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11 Best Hotels in Kota Kinabalu: Where to Stay in 2024

11 Best Hotels in Kota Kinabalu: Where to Stay in 2024

Olly Gaspar

By Olly Gaspar, full-time traveler for 6 years. I visit every place I write about & share real tips, photos, & advice from my trips.

Discover the best hotels in Kota Kinabalu for every budget. From tropical island picks to low-cost options with rooftop swimming pools.

Sabah, located on the northern portion of the island of Borneo, is an amazing travel destination for adventurers. 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.

I’ll be sharing the best picks, complete with unique 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!

Kota kinabalu inforgraphic map showing the location of the city and where to stay
Map showing the city, Kota Kinabalu International airport, and ferry port

Best Hotels in Kota Kinabalu: Top Picks

You may choose a luxury choice if 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.

Hilton kota kinabalu

1. Hilton Kota Kinabalu - Luxury

The top luxury 5-star hotel in Kota Kinabalu. Perfect for those wanting to relax with the top-of-the-range service and facilities. Boasting buffet breakfasts, high teas, and a swimming pool.

Toojou bedroom suite

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.

Dorm room at homy seafront hostel, kota kinabalu

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.

Luxury Hotels in Kota Kinabalu

Hilton kota kinabaluHilton$$$
Le meridien kota kinabalu outdoor swimming poolLe Meridien$$$
Hyatt centric aerial view with outdoor swimming poolHyatt Centric$$$
Harper boutique hotel bedroomHarper Boutique Hotel$$
Lobby at the luma hotelLuma Hotel$$

1. Hilton Kota Kinabalu: Best Luxury Hotel

  • Best for: Couples on a honeymoon or those looking to relax

Located in the heart of the city, Hilton Kota Kinabalu is one of the best luxury hotels for relaxation.

It boasts four dining options, a cocktail bar, and a rooftop outdoor pool.

All of the elegantly designed rooms feature modern furnishings and a minibar. Rooms on the Executive Floor, have exclusive access to the Executive Lounge. Here you can indulge in evening cocktails and afternoon high tea overlooking the city.

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 satisfy your tastebuds.

Popular tourist attractions near the hotel include Jesselton Jetty, Kota Kinabalu Waterfront, and the Sabah State Museum & Heritage Village.

2. Le Meridien

  • Best for: Couples or solo travelers wanting uninterrupted water views

When it comes to the best hotels in Kota Kinabalu, it's easy to see why Le Meridien Kota Kinabalu is one of them with its incredible views over the ocean.

Located 100 m from Kota Kinabalu Waterfront, this five-star hotel boasts an outdoor swimming pool and four dining options.

You can spend your days lying by the pool, enjoying a massage at the spa, or exploring the wonderful streets of Kota Kinabalu. If you're looking for fun activities, check out Kota Kinabalu Parks hiking trails.

All of the beautiful guest rooms are equipped with air conditioning necessary during summer, a minibar, and a private bathroom. You'll either have sea or city views depending on your choice of room.

Start your day with a delicious buffet breakfast at the Latest Recipe Restaurant. You can also enjoy à la carte menu for lunch and dinner. additionally, there are many more dining options at the accommodation.

Popular points of interest near the hotel include Tanjung Aru Beach and Park.

3. Hyatt Centric

  • Best for: Families and groups looking for 5-star service

Having only opened in 2022, Hyatt Centric has quickly become one of the best Kota Kinabalu luxury hotels with its outdoor swimming pool and spectacular jungle views.

Located in the city center, this 5-star accommodation boasts a fitness center, a restaurant, and a bar. The outdoor swimming pool's unique design makes it one of the best in the city as the glass looks like you're floating above the city.

The modern, spacious guest rooms are beautifully designed and fully equipped for a relaxing stay with room service. Ideal for families or groups, as rooms can accommodate up to five people.

Guests can enjoy a daily buffet breakfast before spending their day by the pool or exploring city sites such as the KK Esplanade and the Atkinson Clock Tower.

4. Harper Boutique Hotel

  • Best for: Couples wanting minimal and boutique

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 and romantic atmosphere.

If shopping at Imago is on your agenda, you're in luck! The hotel is just an 11-minute walk away, making it a convenient choice for those wives looking to spend some dollars while the husbands venture to the nearby Sutera Harbour Golf & Country Club.

5. Luma Hotel

  • Best for: Groups looking for affordable luxury

Located in the downtown area, Luma Hotel is another great hotel choice in Kota Kinabalu for its access to shopping and large rooms.

Features 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 115 rooms feature modern designs and comfortable beds with large windows overlooking the city. The hotel's common areas are filled with greenery, making guests feel immersed in 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. If shopping is more your thing the impressive 300-store Imago Mall is just a short 20-minute walk from the hotel.

Book: Luma Hotel

Best Laksa - Head to Yee Fung Laksa for some of the most mouthwatering food you will ever taste in Kota Kinabalu.

Best Budget Stays in Kota Kinabalu

Ac residenceAC Residence$
Dorm room at homy seafront hostel, kota kinabaluHomy Seafront Hostel$
Large bedroom at the aru hotelAru Hotel$
Toojou bedroom suiteToojou$

6. AC Residence

  • Best for: Solo travelers looking for a quiet stay at a low price

If you're looking for where to stay in Kota Kinabalu that offers the best value for money, AC Residence is a fantastic choice.

