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Book Xcess @ Rex KL

Continuing its trend of bookstores that double as lifestyle destinations, Book Xcess’ newest flagship store in the heart of Kuala Lumpur is set to become the city’s hottest hub for arts and culture. Tucked on the second floor of Rex KL, the store opened in November 2021 and is home to thousands of books. But even non-bibliophiles have a reason to pay a visit, thanks to its cool aesthetics and architecture.

While parts of the space have been renovated, much of the old layout and fixtures from the venue’s days as a theatre have been retained, providing some very cool photo opps for the Gram.

I’ll let the pictures do the talking.

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Book Xcess is located on the second floor, where the theatre used to house the first-class seats.
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The store’s entrance houses a section dedicated to children’s books and young adult fiction. The shelves are built with a low overhead clearance, so it feels like you’re entering a maze of sorts.

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Large floor to ceiling windows allow for plenty of natural sunlight to filter in and afford visitors with stunning views of the surroundings.

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KL Tower in the distance juxtaposed against older shoplots with the typical ‘kaki lima’ (five foot walkway) design. This is one of the things I love about KL — it’s eclectic flavour where modernity meets tradition.
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Ascend the staircase — which is intentionally left in a raw and exposed state, with chipped concrete and peeling paint — and you’ll come to the main area, which features rows upon rows of towering shelves, built to resemble a labyrinth, and with books stacked from floor to ceiling. The high ceilings give the space an airy, lofty feel, and it just looks great architecturally. It’s no wonder influencers have been coming here in droves to take photos.

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Exploring the ‘maze’.
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View from the mezzanine. As mentioned, this used to be where the first class seats were located, back when Rex KL was still a theatre. The large movie screen has been removed, but the hall below is still used as an event space.
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Mind your step while exploring the place—since they’ve kept the original floor plan (ie tiered, to accommodate for theatre seating), it’s easy to accidentally stumble down the steps. There are warning signs around, but if you have kids it’s best to be cautious, as the steps are pretty high.

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If you’re coming from the main floor, look out for this little door near the cashier which leads to a stairwell and loops back into another section of the store. There’s a glass walkway here leading through a narrow corridor, which is pretty cool looking.

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Also within this space is Rex KL’s new rooftop bar and restaurant, Shhhbuuulee, which serves small plates alongside sake, high balls, and wines. I came during the day so it wasn’t open, but would love to come back for a visit.

What else is there to do at Rex KL?

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Plenty! Rex KL is one of those creative spaces where you can easily wile away your time, and they also regularly host cool events and exhibitions. There are some good F&B options within too.

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Stellar is located at the entrance and serves specialty coffee.
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The Background is RexKL’s collective of eateries and restos. There’s something for every palate, from the plant-based urban ‘warung’ Lauk Pauk, to Ticklish Ribs & Wiches which is every meat lovers dream.
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The Rex Bar is where you go to quench your thirst on artisan craft beers, handmade highball cocktails, experimental drinks as well as local items with a spin, such as sparkling tuak.
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If you can read Chinese, there is another bookstore within Rex KL to check out called Mentor Bookstore. They carry books from indie Taiwanese as well as Malaysian authors, plus titles translated from Western authors.
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Retailers located on the mezzanine and ground floor include DH Paper Art, an indie design studio, and Outsider Bikes, a bike shop offering custom builds.

BOOK XCESS @ REX KL

80, Jalan Sultan, City Centre, 50000 Kuala Lumpur, Selangor

Opening hours: 10AM – 10PM

Getting to REX KL

The nearest train station is the Pasar Seni LRT station. From there, Rex KL is a 5 minute walk.

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Things to Do@Tropicana Gardens Mall, Kota Damansara

Malls these days follow a cookie-cutter formula – if you’ve been to one, you’ve been to them all.

Once in awhile, though, you find neighbourhood places like Tropicana Gardens Mall in Kota Damansara. Despite being a stone’s throw away from well known malls like IKEA Damansara, 1Utama and The Curve, Tropicana Gardens holds its own with a unique mix of offerings and cool tenants; most notably Japanese discount chain store Don Don Donki, as well as the largest Starbucks Reserve in Malaysia.

Although it’s far from my house, I’ve been here a couple of times, mostly to visit Donki, but also coz it’s a nice mall to shop at, with everything under one roof.

If you haven’t had the chance to visit, here’s what to expect!

