There are many things to do in Penang, and one of them certainly is to book a stay in one of the best heritage hotels in George Town.
If you don’t know where to start looking, we have put together a nice selection of some of the best Penang hotels with a strong old-world or heritage character. In a place like Penang, a crossroad of ethnicities, cultures, and experiences, choosing to stay in a refurbished colonial mansion, former shophouse lot, or workers’ guesthouses can greatly enrich your travel experience and help you make the best of George Town’s unique heritage character.
After you have familiarized yourself with the best Penang food, George Town street art, Penang Hill, and Penang best beaches, you should take a proper look at these properties to decide where to better rest your head in total old-world style.
And if you need more inspiration, don’t forget to check out our guides to the best Airbnbs in Penang, Penang best boutique hotels, Penang best budget hotels, best hotels in Batu Ferringhi, and the swankiest Penang 5 Star Hotels.
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The Best Heritage Hotels in George Town, Penang
1Eastern and Oriental Hotel
Let’s start with this historical grand dame of Penang accommodation. This hotel is a real institution and was built by the famous Iranian architect brothers Sarkies in 1885. Since then, it has hosted all sorts of international celebrities, including people of the caliber of Orson Wells, during their trips to the island.
Tucked on the seafront at the farther end of Penang Road, the original Eastern and Oriental Hotel reopened in 2001, with a new wing added in 2013. The old Heritage Wing was also fully refurbished in December 2019, giving this old dame a much-needed makeover that brought it once again among the cream of the crop of Penang heritage hotels.
If you are after a colonial-themed, sea-facing hotel with large, charming rooms, personalized valet service, an excellent restaurant, and that timeless “colonial Malayan feel”, you should book your suite right now.
2Cheong Fatt Tze – the Blue Mansion
There aren’t many better choices for an atmospheric heritage hotel in George Town than Penang’s iconic Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion, or “Blue Mansion”, for a very luxurious stay within the UNESCO-protected area. This impeccably restored home of a Penang Chinese tycoon preserves all the fittings and original architecture of the period and gives guests an authentic insight into Penang’s colonial history.
The 18 rooms are spacious and modern, and yet they do not interfere with the dreamy old-world atmosphere of this historical house. You can relax by the swimming pool, and see all that George Town’s heritage cluster has to offer by just stepping out of the hotel. Don’t forget to indulge in a scrumptious meal at their restaurant Indigo, a real culinary treat in itself.
323 Love Lane Hotel
Beyond a traditional Chinese gate, enter this well-manicured courtyard where a high-end boutique hotel hides away from the noise of Love Lane and its nearby Penang backpacker haunts. Don’t worry though, because once you have stepped inside, you’ll enter a well-choreographed world that clocks at far higher levels of luxury and relaxation.
Modern artworks pop up from the white-washed walls in a charming hall furnished with low, comfy sofas and chairs. The rooms are perfectly suited to match the splendor of the surroundings and feel like princely, yet homely quarters. Highly recommended to those looking for a touch of heritage luxury in the very center of George Town.
Chris Ong’s Heritage Hotel Series
Chris Ong is an important name in Penang’s heritage accommodation scene. His first masterpiece was a 17th-century Dutch mansion in Galle, Sri Lanka.
Upon returning home to Penang in 2007, right before the UNESCO World Heritage Inscription, Chris Ong started purchasing and saving several heritage buildings in the core of town. Here’s a lowdown of these beautiful properties.
4 Seven Terraces
Seven Terraces is one of the top choices when it comes to boutique hotels in George Town – this beautiful hotel oozes history and style. The old building is lovingly brought back to its past glory, complete with gorgeous antique furniture in the rooms and common areas and beautiful details everywhere you look. Yet it has all the modern luxuries you’d expect from a small luxury hotel. There is a bar/lounge area for evening drinks and a small pool, just enough to cool in after a long day exploring the streets.
