Hyatt Regency: elegance and style in the heart of Kota Kinabalu

Kota Kinabalu is an exciting city to stay in during your travels in the Sabah region of Malaysia on Borneo island, with plenty to do and lots to experience.

We stayed at the Hyatt Regency Kinabalu, an excellent gay friendly hotel, which has recently been refurbished to a high standard, exuding an aura of elegance and relaxation in a contemporary yet classic decor.

Main lobby area Hyatt Regency Kinabalu
The main lobby area of the Hyatt Regency Kinabalu hotel

LOCATION: IN THE HEART OF IT ALL

The Hyatt Regency Kinabalu is located in the heart of the city, in the business district and only 15 minutes drive from the airport.

It is close to a variety of eateries, banks, shopping centres and beautiful islands. The Sabah Tourism Board is also nearby and on hand to provide you with information.

A BRAND WITH A LGBT FOCUS

Whilst we appreciate Malaysia does not have the best LGBT record, the Hyatt brand is a pink beacon of hope and we were particularly attracted by its Hypride initiative in support of the LGBT community.

The Hyatt was honoured for the 11th consecutive year as one of the few “Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality“.

Hyatt HyPride logo
The Hyatt HyPride initiative

Therefore, by booking our stay at the Hyatt, we were confident we would be staying in a hotel with a strong LGBT awareness. Rest assured, booking a double bed was not an issue and all the staff were extremely friendly and welcoming to us as a gay couple.

Cocktails by the Hyatt pool
Stefan and Sebastien enjoying a cocktail by the pool at the Hyatt in Kota Kinabalu

A ROOM WITH A STUNNING VIEW OF THE SOUTH CHINA SEA

If you stay at the Hyatt, you must book a West facing room facing the sea, because this will be one of the highlights of your stay. It’s like looking at a picture frame each time you open the curtains!

Hyatt bedroom with sea view
The sea views from the bedrooms at the Hyatt are stunning

The incredible view over the South China Sea from our large bay window was the reason we chose the Hyatt.

Sebastien with sea view in our bedroom
Sebastien enjoying the sea view from our bedroom at the Hyatt in Kota Kinabalu

We stayed in the King Sea View room, which features a king-sized bed, plenty of space, a desk and a coffee area. It’s also carefully decorated each day with an excellent eye for detail.

Careful towel decoration in our bathroom in the Hyatt
The careful towel decoration in our bathroom at the Hyatt in Kota Kinabalu

The bed is extremely comfortable, perfect for a good night’s sleep, especially after a long tiring day exploring the nearby islands.

Comfortable king sized bed at the Hyatt
King sized and very comfortable bed at the Hyatt Regency Kinabalu

AN EVENING COCKTAIL BY THE POOL

The pool area is a great place to relax and enjoy a good cocktail. We never say no to a good cocktail to get the evening started!

Cocktails by the Hyatt pool in Kota Kinabalu
Enjoying fabulous cocktails by the pool at the Hyatt in Kota Kinabalu

The Hyatt is very imaginative with its selection and each month The Poolside Bar comes up with a special concoction. We were fortunate to sample their very tasty Frozen Pineappleritas.

Seb with cocktail by the Hyatt pool in Kota Kinabalu
Sebastien enjoying a delicious Frozen Pineapplerita cocktail by the Hyatt pool in Kota Kinabalu

A FOODIE PARADISE

The Hyatt is a great place for foodies looking for a gourmet experience, with two excellent restaurants to choose from.

#1 The Tanjung Ria Kitchen

The Tanjung Ria Kitchen provides the ultimate dining experience. We had our buffet breakfast here, which has a variety of western, Chinese, Malay and Indian options.

Seb with buffet breakfast at Tanjung Ria Kitchen at the Hyatt
Sebastien enjoying a delicious buffet breakfast at the Hyatt's Tanjung Ria Kitchen

At the Tanjung Ria, the kitchens take centre stage and you can watch as the friendly chefs prepare your meals right in front of you.

Chef cooking in open kitchen at Tanjun Ria at the Hyatt
The chefs at the Tanjung Ria open kitchen preparing the food at the Hyatt in Kota Kinabalu

The Tanjung Ria also offers buffets for lunch (90 Ringgits / £14/$21 pp) and dinner (130 Ringgits / £20/$30). Everything we tried was cooked to perfection. You must try their signature dish, the Oxtail Assam Pedas, which has been a proud family recipe for decades.

Stefan with dinner buffee at the Tanjung Ria at the Hyatt
Stefan tucking into the excellent dinner buffet at the Tanjung Ria at the Hyatt in Kota Kinabalu

Oh and did we mention the desserts? With so many to choose from, we dare you to give Durian Cheesecake a try!

Durian cheesecakes at the Tanjung Ria at the Hyatt in Kota Kinabalu
A bemused Stefan ponders the durian cheesecakes at the Tanjung Ria Kitchen of the Hyatt in Kota Kinabalu

#2 The Nagisa Japanese Restaurant

The Nagisa Japanese Restaurant was voted by Malaysian Tatler as one of the best in the whole of Malaysia.

Nagisa Japanese Restaurant at the Hyatt in Kota Kinabalu
The Nagisa Japanese Restaurant at the Hyatt in Kota Kinabalu

The Nagisa serves some of the best sashimi we’ve had for a long time, rivalling the sushi we tried in Tokyo. Unfortunately this led to one of many food fights:

Nomadic Boys food fight at Nagisa Japanese Restaurant
Food fight breaking out at the Nagisa Japanese Restaurant over the delicious sashimi

We also tried the Nagisa Maki, delicious green tea ice cream and lots of tempura.

