Go Beyond Luxury With Penang's Coolest Hotels

Photo of Daniel Stables
24 June 2021

With its vibrant blend of cultures, world-beating street food and high-end hotels, Malaysia’s melting-pot state beside the Malacca Strait boasts some seriously cool places to stay.

Penang’s intoxicating blend of Malay, Chinese and Indian cultures has produced some of the most beautiful architecture in Malaysia. No surprise then, that the northern state is home to some of the nation’s most striking accommodation options. From tropical resorts tucked away on hillsides to Chinese shophouses converted into contemporary hotels, Penang offers a selection box of cool places to stay. Let’s take a look at some of the best – all bookable with Culture Trip.

Ren i Tang Heritage Inn

Inn
Ren i Tang Heritage Inn
Courtesy of Ren i Tang Heritage Inn / Expedia
Housed in a beautiful wooden-shuttered Chinese shophouse, this hotel retains original 19th-century design features like recycled wood, restored furniture and antique rugs. As befits such a historic building, there’s a museum on-site exhibiting household items left behind from its original incarnation as a medical supplier, while the peaceful herb garden is a lovely spot to relax. Refreshing fruit juices are on offer at Bistro Tang, while local handicrafts are available to buy at the in-house boutique.
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Fig Tree Hill Resort

Resort
Fig Tree Hill Resort
Courtesy of Fig Tree Hill Resort / Expedia
As the name suggests, this hotel is set on a verdant hill overflowing with tropical greenery. Blending into the organic surroundings are a collection of wooden villas, beautifully carved in the traditional Malay style. An outdoor pool and gym facilities mean there are plenty of opportunities to get a workout in, while every villa has its own karaoke machine, so you can sing the evening away.
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Spices Hotel

Boutique Hotel
4.3/5 (102 Reviews)
Spices Hotel
Courtesy of Spices Hotel / Expedia
From $58 Per night per room
A renovated collection of four age-old shophouses in George Town’s Unesco-listed historic core, this property’s grand old age – over 200 years – is best symbolised by the huge tree that grows through one of the exterior walls. Rooms have a tasteful design that fits with the historic feel, while the old jetties, buildings and vibrant street art of central George Town are right on your doorstep.
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23 Love Lane

Boutique Hotel
4.6/5 (171 Reviews)
23 LoveLane, Penang
Courtesy of 23 LoveLane, Penang / Expedia
From $85 Per night per room
With a lovely name befitting a heartfelt hotel, this property sits in an 1800s Chinese building and has lovely wooden beams and four-poster beds in the supremely comfortable rooms. Cocktails on the Chinese Indian Terrace, overlooking the tiled roofs of George Town, are a fantastic way to begin an evening, while the Anglo Indian Bungalow features a cosy library where you can get stuck into a book or enjoy a board game.
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Noordin Mews

Hotel
Noordin Mews
Courtesy of Noordin Mews / Booking.com
This property elegantly wears its 1920s heritage with a wooden staircase, colourful tiled floors and four-poster beds. An outdoor pool and shaded garden are on hand to help you relax, while breakfasts in the fan-cooled cafe include classic local dishes like roti canai (Indian-influenced flatbread). The staff will happily advise you on nearby street food, which includes some of the best in Southeast Asia – be sure to try the local speciality, asam laksa (a Malay fish-based rice noodle soup).
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The Prestige Hotel

Hotel
4.6/5 (253 Reviews)
Prestige Hotel Penang
Courtesy of Prestige Hotel Penang / Expedia
From $73 Per night per room
Prestigious by name, prestigious by nature; this five-star property has a beautiful Art Deco design complete with brass fittings, cube-like showers and mod cons such as Nespresso machines and smart TVs in every room. The Glasshouse restaurant sits within a Victorian arcade and features a wide-ranging menu, from slow-roasted Korean gochujang chicken to Malay classics like nasi lemak (a rice dish cooked in coconut milk) – though the highlight is the lavish afternoon tea. A number of other cafes, restaurants and boutiques also sit within the arcade.
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Seven Terraces

Boutique Hotel
4.7/5 (178 Reviews)
Seven Terraces
Courtesy of Seven Terraces / Expedia
From $106 Per night per room
Seven Terraces is a boutique hotel set in a row of 19th-century Anglo-Chinese terraces. Designed by hoteliers Karl Steinberg and Christopher Ong, winners of the 2006 Unesco Award of Distinction for heritage conservation, the hotel gracefully balances contemporary flourishes with traditional Peranakan architecture. The suites encircle a rectangular granite courtyard, which is brightened by beds of frangipani. Guests enter through a grand gilded door inlaid with mother-of-pearl, stepping into a lobby decorated with antique furniture and blue-and-white porcelain pieces. Rooms feature carved Chinese beds, recycled timber flooring and lavish embroidered silks.
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The Lone Pine Hotel

Boutique Hotel
4.2/5 (992 Reviews)
Lone Pine Boutique Hotel
Courtesy of Lone Pine Hotel / Expedia
From $166 Per night per room
The Lone Pine Hotel offers an attractive blend of traditional charm and contemporary elegance. The hotel originally opened in 1948 as a small, family-run hotel consisting of ten rooms. The hotel takes its name from a single casuarina tree found on the property, which Australian owner Dr. Albert S. McKern initially mistook for a pine tree. Expanded in the 1950s, the hotel was completely renovated in 2010 and a new building was added to supplement the original rooms. The result is simple, understated and modern yet with a distinct nostalgic appeal. Located on Batu Ferringhi Beach, all rooms face the Andaman Sea. Deluxe rooms include plunge baths located on private balconies, while premier rooms feature a secluded patio or courtyard.
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Muntri Mews

