“When can i next return?!” I keep asking myself.
It was one of those weekend escapes that you often dream about, whilst at work…..on a Monday…..when it’s raining outside. The perfect mix of relaxing in the sun, exploring the streets of old town, eating delicious food, discovering awesome cafes, and wishing I could stay longer, and just … enjoy.
We spent our 2 nights at the Eastern & Oriental Hotel in Georgetown. The hotel is a beautiful colonial design with two buildings side by side on the property – the original colonial building, and a newer building which retains the same decor and charm of the colonial era. We were allocated a room in the new building, and absolutely loved the spacious living area, comfy bed, and giant bath tub.
There are also two pools on the property which guests can use regardless of which building you are staying in. The original building has a lovely ground floor outdoor pool along the shoreline which attracts the afternoon sun. The newer building has an infinity pool on level 3 (from memory), a beautiful place to stare out over the sea. We switched between pools as the sun moved from morning to afternoon, to ensure we got our daily dose of vitamin D.
Although at the pricier end of the Penang scale, the quality of this hotel is absolutely worth the price paid. Breakfast was included in our room price and we awoke to an amazing spread each day – a great mix of western and asian options – best to load up for the big day of exploring ahead. Don’t forget to take advantage of the “happy hour” which includes all-you-can-eat canapés and free drinks each afternoon by the infinity pool.
See / Do
Follow the Street Art walking trail. Georgetown has really awesome street art and you can do a walking trail around the old part of town that takes in the highlights. It’s a great way to see the town and there’s lots of options to head off the trail and explore the shops and coffee houses nearby – its also an easy way to get your bearings! We downloaded the Penang tourism board map to locate the artworks.
Sign up for a cooking class with Pearly Kee, who is somewhat of a celebrity Chef on the Island. Pearly Kee is known for her expert Nyonya recipes and has many a cookbook to prove it. Sadly we did not have enough time to fit this in to our weekend away this visit but it came highly recommended from friends. Find out more about the classes available on Pearly’s website.
China House (153 Lebuh Pantai) is a compound of heritage buildings that are home to several unique spaces. An art gallery supporting local artists, a bookstore, coffee shop, restaurant, cozy wine bar, a pretty outdoor courtyard, a stage where bands perform and more! The bakery is famous for its array of 30+ cakes which all look amazing and are hard to resist. You can also buy Pearly Kee cookbooks from the furniture / homeware store next door!
Penang street foods to you MUST try:
- Wanton Mee – dry style pork with noodles and dumplings
- Assam Laksa – local Penang style laksa which is sweet, sour and spicy
- Tiger Char Kway Teow – king prawn with stir fried rice noodles
We went for lunch Kafe Ping Hooi (181 Lebuh Carnarvon) and ate a feast. The Wanton Mee and Tiger Char Kway Teow were both utterly delicious and super cheap – a second plate to share between all was required!
For dinner we went to the highly popular Tek Sen Restaurant (18 Lebuh Carnarvon). I recommend arriving about 30 mins before you’d actually like to be sitting down for dinner, as there is often a queue to get a table. It’s well worth the wait though, and the time passes quickly as you get the chance to browse the menu and place your order so that by the time you sit down your order is ready and brought to your table piping hot! Highly recommend ordering the pork belly, fried popcorn chicken, and homemade tofu (which is stewed in a claypot with an assortment of vegetables and submerged in a fragrant gravy-like sauce). Absolute deliciousness!!!
For our second night we had dinner at the trendy China House restaurant (as mentioned above). With a great cocktail menu and a selection of finely presented local cuisine it makes for a nice night out. Order the Laksa, you won’t regret it!
Georgetown is a coffee lovers delight. Our favourite cafe discovery was Spacebar Coffee @ Awesome Canteen, located just just behind the back entrance to China House on Victoria Street. The cafe has a beautiful industrial open space which has the feel of a courtyard garden, making it a perfect space to hang out with friends or just to spend a couple of hours relaxing here. It also helps that they have delicious coffee – it was such a hot day that I opted for their specialty pre-bottled honey iced latte and it certainly hit the spot.
We stumbled across Wa-kao cafe on Beach Street at the exact moment we were about to melt in the sizzling afternoon sun. Wa-Kao is an ice creamery and desert cafe in a gorgeous colonial building which also doubles as an art space upstairs. With blasting cool aircon and creative ice cream concoctions it was the perfect discovery. We met the owner of the cafe who let us taste various flavours before decided on our orders.
A good place to grab a night cap – choose from the many bars along or just off Love Lane.