We have reviewed the best luxury hotels in Penang, Malaysia, to help you decide where to stay on your next vacation to this magnificent destination.
An island of rich Chinese heritage, Penang has an array of temples, ruins, museums, preserved forests, and beautiful beaches. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the old town of Georgetown sits on the northeastern coast of the district of Penang and is one of Malaysia’s most visited cities.
It was founded in 1786 by Captain Frances Light as a base for the British East India Company in the Malay states. And the town itself was named for Prince of Wales and quickly developed into a hub of economic and cultural success.
What is so wonderful about Georgetown is the mix of cultures. Along the “Road of Harmony” you will see Christian churches, Chinese temples, and Muslim mosques, a demonstration of the fusion of backgrounds.
A stop at Wat Chayamangkalaram is a must. Most popularly known as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, this is the largest Buddhist temple in Penang. It dates back to 1845 and houses a 108 ft. Buddha in a reclining position that is covered in gold leaf.
A day in Georgetown is not complete without a tour to Gurney Drive, otherwise known as Persiaran Gurney. This is perhaps one of the most well-known places in Penang. Often referred to as ‘The New Esplanade’ (to differentiate it from the original Esplanade in Georgetown), Gurney Drive is a deluge of hawker delights and exciting restaurants that come alive at nighttime, giving the unique experience of dining by the sea.
The best 5-star hotels in Penang cater to guests who like the finer things in life and feature exquisite guestrooms with breathtaking views, unique and charming interiors and verdant gardens. We have listed the very best below.
Wherever you decide to stay, in Penang or elsewhere, book via our luxury travel concierge. We offer free upgrades, free breakfasts and free perks at hotels including the Four Seasons, Hyatt, Ritz Carlton, InterContinental and more.
Typically, our free benefits* at luxury hotels include:
- Room upgrade to next category
- Complimentary breakfast for two per bedroom
- Complimentary Welcome Gift
- $100 USD equivalent Hotel experiential credit per room per stay
- Early check-in / Late check-out, subject to availability
- Complimentary Wi-Fi
1. The Edison George Town
The Edison George Town offers a fusion of historical classic and modernity, Penang embraces progression whilst retaining many traditions and cultures of a multi-racial population.
In the middle of the main building lies The Courtyard, the epicentre in which everything and everyone passes through. This airy central space features restored original cast-iron columns and decorative frescos which add a timeless elegance to the building.
The hotel pool is a prime spot for sun-worshipping and star gazing; a little oasis within inner George Town where guests can enjoy a leisure dip or an invigorating cardio-vascular workout. Also surrounding The Pool and The Lounge lie spacious The Cabanas for guests to relax in.
Each guestroom at The Edison George Town has been sensitively designed to retain much of the building’s historical character but at the same time offer chic and contemporary comfort within. The winner and their guest will be staying in a 35-38sqm. Deluxe Premium Room with a comfortable bed, work desk, seating, coffee and tea making facilities and an ensuite bathroom with unique and luxurious bath amenities.
2. Eastern & Oriental Hotel
Eastern & Oriental Hotel is proud of its illustrious heritage. Known simply as the ‘E&O’ to generations of travellers, it exudes a charm that is inimitably its own. For most of its history, its passageways and halls were the preserve of the rich and privileged from the Western world.
Intrepid visitors included acclaimed writers and aspiring literati who arrived in steamships seeking to experience the exotic East. Even with the passage of time, this unique pearl at the heart of George Town continues to shine as a testament to the grand elegance of the British colonial era, the embodiment of both a special time and a special place.
Indeed, at the E&O, life’s true pleasures never go out of fashion. For almost 135 years, the hotel has welcomed the world in timeless style. This legacy is conserved and further elevated with the re-opening of the Heritage Wing that is now setting the new standard as a leading destination in classic hospitality.
Re-emerging from a comprehensive restoration and refurbishment programme in December 2019, the Heritage Wing resumes its role as a gracious host with new facilities and a variety of exclusive privileges – making it an even more delightful experience for guests staying here.
The Victory Annexe is an extended wing that opened in 2013, built on the site of the hotel’s original Victory Annexe that was first unveiled by Arshak Sarkies in 1923. The Victory Annexe is designed with the needs and comforts of the modern traveller in mind, whilst retaining the old-world ambience and charm that are synonymous with the E&O.
With the re-opening of the Heritage Wing, the E&O’s revered repertoire of classic hospitality and culinary experiences has been enhanced. The Java Tree serves Straits Nyonya recipes and classic European dishes, while the Palm Court offers a selection of ethnic Asian inspired dishes and casual international fare as well as the classic three-tier afternoon tea.
The new Farquhar’s Bar, now a handsome vintage cocktail bar with a view of Penang’s waterfront outside its expansive windows, is perfect for pre- and after-dinner drinks. At the Victory Annexe, Sarkies remains a perennial favourite for its splendid buffet-spread of Malaysian and international delights. The Planters Lounge is an elegant venue for continental dishes while al fresco dining is a sumptuous affair at Poolside Terrace.
3. Hotel Jen Penang, George Town
The modern, urban hotel Hotel Jen Penang offers refurbished rooms and a restaurant with an excellent breakfast.
Hotel Jen Penang is centrally located in the heart of Penang’s vibrant and bustling George Town, and is situated within walking distance to the UNESCO World Heritage Site, as well as prime commercial and business areas and shopping malls.