Tempura at Nagisa at the Hyatt Kinabalu
Stefan and Ervina tucking into the delicious tempura at the Nagisa Japanese Restaurant at the Hyatt Kinabalu

THINGS TO DO DURING YOUR STAY AT THE HYATT

#1 Island tours

The Hyatt is well located near the pier for tours to the neighbouring islands of Gaya, Sapi, Manukan, Mamutik and Sulug. The helpful tour desk of the Hyatt can arrange a day trip to the islands, including all food and transportation.

The most popular islands to visit are Gaya and Sapi, which are linked by a fun zip line ride. Sapi island is also great for snorkelling and has a beautiful beach:

Stefan and Ken on Sapi island beach
Stefan and our friend Ken at the beautiful secluded beach on Sapi island

#2 Handicraft and local markets

There are a few markets nearby to stock up on some handicrafts and artisan souvenirs like the nearby Gaya Street Fair market on Sundays.

The Filipino market is another good option, only 10 minutes walk from the Hyatt and open every day of the week. It has a fascinating wet market, where you can enjoy barbecued fish and try some exotic fruits.

Discovering exotic fruits at Kota Kinabalu local markets
Stefan and Sebastien enjoying delicious exotic fruits like the tarap at the local market in Kota Kinabalu

#3 Great bars

The Hyatt is walking distance to the buzzy atmosphere around the waterfront area where there are many good bars to enjoy a drink.

The Hyatt has its own pub in the basement called Shenanigans which has live bands every evening except Sundays. Shenanigans has an outdoor terrace where you can enjoy the sunset.

Shenanigans outdoor terrace at the Hyatt
The outdoor terrace of the Shenanigans bar of the Hyatt Regency Kinabalu

#4 The Mari-Mari Cultural Village

The Mari-Mari Cultural Village is located outside of Kota Kinabalu and is an excellent way to learn about the culture and lifestyle of the indigenous communities. You can also try bamboo cooking, rice-wine making (and drinking!), fire starting, tattooing, blowpipe shooting and much more over a 3 hours show tour.

The Cultural Village is located around 30 minutes drive from the centre of Kota Kinabalu but the Hyatt can of course arrange this for you.

Mari-Mari Cultural Village Kota Kinabalu
The Mari-Mari Cultural Village near Kota Kinabalu

#5 Trekking to Mount Kinabalu

Mount Kinabalu is one of the main draws of the Sabah region of Malaysia. It is a World Heritage listed site and at 4,096m / 13,438 ft high, the highest mountain in the country.

The Hyatt has a tour desk who can organise treks to nearby Mount Kinabalu. When we visited in September 2015, the trails still hadn’t fully reopened but is expected to by November 2015.

Mount Kinabalu peak
The beautiful peak of Mount Kinabalu

#6 Exercise for fitness enthusiasts

Finally, after taking in all those awesome Malaysian calories, you may be interested in burning off a few. As well as the swimming pool, the Hyatt has an excellent gym with a variety of weights machines, cardiovascular equipment and even pink kettle bells!

The gym at the Hyatt in Kota Kinabalu
Sebastien working out at the Hyatt's in house gym complete with pink kettlebells!

To book your stay at the Hyatt Regency Kinabalu check their listing on Booking.com.

For more about our adventures through Malaysia, please check out our Malaysia travel video:

 

OUR FAVOURITE TRAVEL TIPS

⭐️ TRAVEL INSURANCE — We recommend you always take out travel insurance before your next vacation. What happens if you suffer from illness, injury, theft or a cancellation? With travel insurance, you can have peace of mind and not worry. We love World Nomads travel insurance and have been using it for years. Their comprehensive coverage is second to none and their online claims process is very user friendly.

⭐️ SAFETY & SECURITY — All travelers (gay or not) can sometimes encounter danger when traveling. CloseCircle is your “virtual body guard” mobile app which provides security alerts and support wherever you are in the world. They have a 24/7 emergency response team monitoring their users who will contact you immediately if the SOS swipe button is activated. Support can include anything from practical advice, to free evacuation from areas with extreme weather or security risks. You can read more about CloseCircle in our article about how to stay safe whilst traveling.

⭐️ ONLINE ANONYMITY — A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is a must in many countries: it allows you to surf anonymously and maintain your privacy whilst traveling. You'll particularly need it in countries where gay dating apps are blocked by the government. We recommend ExpressVPN, a reliable and cost effective service which we used and loved during our travels.

⭐️ HOTELS or APARTMENTS — When we plan a trip, we always look for the best hotel deals. We love Booking.com because not only do they have a comprehensive listing of accommodation options, they also offer the best prices. Added bonus: they provide 24/7 support and free cancellation for most listings.

⭐️ SIGHTSEEING and ADVENTURES — When we travel somewhere, we like to seek out the best experiences, whether it is cooking with locals in Bangkok, hiking on a glacier in Patagonia, or going on a wildlife safari in Sri Lanka. Our favorite place to look is GetYourGuide because they have over 30,000 highly rated activities, a user-friendly booking process with free cancellation and a 24 hour customer support.

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About the author

Hi there! We are Stefan and Sebastien, Greek/French couple behind the travel blog Nomadic Boys. Since we met in 2009, we have been travelling all around the world together, visiting over 100 countries.

Our mission is to inspire you, the gay traveller, and show you that you can visit more places in the world than you thought possible, by providing a first-hand account of our travel adventures, to help you plan a fun and safe trip.

To find out more about us

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