The Kebaya restaurant is ranked as one of the best in town to sample the local Peranakan cuisine, and it also does breakfast beautifully: dishes are made to order and come with a cold-pressed juice and fantastic coffee. The location of the hotel, on the edge of the old town, is perfect for exploring Penang on foot and the knowledgeable staff has great recommendations on what to see and where to eat.
The second heritage project by famous Penang architect Chris Ong was completed in 2009 from the restoration of former communal parking for horse carriages. The collection of Edwardian buildings, all in a different state of disrepair, were upholstered to a series of suites and rooms, and a charming loft suite with a beautiful wooden mezzanine.
The interiors are as close to the originals as possible, with a 20th-century old-world feel to them, and the terraces an ideal place to relax and pretend you ended up in a George Town of the way back when.
Tucked in the middle of central and yet quiet Muntri Street, Muntri Mews is a stone’s throw away from the bar enclave at Love Lane, the food of Little India, and the convenience of Penang Road and Chulia Street… yet always retaining a secluded, quiet and utterly charming feel. Recommended for all those who want to spoil themselves.
Muntri Grove was once a row of 10 houses built in the 19th century as living quarters for the workers serving the wealthy families of Muntri Street. Upholstered in 2013, the building has remained as close as the original architecture, including the original front doors of the first floor. Each house has been turned into two large rooms, downstairs and upstairs, and a 130ft-long charming wooden veranda was fitted at the back of the houses.
The rooms offer a botanical theme, with high ceilings lined with timbers, wooden four-poster beds, and floors made of terrazzo tiles from the 1950s. Even if it’s hidden between the ever-busy Chulia Street and Lebuh Muntri, Muntri Grove faces a lush garden that faces directly the veranda and most rooms, offering a suave natural respite amidst George Town suffocating mix of heritage and modernity. Unmissable stay, check it out below.
Another one of architect Chris Ong’s careful boutique hotel restorations, Noordin Mews looks back at the interesting history of the Peranakan, a mix of Chinese and Malay. It remains one of Penang’s most visited boutique heritage hotels, winning hearts thanks to its rooms that mix a feel for vintage 1950s Shanghai and modernity, with timber floor tiles, heritage furnishings, and decadent four-poster beds wrapped in transparent curtains.
It’s in a quiet outer area of George Town, and yet very close to everything that matters. A perfect choice for that special Penang vacation, with family or that unique someone.
8Jawi Peranakan Mansion
A bit removed from the Muntri/Love Lane/Chulia Street cluster of heritage-chic Penang boutique hotels, Jawi Peranakan Mansion perfectly conjures the opulent spirits of Penang’s 19th century Indian-Muslim millionaires.
The fourth jewel in heritage hotelier Chris Ong’s George Town collection feels more private than his former meticulous restoration works – Baba-Nyonya-inspired Seven Terraces, and the former worker quarters and horse-cart depot that became luxe Muntri Grove and Muntri Mews.
Tucked behind a heavy brass gate and sheltered by pastel-ochre walls, Jawi Peranakan Mansion celebrates Hutton Lane’s past, an era of luxurious bungalows built by immigrant Muslim traders from Pakistan, Central Asia, and the Middle East. Inside, intricately carved wooden arches crown the rooms’ doorways, perfectly marrying with antique furniture collected from India, that enriches the spacious common areas.
With only fourteen suites, you’re in for an exclusive and intimate stay. The four Mansion Family Rooms are particularly delightful, their wooden mezzanines concealing king-size beds and attractive way-back-when wooden writing desks – a far-but-close hideaway for parents with children in tow. If your idea of a stay in Penang is to indulge in the charms of one of its less celebrated settlers, this attractive mansion is the perfect choice to rest your head.
