Kota Kinabalu

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Gateway to all the wonders of Sabah, Kota Kinabalu is a balmy, tropical city, ripe for explorers and adventurers, but also for those who just want a beautiful backdrop against which to relax. Most of the best places to stay in Kota Kinabalu cater to both types of travellers, but we’ve broken up our Guru’s list of the best places to stay in Kota Kinabalu into holiday types too.

The best places to stay in Kota Kinabalu can generally be found along the coast, overlooking the South China Sea, or else on the islands in the city’s harbour. The five islands of the Tunku Abdul Rahman Marine Park are especially beautiful and are just a short speedboat ride from town.

One of the reasons Kota Kinabalu is such a great place to come to relax is the weather. It’s a balmy 22-32 degrees centigrade every day and the humidity is high. But the weather does mean that you’re more likely to get around by cab or tour bus than walk everywhere.

But most tour operators will pick you up from your hotel. So you can visit the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, the Poring Hot Springs, the Orchid Gardens of Mt. Kinabalu, Lok Wildlife Park and the local stilt villages direct from the comfort of the best places to stay in Kota Kinabalu. As well as arrange pick ups for diving, white water rafting and sailing tours.

The Best Places to Stay in Kota Kinabalu

For a romantic beach break

  • The Bunga Raya Resort is a collection of wooden villas on stilts, sitting out over beautiful waters and surrounded by jungle and white, sandy beaches. This is the perfect honeymoon spot, with luxurious suites and villas, a 25 metre infinity pool and an excellent Malaysian restaurant.
  • The Gaya Island Resort is a collection of fantastically canopied rooms and suites set in amongst the mangroves and rainforest - right beside its own private beach. This is a great place to bring your family to experience some of the wonders of Sabah's rainforests - there's great birdwatching within the grounds of the hotel. There's also a luxurious spa, a good seafood restaurant and a kid's club.

For an eco-retreat

• The Gayana Eco Resort is associated with a marine research centre, so as well as staying in a wooden villa on stilts, hovering over the aqua sea below, you're also helping to fund local marine research. There's also a dive school, a fabulous spa and a very good Malaysian restaurant.

Still not sure which is the best place to stay in Kota Kinabalu for you?

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  • Gaya Island Resort

    Kota Kinabalu (Pulau Gaya)

    Fantastic canopied rooms and suites set amongst mangroves and rainforest with its own private beach and pontoon. Luxurious Village Spa, fresh seafood restaurant, and chic suites with all the mod cons. Kids club too. Perfect for a beach paradise, romantic, and family friendly.

    120 rooms from $193
    Beach Life
    Birdwatching  -  Rainforest surround the hotel, and plays home to many birds and wildlife.
  • Gayana Eco Resort

    Kota Kinabalu (Taman Tunku Abdul Rahman)

    An eco resort with wooden stilted villas that hover over the aqua sea below. Luxury sophisticated interiors with all the mod cons, including DVD players. Some interconnecting rooms. Marine research centre, diving school, fabulous spa, and excellent Malay restaurant. Families and nature lovers.

    52 rooms from $213
    Eco  -  Ecology is at the heart of this resort.
    Eco break
    Spa breaks
    Recommended by  -  Mr & Mrs Smith, Kiwi Collection
  • Bunga Raya

    Kota Kinabalu (Kota Kinabalu,)

    A laid back tropical paradise. Wooden villas on stilts, white sand beaches, promenades, luscious jungle, marine life, and a Borneo-style spa. Superbly luxurious suites, two to three in each villa, all the mod cons, a 25 metre infinity pool, and an excellent Malay restaurant. Honeymoon perfect!

    48 rooms from $280
    Honeymoons  -  An ultimate beach, jungle, spa location for honeymooners.
    Spa breaks
    Beach Life
    Recommended by  -  Mr & Mrs Smith
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