Situated on the corner of Hutton Lane and Clarke Street in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Georgetown, Penang is a quaint picturesque building that could only be plucked out of a colonial painting. Framed with the red hues from its Chinese influenced colonial history, these row of terraced shop-houses from the late 1940s are a carefully restored project that has been turned into the the heritage and boutique hotel known as Hotel Penaga.
Upon entering the doors of this antiquated building, you are instantly drawn in to its old time art deco designs patterned throughout the hotel. The lobby itself is reminiscent of an old film, with its brown and red undertones, to its counters and doors framed with stained glass from the 1940s. Made of 15 pre-war terraces along Hutton Lane, Transfer Road and Clarke Street, this iconic building is a walk away from heritage buildings such temples, churches and not to mention the street food like the famous Nasi Dalca on Jalan Hutton which is a walk away.
The Hotel Penaga has been restored by Hijjas Kasturi and his wife Angela in 2008, as a pet project after the lot of 15 terraces were left to ruin. Most of the timber used throughout were sourced from other colonial buildings and the granite slabs in the garden were from the trade between China and Malaya. Angela’s saw potential through the decrepit false ceilings revealing a high timber ceiling showing potential. Most of the building were shops, and during the restoration process, they decided to restore the façade as far as possible. Hotel Penaga also is unique in many ways because it really gives you a throwback to what the Peranakan people would have lived in, peppered with modern art.
“Each room or suite is individually furnished with antique cabinets, benches and chairs. Softer seating of modern sofas and what we call “prima donnas”, the dramatic classics of mid-20th century furniture design, are also in every room. In every room there is an original piece or more from a well-known or emerging artist, as well as original natural history prints and maps that relate to Penang. The collection is growing all the time.” — Jessie Lau, Hotel Manager of Hotel Penaga.
Hotel Penaga Rooms
There are generally three types of rooms in Hotel Penaga, the Hutton Deluxe, Transfer Suites and Clarke Terrace Houses. Each of the rooms are furnished with unique antiques, and really just differ in size, and most importantly, a balcony.
Clarke Terrace Houses
The Clarke Terrace Houses are 2-bedroom terrace houses, with an internal staircase, equipped with a Jacuzzi, kitchen and an upper and lower living room area. Each room is equipped with traditional designs and modern amenities.
The Transfer Suites consist of 4 rooms which are equipped with 2 balconies each, and 4 rooms without balconies. Each room comes with a spacious living area with a separate Jacuzzi and shower.
The Hutton Deluxe is equipped with a decent living area, sofa, and Jacuzzi and shower. These rooms are available with or without a balcony.
Guest Room: Hutton Deluxe
The Hutton Deluxe, the ones with a balcony, comes equipped with its own king-sized double poster bed, and quite a large living space. Fitted with antique closets and table pieces, the room is really quite the throwback.
The balcony area is open with two chairs, a table and a sun deck chair which is quite relaxing at night in the comforts of your room. The big balcony windows also provide great lighting.
Each room comes with its own prima donna chairs, and in this room, it was an art deco piece which was made of yellow leather pieces. Quite striking on the eyes, and surprisingly comfortable to laze in.
The bathroom is fitted with a cosy Jacuzzi and quite a spacious shower area. The toiletries in the bathroom are locally made with fragrances and products of this region.
The Cinnamon Restaurant
Hotel Penaga caters to its clients who are looking for a simple and relaxing dining experience, and The Cinnamon makes that available with a buffet breakfast. This place also serves as a nice and simple eatery if you’re not looking to have something different from the local street food.
Opening Hours: 7.00 am to 11.00 pm
The Tanglung Bar sets the tone and ambiance for a nice evening drink whilst enjoying the facilities amenities of the hotel. Quite small and quaint, this place does put in that picturesque scene, reminiscent of a Wong Kar Wai’s A Mood for Love.
Opening Hours: 12.00 pm to 11.00 pm
The in-house spa uses local ingredients in their spa treatments, including the penaga tree, also known as the Acacia in English. The spa comes has 3 treatment rooms and is perfect for a relaxing experience in this nature-centric haven overlooking the inner Lorong that cuts through the hotel.
Opening Hours: 11.00 am to 8.00 pm
Library & Business Centre
A small library and business centre is also provided in the hotel, good for quick and small business meeting that do not require too much attention.
The hotel comes with an above ground salt water swimming pool right beside the Cinnamon Restaurant, another location where you can enjoy the greenery of the Lorong right beside or have a drink while you bask in the sun.
In Malaysia, many of the older homes were built with intimate back alleys which were colloquially called Lorongs after its Malay name. The garden at Hotel Penaga was once a 3 meter access lane, which was transformed into the lovely garden that it is today. The lorong was widened and made into an oasis in the centre of the hotel itself.
Sustainable Green Building
Hotel Penaga has been restored with the environment in mind, and this is seen by the salvaging of old materials form buildings that were demolished around Penang, from timber structures to floor tiles. New materials that were needed were made using 80 year old pressing techniques, as well as handmade bamboo mats from East Malaysia, patchwork kilims from Turkey, cow skin from China and sisal from India. The garden is peppered with all sorts of indigenous Malaysian flowers and trees and the swimming pool uses salt water to reduce chemical usage. The garden is watered using run off from the rooftops and the kitchens separate biodegradable materials. There are also 99 solar photovoltaic panels that generate electricity which is sold back to the national grid. They use LED bulbs primarily which automatically turns off when guests are not on the premises. Hotel Penaga is also the first heritage restoration in Malaysia with a green rating.
The Hotel Penaga Experience
A lot of attention and care has been given to the restoration of this hotel, and is especially suited for one who likes to be with nature. The attention to detail is quite remarkable, and is definitely for one who likes the reminisce and feel the nostalgia. The rooms have quite an old feel, and makes the perfect colonial holiday experience in the heart of Georgetown. When asked what types of additional service that Hotel Penaga provides, Lau stated : –
“We provide welcome drinks and cold towels for guest to refresh when they arrive at the Hotel as the Malaysian weather can be warm and guest that has been travelling all day must be tired. Besides that, we take the guests to the room and guide the guest on the room facilities like our complimentary mini bar and how to operate the Jacuzzi. We also provide special arrangements for honeymoon or anniversary couples. For birthday guests, we provide surprise birthday cakes and all of our Hotel staff will sing a birthday song for the guest. We also offer additional discount for our Hotel Guest when they go to the Penaga Spa as well.”
Hutton Lane (Jalan Hutton),
10050 George Town,
+604 261 1891
| PHOTOGRAPHY BY: NICHOLAS NG & HOTEL PENAGA | WEBSITE: HOTEL PENAGA |