Macalister Mansion

Facade Day - Macalister Mansion - Food For Thought

As you take a drive down Macalister Road in Georgetown, Penang, you will come across a picturesque and stately home in white. At first sight, this manor comes across as a beautiful colonial home that could easily be mistaken for a heritage museum. However, upon a second sight you will realise that you have just peered at Macalister Mansion, a restored boutique hotel with some of the best fine dining you will find in Malaysia, the perfect amalgamation of history and modernity.

Driveway - Macalister Mansion - Food For Thought

When you enter the driveway, you are greeted by none other than Sir Norman Macalister himself, in the shape of a polygonal head, one of Penang’s most well known British Governors from colonial Malaya. As you park your car, you will instantly be reminded of a whimsical tale, Alice in Wonderland. The perfectly trimmed hedges, surreal structures and pristine white surrounding brings to mind the perfect location for the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party in what is known as The Lawn, one of the dining venues available at Macalister Mansion.

Concierge - Macalister Mansion - Food For Thought

The restoration of the Macalister Mansion was spearheaded by Dato’ Sean H’ng and Datin Karen H’ng, who transformed this colonial gem into the modernist boutique hotel that it is today. This colonial building is over 100 years old and comes with its perfectly designed colonial fixtures such as a turret. The owners of this landmark were able to preserve the instantly recognisable façade of its colonial past, and when asked why of all the buildings to choose, why this one, he stated: –

“I was scouting for a place to lease for our restaurant and we leased the property initially. I jumped on the opportunity to acquire the property when it was offered to me and that was when I decided to turn it around to what it is today. I have tried to preserve as much as possible all the heritage elements of the property. But unfortunately when I acquired the building, it was already more like an abandoned building and most of the internal heritage elements such as the floor or wall are all gone and not even a piece of furniture was left.” — Dato’ Sean H’ng, Owner of Macalister Mansion.

Inner Courtyard - Macalister Mansion - Food For Thought

Macalister Mansion aims not to give you a good night sleep or a meal to fill your stomach, but an all encompassing experience. The hotel has only eight rooms which is aptly named the Eight Rooms with each room uniquely decorated and designed. The owners have also spared no dime when it comes to the intricacies of attention to detail in each and every one of its 8 Rooms, as well as their dining venues, aptly named the Living Room, the Dining Room, The Cellar, The Den and The Lawn.

Floor Plan - Macalister Mansion - Food For Thought

Macalister Mansion 8 Rooms

Each of the eight rooms incorporate very distinctive designs, some with special features and art pieces. For example, Room 1 is the bridal suite, a room with a floor to ceiling mirror, and an adequate wardrobe for all the necessities of a wedding, Room 3 comes with a long balcony, perfect for those who enjoy a bit of sun, Room 4 with its turret, Room 5 and Room 6 with separate study areas, Room 8 with exposed trussed beams.

Room 1 - Macalister Mansion - Food For Thought

Room 1 (The Bridal Suite)

Room 2 - Macalister Mansion - Food For Thought

Room 2

Room 3 - Macalister Mansion - Food For Thought

Room 3

Room 4 - Macalister Mansion - Food For Thought

Room 4

Room 5 - Macalister Mansion - Food For Thought

Room 5

Room 6 - Macalister Mansion - Food For Thought

Room 6

Room 7 - Macalister Mansion - Food For Thought

Room 7

Room 8 - Macalister Mansion - Food For Thought

Room 8

Each of the 8 rooms have very distinct interior designs from minute aesthetics to personalised needs, for example Room 1 having ample space for all the bridal needs of a wedding banquet. When asked what inspired this, Dato’ H’ng said: –

“No real reason. When you have only 8 rooms to fill, we have the option to make each different rather than duplicate one master design. One key difference we introduced is the use of different artwork for each room that is of different mediums, i.e., photography, oil painting, paper, ceramic and others.”  

Room 4 Bed - Macalister Mansion - Food For Thought

Review: Room 4

Room 4 is probably one of the most spacious and well designed rooms you will come across. It also adjoins to Room 5, which is perfect for families who choose to have some intimacy from their children that are accessible in the room beside. It really is one of the most beautiful rooms in the mansion with its turret that leads all the way up to the top.

Room 4 Antique Staircase - Macalister Mansion - Food For Thought

The turret is accessible by a most beautiful wrought-iron antique staircase. The base of the turret makes a pleasant reading space and the top of the turret also makes the perfect romantic spot with a great view.

