The owners of Hotel Penaga, an architect and his environmentalist wife, both lovers of art, set out to create “… the sort of hotel in which we would like to stay while exploring the delights of” the UNESCO world heritage city of George Town.
They’ve succeeded, and I know you will like to stay here too.
Hotel Penaga is a true boutique hotel. It is beautiful, rooms and common spaces are individually decorated, it provides all the luxuries you’d want, it isn’t too big, there’s great service, and it is unique:
– They have an artists in residence program, providing living space and an allowance for artists to soak up George Town and produce new works.
– They practice a real environmental approach, for example producing enough solar power to sell electricity back to the national grid; sourcing recycled and handmade products wherever possible; and received a gold Green Building Index rating, a first for a heritage building in Malaysia.
After exploring the sites all day, cool off in the salt water lap pool in the native plant garden, and then have a jacuzzi bath in your room before crawling into bed.
23LoveLane is a lovingly conserved and restored boutique heritage hotel within the UNESCO zone of George Town (unlike many George Town hotels, this was a true conservation: it won the Malaysian Institute of Architects (PAM) gold award, conservation category, in 2013).
Love Lane, as the name implies, has an illicit past that sparks the imagination. 150 years ago, this was a street for the mistresses of upper class men, and, 25 years ago, a red light district.
After three years of painstaking work, 23LoveLane has emerged as several beautiful heritage buildings decorated with antique furniture and a mix of modern and traditional art. There are just 10 rooms at #23, each completely unique, plus two nearby suites: Stewart Suite (perfect for a family) and the three-bedroom Muntri Suites.
My suite, the Grand Bedroom in the main Anglo Indian building, is large and airy (unusual for hotels comprised of old shop houses in this humid city). The four-poster bed is one of the most comfortable I’ve been in on my travels. With windows on three sides, I admire the gardens and the restored Chinese Gate that welcomes visitors into the property, whilst imagining Love Lane’s history.
If I were travelling with kids and introducing them to Malaysia, I’d likely start at the PARKROYAL Penang.
This large hotel is an easy taxi or bus trip to explore the UNESCO world heritage site of George Town. But then you can escape back to this family-oriented resort on golden Batu Ferringhi beach to relax from the heat and the busy-ness of town.
There’s lots of stuff here for the whole family: two pools, one with waterslides; parasailing and banana boats at the beach; cooking and cocktail demonstrations; tennis; a large gym; a St. Gregory spa; several places to nosh; a Baskin Robbins ice cream menu; a kid-height table at the breakfast buffet; Playstation 2 and Nintendo; and a DVD player in each room.
A kids’ club (with lots of crafts and activities) operates from 9 am to 9 pm, and babysitting is easy to arrange. This makes it easy for parents to get out and sample Penang’s famous food at the hawker stalls nearby.
The 309 rooms (including 30 suites) are stylish and the comfy beds will ensure a great sleep. Many rooms easily accommodate families with two sofa beds, in addition to the king bed.
If you want a western experience in Penang, with a touch of local flavour, choose the PARKROYAL.
I hear a rustle in the trees. I’m sitting in the large kitchen/living room of my suite, open to the rainforest on one and a half sides. A monkey peeks around the pillar at me, and scampers off. An hour later two giant squirrels (Ratufa bicolor) come by to show off their golden bellies.
I’m at the Ambong Ambong Rainforest Retreat, and I’m really in the rainforest. The 3 suites (November 2013), 2 cottages and 6 studios (December 2011) are built around existing trees up a very steep hill.
I love how I can sit in the open air during the day, gazing at the trees and the sea, but then close the glass doors on the rainforest and retreat inside my huge bedroom to sleep. My suite is zen-like: clean lines, well-chosen art, and an ideal spot for yoga in front of the picture window. I have everything I need: mini-kitchen including a microwave, AC, fan, TV with DVD, reliable wifi, wooden bathtub for two on the deck, and oodles of beautiful space.
At the resort are a pool, a yoga deck, the Ishan Health Spa, and the Unkaizan Japanese Restaurant, one of the best places to eat in Malaysia.
At this resort, you’re secluded but not isolated. A lovely beach (Pentai Tengah) is a few minutes walk, as are restaurants and shops, and it is only a 15 minute walk to the middle of the busy Pentai Cenang beach area.
Ambong Ambong will rejuvenate you — it is so quiet and comfortable, you might not want to leave!