It is a measure of any hotel or resort how far you feel your jaw drop when you first walk into the room you have been given at Reception. That feeling (or its absence) sets the tone for the rest of your stay, no matter how short or long. The resorts and hotels which we represent for sales and marketing in the UK have many facilities aside from the room – beach, pool, spa, restaurant(s), bar(s), fitness centre, library are the most common – and all may have played a part in your choice of resort but, at the end of the day, it all comes down to your room – your private space.
No matter where we go to client hotels and resorts we have an edge – we have been looking at photos for months. So, we have a good feel for the place. When we walked into the Lobby at Hotel Penaga, George Town it looked much as we expected from the photos, although the welcome was very much warmer than any photograph can portray. Even in evening, the cooling towels and cold juice on arrival were very welcome after the short ride from the airport. From registering we were taken to a surprisingly modern lift and taken to our rooms. The corridors are elegant and tasteful – we had only seen a photo of these a few weeks before – and then we entered our rooms. The effect was just as any hotelier should hope it would be. I stood gawping at the inside of the room for what felt like 5 minutes before heading off to explore and to verify that what I had seen in photographs really looked as good as this.
We each had a Hutton Deluxe Room with Balcony. The size of the rooms is surprising but you also immediately notice the elegance and the space. This is a heritage boutique hotel and one of the many things which sets it apart from your “could be anywhere” chain hotel is that every room is slightly different in furnishing and in decor. Another is that the furnishings are a mix of sometimes dark, antique, hardwood Asian furniture (sourced from a variety of Chinese and other outlets) and some level of contemporary and that the mix works – not least because the tilt back chair and sofa in my room were exceptionally comfortable.
It makes a difference to first impressions that the four poster bed is very well put together with high quality linen and a subtle throw. Every bathroom is spacious, has a jacuzzi bath and rain shower and nice touches, such as a phone and high quality toiletries. Walking out onto the balcony, I found myself overlooking the lovely garden that has been created between the hotel buildings and the lap pool. The Hotel Penaga comprises what were once 1920’s terraced houses and shophouses and were lovingly converted in 2008 into a hotel by the owners – a well known Malaysian architect and his environmentalist wife – incorporating many original elements and, where those were not available, such as roof tiles, having them made in the same place and the same way that they originally were. Despite all of this, the large modern flat screen TV with cable channels and very good WiFi do not seem out of place.
The Cinnamon – the hotel restaurant – serves a great breakfast and, we believe, superb lunch and dinner. We were in George Town – considered the food capital of South East Asia – for just 2 days, so did not want to miss out on the many varied options available along the elegant and elegant streets of this fascinating city. George Town is a melting pot of British colonial, Chinese, Indian and Malay influences and you will fall across these at every turn. This part of Penang is an island and George Town a city of historical significance which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and well worth incorporating into your trip to Malaysia or to South East Asia.
Jessie Lau, Hotel Penaga’s Sales Manager, kindly drove us to the bay overlooking the Malacca Strait. We walked some of the way back and kept on walking, fascinated by a city where the 3 major influences blend without it seeming in the least strange that you fall across a Hindu temple in Chinatown, Chinese temples in Little India or a original British colonial building dwarfed by modern western developments. Of course, the city is also well known for its stunning street art, some of which we were able to see.
Back to the hotel in the early evening, the jacuzzi was a great way to soothe my tired feet whilst Joaquin took a turn in the glass walled lap pool, between the restaurant and the terrace. Then we explored the gardens and found the Penaga Spa, wishing we had maybe gone straight there for a massage. Later, we enjoyed more of that exotic street food at Red Garden – a vast collection of street food stalls where you can pick and choose whatever you fancy and enjoy live music.
Hotel Penaga has a great range of room types, each of which Jessie showed to us, from our 40 square meter Hutton Rooms, to 60 to 70 square meters Transfer Suites and, ideal for families, 140 square meters of Clark Terraces – original houses fully refurbished but left intact, each with 2 bedrooms and bathrooms upstairs and the houses on a lovely colonnade of their own, slightly separated from the other hotel buildings. Last but far from least, the Penaga Suite, also ideal for families, is a 1st floor apartment in the main buildings with two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a lounge.
With The Tanglung Bar, a library and a business centre, in addition to the pool, spa and other facilities already mentioned, Hotel Penaga really does make a superb base for touring George Town – a cultural, culinary and architectural melting pot – and our experience of our stay in this jaw-dropping hotel make us even better placed to represent it for sales and marketing in the UK.