Besides choosing the best time to visit Penang, one of the recipes for success to any stay in UNESCO World Heritage Site George Town is choosing the right accommodation among its huge selection of hotels. Penang boutique hotels are an attractive choice because, in this part of the world, you can get a luxurious heritage room starting at only 35 US$ per night. For something cheaper, our guide to the best budget hotels in Penang is what you need.
A fascinating boutique hotel set in the center of George Town can also be the perfect launch pad to get to know Penang famous food and choice of eclectic Western restaurants, enjoy George Town’s nightlife, see all the best things to do in Penang for first-timers, visit Penang’s highest viewpoint in Komtar at The Top Penang, and maybe even check out one of Penang’s best beaches — you may even use it as a base to go further afield in Teluk Bahang, home to Penang National Park and its strange Malaysian animals.
But when it comes to finding a unique boutique hotel in George Town, how to find the best compromise of beautiful heritage and amazing comfort? What is the best hotel in Penang, one that equally captures a feeling of colonial bliss paired with all the modern facilities that international travelers have come to expect? Well, in order to get the best of both worlds, we recommend staying in one of George Town’s unique boutique hotels, which can also be perfect settings for pre-wedding photography.
Do you want to stay in a modern business-oriented boutique pad, or prefer the charms of a heritage boutique stay that nods back to the many hidden Penang colonial histories you read about in the best books on old Malaysia? Even if you don’t have too much cash to splash, we have put together a handy list of 20 of the best boutique hotel options in Penang.
Best Boutique Hotels in Penang
These twelve shophouses, tucked at the end of Penang Road and in walking distance to everything central George Town has to offer, once belonged to philanthropic millionaire Khoo Sian Ewe. There are 48 rooms lined on the two sides of a charming corridor decorated with Peranakan tiles, potted plants, and cosy lounge chairs that offer an intimate place to rest or socialize. On the ground floor, the Heritage Rooms combine Penang old world charms with modern furnishings, while the Heritage Lofts on the first floor emphasize wooden flooring, cosy single beds and ample space under A-frame roofs. There are also larger family rooms and garden rooms that face some urban vegetation. Highly recommended for families who can “park” their children in the dedicated playroom — check our guide to Penang with kids to know about all the other things you can do with children in George Town.
2Le Dream Boutique Hotel
Tucked at the upper end of Jalan Pintal Tali, this corner block hotel is a perfect choice for those who want to be in walking distance to all the best George Town has to offer, and yet want some upmarket seclusion. The ambience nods at a mix of imaginary old-world Europe, mixed with industrial-chic touches that give it a neo-noir feel. The rooms are strewn on three stories and are all decorated with modern touches and ensuite, Japanese-styled bathrooms.
On the ground floor, the annexed French-European restaurant is perfect to have a high-class meal without ever leaving the premises — especially when you see the rooftop bar and mini-pool, to soak as you watch the sunset over George Town’s skyline.
A high-end property housed into a refurbished colonial home and modelled on old English mansions that’s a bit removed from the center of George Town, but still conveniently located along Macalister Road. There are only eight rooms here to maximize space and comfort, and give a guest a feel of home away from home. Macalister Mansion has a swimming pool, a garden, and a sophisticated food and beverage offering that include a fine dining restaurant, a wine cellar, and the Den, a black-tinged room studied to enjoy the best whiskeys and cigars. Come here if you want an opulent hotel experience at a stone throw from the city, and more important, at a decent price-tag.
Occupying the best part of a hidden arcade just off Transfer Road and in close proximity to Chulia Street, the Museum Hotel packs heritage comfort in its series of large, luminous rooms. The bathrooms are particularly large and comfortable, as much as the rooms, which come in different categories and yet all maintain a similar heritage theme that doses relaxing, white-washed walls with wooden partition, window shutters and four-poster beds. Tranquil, charming, and close enough to the center of the action and one of George Town’s best roti bakar stalls.
5G Hotel Kelawai
This sleek building oozes modernity and uniqueness from the very shape of its industrial-chic, hive-shaped building. Inside, all the bells and whistles of sleek business-chic comfort ring to the highest standards. Every floor is packed with a different selection of rooms, from deluxe rooms to executive lounges, that cater to high-life loving, modern-thinking business travelers. It’s in walking distance to some of Penang’s best shopping malls along Gurney Drive, and not too far from the beauty of Penang Hill and its hiking trails. Don’t forget their fine-dining restaurant Spoon, which also offers one of the cheapest and more delicious buffet lunches in Penang, and its rooftop bar Gravity, a great place for sundowners and watching the night take over George Town’s cityscape.
6East 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 very high standard of accommodation for 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.
723 Love Lane
A well-manicured courtyard shelters this high-end boutique hotel from the noise of Love Lane and its Penang backpacker haunts. Inside, it’ all another world that clocks at the rhythm of luxury and relaxation. Modern pieces of art pop up from the white-washed walls of the charming hall furnished with low, comfy sofas and chairs. The rooms are perfectly suited to match the splendour of the surroundings and feel like princely yet homely quarters. Highly recommended to those looking for a touch of luxury in the very center of George Town.
