The Settlement Hotel, listed a 4 Star Hotel in Melaka (also spelt as Malacca) is situated on the South-west coast of the Malay Peninsula. Malacca was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2008 together with George Town as Historic Cities of the Straits of Malacca. The Hotel is centrally located 2.3km from the city centre & hotel guests can ride on the free shuttle service to the city by making reservations with the concierge.
Melaka grew into a prosperous port trading in spices, porcelain, tea & silk attracting Chinese, Javanese, Indian & Arab merchants to this strategic location. Her price for wealth & fame was colonization by the Portuguese, Dutch & finally British before gaining independence. Malacca was a British Crown Colony from 1946 to 1957.
During the weekends, a visit to Jonker Street Night Market (at Malacca’s Chinatown) might be an interesting experience where you rub shoulders with other tourists & locals who go there for shopping, snacks & supper. Jonker Street is closed to traffic & makeshift stalls line both sides of the street; peddling bags, clothes, desserts, drinks, ice creams, ladies accessories, local foodstuff, mobile accessories, souvenirs, toys, etc. & sometimes shouts are heard calling out to attract passers-by. I got there at about 8:45pm on Sunday for a late dinner & found the place bustling with people & activity. The old colonial shop-houses, the lively atmosphere & the bric-a-brac that makes browsing fun is reminiscent of what Singapore used to be like in the 1960’s. If Hard Rock Café is your kind of scene, head to the start of Jonker Street just by the Malacca River.
The imprints of the different cultures are still visible today in the architecture, heritage buildings & colonial structures especially in the town centre at the site of the 16th Portuguese St. Paul’s Church which was also home to Christ Church built by the Dutch in the 18th century. It was converted to the Anglican denomination under British rule in the 19th century. Look out for the gaudily decorated cycle rickshaws with stereo sound systems blaring away often parked near the church. Most of them will take you around town for sightseeing but be sure to agree on the price before embarking.
Malacca was founded in 1400 by Parameswara, a Palembang Prince who was impressed by the spectacle of a mousedeer kicking one of his hunting dogs into a river, that he established a city on the ground he was sitting on. He was incidentally sitting under the shade of the Melaka tree & hence the city was so named.
The Settlement Hotel is about 5 mins walk from Malacca’s Portuguese Settlement. Mahkota Parade & Hatten Square are both 15 mins drive away & we took a cab which cost M$20 to do some retail therapy. Some foodstuff that are unique to Malacca that you can consider bringing home include Dodol – a favourite of mine is this chewy rice flour & palm sugar dessert; Belacan – preserved shrimp krill that is prepared, fried & pressed into cakes or blocks; an essential ingredient in many Asian curries & sauces; Cincalok -this fermented shrimp krill is usually served as a condiment together with chilli, shallots & lime juice. Salty & pungent, it is delicious for some but yet for others it is an acquired taste; Gula Melaka – Palm sugar that is made from fresh palm sap that is boiled till concentrated before being poured into Bamboo sections to form cylindrical dark brown blocks.
Guests get to enjoy local cuisine & delicacies that are completely Halal.
The Multi Purpose Room is versatile & could readily be converted into a Conference room, Meeting room or Banquet Hall depending on the occasion & usage.
We were served Breakfast & Lunch here as well since the hotel was fully occupied & I imagine this would be the perfect spot to serve the “Tok Panjang” literally translates as ‘Long Table’ which is a traditional Peranakan dinner feast for important guests.
This grass lawn area is where the BBQ pit is stationed & it makes dining under the stars possible.
It is the little details like this that makes the Settlement Hotel delightful.
Whilst in Malacca, you have to try their Peranakan or Nyonya cuisine. Singaporeans are known to flock there for short getaways just to check out the restaurants or hawker fare. It is about 3 hours drive from Singapore to Malacca covering a distance of about 240km.
Modern Malacca is today multi-racial but it is the Peranakan & Portuguese culture that is still practised by a few descendent communities that continue to attract visitors.The Straits Chinese or Peranakans are descended from Chinese migrants who came to Malacca centuries ago who adopted Malay customs & culture, evolving a unique heritage of their own. Their most famous legacy is Nyonya food which is a fusion of Malay ingredients with Chinese cooking styles.
In Malay speaking lands, a “Kampung” refers to a small village or community of houses.
The hotel is the testament of a 2 year long restoration of a run-down 1960’s 4-storey government building located at the fringe of the Portuguese Settlement along Jalan Ujong Pasir.
There are 45 rooms in the residence block & 4 villas spread elegantly over a total built up area of 35,000 sq. ft. complimented by gardens & lawns.
The staff at the hotel are friendly & trained to do their best to accommodate & meet the needs of the hotel guests in an unobtrusive way.
These wooden villas were apparently specially commissioned & built in Indonesia & shipped over to Malaysia to give the hotel guests an authentic experience of staying in a rustic kampong house.