5 boutique hotels in Penang worth checking out

When it comes to hotels, I’ll take a small boutique property over a massive international brand any day.

It’s something about the small touches, like the quirky furnishings that give you a sense of place and the way the staff all seem to know your name.  These add up to create a unique atmosphere that the glossy lobbies and glass elevators of the big boys just can’t match.

Although Penang has its fair share of large hotels under big brands such as the Hard Rock Hotel, the Shangri-La and Holiday Inn, its capital George Town also has a thriving boutique scene.

I wandered through the city’s UNESCO World Heritage streets and discovered a number of properties that are drawing on the city’s fascinating heritage to offer visitors a special stay.

Here are five hotels worth checking out – all for different reasons:

1. Macalister Mansion


This property is Malaysia’s only Design Hotel to date. The crisp white colonial mansion was built in the early 1900s and now offers respite from the often intense temperatures with its cool turqouise pool and perfectly manicured lawns. Inside, its quirky, artsy and cutting edge.

With a cigar bar and a fine selection of malt whiskies, it’s a Scottish-tinged homage to Alice in Wonderland.

2. Blue Mansion


Back amongst the narrow streets we discover the Blue Mansion – once the house of renowned Chinese merchant and historical figure Cheong Fatt Tze.

The striking indigo building, designed around the principles of feng shui, has been faithfully restored. Its courtyards and terraces evoke its former glory – a time capsule for visitors with a luxury twist.

3. Seven Terraces


Seven Terraces also digs deep into the vaults of Penang’s history.

The row of seven Anglo Chinese terraces next door to the Goddess of Mercy Temple is now lavishly furnished with a myriad of antiques which sit alongside modern touches such as the property’s striking swimming pool.

4. 23 Love Lane

Photo credit: 23 Love Lane website
Photo credit: 23 Love Lane website

Built around a peaceful courtyard, the 10 rooms of this boutique property draw upon five different architectural periods giving each a distinct feel.

But despite the historical influence, this hotel has a more relaxed and contemporary vibe, splashed with bright colours and bold artworks.

5. Royale Bintang Penang


Or for something a little more mainstream, not so much boutique but still with a historic twist, the British colonial Royale Bintang Penang could fit the bill.

The large property, which overlooks Marina Bay, has a great swimming pool, a gym and massage rooms along with an atmospheric tea room that dishes up popular high teas.

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