- More interesting letters on Railway heritage – including one on the living heritage of one of our most interesting rail services!
- Update: On a similar note, Vishnu Kumar Visavanathan of Petaling Jaya wrote this letter, Preserve old railway lines for the future, which laments the loss of our railway heritage through modernization and lack of interest!
TRANSIT was sad to learn that the Ipoh Station Hotel will close down after 76 years of operation.
The Station Hotel opened with the Ipoh Station (the ‘Taj Mahal of Ipoh’) in 1935
No more hotel at Taj Mahal of Ipoh (The Star)
Friday March 11, 2011
By CHAN LI LEEN
IPOH: The Majestic Station Hotel, located within the Ipoh Railway Station here, is closing down after 76 years.
Opened in 1935, at the same time as the railway station, the hotel will house its last batch of guests today and will cease all operations by the end of the month.
It is understood that the hotel premises will be handed back to the Railway Asset Corporation (RAC) as the lease is expiring.
When contacted, an RAC spokesperson said the corporation had not decided on what it would do with the premises.
According to a front desk employee who declined to be named, the hotel had stopped accepting reservations and would only accept walk-in guests.
“The place is a mess as we are busy moving out all furniture,” the employee said.
Construction of the railway station and hotel began in 1917 but the magnificent work of architecture designed by A.B. Hubback was not completed until 18 years later.
With its Moorish domes and turrets, the building has a British Raj-style facade and was often referred to as the Taj Mahal of Ipoh.
It has been a favourite filming site for many local and foreign productions, including Hollywood’s Anna and the King.
The hotel is also a favourite venue for prewedding photography.
Retired teacher H.J. Harder, 63, and retired plant manager Gerhard W. Poel, 65, are the last two guests at the hotel.
“I feel very sorry but it does make us proud in a certain way. Hopefully, the building will stay like this and they will make something out of it.
“Like the Raffles Hotel in Singapore, the Straits Hotel in Yangon and the E&O Hotel in Penang, this place should be restored,” said Harder from Germany.
He said it was a strange situation for him as a similar incident happened 25 years ago.
“I was having a drink with Poel at the Majestic Hotel bar in Kuala Lumpur when we were told it was closing down the next day. Now, it’s the same story here,” he said.
Poel, who has since made Port Klang his second home, said he called up last Friday to make a booking only to be told the hotel was closing down.
“I was shocked,” he said.
To borrow a verse, “it’s so hard to say goodbye, to yesterday” … not to mention, it is harder when the announcement is so sudden.
We can only hope that the RAC will find some way to restore the hotel and return it to full function soon.
It is especially sad to hear this news given that we were hoping that the presence of the KTM Electric Train Service would encourage a revival of train travel between KL and Ipoh.
- Our treasure (The Star, 14 March 2011);
- Old rail lines are a huge tourism pull (The Star, 14 March 2011);