More Heritage Hotels in Penang
This meticulously restored colonial mansion right opposite the Blue Mansion of Cheong Fatt Tze is a mix of heritage charms and contemporary chic. Retro-vintage tiles draw warm blue patterns on floors strewn with cozy lounge chairs and low tables, while the rooms and suites build-up from the former large quarters to deliver a highly choreographed luxe-boutique experience that blends the old and the new. It comes at a price though and will make you feel all the more special for it. Without a doubt, one of the poshest places to come tickle your senses while in Penang.
10Ren I Tang
Once a Chinese pharmacy hall, this hotel is smack central in Little India, and peers over wafting curry bowls and colorful Saree shops from one of the principal street corners. On the ground floor, a cozy bar strewn with low chairs and wooden tables welcomes guests and passersby with its strong brews, smoothies, and coffees.
The hall gives way to the rooms upstairs, reached through a charming old-world wooden staircase. They blend heritage charms with sturdy mattresses and wooden fittings that will enchant even the most jaded of travelers.
This heritage hotel is definitely “boutique” as it only has eight rooms, but the standards are pretty high, and you may want to consider it for that special heritage feel mixed with a 5-star luxury experience. The beauty of the Mcalister Mansion is the way the original building was turned into a piece of art of a hotel, where every detail counts.
It’s a preferred spot for couples for their wedding receptions and pre-wedding photography in Penang. The on-site restaurant offers fine dining and is among the best restaurants in Penang, with three dining outlets serving the best of contemporary fusion and western-styled food. A secluded, quiet, and very exclusive choice that will surprise you with the finesse of its design.
12East Indies Mansion
This beautifully restored Chinese courtyard home in the center of charismatic Little India was once owned by local artist Rebecca Duckett-Wilkinson. It has now turned into a secluded and yet gorgeously homely heritage boutique hotel that offers a very high standard of accommodation at very good prices.
The charming central courtyard, strewn with potted plants, it’s ideal to relax and leads to two stories of homely heritage rooms — those on two floors, with wooden mezzanines and metallic spiral staircases, are the cream of the crop.
The common spaces and halls give East Indies Mansion a delightful feel of rustic home lost in the hustle of George Town. The common kitchen, which guests can use for self-catering, is a final touch making this place a real boutique home away from home.
13Yeng Keng Hotel
Renovated from a former 1900 Anglo-Indian mansion that opens with a Chinese arch and a traditional courtyard, super-central Yeng Keng Hotel has very colorful and luminous rooms that make good use of antique rugs and modern fittings and yet maintain a colonial-chic ambiance. Most rooms come with warm wood-paneled floors and patios overlooking the main thoroughfare Chulia Street. There’s a swimming pool, a restaurant, and plenty of space to relax in this private urban colonial bubble. Recommended for charming stays in the midst of George Town’s best nightlife.
14Maison Muda Designer House
Maison Muda Designer House is tucked in the center of George Town, near Harmony Street. This stylish open concept affordable boutique heritage homestay is renovated from a pre-war shophouse and caters to today’s ‘flash packer’ needs.
The hotel was previously used as a gallery for displaying handmade tiles for use in heritage restoration and local handicrafts and was also featured in the Lonely Planet guidebook as a good choice of heritage houses to visit in Penang.
There’s a charming back courtyard to sit while having breakfast or a cup of coffee, and it’s developed on three levels — the third is a mezzanine with a unique jack roof offering views over the terracotta tiles of George Town. The kitchenette makes it perfect as a Penang Airbnb-like option fitting 6 to 8 people with two queen size beds and four super single beds.
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15The Southern Boutique Hotel
Perfectly located at the end of Muntri Street, just a few meters away from both Penang Road and the popular Red Garden Food Court with all its Penang Food, the Southern Boutique Hotel spruced up a whole row of shophouses into a swanky, marble-white tinted series of modern rooms.
The Southern strikes a good balance between careful heritage refurbishment and top-of-the-range hotel facilities – think rain showers, plush mattresses, industrial-chic bed lights, and warm dark wood floor panels that emphasize the soothing marble-hue of the old furnishings. A top-notch choice for a stay in the midst of George Town’s action.