When it comes to a short getaway, Penang is always a good idea. A haven for street food, its fair share of hipster joints and pockets of culture await visitors. And not to mention that the island city has – in the last few years – stepped into the spotlight for its slew of charming hotels.
While some of us may bemoan the escalating gentrification and the phone-toting tourists who are only in Penang for the ‘gram, the very foundation of the island itself was built on travellers, traders and settlers from near and far since the 1500s. The Chinese, British, Arabs, Indians and many others have helped shape the identity of this place that we know today.
From repurposed mansions to modern boutique hotels and everything in between, here are more reasons for you to discover the charm of the Pearl of the Orient.
1. The Edison George Town
2. G Hotel Kelawai
The sister property of G Hotel Gurney, the Kelawai outpost has a trendy, contemporary edge to its design element that makes it stand out on its own as a playground for business travellers and families alike. Among the highlights here is the rooftop bar with infinity pool, top-notch F&B offerings and its close vicinity to shopping malls and Gurney Drive.
3. Jawi Peranakan Mansion
Jawi Peranakan refers to the assimilation between local Malay women and traders from Arab, Punjab, Gujerat, Turkey, Persia and Afghanistan. This mansion has been painstakingly restored to its former glory to house 8 mansion rooms and 6 family suites. The elegant Anglo-Indian beauty with distinct Moorish and Indian design elements is exceptionally charming.
4. Lone Pine, the boutique hotel by the beach
Love birds, we cannot think of a better hotel than the Lone Pine boutique hotel to make your stay special. Batu Ferringhi’s only luxury boutique hotel is underlined by clean lines and cool white, blending blissful beach vacay with colonial charm. Our favourite spot: the plunge tub on the balcony with a view of the Andaman sea.
5. 23 Lovelane
What makes this heritage hotel special is the rich architecture that blends five different architectural periods, thanks to its extended construction starting from the 1800s. The rooms at 23 Lovelane are worth writing home about, while the Chinese Indian terrace, library and the garden are simply enchanting.
6. Macalister Mansion
Macalister Mansion stands as an ode to our colonial masters, designed around the idea of an old English mansion while making you feel right at home. There are 8 rooms for you to retreat to, but it’s the dining experience at Blanc that will steal the show. French culinary artistry takes centerstage, alongside carefully chosen wines and impeccable service. Bon appétit!
7. Malihom Private Estate
If you’re looking for something off-the-beaten-track, then the Malihom Private Estate is the right place to be. The estate is made up of a cluster of traditional Thai rice barns with modern amenities, perfect for those who want to escape the city and be in one with nature. Another plus point, a swimming pool filled with natural spring water.
8. Muntri Mews
Formerly a communal parking for horse carriages during an era of affluence, Muntri Mews’ storied past is juxtaposed against contemporary touches that blends seamlessly with the rest of the property. The former quarters for drivers and syce are now converted into modern rooms, and that communal feel can still be felt throughout.
9. Noordin Mews Heritage Hotel
The highly rated Noordin Mews along Lebuh Noordin was a Straits Eclectic shophouse for the trishaws and hand carts that were found in abundance along this street back in the day. Today, the heritage hotel comes with a pool, well-appointed rooms, excellent service and plenty of spots for photography. Pets are welcome too, and that’s an even bigger brownie point!
10. Seven Terraces
Located next to the Goddess of Mercy Temple, Seven Terraces is a great place to soak up the rich Peranakan culture in all its glory. The brains behind this lovingly restored row of Anglo-Chinese houses is Chris Ong, who also founded the Galle Fort Hotel in Sri Lanka as well as a slew of other breathtaking boutique hotels around George Town. History buffs will find this place hard to resist.