Up-to-date accommodation guide revealing the best hotels in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia.
Sabah, located on the northern portion of the island of Borneo, is an amazing travel destination home to rich rainforests and the mighty Kinabalu Mountain! Its capital, Kota Kinabalu, commonly referred to as KK, is the springboard for most travel itineraries around Sabah.
So, before landing in Sabah’s Kota Kinabalu, one of the first things you’ll want to do is find the best hotels to stay at for your budget and travel style.
That’s why, in this blog post, we’ll be sharing with you a comprehensive guide to the best hotels in Kota Kinabalu, complete with insider tips and recommendations from my own visits. Whether you’re looking for a luxurious stay or budget-friendly accommodation, I’ve got the best options for you!
- In a Hurry? Here are the Top Places to Stay in Kota Kinabalu
- Here are the 11 Best Kota Kinabalu Hotels
- Luxury Hotels in Kota Kinabalu
- 1. Hilton Kota Kinabalu – Best Luxury Hotel
- 2. Le Meridien Kota Kinabalu
- 3. Hyatt Centric – 5-Star Hotel
- 4. Harper Boutique Hotel
- 5. Luma Hotel
- Best Budget Hotels and Hostels in Kota Kinabalu
- 6. AC Residence
- 7. Homy Seafront Hostel – Best for Budget Travel
- 8. Aru Hotel
- 9. Toojou
- Best Beach Resorts Near Kota Kinabalu
- 10. Shangri-La Tanjung Aru – Best Beach Resort
- 11. Gaya Island Resort – Closeby Island Resort
- Before You Go – Must-Do Activities in Sabah
- Beyond KK – More Sabah Travel & Accommodation Guides
I'm Olly, a full-time traveler for the past 5 years. I visit every destination I write about & handpick all recommendations.
In a Hurry? Here are the Top Places to Stay in Kota Kinabalu
With so many great places to stay in Kota Kinabalu, we have suggested our top picks below.
You may choose a luxury choice if you feel like you want 5-star service, a unique choice with its very own adult slide, and a budget choice for those backpackers who want to keep their wallets full.
1. Hilton Kota Kinabalu - Luxury
The top luxury 5-star choice in Kota Kinabalu. Perfect for those wanting to relax with the top-of-the-range level of service and facilities. Boasting buffet breakfasts and high-teas.
2. TooJou - Unique Stay
Located in the heart of Kota Kinabalu TooJou is a great option for those wanting a comfortable stay without breaking the bank. It even has its very own indoor adult slippery slide.
3. Homy Seafront Hostel - Budget
Perfect for backpackers looking for a cheap sleep with comfortable beds within the main area of Kota Kinabalu. It offers a communal kitchen and lounge area with sea views.
Here are the 11 Best Kota Kinabalu Hotels
Luxury Hotels in Kota Kinabalu
Located in the heart of the city, Hilton Kota Kinabalu is one of the best 5-star hotels in Kota Kinabalu.
As one of the best luxury hotels in the city, this accommodation boasts four dining options, a cocktail bar, and a rooftop outdoor pool.
All of the elegantly designed rooms feature modern furnishings, flat-screen TVs, and a minibar. If your room is on the Executive Floor, you can enjoy exclusive access to the Executive Lounge where you can indulge in evening cocktails and afternoon high tea.
Each morning, guests will dine on a buffet breakfast at Urban Kitchen, which serves Malaysian and International cuisines. The Rooftop Poolside Bar & Grill also offers an extensive menu to indulge your tastebuds.
Popular tourist attractions near the hotel include Jesselton Jetty, Kota Kinabalu Waterfront, and the Sabah State Museum & Heritage Village. The nearest airport is Kota Kinabalu International Airport, which is 8.5 km from the property.
If you're looking to explore the city, car hire is available at the hotel.
When it comes to the best hotels in Kota Kinabalu, it's easy to see why Le Meridien Kota Kinabalu is one of them.
Located 100 meters from Kota Kinabalu Waterfront, this five-star hotel boasts an outdoor swimming pool and four dining options.
