Friday, September 30, 2011

cityscapes: carcosa seri negara

I scored a deal on Group On and was terribly excited to spend a night in Carcosa Seri Negara: the boutique hotel which has existed since the colonial times AND housed Queen Elizabeth on two separate occasions!

Yes-lor I'm terribly atas and have the greatest penchant for luxe living (for a modest price preferably)  :D  How chic is it to wake up to the sounds of birds in a lush forest in the middle of the freakin' city?? I'm just so attracted to this building. I love that it has so much character and has stood the test of time. It has watched our city change yet remained true to its roots. I come here for tea sometimes and almost got married in the compounds (long story why that didn't happen..) which explains the progression to wanting to spend a night in the royal quarters.

Choice of name explained by Sir Frank Swettenham:
To the Editor of “British Malaya” [British Malaya, May 1936]

In the April magazine your correspondent in Malaya asks me, in courteous terms, to tell him why I gave the name “Carcosa” to the house that was designed and built for me at Kuala Lumpur by the late Mr. C.E. Spooner, assisted by Mr. A.B. Hubback – as he was in those days – and I have no objection to answer the question even though the simple truth may spoil a number of excellent stories. When this house was finished and occupied I read a book which interested me. It was called “The King in Yellow” and at the beginning of this book there were some verses with a note explaining that they came from Cassilda’s song in “The King in Yellow”, Act 1, Scene 2. Here are two verses: -
“Strange is the night where black stars rise, And twin moons circle in the skies, But the stranger still is Lost Carcosa.”
“Song of my soul, my voice is dead; Die thou, unsung, as tears unshed Shall dry and die in Lost Carcosa.”

I did not call the Resident General’s dwelling “Government House,” or “King’s House,” because neither seemed an appropriate name in Protected States. I did not give it a Malay name, because it was to be the residence of a British Officer; so I took a book name as has often been done before. 

As to the word Carcosa, I imagine it was the Castle of the King in Yellow, but the book explains nothing about either the place or its occupant. That apparently can be found in the play, to which there are only occasional allusions. Probably it is a word created by the author’s fancy, though it looks like a combination of the Italian words cara and casa and would mean “desirable dwelling,” as indeed I found it.
The only curious fact is that this name was prophetic for, as I understand, the house has lost its name and is thus, “Lost Carcosa.” The occupant, I am told, is now styled “F.S,” instead of “R.G.”

Yours obediently, FRANK SWETTENHAM

19 April 1936.

I took Sophiekins instead of Guy 'cos he didn't really care for the royal residence and knew Sophiekins would appreciate the stay much more than him. I figured since it was probably gonna be a gazillion years before I return to this place I might as well make it a working holiday. I brought some *bisou* bonbon along with some props to do a mini-photo shoot. Yup I'm turning into a workaholic..! Who would've known??

Don't you love my Rosanna inc petite mini pedestals??


We got peckish in the evening and headed down (abit of a wait since we didn't have a reservation but not that it mattered 'cos we were chillin in the room anyhows) to The Drawing Room for their legendary Afternoon Tea  :)  I love sipping out of bone china!

Too bad their china wasn't Royal Doulton or some other fancy-schmancy porcelain tea-set. Still it was such a thrill to have tea with tea-leaves and strainers. Though I have to say there are lesser stuff on the trays than I remembered. The kuihs aren't as yummy too. Hmm.. they oughta be more consistent with the standards, non? 

Despite all that I love of Carcosa, we did have a ghastly moment.

We had just checked in. Dropping our stuff onto the floor, Sophiekins rushed to the loo itching to take a pee. Just a second upon entering she dashed out and exclaimed that there's sh*t in the toilet. I stared at her in disbelief. Poo in the loo?? Carcosa... seriously?? And lo and behold there was non-fresh (don't even dare ask me how I know but I do) stool in the freaking lavatory bowl. Someone had bombed the place and housekeeping didn't even bother to check beneath the closed lid! Ayia how can? Sophiekins could barely carry the conversation with the butler... How do you tell someone politely that there's freakin' shit in the toilet?? They sent someone to quickly clean the loo up but I have to say it ruined the ambience and it was just the start of the day! They did, however, come over in the evening to present us with a platter of chocolates. It was a (feeble) attempt to rectify the situation. Well Carcosa's fortunate that we didn't throw a hissy fit. I'm just disappointed that Carcosa's quality of service and upkeep has deteriorated to a point of abysmal. Am I being treated sub-standardly just 'cos I'm on Group On?? Am I half a guest 'cos I paid half the price?

On a positive note, though, the bed and sheets are darn comfy!

Aargh life without a DSLR is excruciating. Shots turned out pathetic on my compact camera. Thank goodness we had Instagram to save the day!

We thoroughly enjoyed having  our breakfast outside. The Brits back in the days must have utterly loved dining in the open while having chats of war and strategy. I have to admit it is exquisite architecture and it makes morning meals such a privilege  :)

Breakfast was awful. My poached eggs were well done OMG. Thank goodness the veranda made up for the crappy meal.
Doing a John Teo: inspecting their dining utensils. Turns out the silverware used in Carcosa used to belong to a French hotel. Wahaha!


If not for the toilet incident, it would have been the commencement of a torrent love affair. The poor maintenance and less-than-thoughtful service dimmed the positive experience. Still I will always think very fondly of Carcosa and the historical significance it played in our nation's history.

Carcosa Seri Negara
Persiaran Mahameru
Taman Tasik Perdana
50480 Kuala Lumpur 
Tel: +603 2295 0888

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored review. The views expressed in this blog are based on the blogger's personal opinions, thoughts and impressions. The material on this blog may not be used, reprinted, or published without the blogger's consent. Merci!

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