A restored 1885 hotel, a polished beach resort, a reimagined British Colonial mansion, and a rock ‘n’ roll brand’s kid-friendly offshoot are the top luxury hotels in Penang.
The 100-room, historic Eastern & Oriental Hotel has been in operation since the height of the British Empire when George Town was an important harbor and trading hub. Known locally as the E&O, its colonial pedigree sets it apart from other five-pearl hotels, but it also has a fully modern all-suite addition with private balconies and rainfall showers. The doormen in white knee socks and pith helmets help sell the period experience, and it is one of Malaysia's top romantic spots, thanks to its rich atmosphere, two elegant pools, and fine dining.
Shangri-La's Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa caters to adults looking for all the trappings of a beachfront resort, but in a more refined environment that makes serious attempts to corral small children and gym shorts in designated areas. The vast 30-acre garden grounds and adult-only Rasa wing make it even more inviting for romantic couples. Rates (and dress codes) are less restrictive in its Garden wing building, but guests there can't use all the facilities. Rooms in both sections are large and contemporary, but the views can be mixed.
With its grand white exterior and stunning designer interiors, the four-pearl Macalister Mansion is a special merger of Penang's British Colonial legacy with a luxury lifestyle experience. Guests can live like pampered lords in the eight unique rooms, each with their own architectural quirks and commissioned artwork. Proper amenities can be found in appropriate places throughout the mansion, from inventive tasting menus in the Dining Room, to a stylish wine bar in The Cellar, to a sleek outdoor pool on The Lawn. It's a bit far from the main attractions, but this 100-year-old mansion is a destination unto itself.
The luxurious Hard Rock Hotel Penang caters to families with all-ages pampering and nonstop entertainment. The chain outpost blends its familiar rock 'n' roll branded theme with kid-friendly amenities, and has a prime location along a sandy stretch of Batu Ferringhi Beach. Waterslides are shouting distance from thatched-roof poolside cabanas, and with six bars and restaurants, refreshments are always within easy reach. The rooms have rainfall showers, while suites add access to a VIP lounge with free breakfast.