You can spend your days laying by the pool, enjoying a massage at the spa, or exploring the wonderful streets of Kota Kinabalu. If you're looking for fun activities to do, check out Kota Kinabalu Parks hiking trails.
All of the beautiful guest rooms are equipped with air conditioning, flat-screen satellite TV, a minibar, and a private bathroom. Depending on the room you choose, you'll either have sea or city views.
Start your day with a delicious buffet breakfast at the Latest Recipe Restaurant. You can also enjoy an à la carte menu for lunch and dinner. Other dining options at the accommodation include Favola Italian Restaurant, Azure Pool Bar & Cafe, and Rooftop @ Le Meridien Bar.
Popular points of interest near the hotel include Tanjung Aru Beach and Park.
Having only opened in 2022, Hyatt Centric has quickly become one of the best Kota Kinabalu luxury hotels.
Located in the city center, this 5-star accommodation boasts a fitness center, and a restaurant and bar. It is difficult to compete with its rooftop outdoor swimming pool which allows guests to have views over the city whilst enjoying a relaxing swim.
All of the modern and spacious guest rooms are beautifully designed and filled with all of the amenities one would need for a relaxing stay.
Guests can enjoy a daily buffet breakfast before spending their day by the pool or exploring the city sites such as the KK Esplanade and the Atkinson Clock Tower.
Kota Kinabalu International Airport is 5 km from the hotel.
Are you a fan of boutique hotels? Go no further than the Harper Boutique Hotel.
Located in southern Kota Kinabalu, the Harper Boutique Hotel features modern rooms with unique characteristics such as an in-wall bed and luminous light choices which create a relaxing atmosphere.
For your convenience, the staff at the hotel speak English, Malay, and Chinese, and are willing to help at the 24-hour reception.
Points of interest near the accommodation include the Sutera Harbour Golf & Country Club, the Sabah State Museum, and Tanjung Aru Perdana Park. These are sure to fill your schedule during your stay.
5. Luma Hotel
Located in the downtown area, Luma Hotel is another great hotel choice in Kota Kinabalu.
Some of the features you can enjoy at this hotel include three on-site restaurants, a cafe, a bar, and an impressive gym. Rooms can sleep up to 5 people which is a great option for families or large groups that are traveling together.
All of the 115 individually extraordinarily large furnished rooms boast a modern design with comfortable beds with windows that overlook the surrounding city. The hotel common areas are filled with greenery which allows guests to feel as though they're amongst nature.
Each morning, hotel guests can enjoy a delicious buffet breakfast before embarking on a day full of adventures to surrounding locations such as Tanjung Aru Perdana Park and the beach. If shopping is more your thing the impressive 300-store Imago Mall is just a short 20-minute walk from the hotel.
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Best Budget Hotels and Hostels in Kota Kinabalu
6. AC Residence
If you're looking for where to stay in Kota Kinabalu that has the best value for money, AC Residence is a fantastic choice.
This 3-star hotel features a restaurant and bar on site where guests can grab a bite to eat before exploring the surrounding attractions nearby such as the Centre Point Sabah and Gaya Island which is great for a day trip.
All of the guest rooms come with modern amenities and large windows which boast incredible views at night of the surrounding lights from the city.
Although this isn't your 5-star luxury hotel it definitely tops the charts for hospitality and comfort and for the price it beats sharing a dorm room when you need to recharge the body batteries.
7. Homy Seafront Hostel - Best for Budget Travel
If you're a budget traveler looking for the cheapest hotel in Kota Kinabalu, you've found it!
This hostel offers private rooms and dormitory room options which is perfect if you're wanting to meet others but need a quiet room to sleep in. Some specific rooms also boast a game console which is quite unique and a great way to spend the day if you're feeling lazy.
Each morning, you can wake up and enjoy an à la carte breakfast and meet new friends in the shared dining area.
Some attractions you may want to check out near the hostel include the Filipino Market and the impressive Likas City Mosque which is the perfect place for photographs at sunset.
