When you are living in hotels for months on end, the last thing you want to do is stay in more than one in the same city. I have to pack my bag enough times already, thank you very much. So you can imagine the amount of convincing it took for us to leave our sleek haven at G Hotel Gurney to spend the rest of our time in Penang at their sister hotel, G Hotel Kelawai. It was just a short buggy ride round the corner, but I didn’t see much point… surely they would be the same? They’re similar but definitely not the same. As an elder sister, it’s not really in my nature to admit this but sometimes our younger sisters are much cooler than we are. It is true for me, and it seems, for G Hotel Gurney too. At Kelawai, there is a distinctly different atmosphere – the focus is less about business and more about leisure!
G Hotel Kelawai opened its glossy doorsonly a couple of years ago and brought another level of style to the Gurney area. Its location is just as good as its sister property, with easy access to popular malls and food outlets, however it is far more intimate with fewer rooms and cosier spaces. The team said we would like it better and while it initially felt disloyal to G Hotel Gurney to admit it, we did… the more relaxed atmosphere and laid back vibe at Kelawai was more in line with our travel style, and as a result we felt more at home here!
Since being named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008, the little city of Melaka has seen itself transform into quite the darling of the Malaysian tourist scene. The people are coming in droves to explore the history, culture, and cuisine of Melaka and as a result more and more hotels seem to be popping up all over town. In the midst of the old stalwarts, international chains, and boutique guesthouses, is Rosa Malacca. This new property is a rare gem that provides both the friendly, welcoming atmosphere of a cosy boutique hotel and the stylish, modern design of the larger chains – the perfect combination, if you ask me.
Rosa Malacca is located away from the busy streets of Jonker Walk, which we found to be more of a blessing than a curse. It’s only a brisk fifteen minute stroll or short Uber ride away, but once you step through their huge double doors, you will feel like you’re in another world. After a day of sightseeing in the hot Melaka sun, we were grateful for this oasis. The industrial chic look and feel of the hotel is quite striking, and it’s obvious that Rosa Malacca has been designed with a lot of care and attention to detail. I loved that every inch of the hotel looked beautiful, but also felt casual and comfortable – this new kid on the block is definitely not just a pretty face!
Being stranded on a tropical island doesn’t seem like the worst fate on earth until the beach frolicking grows tiresome and the call of the tummy can no longer be ignored. Only a teeny weeny problem if you’re anything like me and have no hunting, fishing or foraging skills; the prospect of playing Russian roulette with leaves and berries is not particularly appealing. In fact, it’s terrifying. And rather irrationally, it was a fear I had about spending three to four days on Pangkor Laut Resort.
I know, I know, I overreacted… we were knowingly going to a luxury resort on a private island. Not exactly washing up on a grim deserted island. My first world fear was not about the need to hone my scavenger skills, the issue was whether any of the food would be any good. Restaurants in resorts have a notorious reputation for being overpriced and underwhelming; where’s the incentive to wow where you’ve got a captive customer base?
All my past Malaysian holidays featured food, family, and shopping; arguably the holy trinity of all things Malaysian. I knew there was a lot more to see and do than traipse round the cities ticking dishes off my must-eat list with countless shopping bags in tow but I’m a city person, my family are city people. We didn’t grow up running through the hills or lolloping in the waves in New Zealand so there was no chance we were doing that on our precious trips back to Malaysia. However as this city-slicker grows older, lazier, and more discerning, a dash of relaxation (with a side of luxury where possible) is a staple ingredient in any holiday!
So this time round, while the food and family were still in pride of place, I decided to swap the shopping time (cue the shock horror from my family) for beach time. My mind automatically transported us to the sandy shores of Langkawi because that’s the beach to visit in Malaysia, right?! Langkawi is undoubtedly beautiful, perfect for your doses of sun and sea, and jammed packed with hotels for every budget, but we wanted something a little more exclusive… and needed somewhere a little closer to the other stops on our trip… Pangkor Laut Resort fit the bill perfectly.
One of the most iconic experiences you can enjoy in Penang is to have afternoon tea at the Eastern & Oriental Hotel, one of the city’s grandest properties. But afternoon tea seems so very un-Malaysian and so very, very British? Let’s chalk its introduction to Malaysia down to colonialism, which dare I say, is another very British activity from years passed. I won’t get into the pros and cons of that so let’s just all play nice and agree on the merits of tea and cake, with a couple of sandwiches and scones in between. Any afternoon spent enjoying those things in beautiful surroundings is an afternoon well spent in my view.
The Eastern & Oriental Hotel has a rich history dating back to 1884 when it was first established as The Eastern. A year later, due to increasing demand and popularity, The Oriental was opened on the neighbouring site, and combined, they became the largest hotel in Penang. Unsurprisingly, there have been highs and lows throughout the years but now, the hotel has been completely restored to its former glory and a spot of afternoon tea in the elegant dining room of 1885 is a must for anyone visiting Penang.