Room 4 Norman Macalister - Macalister Mansion - Food For Thought

The art in Room 4 is a wire sculpture created by Penangite Low Chee Peng, a side profile of Sir Norman Macalister and his wife gazing into each other.

Room 4 Bathroom - Macalister Mansion - Food For Thought

The bathroom is laid with beautiful grey and white tiles and comes with two free standing showers, a bath tub and a separate toilet. The bathroom is also fitted with illuminated mirrors and basins and a host of toiletries from H2O giving you a luxurious home spa experience right in your own room.

Room Keys - Macalister Mansion - Food For Thought

The facilities and amenities in the room are all made of perfectly selected products, from its ornamented room key, Muji stationery with its simplistic designs, to the Smart TV which you can access the internet using the wireless keyboard provided. The room bar is also a perfect example of the needs of visitors, as they stock TWG tea, a Nespresso coffee maker, San Plegrino juices, and a host of M&M’s, Green Tea Kit Kat, and the local Beh Teh Saw, also known as Chinese Horseshoe Biscuits. The great thing is when you leave to get your room cleaned up, they set a macaroon as a nice gesture when you get back. One of the best features of the rooms here is the Room Service menu which is created from the Dining Room. In addition to that, your bed is lined with 400 thread count cotton bedsheets and 80% goose down feather pillows, and if that’s not enough, you can choose off the bespoke Pillow Menu. Macalister Mansion really have spared no expense to bring to you luxury unlike any other. When asked what is Macalister Mansion’s philosophy when it comes to service they replied: –

“Guests are always our top priority and our goal is to provide them a home-away-from-home service.Thoughtful attention to details and a warm, friendly relationship with guests are what we always aim for.” — Connie Lam, Hotel Manager.

Living Room - Macalister Mansion - Food For Thought

Living Room

The Living Room is decorated like a whimsical Victorian inside out garden plucked out of Alice in Wonderland. With pastel green and white motifs running through its entirety, this place is the perfect place to have coffee with a business associate or high tea with family and loved ones.

Opening Hours: 8.00 am to 10.00 pm.

The Lawn - Macalister Mansion - Food For Thought

The Lawn

The Lawn is really an extension of the Living Room, basically for those who prefer an outdoor setting with the comforts of a quality tea service. The best part about the lawn is that in the day, it serves as a nice outdoor café, and at night, a nice place to enjoy a cocktail under the stars.

Opening Hours: Upon request.

Interior - Macalister Mansion - Food For Thought

Dining Room

The Dining Room at Macalister Mansion houses probably one of the best fine dining restaurants you will come across, not only in Penang, but Malaysia. This restaurant is helmed by Executive Chef Eric Heijkoop and serves modern global cuisine. A must try.

Opening Hours: 7.00 pm to 11.00 pm, Tuesdays to Sundays.

For further information about the Chef, please see our Interview with Eric Heijkoop.
For current review, see our review of Dining Room Winter 2015 by Macaslister Mansion.
For previous review, see our review of Dining Room by Macaslister Mansion.

The Cellar - Macalister Mansion - Food For Thought

The Cellar

The Cellar is a lounge and wine bar that carries over 180 labels of wine from all over the world, 6 of which is sold by the glass, quite possibly the largest collection in Penang, which makes a perfect place to host a night out with friends and business associates in a regal setting.

Opening Hours: 5.00 pm to 1.00 am on Monday to Thursdays and Sundays, and to 2.00 am on Friday and Saturdays.

The Den - Macalister Mansion - Food For Thought

The Den

The great thing about Macalister Mansion is that not only does it have its own wine bar, it has its own whiskey bar too. The Den stocks Single Malt whiskeys, and is the only place in Penang that stocks Single Cask Whiskeys. For the luxury minded, there is also a nice selection of fine cigars for your choosing.

Opening Hours: 5.00 pm to 1.00 am on Monday to Thursdays and Sundays, and to 2.00 am on Friday and Saturdays.

Swimming Pool & Bar - Macalister Mansion - Food For Thought

The Swimming Pool & Bar

Macalister Mansion also provides its guests with a stunning swimming pool that comes equipped with a bar right at the pool with a nice selection of cocktails for your enjoyment.