8. Aru Hotel
This 4-star accommodation is one of the best hotels in Kota Kinabalu for rooftop pool views at an affordable price.
Some of the features you can expect at the Aru Hotel include daily breakfast, two restaurants, and free wifi. The rooftop pool has magnificent views over the surrounding areas and is perfect for relaxing after a long day of adventuring.
All 33 of the spacious guest rooms are uniquely designed and reasonably large with seating and dining areas. Some rooms sleep up to 6 people so this is a perfect choice for those traveling as a family.
You can spend your days relaxing by the pool or exploring the wonderful area of Tanjung Aru.
If you're looking for a unique stay in Kota Kinabalu, Toojou is the best place for you.
Surrounded by lush trees, Toojou boasts quirky interior designs throughout the female and mixed dorm rooms as well as private studio rooms.
This is an adult's playground as it features, a cafe, a restaurant/bar, a games room, and its own indoor slide. It has a beanbag chill-out area with great views over the surrounding lush green garden.
This would be a great pick for someone working online that's looking for a unique setting with reliable wifi. It is located within close walking distance from the Bus Terminal and some delicious curry house restaurants.
Best Beach Resorts Near Kota Kinabalu
10. Shangri-La Tanjung Aru - Best Beach Resort
If you're looking for the best beach resort in Kota Kinabalu, this is a must-stay!
Located on the South China Sea, the Shangri-La Tanjung Aru boasts six dining options, an outdoor pool with water jets, an exclusive Chi, and The Spa.
Featuring elegant decor, the rooms at this luxurious accommodation are hard to beat with views over the surrounding sea it gives guests a taste of paradise.
Being in such a fantastic location, guests have access to a wide range of water sports, including jet skiing, diving, and surfing. Children can also enjoy the waterslides at the kids' pool. There is also a 9-hole golf course for those who want to hit the green.
For those wanting to get out and explore the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park can be a great option for a day trip.
11. Gaya Island Resort - Closeby Island Resort
Located on Gaya Island opposite Kota Kinabalu, Gaya Island Resort is a fantastic place to stay.
Set within the Tunku Abdul Rahman Park, this resort offers elegant villas that boast panoramic views of the South China Sea and the rainforest.
This Kota Kinabalu resort features five dining options, a private beach, an outdoor pool, and free wifi. Scheduled boat transfers are available at an additional charge which makes it easy to plan activities to the mainland.
Each morning, guests can enjoy a buffet breakfast served at Feast Village. Other dining options that are available from the resort include Fisherman's Cove, Omakase, and the Pool Bar & Lounge.
For those wanting to experience some fun, there are a range of activities enjoyed at the resort such as yoga classes, diving, snorkeling, and day cruises.
To get to this wonderful resort, it's only a ten-minute speedboat ride from Jesselton Point Ferry Terminal.
Before You Go - Must-Do Activities in Sabah
Climb Borneo's highest peak and most renowned World Heritage site (top tour company with hundreds of 5-star reviews).
2. Kinabatangan River Cruise Must-Do
This 2D1N Sandakan tour from KK offers an incredible opportunity to spot orangutans in their natural habitat.
An incredible island-hopping trip to top destinations around Semporna including Bohey Dulang viewpoint!
Frequently Asked Questions About Accommodation in Kota Kinabalu
While the city is big, you can easily see all of the sights within two days. However, if you want to go at a slower pace, three nights and four days is the perfect amount of time.
The best time of year to visit Kota Kinabalu is October to November. During these months, the sun is shining and there is little chance of rain.
Yes! Aside from the beautiful city, mountains, and gorgeous islands, Kota Kinabalu is a fantastic place to learn more about Sabah's heritage. It also serves as the perfect launching pad for your adventures in Borneo!
Beyond KK - More Sabah Travel & Accommodation Guides
I hope that this Kota Kinabalu accommodation guide has helped you find the perfect hotel for your base in Sabah's capital!
Before you go, make sure to check out some of my other Sabah travel guides below. If you're here to see wildlife, make sure to visit the Kinabatangan River.