing drink and a delicious lemongrass/ginger sorbet before being shown to our room: the Presidential Suite!

welcome-casa-del-rio-melaka-photo

A delicious welcome at Casa del Rio!

casa-del-rio-melaka-fountain-photo

The courtyard with its reflective pool and fountain.

The suite was massive, with separate dining and living areas, a study, and an equally massive bedroom and bathroom. There was a large terrace outside with beautiful views of the Melaka River. In the distance, I could see the Straits of Malacca. The suite had a stately feel, with elegant furnishings and subdued tones.

casa-del-rio-presidential-suite-photo

The bedroom inside the Presidential Suite.

bathroom-presidential-suite-casa-del-rio-melaka-photo

The huge bathroom in the Presidential Suite.

living-area-presidential-suite-casa-del-rio-melaka-photo

The living room in the Presidential Suite.

One special touch that quickly caught my attention was the “My Personal Melaka” guest book in which guests could share their favourite Malacca experiences with future guests. I was later told that this book could be found in every room. There was also a book shelf with various books on the history and culture of Malacca – one book I browsed through was ‘Kebaya Tales’ which brought back several childhood memories of my own.

my-personal-melaka-book-casa-del-rio-melaka-photo

My personal Melaka guest book.

Exploring Malacca

In the next two days, we explored the historic centre of Malacca; strolling around Jonker and Heeren Streets (around the corner from the hotel); visiting the famous A Famosa fort (built by the Portuguese in the 16th century), Christ Church and Stadhuys (buildings from the Dutch colonial era) and wandering around the markets, art galleries and shops.

stadthuys-melaka-photo

The Stadhuys, built by the Dutch in the 18th century.

christ-church-melaka-photo

The historic Christ Church, also built by the Dutch in the 18th century. Notice the quirky rickshaws!

blue-houses-heeren-street-melaka-photo

Gorgeous blue houses in Heeren Street. I absolutely loved the architecture of these historic houses in Malacca.

shop-jonker-street-malacca-photo

A colourful shop in Jonker Street in Malacca.

antique-shop-malacca-photo

A wondrous antique shop in Malacca.

antiques-malacca-photo

More antiques. Love those colourful Nyonya ceramics.

We stopped at roadside stalls to taste some of the local food like cendol (rice flour jelly in coconut milk with palm sugar and shaved ice), dodol (sticky coconut toffee) and durian cake.

malacca-food-stall-photo

We dropped by this stall which sells all sorts of dodol, chili sauces and pastes.

sweet-fish-cake-malacca-photo

A sweet ‘fish cake’ filled with custard.

On our last evening we hopped on a Melaka River cruise (from the hotel’s private jetty). I recommend going just before sunset as this allows you to see the colourful waterfront before the sunset, and the riverfront lit up on the return trip.

colorful-house-melaka-river-photo

A colourful house on the banks of the Melaka River.

Indulgence at Casa del Rio

Wherever we went, the Casa del Rio hotel was never more than a short distance away. One blistering afternoon, we returned to the hotel after a wander and indulged ourselves in a delicious Nyonya lunch, served in a traditional tiffin carrier.

nyonya-tiffin-lunch-casa-del-rio-melaka-photo

Nyonya tiffin lunch at Casa del Rio. A variety of curries and vegetables served in a traditional tiffin carrier.

nyonya-lunch-casa-del-rio-melaka-photo

A bit of everything on my plate. Yum!

The hotel’s main restaurant, The River Grill, faces the Melaka River and this is where we had our breakfasts every morning. One evening, we stuffed ourselves with fresh seafood and terrific satay. The prawns were simply delicious!

casa-del-rio-melaka-river-grill-photo

The River Grill has lovely views of the Melaka River.

casa-del-rio-seafood-buffet-photo

The yummy seafood buffet!

casa-del-rio-melaka-satay-photo

The chef was a true satay expert! Those chicken and beef skewers were delicious!

The staff made us feel right at home. We celebrated my Mum’s birthday with a dinner at The River Grill – the Western-themed dinner featured roast beef, grilled tuna, a tasty lamb rack and a gorgeous chocolate dessert. The staff surprised us with a second dessert: a birthday cake for my Mum and a hilarious rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’! Needless to say, it was a memorable birthday!

casa-del-rio-melaka-dessert-photo

The yummy dessert; the plating was excellent.

