Differences: Hilton Garden Inn KL - North vs South

Those who have stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia would know it as not just one hotel but two - the North and the South, which are listed as different properties on the official Hilton website. It is not exactly like how the two Koreas are divided along a heavily fortified border though, as the two buildings are merely separated by an non-operational shophouse on Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman (named after Malaya's first Prime Minister following its independence).

Comparing the Hilton Garden Inn North vs South Towers
The Hilton Garden Inns - North vs South

From a historical perspective, it is said that the North was built first, followed by the South which was intended to cater to the hotel's expansion. Some faraway rumour has it that the owner of the shophouse that divides the two sides has declined to sell it, prohibiting the integrated of the two buildings with an iconic skybridge like in the Petronas Twin Towers, or the alternative emergence of a Hilton Garden Inn "Central" that makes it three hotels instead of two.

Regardless, as much as they are distinct, both sides share a good number of similarities as well. In this article, the various aspects of the hotel experience are compared across the two properties.

1. Location


The two hotels are just footsteps away from each other along Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, and that really is not an exaggeration. Quantitatively, the South property is literally 20 metres from the North in the southward direction, and is bounded by Jalan Raja Alang. They are both in a district where the more lowkey hotels tend to be situated, being just slightly further from the prominent Petronas Twin Towers and adjacent KLCC Park. Some guests may feel that the district appears slightly run-down, perhaps with an occasional homeless man sleeping by the street, but it is no way unsafe under ordinary circumstances.

Outside the Hilton Garden Inn Kuala Lumpur
The section of Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman just outside the North

It is helpful that the Chow Kit station (MR10) of the KL Monorail line are not far away. As it is situated up north along Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, the North benefits just marginally, requiring a short 300 metres walk to the station. The bus stop where the Go KL City Bus is available also stops just outside the North. For these reasons, the North wins in terms of location, but really just by a little tiny bit.

2. Hotel Lobby


The hotel lobby is important as it allows guests to determine the initial impression of the hotel. And it speaks volumes. A poor ambiance combined with a messy check-in experience can inevitably impact the overall stay experience from the very start.

Hotel lobby (North)

Hotel lobby of the Hilton Garden Inn Kuala Lumpur South
Hotel lobby (South)

Because the breakfast area is situated past the check-in counters in the North, there is an unintended mingling of breakfast crowds and those queuing at the check-in counters, creating a slightly chaotic feel during rush hour. As for the South, the much taller ceiling and an artistic installation manages to create the impression of a more classy vibe. It also tends to be quieter, as the restaurant is tucked away in another floor, thus earning my preference.

3. Rooms


The rooms in both hotels are actually furnished with the same furniture and amenities, such that based on photographs alone, it would be rather difficult to distinguish whether a room belongs to the North or South. The feel of the rooms in general are modern and functional, although they are conservatively sized.

Queen Deluxe Bedroom, Hilton Garden Inn Kuala Lumpur North
The Queen Deluxe bedroom (North) ...

Queen Deluxe Bedroom, Hilton Garden Inn Kuala Lumpur South
... is virtually identical in decor to the Queen Deluxe bedroom (South)

Some rooms are available as connecting rooms, which may either be a source of convenience for families or an awkward source of noise pollution.

Connecting rooms are available at Hilton Garden Inn Kuala Lumpur South
A connecting door (South)

Bathroom amenities are no different as well, while bathroom sizes varies across room types, and may also vary from room to room within the same room type.

Bathroom of the Queen Deluxe Room, Hilton Garden Inn Kuala Lumpur North
Bathroom of the Queen Deluxe (North)

Both hotels show the same Hilton advertisements on their TV on powering on, and share the same room service menu that operates only during limited hours from 5pm to 10pm (note that some online reviews have suggested that they can take considerably long to deliver).

Room service dining menu, Hilton Garden Inn Kuala Lumpur
The same room service menu (North/South)

Coffee amenities are also available across both hotels. Common features also include safe deposit boxes, ironing equipment and laundry services.

Coffee amenities, Hilton Garden Inn Kuala Lumpur
Coffee amenities (North)

I would opine that the choice of room within the hotel is more important than which of the two hotels you stay in. For instance, while staying at the North, I managed to pick a room with an L-shaped layout situated behind the elevators, which not only appears to provide a tiny bit of extra floor space, but is also extra convenient while providing great noise isolation because the bed is situated at a far corner away from the door.

A room in Hilton Garden Inn Kuala Lumpur North
View of the "L" shaped room (North)

View of room in Hilton Garden Inn Kuala Lumpur North
Another view of the "L" shaped room (North)

One differentiating factor, however, could be that the North has 16 stories altogether, while the South has 25 stories; the latter thus provides an opportunity for better views that could be less obstructed by nearby buildings. On this account, the South wins, but only if guests are able to secure a higher floor. In any case, my opinion is still that it is more important to secure a good room regardless of whether you are staying at the North or South. Thus, it is recommended to perform a digital check-in as early as possible, either on the Hilton Honors mobile app or on the Hilton website. This allows guests to utilise the "Choose Your Room" functionality that allows them to explore the floor layout and pick their preferred room among those available in the booked room category.