This 3-star hotel features a restaurant and bar where guests can grab a bite to eat before exploring the nearby attractions 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 that boast incredible views at night of the surrounding lights from the city.

Although this isn't your 5-star luxury hotel it 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.

Book: AC Residence

7. Homy Seafront Hostel: Best for Budget Travel

  • Best for: solo travelers looking to meet others

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 and is perfect if you want to meet others. Specific rooms boast gaming consoles which is great for those who need a day to chill out and do nothing (let's be honest travel can get tiring!)

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.

Likas City Mosque - The entry fee is RM 5.00 and appropriate clothing must be worn. This is one of the most beautiful Mosques in Malaysia and is known as the Floating Mosque. For my photographer friends, this is an epic place to visit at sunset!

8. Aru Hotel

  • Best for: Travelers looking for low-cost & great value

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 spacious guest rooms are uniquely designed and reasonably large with seating and dining areas. Family rooms sleep up to 6 people so this is a perfect choice for those traveling as large groups wanting to split costs.

You can spend your days relaxing by the pool or exploring the wonderful area of Tanjung Aru.

Book: Aru Hotel

9. Toojou

  • Best for: Low-budget travelers looking for a unique stay!

If you're looking for a unique stay in Kota Kinabalu, Toojou is the best place for you with its very own adult slide!

Surrounded by lush trees, Toojou boasts quirky interior designs throughout the female and mixed dorm rooms along with 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 city.

This would be a great place for someone working online that's looking for a unique setting with reliable wifi. It is located a short distance from the Bus Terminal and some delicious curry house restaurants.

Book: Toojou

Best Beach Resorts Near Kota Kinabalu

Aerial views over shangri-la tanjung aruShangri-La Tanjung Aru$$$
Gaya island resort outdoor swimming poolGaya Island Resort$$$$

10. Shangri-La Tanjung Aru: Best Beach Resort

  • Best for: Families looking for a 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, 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 a great option for a day trip.

11. Gaya Island Resort: Island Resort

  • Best for: Those looking for an island getaway!

Located on Gaya Island just a 10-minute boat ride from Jesselton Point Ferry Terminal, Gaya Island Resort is a fantastic place to stay for families, couples, and those looking for an island getaway!

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.

My Hotel Selection Process

  • Accommodation Criteria: When selecting the best hotels in Kota Kinabalu I focused on price, location, and reviews. Each option below ticks all the boxes for these aspects for you to have a great stay.
  • My Experience: My recommendations are based on places I've stayed and those I have heard highly of from other travelers, all with great reviews.
  • Top Reviews: The options in this guide all have high customer ratings and have consistently scored over 8/10 star ratings on booking platforms such as, Expedia, and I constantly update the list so all hotels maintain high value-for-money stays!
  • Local Insights: For the hotels I haven't stayed in, my recommendations and preferences come from traveler forums and review sites that have allowed me to make informed decisions about the selected hotels.

Read more about how I review & select hotels & accommodations.

Years Traveling
Hotels Stayed
Olly gaspar

I'm Olly, a full-time traveler since 2018. Each accommodation option in this guide is handpicked by me. Read my travel review ethics statement.

Before You Go - Must-Do Activities in Sabah

Sunrise over kota kinabalu, sabah

1. 2D1N Mount Kinabalu Climb

Climb Borneo's highest peak and most renowned World Heritage site (top tour company with hundreds of 5-star reviews).

Proboscis monkey, kinabatangan river

2. Kinabatangan River Cruise Must-Do

This 2D1N Sandakan tour from KK offers an incredible opportunity to spot orangutans in their natural habitat.

Bohey dulang on a tun sakaran marine park island hopping

3. Tun Sakaran Marine Park

An incredible island-hopping trip to top destinations around Semporna including Bohey Dulang viewpoint!

FAQ About Accommodation in Kota Kinabalu

How many days should I spend in Kota Kinabalu?

While the city is big, you can easily see all the sights within 2 days. However, if you want to go at a slower pace, three nights and four days is the perfect amount of time.

What is the best time of year to visit Kota Kinabalu?

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.

Is it worth going to Kota Kinabalu?

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!

Why is Kota Kinabalu famous?

Kota Kinabalu is famous for its proximity to Mount Kinabalu, one of Southeast Asia's highest peaks. It is also renowned for its beautiful islands, rich cultural heritage, and vibrant markets. The city's diverse attractions and low cost of living make it a popular destination for nature lovers and adventure seekers.

Palm trees in borneo

Want Affordable Travel Insurance for Sabah?

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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.

Best hotels in kota kinabalu, malaysia pinterest pin
Thanks for Reading

I'm Olly Gaspar, adventure traveler from Australia. I’ve spent the last six years traveling the world full-time, sharing my first-hand experiences & photography in over 700 travel guides on We Seek Travel. I visit every destination I write about to bring you unique travel itineraries, epic hiking routes, fun tour ideas, travel & photography gear ideas, & interesting places to stay.

I only make genuine, worthwhile recommendations based on my experience, expertise, & research. If you buy through my links, I may get a commission, supporting this website at no extra cost to you. Read my Publishing Ethics Statement.