Hotel review: The Danna Langkawi with kids
Before my daughter was born, I foolishly assumed that staying in a luxurious resort on a tropical island would be off the cards with kids. Ah, but then I hadn’t stayed at The Danna Langkawi, in Malaysia.
Booked on a whim when I spotted a deal on Expedia, for our ‘I urgently need some sunshine’ Easter break, I don’t think I could have done much better when it came to finding somewhere which was as family-friendly as it was luxurious.
There is some stiff competition for tempting places to stay on Langkawi with kids so if you’re planning a family holiday in Malaysia, here’s my Danna Langkawi review to help you decide.
The Danna Langkawi review: Vital statistics
A relatively new addition, unlike the Datai and the Andaman, both of which first opened in the 1990s, The Danna Langkawi still gleams – repeatedly voted top hotel in Malaysia and top luxury hotel in Malaysia, it’s already made a name for itself.
The five-star resort has 114 rooms, from the Merchant to Grand Viceroy, all sleeping up to three, with a private balcony or terrace with chairs or daybed and looking out to the hills, garden courtyard or sea. There are also suites and new beach villas, some with space for more than three. The hotel currently has a family package offer where the rate is valid for two rooms.
The resort also has three restaurants, a spa, a kids club, several bars and lounges, one of the biggest infinity pools on the island and its own stretch of beach
The Danna Langkawi review: The good
The welcome: What you want, after stepping off a long-haul flight with a five-year-old into tropical heat, is this kind of welcome. Not a pile of paperwork, not even just a chilled drink, but a head and neck massage, their signature drink adorned with a flower, cooling towels and a big squashy seat in the huge elegant lobby to relax in. I was deeply tempted to curl up under the high ceilings and stay there.
We also got a quick tour, which I really appreciated – not so long that you’re walking round wearily wishing you could go to your room, but enough to get bearings and work out where all the essentials were.
The room: I do love a four-poster bed – especially a four-poster bed which is so big that I could sleep comfortably without being kicked by a wriggly five-year-old. Plus the spacious room had chairs and a chaise longue for me to lounge on once she was asleep, more space on the balcony, and a huge bathroom.
Two sinks, a big tub with a sliding door that opened to the bedroom, plus a gigantic shower (one word of warning, if you close the door to the shower completely, the seal is impressively efficient and not the easiest thing to open with wet hands). Add in a dressing area with space for cases and to unpack, a mini bar, a safety deposit box, WiFi and some fabulously efficient air conditioning and it was a wonderfully luxurious retreat at the end of the day, all in elegant colonial style.
There’s also a ceiling fan above the bed to help keep any mosquitoes away (not that we encountered many) which supercharges the air con – we never did work out how to turn the fan off, but I’m a fan of a fan so prefer that in any case.
The pool: Oh the pool. If I could design my dream pool, it’s very possible it would look like the Danna’s. For starters, it’s not really one pool – there are three stepped infinity pools, so kids can splash in the shallowest ones, and helpfully I could swim properly in the deepest while my daughter was in a shallower section alongside without bashing my knees on the bottom. There is also a jacuzzi section, again shallow enough for kids. There is a separate kids’ pool too which is ideal for littler ones.
And all around, comfy loungers under the shade of umbrellas and trees, some with their feet in the water, all with endless pool towels and waiters who’d appear with fruit or snacks at random intervals as a little treat – and menus when happy hour kicked in. Settled on my lounger with my book, my daughter next to me with hers (and her colouring/other entertainment), gazing down to the sea and occasionally going for a swim, it was very very very hard to tear ourselves away.
Some days, we barely even tried to.
The little touches: Right from the start, there are little touches to make the stay feel special – that neck massage, for instance, or the snacks and chilled water around the pool. Another little favourite was being able to feed the fish which live in the pool in the garden: you get fish food for free from guest services and then amble out to the shade of the palms where the koi carp know exactly what’s coming.
Minnie enjoyed it so much, we fed them on several occasions. We even got a little box with chocolates in as a departure gift, while a bookmark with Langkawi legends was left in our room at turndown – I started looking forward to discovering which tale we would find each evening. Little things but it goes a long way.
The service: To me, the sign of good service isn’t necessarily a stay with no problems – things happen even in five-star resorts, it’s how they’re fixed that’s the key. Not that we ran into any major issues, but staff were always keen to make up for anything which wasn’t perfect.
On the first night in the restaurant, I had to ask twice for a glass of wine as my first order was forgotten. The member of staff later stopped by the table to apologise personally and bring me a free glass as an added apology. I hadn’t even been that cross… (frankly, drink one get one free had me hoping they would keep forgetting).
Our stay also entitled us to a free airport transfer, another thing which takes some stress away when you’re landing after a long flight. After agreeing it over email and the return transfer at check-in, I was then asked about it another few times both before and during the stay – the transfers themselves went smoothly, and I’d rather be offered something three times than have it forgotten though.
