Casa del Rio Melaka, Boutique Hotel Malacca, Malaysia
Casa del Rio, Melaka, Malaysia
“Your home by the river”
Words and Photos by Monica Tindall
Video by Anthony Jegu
When I first visited Melaka many years back I would never have dreamed of staying on the river. At that time, it was at best, a place to be avoided. The rears of shophouses backed onto it, and cleanliness of the water left much to be desired. In recent years however, the local government has done a super job of cleaning up the waterfront and turning it into an attraction in itself. A boardwalk, lined with cafes, bars and restaurants, now runs its length, and some of the most sought after accommodation is on its edge.
Casa del Rio Melaka
Casa del Rio Melaka at Night
Casa del Rio is, as its name suggests, a home by the river. Primely located minutes away from Melaka’s historical heart, the shopping and eating hive of Jonker Street, and a slightly longer stroll to the sea, the property overlooks the waterway offering visitors to the old Portuguese town a charming abode of both convenience and beauty.
Roofscape View from Casa Del Rio
Paying tribute to the history of the area, Casa del Rio utilizes design mimicking traits of Portuguese architecture blending with the local surrounds and honouring the Melaka Sultanate. A low-rise building runs along the water’s edge, with arches and wrought iron framing the river and city views from inside. Local stone, rendered walls, natural woods and terracotta ceramics make up the hard finishings, while pomegranate, amber and burnt sienna hues wash the interiors with a distinctively Mediterranean appeal. The central courtyard and water feature encourage cooling breezes to flow through the open hallways reducing the need for constant air-conditioning and taking the edge off the daytime heat.
Casa del Rio Melaka
While the architecture may echo the past, amenities however are firmly planted in the present. A rooftop infinity pool, gym, spa, numerous dining outlets, meeting rooms and full concierge services make a stay more than just comfortable, but rather highly enjoyable. (Click on the links to see our recommendations about the spa – above – and food and beverage outlets – below.)
Rooftop Pool – Check out the Ship in the Background
Rooftop Pool and Bar Sol
Although one of the prime reasons to visit Melaka is to experience the street food and local cuisine, a number of food and beverage outlets make it very easy to stay in. All have pleasant riverside locations and a mix of local and international items on the menus.
Chef at the River Grill
Bar Rio is a great place to spend Happy Hour with daily specials, tapas and live entertainment later in the evenings. During our visit, a duo from Cuba were heating up the stage, while energetic salsa dancers burned their heels on the dance floor. The River Grill is where breakfast is taken featuring an a la carte menu supported by a generous buffet spread, while lunch and dinner see primarily Western offerings with great steaks and a good wine selection being key highlights. Nightly shows by a renowned local pianist (he’s even played with Oliver Newton John!) jazz up the evenings with a touch of class. River Café on the corner affords guests a bit of crowd watching amusement from its slightly elevated level. A range of lighter fare including pizzas and Peranakan dishes are available during the day, and the nightly steamboat is another fun experience not to be missed. Bar Sol is the place to be at sunset as the torridity softens and the sky is set ablaze with fiery hues.
Rooms too reflect the charm of the location, at the same time providing all the modern comforts (and more) that you’d expect for a boutique hotel of Casa del Rio’s status. Design mirrors a Mediterranean feel with mosaic tiles, stucco walls and arches. A splash of Peranakan is infused into the mix with dark wooden furniture, upholstery patterns and books and other adornment sourced from traditional homes in the area.
View from River View Deluxe Room
The majority of the 66 rooms are 50 square metres in area, split-level, and with their own balcony either overlooking the river or the courtyard. The outdoor area has the added comfort of a ceiling fan. That, in team with the gentle breezes, enables the patio to actually be used, which is often not the case in many hotels in the tropics. The large space is further divided into a dressing room, bathroom and spacious sleeping and living area.
Deluxe River View Room
Bathrooms are decked with pale marble, and all feature a bathtub big enough for two (salts provided and rubber ducky too!) and separate shower. Sliding panels open or close the room as desired giving either a sense of more space and views to the TV and balcony from the tub, or privacy. Luxury bath products promote local herbs and spices and smell so good you’ll want to take them home.
All mod cons are included: CD, DVD and radio tuner; iPod dock; international plug points; free Wi-Fi; 42” flat screen TV; mini bar; hair dryer; electronic safe; iron and board; coffee and tea making amenities; robe and slippers. The team at Casa del Rio however take service beyond these regular features in providing a local Kopi-O mix, hot chocolate packets; scented bookmarks and the following day’s weather forecast during turn down service, and books, guides and magazines informing of the wonders of Melaka. A special treasure in each room is a personalized notebook in which all guests of that particular room leave a message or tip they have about how to best enjoy time in Melaka. There cafe recommendations, museum suggestions and even advice on where to get the best shopping deals – each guest passes on their experience encouraging following visitors to benefit from those who have trodden the path previously.
Although Casa del Rio undeniably gives remarkable consideration in providing just about every physical item you could hope for in making the property your home by the river, it’s the staff who make the place really feel welcoming. Gracious, helpful and friendly at every encounter, it seems they can’t do enough for us and continue to surprise us even when we think there’s no way more we could be served.
Casa del Rio Melaka’s Central Water Feature
Extraordinary service continues beyond check out. Escorted to our car with our bags, we find a note on the window informing us that our windows have been washed supporting us in a safe return home. Casa del Rio has indeed been our home by the river over the past few days, one of which we can’t wait to return.
Reasons to visit: boutique hotel offering extraordinary attention to detail; excellent riverside location in the heart of historical Malacca; good range of food and beverage outlets.