From the outside, Merdeka Palace Hotel & Suites looks like a City Hall building in an old European city.
Merdeka Palace Hotel wins hands down when it comes to location. I love the fact that it faces Padang Merdeka (Merdeka Field) and is just within walking distance from the popular Waterfront strip, Plaza Merdeka shopping mall, many shop houses offering a good range of products and services, as well as historical sites, such as Fort Margherita.
Featuring a colonial-style architecture, Merdeka Palace Hotel is located in the historic and cultural centre of old Kuching, and is only approximately 25 mintues’ drive from the Kuching International Airport. Incidentally, the airport is suffering from a similar fate as the Sultan Azlan Shah Airport in Ipoh did, where the only international route is Singapore. At least, we now also have flights to Medan, Indonesia.
Overall, the hotel, previously known as Aurora Hotel before it was renamed 17 years ago, may be a little dated but the good news is that with their new owners (Felda Investment Corporation Sdn. Bhd.) since June 1, 2015, the hotel is being refurbished in stages. And the management is working on providing complimentary WiFi connectivity, at least in public areas for a start.
Merdeka Palace Hotel boasts a number of food and beverage outlets and I would like to write about two of them, where I had the opportunity to dine in during my recent 5-night stay at the hotel. Both have halal status.
Ristorante Beccari is believed to be the one and only Italian restaurant attached to a hotel. It is named after Odoardo Beccari, an Italian who arrived in Sarawak on an expedition on June 19, 1865. Now helmed by Chef De Cuisine Gedang Jetom, it is possibly the only Italian restaurant in Kuching that serves wood-fired pizza.
Chef Gedang, of Bidayuh descent, has extensive experience working in the kitchens of star-rated hotels. He had been in the opening teams of both Hilton and Riverside Majestic Hotel in Kuching. He subsequently joined Ristorante Beccari when it was first established, rising from the ranks, having learnt the trade under the tutelage of five Italian chefs.
In one of these photos is the wood-fired vegetable pizza. This thin-crust pizza is listed on the menu as Verdure Dell’orto. It consists of zucchini slices, eggplant, roasted sweet capsicum, mushroom, sweet onion and sliced tomato. It is priced at RM36+.
The drinks we had were (L-R) Seattle Sunrise (carrot juice, orange juice, vanilla ice cream and milk) at RM11, Luciado de Mango (mango juice, milk, honey and dashes of strawberry syrup) at RM11 and fresh pineapple juice (RM15.50 nett). Seattle Sunrise and Luciado de Mango were ordered from Seattle Coffee & Tea, which is also under the charge of Chef Gedang.
Business hours: 11am – 10pm
Seattle Coffee & Tea
I was informed that Seattle Coffee & Tea was the first franchise coffee outlet in Kuching even before Starbucks arrived. However, it seems that many people have forgotten about it, probably because it is situated within the hotel building and is not distinctive to the public.
However, Seattle Coffee & Tea which serves a myriad of freshly brewed coffee and tea blends also offers a good selection of freshly baked cakes, pastries and breads. This is definitely the place to be for a quiet tea break where one could just sit down and enjoy the pungent aroma of coffee.
One afternoon, we had Smoked Caprese which is smoked salmon fish fillet with grated mozzarella cheese, tomato and basil leaf (RM18). The drink in the photo is Seattle Sunrise (RM11).
Seattle Coffee & Tea
Business hours: 9am – 12am
Merdeka Palace Hotel & Suites
Add: Jalan Tun Abang Haji Openg, 93000 Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia.
Tel: +6082-258 000
Fax: +6082-425 400
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