Family-friendly: There’s nothing worse than a luxury resort where you’re constantly on tenterhooks worrying that your kids are too loud or spoiling everyone else’s relaxation. Here, it felt like nothing was too much trouble, and my daughter was far more likely to get an indulgent smiles than any frowns. We were far from the only family staying, with Minnie striking up instant friendships in the pool.
There are plenty of facilities too – we saw littler ones in high chairs as well as older kids – and there was a cool air conditioned kids club with various activities. After dithering about whether or not she wanted to go all week, Minnie eventually decided against it, possibly because it was pretty quiet inside while we stayed, possibly because of the pool. But while it’s not a huge kids club, there seemed plenty to entertain, staff present and secure enough that I’d have been happy to leave her.
The food: The huge buffet breakfast that starts the day comes with free bubbly (although oddly enough, no plain water) and I seized the opportunity to try Malaysian, Chinese and Indian options for mine, along with a choice of fruit, fresh noodles, eggs, pastries, toast, cereal, yoghurt and an awful lot of other things, not least a proper honeycomb if you fancied honey.
Then there are three other restaurants – one is set down towards the beachfront and infinity pool called The Terrace, which is particularly good for Italian food, although we were told they didn’t serve pizza for dinner, while others had mixed reviews from the evening. In the end, we only ate here once, although I had no argument with my huge burger in its black bun.
There’s also Straits & Co, open during the daytime and for afternoon tea, but frankly we were always too full or busy chilling out by the pool to go in. And finally, The Planter’s, listed as one of the best restaurants on the island – there’s a mix of Malaysian and Indian influences on the menu for starters, as well as other Asian and western dishes, and everything I had was both beautifully presented and delicious. Expect white tableclothes and muted lighting, but kids are just as welcome as adults, even when they wave at the pianist providing the evening’s soundtrack.
The only downside to this restaurant, and the food in general, was the price. The quality is fabulous, but the costs can quickly add up – an ice cream was around 10 times as much as a similar cone bought at Oriental Village, and drinks are also a lot cheaper elsewhere. Because of its location (read on for more on that!), there isn’t a huge amount of choice nearby, so we found ourselves heading to the marina next door on several occasions, and skipped the very fancy looking buffet because of the rates.
If you book directly with the hotel, you do get some free credits which would help offset this though, plus there is a two-hour happy hour from 5-7pm (and later on in the evening too).
The beach: Fabulous though the pool is, it’s fun to have an alternative – The Danna Langkawi has its own little stretch with loungers, hammocks and Balinese beds (these were all popular, so got snapped up faster than than poolside beds) plus a jellyfish net to keep wildlife out while you paddle. A bonus after we encountered *something* in the waters on one of our Langkawi tours.
The only downside was that the water wasn’t as clear as elsewhere on the island – but you don’t have to share it with too many others either.
The Danna Langkawi review: The not so good
The location: There are some big pros and a few cons to the hotel’s location – close to the airport, it means a quick transfer after a long flight (hurrah!) and it’s very close to Oriental Village, if you’re planning to explore the 3D art museum, Art in Paradise or some of the main attractions including the SkyCab and SkyBridge (check out my list of 13 things to do with kids here). We didn’t have any trouble with tours picking up either as it’s one of the major hotels.
But unlike Cenang Beach, for example, it’s in a relatively isolated spot – there are a few lovely restaurants in the marina including Mare Blu Italian, plus a couple of small shops, but otherwise there’s little nearby (and nothing else in walking distance) except Oriental Village.
Kuah is a 30-minute taxi ride away, as is Cenang Beach itself, the Wildlife Park and Tanjung Rhu beach. Not the ends of the earth – or the world – especially as the resort is so lovely, but it’s worth bearing in mind. For a peaceful escape, it’s ideal though.
The Danna Langkawi review: The verdict
When I think back to our stay, I feel myself start to relax. And that’s the over-riding memory – a truly gorgeous, luxurious resort where you can’t help but switch off and feel pampered. That was without taking up any of the special offers and booking into the spa either.
But even more impressive, this stylish escape was as good with kids as if you were planning to sip cocktails by the pool all day. They’ve obviously thought ahead and tried to work out just what guests will want, from the main facilities right down to the little details which make such a difference – I wish every hotel offered that welcome massage! There might be a few minor niggles, but for me the pros hugely outweighed the cons.
I fell in love with Langkawi when we visited, and it’s at least partly down to this wonderful hotel. One day we’ll go back. And I know exactly where I want to stay when we do.
PIN FOR LATER
Disclosure: I paid for our stay at this hotel and was under no obligation to write a review. The post contains some affiliate links: any purchases you make are unaffected but I may get a few pennies in return
Images copyright MummyTravelsLIKED THIS? FOLLOW ME ON YOUTUBE