I loved my stay at the Ranee – a charming boutique hotel with elegant fittings and furnishings in keeping with the colonial era and its history. The property dates back to the 19th century and reflects Sarawak’s rich colonial past, while also showcasing lovingly preserved art and crafts from the ethnic cultures that abound on the island of Borneo.
The owner, Rosemarie, supervised every stage of the 2-year restoration project to create this beautiful 24-room hotel from two old Chinese shop houses. Rosemarie clearly has a passion for art and preserving the history of a bygone era, and I loved spending time in the hotel lobby, looking at her art and antique collection.
The five premium suites are named after the family members from the Brooke dynasty, (British colonials) who ruled over Sarawak for a century. And there are other reminders of Kuching’s fascinating past throughout the hotel, for example the antique luggage cases, tiffin tins and an antique bicycle in the lobby.
There is a good selection of hotels in Kuching but no other property that can compare with this lovely hotel. Every room is individually styled and skilfully adapted to lavish modern standards, with comfort in mind.
If you want to get away from chain hotels but don’t want to compromise on luxury – then you have found a gem here. There is great dining, including both local and international cuisines. The cool little bar serves a famed signature drink, Ranee Tuak, plus great cocktails. You can also enjoy freshly baked cakes and delicacies at the café, where you can sit roadside, and watch the world go by.
Do visit the intimate gift shop which has handpicked one-off fine locally-made jewellery plus an excellent book collection on Sarawak’s past and present. All of the homewares, clothing and giftware are sourced from local artisans, weavers and skilled craftsmen from a longhouse community, located in a small village in Sarawak.
If you want to visit the village, you can. The tour desk can arrange this and other interesting activities. You will find it located next to the canon!! That piece was found by the owner in an obscure place and brought here – Like much the other items that can be found in this hotel, it has a story. You can ask about it.
The general manager told me, “Rosemarie never throws anything away”. So, I suggest you poke about the various nooks and crannies of this gorgeous property and see what you can find. Fascinating pieces are everywhere, even mounted on the ceiling, so do check it out.
The Ranee Boutique Suites
6 & & Main Bazaar,
Story by Stephanie Brookes
David Metcalf runs photo workshops in Bali and cultural photography tours in Bali, Borneo, Vietnam, Odisha India and Myanmar.