Penang's most stylish hotels
Scandinavian design meets Japanese aesthetics at Penang's first capsule hotel. After checking in at reception, guests are led to mixed or female-only dorms, where they can get cosy in pods fashioned from recycled shipping containers. Each pod is equipped with a foldable table stand, a reading light and ventilation. There are even twin pods for travelling duos and love birds.
Design-wise, Chulia Court is hard to place, but its eccentric décor is pretty spectacular. If a Peranakan family had left their magnificent shoplot to a stylish benefactor, Chulia Court would be the result. One sweeping look at the hotel's courtyard reveals Chinese brocade next to beaded curtains, teak antiques in contrast to modern bar stools and ornate mirrors reflecting the warm glow of paper lanterns. A long bar is the nucleus of all activity on the ground floor and doubles as the check-in desk for hotel guests.
Located just outside the heritage zone, Macalister Mansion stands out in its white splendour. As you enter the driveway you can imagine how the original owners, a prominent Chinese family, must have lived. Named after Sir Norman Macalister, one of Penang's first governors, this grand house has been refurbished and upgraded to the highest level and is part of the Design Hotels group. There are only eight rooms here, each with a slightly different layout – the only similarity being the white colour scheme.
Seamlessly blending into its surrounds, Malihom stands as a fine example of non-intrusive architecture amidst nature. Organic materials like salvaged wood make up the estate's building blocks while recycled objects such as old railway tracks are turned into supporting beams. Aptly named 'house of fragrant rice' in Thai, Malihom provides its guests with a truly unique experience - how often does one get to reside inside repurposed rice barns?
Jawi Peranakan Mansion sees a refreshing departure from the Peranakan theme that pervades George Town. Instead, as the hotel's name implies, you'll find a distinct style associated with the Jawi Peranakans, a local people prevalent in 19th century Malaya. Architecture aficionados will be pleased to note original details like wood lattices, cornices and columns, as well as Mughal influences.
Also known as the Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion, The Blue Mansion was once was used as a squat until a team of local conservationists restored the 19th century mansion to its former glory. If there was such a thing as discreet opulence, the décor here would be just that, and original artefacts from bygone eras only serve to enhance this. An ideal retreat for culture buffs, as you’ll be able to boast of staying in a building that’s won a UNESCO award for heritage conservation.
Shaped much like a horseshoe, Penaga Hotel occupies a busy crossroads in the heritage zone but proves a surprisingly peaceful enclave. The hotel is festooned with artwork created by artists who have participated in their artist-in-residence programme. The first ‘Green Hotel’ in Penang, Penanga utilises 99 solar panels to heat their bathing water.