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The Empire Hotel and Country Club is an impressive property nestled just outside the capital city of Brunei. It’s a long drive from where my cousin lives, but we still manage to visit the hotel. Apparently, when you are in Brunei a visit to the Empire Hotel is a must. Why? First: The hotel was commissioned so that visiting dignitaries from around the world would have somewhere suitable to stay – an indication that it’s not just any ordinary hotel. Second: It is dubbed as the “palace within a palace” and has been voted as the “World’s Leading Presidential Suite” in the World Travel Awards. Third: It’s open to the general public! Yes, you don’t have to be a guest to have a taste of this palatial hotel. Pretty amazing right?
I am struggling to find the right words to accurately describe what this hotel is like in person. But one thing is for sure, everything in this place screams luxury. Like something out of a film or a dream, the hotel will take your breath away. It has 454 guestrooms, 64 suites and private villas with its own pools and waterfalls. The main atrium is an echoing chamber of luxurious marbles with mosaics laid into the floor. The staircases are studded with gems (tiger eye, I am guessing it’s for luck). There’s a number of colossal pillars that bears a resemblance to the Greek era’s architecture. But they put a modern twist to it by incorporating gold and two-toned marble design with a timber window as a focal point. I didn’t know that marble and wood can be good together, aesthetically that is. Works pretty well here. The high ceiling creates an unruffled atmosphere, while the Swarovski crystal design chandeliers hang flawlessly to illuminate the entire chamber – perfect for a romantic night.
The pavilions in the exquisitely manicured grounds utilize some of the most magnificent wood workmanship and around every corner, there is a new visual or tactile treat. Not to mention a spectacular view of the ocean! I can stay here forever 🙂
If you are a food lover, there’s a multiple first-class restaurants serving everything from authentic local to international cuisines prepared by its team of master chefs. Signature restaurant includes: Spaghettini, serves an Italian menu, while Pantai by the beach and poolside provides the ultimate in al fresco dining. Li Gong specializes in exquisite Cantonese cuisine and the main Atrium Café is known throughout Brunei for its daily luncheon buffet which offers a magnificent spread of international dishes served against a backdrop of ocean vistas.
A word of warning, though: one thing you won’t find anywhere in Brunei is alcohol, unlike neighboring Malaysia and Indonesia, Brunei is serious about its no alcohol policy. So don’t even dare!
If you are into sports and feeling energetic then try the Empire’s golf course which in their own words is:
“An awe-inspiring course. 7,029 yards. Cliffs and ravines. Tight fairways. Large bunkers. Floodlit for nighttime games. The front nine overlook the ocean from high ground, while the back nine reach to the sea. The signature 15th hole takes you right along the beach, hugging the coastline and challenging you with sprawling bunkers.”
Those who are not into golf can try other sport and leisure facilities including floodlit tennis, badminton, squash, ten-pin bowling, billiards, snooker, scuba diving, snorkeling, ocean kayak, and a fitness center. For the less energetic, the Spa provides a variety of massage therapies and beauty treatments.
Overall, the Empire Hotel is an overwhelming example of Brunei’s enormous wealth, a peaceful sanctuary of sheer luxury and opulence. Though we didn’t stay for the grand scheme of time the whole experience was unexpectedly delightful and an oasis of calm in what had been a hectic few days. It left us feeling completely refreshed and recharged.
Location: Jerudong BG3122, Negara Brunei Darussalam
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