It’s no secret Malaysians love their food. More so in Penang, where the mere mention of the destination will have locals reeling off their favourite dishes and the best places to eat them.

Its capital city, George Town, is a colourful, fascinating blend of colonial, Indian, Malay and immigrant Chinese culture that has not just influenced its cuisine, but its architecture, which is a charming hodgepodge of crumbling British colonial buildings, Chinese shophouses, temples and mosques.

Now a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site, spend your days wandering the city’s quaint alleys before heading to one of the many bustling hawker centres to get your fill of char kway teow, that ubiquitous and delicious stir-fried noodle dish.



On the banks of the Andaman Sea, the pearl of Penang is the Eastern & Oriental Hotel, which was founded in the 1800s by the Sarkies brothers (behind Raffles in Singapore and The Strand in Yangon). A favourite for a kaleidoscope of VIPs, from Rudyard Kipling to American actor Douglas Fairbanks, the property is divided into two complexes: the Heritage Wing (the original tower), which houses 100 suites, while the Victory Annexe, a newer block built in 2013, is home to 122 guestrooms. With the historic core of George Town right on your doorstep, there’s lots to see, do and eat. Just make sure to come back to the hotel for traditional afternoon tea at 1885.

Seven Terraces

Occupying a row of carefully restored pre-war shophouses, Seven Terraces is a grand tribute to the past with plenty of period details from tall, wooden doors to traditional winding staircases. Within the centre of historical George Town, just around the corner from the Guan Yin temple and the hawker stalls of Chulia Street, the hotel’s faultless location is hard to beat. After exploring the city, head back for a lazy afternoon of laps in the small pool, complimentary afternoon tea and a flick through the books that are on hand, before tucking into the delicious Indochinese dishes at the hotel’s Kebaya restaurant.

Hotel Jen

Located a short stride from the city’s downtown UNESCO World Heritage Zone with its cultural jumble of Chinese temples and bustling markets, Hotel Jen brings its own brand of colour and energy to the city’s accommodation offerings. Book a room that has access to the club lounge, where all-day snacks are served, and make sure to start your day at Café Jen, which comes complete with a make-your-own noodle cart.

Macalister Mansion

Named after Colonel Norman Macalister, who governed the area 200 years ago, Macalister Mansion has been a labour of love for husband-and-wife owners Dato Sean and Datin Karen H’ng. Restaurateurs by background, the duo have made a successful foray into hospitality with a dazzlingly offbeat interior full of unexpected twists by Colin Seah of Singapore’s Ministry of Design. While reinstating the building’s former grandeur and sympathetically preserving its original elements, Seah has managed to give each room a different design story, from chrome canopies and Bisazza-tiled bathrooms to painted-iron spiral staircases and sculptural art. Naturally, the restaurants have been given equal focus and the mosaic pool offers guests the option of swimming up to the bar for a drink.

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