The height of luxury in Brunei is a stay at The Empire Hotel and Country Club, an impressive property located just outside of the capital city of Bandar Seri Begawan. Whether you want to spend your time on site and explore the properties many facilities, including an 18-hole golf course which has been named the best in Asia, or head into the city to explore the sights and meet the people, The Empire is place to stay.
I didn’t want to leave my bed; I know I say that a lot but this time I really didn’t want and I couldn’t even blame jet lag as the technology in Royal Brunei’s Dreamliner, coupled with a good sleep, ensured that I woke feeling fresh. I rubbed the thick linen of the quilt between my fingers and stretched my limbs across the huge King bed. Yes, this was luxury.
The morning was my own and I wanted nothing more than to enjoy all the property has to offer, beginning with the room. Sitting down to watch the news I smiled as I saw the fresh bunch of pink flowers on the table, something that housekeeping must have put there the night before while I was out, alongside the previous days newspapers and a few magazines, including Travel + Leisure, which I began flipping through as I waited.
As I was visiting during Ramadan there were only two options should I wish to dine at the hotel during the day.* The restaurant Spaghettini which was sectioned off away from locals or Muslims guests, or in my room by ordering the night before from a very short menu which was very different to the English breakfast that I was accustomed to. That’s how I ended up with a plate of rice, prawn crackers and ayam – fried chicken – for breakfast alongside a bowl of coco pops.
My accommodation for the two-nights was a Deluxe Room, spread across three rooms – an ample lounge and dining area perfect for receiving guests; the spacious bedroom with a wardrobe spanning the length of one wall, and the rich marble bathroom which had a jacuzzi positioned by the window overlooking the South China Sea. The small details were not ignored as the rooms were full of rich polished wood, crystal lamps and laced with gold fittings.
Each of the rooms are incredibly generous in size, resembling more of a private apartment than a luxury hotel suite. Best of all each room is equipped with WiFi – which can be a little patchy, premium TV channels, a generous sized balcony overlooking the ocean and a complimentary mini bar, though no alcohol will be found in it as Brunei is a dry country. Dainty orchids brightened the rooms and high quality bath and body products were supplied by luxury spa company Elemis.
The Empire Hotel and Country Club has a choice on nine restaurants, cafes and lounges operating within the property. Staying with the relaxed them of the day I chose to dine at Pantai, situated amongst the lagoon pools overlooking the ocean.
The restaurants signature cuisine is Japanese food, though you’ll find tastes of Brunei, Malaysia, and India in the dishes presented on the semi buffet. The sushi basket is always full and made fresh throughout the evening, beef or chicken satay are grilled in front of you and noodle soups are customisable and cooked to order. The dessert buffet is also quite impressive with cupcakes, purple yam cakes (surprisingly sweet), thick chocolate cake and dozens of other choices.
One thing I really enjoy about travelling to Brunei, or other countries within the region, is the abundance of fresh juices and fruity mocktails. While I do enjoy a tipple once in a while it’s refreshing to enjoy fruit based drinks, many of which can be taken home and replicated!
While you’re at The Empire do ask for a tour of the property. Start in the hotel with a visit to the Emperor Suite, a huge 665 square metre penthouse that is also home to a private swimming pool, sauna and movie projector in the pool room!
Then head outside and get onboard the golf buggy for a drive around the property. Visit the Country Club, drive along the golf green, stop at the bowling lanes or see what’s on show at the cinema next door.
Next, travel to the area where the villas are located, luxury two or three-bedroom properties with private pools and beaches. You might even spot some of the Sultans family or their luxury car collection, his brother lives in one of the villas!
Finally, end on the beach and walk, or drive, to the tip of the property which overlooks the sea and back towards the colossal property.
Even with it’s size the Empire Hotel and Country Club maintains top notch service and a luxurious stay for travellers. It is the hotel to stay at and, for regular travellers, reasonably well priced for a five-star property. Whether you want to stay on site or organise day tours to explore the country The Empire is the place to base yourself when travelling in Brunei.
Now it’s over to you
Where is the most luxurious hotel you’ve stayed?
On holiday do you prefer dining at the hotel or getting into the city?
Though my trip to Brunei was arranged by Royal Brunei Airlines and Boeing
this has not influenced my thoughts and opinions in any way.