Hilton Honors app shows floor layout in choose your room feature
"Choose Your Room" feature on the Hilton Honors mobile app (North)

4. Breakfast


A buffet breakfast is offered every morning, and is provided for guests with breakfast as part of their room rate, for selected loyalty members, or for those who simply opt to purchase it. The food are identical across the North and South, but the dining experience does differ slightly. For the North, breakfast is held at the restaurant on the ground floor; for the South the restaurant is located on the 1st floor (i.e. two floors above the ground floor). The restaurant for the South appears slightly larger in floor space, and consequently feels less chaotic during the breakfast "rush hour". Situated higher, it also affords views of the monorail that passes every few minutes.

Breakfast buffet, Hilton Garden Inn Kuala Lumpur South
Breakfast selection (South)

Restaurant dining area, Breakfast buffet, Hilton Garden Inn Kuala Lumpur South
Dining area (South)

In terms of service, it is clearly the North that excels, for it was only in the North that I was provided with service. A "Gold member breakfast" label was placed on my table, and I was served by a very friendly Cristina who offered me a choice of tea, eggs, and even entertained my curiosity about the North and South divide with utmost dedication and insight. Together with other staff, she was also seen offering a birthday surprise to a particular guest that morning. Truly, service is an integral portion of the dining experience, and the North certainly stands out in this aspect by a far margin.

Hilton Honors Gold Member free breakfast benefit at the Hilton Garden Inn Kuala Lumpur North
A "Gold member breakfast" label (North)

Breakfast spread
No label, but same food (South)

5. Recreation: Gym & Pool


This is perhaps where prospective guests have to decide on their priorities, as its not both the gym and the pool that is available in each hotel, but either one or the other. The North houses a fitness centre on the ground floor for guests to use.

Fitness centre at Hilton Garden Inn Kuala Lumpur North
Fitness centre (North)

On the contrary, the South does not have a fitness centre, but features a rooftop pool and bar on the 25th floor. Aptly named the "Rooftop25 Bar and Lounge", there are special deals every day of the week, such as complimentary fries for two bottles of beer on Tuesdays, and all-night happy hour deals on Thursdays.

Rooftop25 Bar and Lounge
The Rooftop25 Bar and Lounge (South)

Rooftop lounge, Hilton Garden Inn KL South on 25th floor
Lounge area (South)

Lounge area with pool behind (South)

The pool is also perhaps quite a nice spot to hang out and socialise during the evenings, with the possibility of nice sunset views, and thus earns my preference.

Swimming pool, Hilton Garden Inn KL South on 25th floor
Swimming pool (South)

In any case, I reckon that it is not illegal for guests of either property to simply walk to the other to use the amenities, and certainly not as a paying guest of the bar.

6. Extras: Snack Market & Business Corner


Both hotels feature a self-service snack market, which is really a paid pantry for convenient snacks, drinks and personal essentials. While I never really utilised them, I liked that the one in the South is located at level M, which is quite a peaceful spot compared to the relative chaos of the lobby in the case of the North.

Snack market, Hilton Garden Inn KL North on ground floor
Snack market (North)

Snack market, Hilton Garden Inn KL South on level M
Snack market (South)

Each hotel also has two desktop computers for communal use, although they do not come with a printer attached. The ones in the North are packed into a tight corner against an artificial backdrop of the Arashiyama Bamboo Forest in Kyoto, Japan, perhaps in an attempt to create an illusion of space. The South, on the other hand, has them with extra space on level M just in front of the snack market. The latter has my approval.

Business corner with computers, against backdrop of Arashiyama Bamboo Forest in Kyoto, Japan
Business corner (North)

Business corner with free internet at Hilton Garden Inn KL South
Business corner (South)

Conclusion


Overall, the North wins in location and breakfast, while the South has my endorsement for lobby, rooms, recreation and extras. That aside, the two hotels share a good number of similarities, and overall standards are roughly what you would expect from the budget brand of the Hilton portfolio. I do however, have two recommendations.

First, if you a staying just for a night, opt for the side with the lower room rate, and your wallet will thank you for it. Second, if you are staying for two nights or more, then book at least a night each at the North and South. This can be particularly worthwhile during promotions such as Hilton's 2020 Q1 offer of 2,000 points per stay, with each "stay" defined as the consecutive nights spent within the same hotel property regardless of check-in and check-out activity. To the benefit of the mattress runner, the North and South are considered to be different properties.

Rooftop view from the Hilton Garden Inn Kuala Lumpur (South)
View from the Hilton Garden Inn Kuala Lumpur (South)

The North and South are located at 449 and 452 respectively, Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, Chow Kit, 50100 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

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