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“LANG HOOSE” is Scottish Gaelic for “long house”, and it’s an attractive boutique guesthouse with eight rooms refurbished from a long Chinese shophouse in super-central Beach Street. Two of the rooms have shared bathrooms facilities and are dedicated to more frugal travelers. Regardless, all rooms make perfect use of this 100-year-old building’s original fittings and interiors, adding some much welcome shabby-chic touches in the squeaky clean bathrooms. A perfect, smack-central option for those who want to have a comfortable and stylish stay without breaking the bank.
Heritage Hotels in George Town, Penang
The following selection contains listings of Penang boutique hotels with a strong old-world or heritage character. In a place like Penang, a crossroad of ethnicities, culture and experiences, choosing to stay in a refurbished colonial mansion or a former shophouse lot can greatly enrich your travel experience and help you make the best of George Town’s unique character. In this case, you should take a proper look at these properties.
Seven Terraces is one of the top choices when it comes to boutique hotels in Georgetown – 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 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.
10Blue Mansion @ Cheong Fatt Tze
There aren’t many better choices than the Blue Mansion, a very luxurious stay within UNESCO-protected Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion, Penang’s iconic “blue house”. It’s an impeccably restored home of a Penang Chinese tycoon that preserves all the fittings and original architecture of the period, offering guests a special chance to experience a hint at Penang’s colonial history. The 18 rooms are spacious and modern, yet without disrupting the dreamy atmosphere of the house. You can relax by the swimming pool, walk easily to George Town’s heritage cluster, or indulge in a scrumptious meal at their restaurant Indigo.
Conveniently located on a quiet street in the historic district of George Town, Carnarvon House is a heritage hotel with a price that makes it perfect for the budget traveler. The hotel’s elegant winding staircase, peeling white plastered walls, and traditional furniture will make it seem like you’ve traveled to another era.
Upon your arrival at this historic hotel, the owner, Terry, and his family will make you feel like you’ve entered the home of a long-lost friend. Terry is such a wealth of information that you’ll also be hard pressed to find a question about Penang that he can’t answer — otherwise, you will have to read one of these books on Malaysia.
Breakfast is included in the price, and it varies each morning depending on what each guest craves and what is available. If you’re interested in eating what the locals eat, you can sample a different dish every day of your stay. Western breakfasts are also available.
As the hotel is in a heritage house, rooms are simple, and many do not have windows. However, they’re very clean, air-conditioned, and comfortable. Although bathrooms are shared, they’re clean. Wifi is reliable. With reviewer ratings of over a 9 on many booking sites, this is a popular hotel, so reserve well in advance.
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 cosy 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.
13Jawi Peranakan Mansion
A bit removed from the Muntri/Love Lane/Chulia Street cluster of heritage-chic boutique digs, 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.
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.
Tucked in the middle of central and yet quiet Muntri Street, Muntri Mews is a stone 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.
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.
A solid option in Hutton Lane, in 5 minutes walking distance from Chulia Street and George Town’s UNESCO Heritage Site. It has large and well-lit rooms that make good use of wooden flooring, four-poster beds and beams for maximum heritage-chic effect. There’s a large restaurant on the premises, and the hotel’s two different wings are separated by a peaceful garden filled with plants and flowers. The hotel is decorated with plenty of original artworks, many completed by a number of talented artists who used to take up residencies here until a few years ago. A perfect place to soak heritage and art in style without breaking the bank.
17Reunion Heritage House
This heritage-styled Penang boutique hotel is housed inside a 100-odd-year-old pre-war shophouse. It was once a warehouse, built in Southern Chinese Eclectic Style by Mainland Chinese artisans around 1840, and was refurbished into this attractive and functional boutique hotel between 2014 and in 2016.
Reunion Heritage House has 14 rooms and suites that distinguish themselves thanks to their luxe and comfortable beddings, retro fittings and modern-chic touches — such as exposed brick walls and top of the range sofas and lounge chairs. It all pairs well with old world Merbau & Cenggal hardwood flooring and original ceiling beams. It’s in Victoria Street, not far away from the iconic Penang Clan Jetties, and in walking distance to Chulia Street.
18Ren I Tang
Once a Chinese pharmacy hall, this hotel is smack central in Little India, and peers over wafting curry bowls and colourful Saree shops from one of the principal street corners. On the ground floor, a cosy 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.
Exposed brick walls, industrial-chic touches and Chinese antiques make entering Sinkeh — which means “new arrival” in local Hokkien dialect, and refers to the Chinese migrants who once arrived in droves on the island — a grandiose affair. The spacious, high-ceilinged hall shelters another building where a cluster of few intimate rooms soar above a hall that’s often dedicated to live theater events and performances. Staying here, in rooms that blend industrial-chic furnishings with a sapient use of old wood panels and shutters, is made the more special by the fact guests will be able to meet and mingle with some of Penang’s artists and performers — the owner, Sek Tim, is an established Malaysian actor himself.
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20Yeng 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 ambience. Most rooms come with warm wood panelled 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.
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