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The mall spans five floors, and has a star-shaped layout. It’s fairly new (the mall opened in February 2021), so the upper floors are quite empty – but there’s plenty to explore on the lower floors. A golden tree takes centre stage at the main concourse, and they spruce it up with different decorations for every season (this pic was taken over a Christmas visit).

SHOP FOR JAPANESE SNACKS AND GOODS AT DON DON DONKI

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One of the mall’s highlights is, of course, the Don Don Donki. This is the second Donki outlet in Malaysia and also the largest, covering nearly 4,000 sq m across two floors. There is a wide variety of goods to shop for here, from fresh produce and snacks, to cosmetics, gym equipment and toys imported from Japan. You can read a more detailed post here.

DO SOME READING AT BOOK XCESS

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Lifestyle bookstore Book Xcess, which sells most of its titles for half the price of what you get at normal bookstores (they’re able to do this as they sell remainder books — books that were overprinted and weren’t taken by conventional bookstores, but are brand new), has a branch on the 2nd floor. If you’re a bibliophile, you can wile the hours away browsing, or just soaking in the store’s cosy aesthetics. I especially like the floor to ceiling ‘wave’ book shelf that stretches from one end of the shop to the other.

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GRAB A BITE

Tropicana Gardens Mall has a fair selection of F&B tenants, from fast food chains to chic cafes. There is also an area called Pitstop which is inspired by the food truck concept — with food truck-shaped kiosks, open seating, and gas station-themed decor.

Personally, I would recommend Tendon Kohaku, which specialises in tempura bowls. Other notable restaurants here include Delay No More Crab Restaurant, Dodo Dimsum Bowls, Go Street Noodle, Ramen Bankara, Rakuzen, D’Italiane, and Sukishi. Don’t forget to check out the snack bars, cafes and bakeries such as Chizu, Park’s Bagels and Gula Cakery.

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GET A MAKEOVER

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The upper floors host a number of salons and beauty parlours where you can get your hair cut, washed and styled, or enjoy beauty treatments.

JOIN A DANCE OR SINGING CLASS

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Here, you can find Flow Academy, a creative school dedicated to the performing arts. They offer dancing and fitness as well as music and singing classes. Many of the academy’s students perform professionally, but you can sign up too if you’re looking to pick up a hobby.

PLAY AND BUY TRADING CARDS AND BOARD GAMES

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If nerdy stuff is more your thing (and I mean it in the best way, being a nerd myself), Invictus Force carries a wide selection of tabletop accessories, trading cards and board games. They also host events for games like Pokemon and Magic: The Gathering.

CATCH A FILM

I haven’t been to the theatres for over two years now, and probably will not in the near future — but for movie-buffs, the mall has a Golden Screen Cinemas on the top floor.

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The upper floors are quite empty at present.

SING KARAOKE

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Another activity that I haven’t done for years is karaoke — my college mates and I used to go every other week, as it was relatively ‘cheap’ entertainment (20 bucks for 4 hours — but this was back in the 2010s :P). Now that we’re all working, it has been hard to go for such activities, and even if we have free time we end up at a cafe anyway.

If you’d like to sing your heart out and belt out some Whitney Houston, Loudspeaker is on the same floor as the cinema.

SHOOT STUFF UP AT THE ARCADE

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Or race some cars, play some drums, shoot a few hoops.

Last but not least…

GRAB SOME COFFEE AT THE STARBUCKS RESERVE

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The mall is home to Malaysia’s largest Starbucks Reserve (they’re essentially ‘high-end Starbucks’, carrying  ‘a selection of the rarest, most extraordinary coffees Starbucks has to offer’, prepared through different techniques such as Chemex, siphon and pour-over). I haven’t actually been inside (on my visits, I was always too full from eating at the other restos or stuffing my face at Donki, lol), but I’d like to drop by on my next trip. It looks impressive enough from the outside, where there is al fresco seating and an outdoor area with beautiful murals.

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If you have the weekend free, Tropicana Gardens Mall is worth a visit! There is ample parking (although the entrance is quite difficult to find — you have to go past the drop-off point in front of the mall, then make a U-turn when you’re almost at the exit), and alternatively, you can take the MRT and stop at the Surian station.

TROPICANA GARDENS MALL

29 No, Unit CC, 2A, Persiaran Surian, Tropicana Indah, 47810 Petaling Jaya, Selangor

Website

PS: This is not a sponsored post. Opinions here are entirely my own.

PS2: If you liked this post, please consider supporting my blog via Patreon, so I can make more. Or buy me a cup of coffee on Paypal @erisgoesto!