On our last day, I headed to the hotel’s Satkara Spa for a massage. I was welcomed by the friendly masseuse Nora, who led me into a spacious room. There were two massage tables, a bath-tub and a shower cubicle. The massage was superb! Mixing traditional Malay and deep-tissue techniques, Nora effortlessly found and kneaded away all the tension in my back and shoulders. I left the spa feeling totally rejuvenated!

nora-satkara-spa-melaka-photo

The Satkara Spa.

satkara-spa-casa-del-rio-melaka-photo

The beautiful couples treatment room at the Satkara Spa.

Casa del Rio certainly excelled in the little touches that make a stay memorable; from the welcome sorbet and unique guest book to lightly-scented pillows with the turn-down service (accompanied by a note describing the scent). As we stepped into our car to leave the hotel, I noticed a little card tucked under the windscreen wiper:

casa-del-rio-malacca-photo

Another lovely touch!

We had a terrific time in Malacca. It sure was a treat to stay at Casa del Rio and stroll around this gorgeous city. If you’re visiting Malaysia, don’t miss Malacca! I highly recommend spending a few days to truly appreciate the city and Casa del Rio is the perfect base.

Note: A big thank you goes to the staff of Casa del Rio for their wonderful hospitality. All views expressed above are mine, and mine only.

Save

Share or Save this post:

Tags:

Connect

Follow Velvet Escape on:

11 Responses to “A weekend in Malacca”

  1. Keith Jenkins 29/03/2016 10:53 am
    #

    Hi Scarlett,

    Thanks for your comment. What a cool place you’ve chosen to meet up with your friends! Two days is a tad short but I’m sure you’ll love it! have fun in Malacca! 🙂

    Cheers,
    Keith

  2. Scarlett 26/03/2016 10:21 am
    #

    Your photos have Fired Up my Enthusiasm for this lovely Olde town even more! I’m looking forward to my trip there soon and to meet up and celebrate birthdays of my school friends from KL & Singapore. I will be flying in from London. Unfortunately I’ll only be staying there for 2 whole days :(( Two months would be more to my liking! Kind regards 🙂

  3. Warren 11/01/2016 2:02 am
    #

    Anyone who sees these photos will definitely want to go to Malacca for a weekend or for months! I won’t be surprised if they’d decide to not leave the place anymore. Absolutely breathtaking.

  4. Keith Jenkins 28/09/2015 9:51 am
    #

    Hi Anushri,
    Thanks for your lovely comment. Have a great trip to Malacca!

    Cheers,
    Keith

  5. Anushri Mishra 28/09/2015 7:44 am
    #

    Hi Keith,
    I loved reading your blog because it was written in such a way that almost any traveler can identify with it and experience it through your words. I am visiting Malacca soon and was searching for tips about the place and came across your blog and appreciate it.

  6. Brock 21/09/2015 6:42 pm
    #

    Pretty neat dish’s, especially that desert. Not even sure what it was, but it looks delicious lol

  7. Keith Jenkins 18/09/2015 12:42 pm
    #

    It sure is one great reason to visit Malacca… the food! 🙂

  8. Will 18/09/2015 2:14 am
    #

    The food culture in Malacca is remarkable … can remember my time there clearly, and your post only helped!

  9. Keith Jenkins 09/09/2015 5:32 pm
    #

    Hehe, I didn’t take one of the rickshaws but I took lots of photos of them. 😉

  10. Sand In My Suitcase 08/09/2015 1:26 am
    #

    We didn’t overnight in Malacca – but we did visit recently for a day while on a cruise from Singapore. The Peranakan Mansion stands out the most for us. And those groovy musical trishaw rides! Good fodder for a magazine article and posts on our blog :-). Did you take one of those crazy trishaws?

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Exploring Malacca - a photo essay - 10/11/2015

    […] spent a weekend in Malacca but it really wasn’t enough to see all the sights and discover more of the Malaccan cuisine. […]

Leave a Reply

css.phpUA-8526568-1