Norman Macalister - Macalister Mansion - Food For Thought

The Art

One thing you will notice about Macalister Mansion is that it carries many interesting art pieces throughout the hotel. Each and every of the hotel rooms have individual art pieces that have been privately commissioned by local and foreign artists. The art pieces are all well thought out from the fabric collage depicting the façade of Macalister Mansion by Lee Meiling in Room 3, to the three dimensional art piece called the Tartan Cube by Grace Tan in room 7 made with the colours of the Macalister Clan as a nod to Macalister’s Scottish ancestry. All the art pieces are made to evoke a sense of modernity with great respect to tradition. When asked what his favourite piece of art was and what set them apart from other heritage hotels in Penang, Dato’ H’ng replied: –

“It’s hard to pin down any favourite. But I always like the antique staircase of Room 4 and the timber truss of the roof in some rooms. I also believe we set the trend for the boutique hotel scene in Penang incorporating the old with the new, mainly maintaining the heritage building on the exterior but introducing contemporary elements and modern comfort. Most of the heritage hotels in Penang tend to replicate the heritage or rustic look for their interior.”

The Macalister Mansion Hotel Experience

There is a reason that you should stay at a hotel like Macalister Mansion, not just because you are looking for a good night’s sleep, but an entire experience. You can wake up to a nice breakfast at The Lawn, have a nice fine dining experience at the Dining Room and have high tea at the Living Room. It really is made to feel like the home you wish you had.

For a complete travel experience, see our Ultimate Guide: Penang Street Food.

Macalister Mansion
228, Macalister Road,
10400 George Town,
+604 228 3888


Nicholas Ng

Nicholas Ng is a restaurant critic, travelogue and opinion columnist which is curated on Food For Thought. He has been a freelance writer for 10 years and has previously worked as a lawyer. He currently is the Principal Counsultant of A Thoughtfull Consultancy.


    • Haha. Yes! They have green tea kit kat in the rooms. I was very pleasantly surprised.

      • Is it only temporary or all year round? The rooms look so nice! I want to spend a night there during Christmas. Hahaha

  1. We went past it the last time we were visiting Penang. The head caught our attention.

  2. I’ve been waiting to go for a long time but my husband won’t take me. huhuhu.

  3. This looks like a great place for a weekend getaway. Do you know how much does a night cost?

    • Depends on which room you take. The different rooms have different rates from anywhere between RM900+ to RM1300+. Around there.

  4. The rooms look so gorgeous! Wish I had my wedding reception there. Too bad that was years ago. 🙂

    • That’s such a shame. I know they do wedding receptions and I can imagine it to be absolutely beautiful in the Dining Room.

  5. Nice review! Thanks for sharing. This would be handy when I come visit Malaysia next year.

  6. I’ve been hearing a lot about the dining room. Need to try soon! Thanks for sharing.

    • The Dining Room is amazing. One of the best Fine Dining restaurants I’ve been to in Malaysia.

  7. I’ve heard of the high tea at the living room from my friends in KL. Will have a look the next time I’m in Penang. How is the high tea there?

    • I’ve not reviewed the Living Room high tea but I’ve had a taste of the Tiramisu Lollipop which is amazing. Maybe I’ll review the Living Room the next time I’m in Penang. 🙂

  8. I’ve passed by this place several times when I was in Penang but never had the chance to actually stay in it. The place clearly looks amazing and very historical. The Lawn looks amazing as well and oh that Dining Room! Just the perfect place to host an event/wedding

    • Yeah, definitely worth a visit Miriam. You should pop by for dinner the next time.

  9. I love the dining hall the most. And yes. It is so Alice In Wonderland that I was half expecting to see a bunny and a cat’s head to appear anywhere in your pictures.
    I wonder how much is the rent for any of the room?

  10. Never been to this place. After looking at the pics wanna go there to see. But not sure when to go yet as my dear so busy scheduled his work.

  11. Macalister Mansion looks exceptionally luxurious! How I wish I could spend a night there too!

  12. I’ve been there once for a reunion dinner..

    very very pretty place. Go there for their afternoon teas, heard its awesome

  13. Beautiful beyond wonders. I’ve always wanted to stay there but it’s too pricey, hope to have my wedding there hihi

    • I think it can be a bit pricey for a wedding, but is definitely worth it. Gorgeous ambience.

  14. Thanks for sharing this.. I was at the Macalister Mansion for tea the other day and was wondering how the rest of the place looked like, especially the rooms.. This sure answers my questions…

  15. Oh Gosh, this place like heaven. SO beautiful and the design so attractive. It like we in new era. Thanks for sharing this.

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