Hotel
Muntri Mews
Courtesy of Muntri Mews / Expedia
Muntri Mews is a sophisticated hotel whose design aims to maintain the building’s clean lines and simple functionality while also incorporating comfortable, modern touches. Inspired by George Town’s unique heritage, the rooms blend Chinese, Malay and European influences whilst antique furniture and quirky decorations compliment views of the hotel’s private garden to make for a bright, inviting ambiance.
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Malihom Private Estate

Hotel
Map View
Malihom Private Estate
Courtesy of Malihom Private Estate / Expedia
Malihom Private Estate’s eight rustic villa-style rooms are actually repurposed rice barns brought from Chiang Mai, Thailand. Each barn’s private gardens and decks are made from unused wooden railway ties and several rooms feature open bathrooms with views of the surrounding gardens. Aside from the hotel’s creative use of reclaimed materials, the barns are set 1,500ft (457m) above sea level with each offering views across to the mainland or out towards the ocean. Trails wind through the hotel’s 40-acre (16ha) estate, perfect places for strolling or bird watching.

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  • The Blue Mansion

    Hotel
    4.6/5 (299 Reviews)
    Cheong Fatt Tze
    Courtesy of Cheong Fatt Tze / Expedia
    From $74 Per night per room
    One of Penang’s finest heritage buildings, The Blue Mansion, is set in a two-story courtyard house that once belonged to Cheong Fatt Tze. Built in the 19th century, the building’s bright blue exterior makes it impossible to miss. Blending Asian and European styles, Cheong Fatt Tze chose to construct his residence on this specific spot because of its excellent feng shui. The interior is a beguiling mix of art nouveau stained glass panels, russet brick walls and Gothic louvre windows, not to mention a collection of carvings, sculptures and tapestries. Each of the guesthouse rooms features a distinct style, such as the Tang Room, which is located in an area that once served as the residence’s kitchen.
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    Macalister Mansion

    Hotel
    4.6/5 (47 Reviews)
    Macalister Mansion, George Town
    Courtesy of Macalister Mansion / Expedia
    From $240 Per night per room
    Macalister Mansion is located in the former home of Sir Norman Macalister, Lieutenant-Governor of Penang (then known as Prince of Wales Isle) during the 19th century. Each of the hotel’s eight rooms is decorated with white tones, leaving the focus on carefully chosen art pieces inspired by the life story of Sir Macalister. Unlike many of Penang’s restored heritage homes, the furnishings at Macalister Mansion are distinctly modern. Room Two features a photograph of the eagle sculpture found at the hotel’s entrance, a commission by local photographer Howard Tan, while Room Seven includes a red and green piece designed to resemble a Scottish tartan with its intersecting vertical and horizontal bands.
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    Museum Hotel

    Boutique Hotel
    4.4/5 (495 Reviews)
    Museum Hotel
    Courtesy of Museum Hotel / Expedia
    From $41 Per night per room

    Set in a restored early 20th-century building, each room at Museum Hotel features a unique design. For example, the Ba Bao room takes its name from the eight traditional Chinese symbols for good luck and features old English brass light switches and colonial-era furniture, while the Colonial Suite is furnished with blue glass chandeliers, an art deco-inspired bar cooler and a late 19th-century snooker table. Guests at this hotel also have exclusive access to the owner’s private antique collection, which includes an 18th-century ivory carving depicting Buddha’s head and a lacquer altar box dating back to the 19th century.

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    Coffee Atelier

    Hotel
    Coffee Atelier
    Courtesy of Coffee Atelier / Expedia
    Coffee Atelier has transformed five traditional shophouses into roomy, loft-style guestrooms. Although the antique furniture decorating the carefully restored rooms is worth noting, the real draw of this hotel is the other features found on-site. There’s Gehrig Gallery, where guests can check owner Stefan Gehrig’s collection of Malaysian and Southeast Asian art. Admission is free and the gallery occasionally hosts exhibitions by local and international artists. The building also encompasses the Kopi Museum, which is dedicated to the site’s former life as the Kim Guan Coffee shop. The museum is home to old-fashioned pulleys, paddles and wood-fired stoves once used to roast coffee beans.
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    G Hotel

    Hotel
    4.4/5 (999 Reviews)
    G Hotel Gurney, George Town
    Courtesy of G Hotel / Expedia
    From $105 Per night per room
    G Hotel is a sleek design offering overlooking Penang’s famous Gurney Drive. The hotel’s bright lobby is decorated with designer furniture, including Kartell’s Spoon Chair and Capellini’s lacquered Felt Chairs, both of which combine ergonomic comfort with modern design. The hotel features polished, minimalist decor throughout, with geometric designs and bold blocks of color. The Executive Suites’ thoughtful design subtly separates workspaces from leisure ones, while the Tree Bar softens the atmosphere with Mother Nature motifs and greenery.
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    Hotel Penaga

    Boutique Hotel
    4.3/5 (374 Reviews)
    Hotel Penaga
    Courtesy of Hotel Penaga / Expedia
    Hotel Penaga is a gorgeous fusion of modern luxury and Malay heritage, set in a collection of two-story terraced houses and shophouses dating back to the 1920s. Rooms feature colorful Cambodian bedspreads, deco pendant lamps, floral prints and cowhide rugs. The eye-catching art deco lobby is furnished with stained-glass windows, timber furniture and smart black-and-white floor tiles. The building centers on a gorgeous garden of hibiscus and jasmine, along with more than 30 other local plants collected by Australian owner Angela Hijjas and her husband. Adding to the already-artistic atmosphere, the owners often temporarily feature pieces by visiting artists around the hotel.
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    Jessica Dawdy contributed additional reporting.

    These recommendations were updated on June 24, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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