Take a leisurely stroll to over 20 exciting street arts and satisfy your cravings from a must-eat famous street hawker food in Penang.
Enjoy direct access to the main public transportation options such as the Central Area Transit (CAT shuttle buses), taxis or trishaws with only a few steps from the hotel.
Newly redesigned rooms and suites feature distinct highlights of Penang blended with contemporary touches offering comfortable rooms to business and leisure travelers alike
Enjoy fast WiFi, scheduled shuttle service to the beach, 24-hour gym and George Town’s rich history.
4. Seven Terraces, George Town
Seven Terraces, George Town was built in the late 19th century, as a contiguous row of Anglo-Chinese terrace houses located just behind the Goddess of Mercy Temple. Located in the heart and core of the World Heritage Site which was a 20m away from Pitt Street. the hotel is a short walk away from the ‘street of harmony’ heritage trail, in between the Goddess of Mercy Temple or Kuan Yin Temple and the St George’s Church, where one will find a church, temples, and mosques all within the same street.
The row of houses today is a sterling splendid example of an adaptive reuse of heritage buildings that were of low density and low impact.
Historically, these houses were a redevelopment of the original Lee Kongsi building circa 1893, in a period of time when George Town’s Kelly maps were just completed. The row was redeveloped by Koe Guan, the holding company of local millionaire and governor of southern Thailand, Khaw Sim Bee.
The architecture of these shophouses, with classical decorative details imported from England, was similar to the traditional urban house models common in southern China. The five-foot-way, a covered walkway that connects these shophouses on the ground floor, was another feature at Seven Terraces that is characteristic of most heritage shophouses in Penang. This unique walkway represents a colonial adaptation designed to suit the tropical climate, providing a length of covered space as a shield from the heat and rain.
When you walk into these terrace houses, a distinctive feature of traditional Chinese architecture that strikes your attention and welcomes you was the open courtyards and air wells in the center of the houses.
These were open-air spaces that function mostly as natural ventilation for the houses, allowing light and air into the interior rooms to keep the whole house well illuminated in the day and cool the whole day through. Usually, there will also be a second courtyard for the bathroom where rainwater was stored for use in the bathroom.
Complementing the Anglo-Chinese exterior, the interior was one that harks back to the romance and splendor of the Peranakan Chinese era. Carved gilded decoration front doors facing Stewart Lane welcome guests to the interior, its amazing details and pristine condition offer glimpses to the days of opulence in a Peranakan Chinese household.
Ong’s signature of clean, simple lines was apparent in the extensive restoration works done in these houses from the encaustic cement tiles to the salvaged wooden floor boards that make up the entire floor space upstairs.
Cast iron lace work and rows of slatted wooden screens which adorn the interior serve to introduce ornate details to the simple background while the antique furnishings and fittings placed in choice spots throughout the hotel stand out in stark relief, bringing guests back to a bygone era that is steep in culture and strong family bonds.
Each room boasts of blackwood and mother-of-pearl inlaid furniture and gilded cabinets and tables. Ong’s personal collection of priceless antiques such as porcelain ware is also proudly displayed around the hotel. In one of the suites, The Steward Apartment, guests will be delighted with the original Peranakan Chinese wedding bed and accompanying cabinets.
The suites facing the road are strategically shielded from street noise with full width bathrooms acting as a buffer. Most of the 18 suites in the hotel, all of which are spacious and airy, have mezzanine floors as the resting or living spaces.
5. Hotel Penaga
Hotel Penaga is a charming boutique hotel in the heart of George Town, Penang, Malaysia. The hotel is in an excellent location providing great access to all the sights of Penang, often described as the food capital of Malaysia.
Originally created from pre-war terraces and shop houses, Hotel Penaga mixes authentic, original features with a taste of the modern. As well as the rich history you will also find all the usual amenities you would expect from a boutique hotel to ensure you have a thoroughly unique, comfortable and memorable stay.
As soon as you step foot into Hotel Penaga you will discover it’s uniquely charming décor with exquisite Peranakan tiles, striking stained glass windows and beautiful paintings throughout. The hotel actually supports new artists by offering them a room in the hotel free of charge and as a guest you can socialise with the resident artist and watch them work.
The rooms and suites within the hotel are divided into ‘Clark Terraces’, ‘Transfer Suites’ and ‘Hutton Rooms’, each of which has been lovingly and individually decorated with replica antique Asian furniture mixed in with modern Japanese design which really adds to the quirky ambience of Hotel Penaga. If you would like to avoid the hustle and bustle of Penang at night then ask for a room facing the rear of the property. Your bathroom includes a Jacuzzi spa bath, separate shower and beautiful locally made toiletries crafted with ingredients from the region.
If you are looking to while away the hours you can enjoy a quiet drink in the beautiful Tanglung Bar or dine in the striking Cinnamon Restaurant. The Hotel also features a narrow pool (which is rather overlooked by the restaurant), a feature garden, library, Business Centre and the Penaga Spa, inspired by the healing qualities of the indigenous plants of the Malay Peninsula.
The owners of the hotel (a Japanese architect and his wife who bought these traditional properties and converted them into the hotel) have been keen to ensure every aspect of it is sustainable. This concept has been taken throughout from the original reconstruction using recycled materials where possible to the collection of water and heating of the hotel from solar panels. This care for the environment has gained the property a Gold rating from the Green Building Index.
The staff at the hotel are incredibly friendly and helpful, offering outstanding service with a smile. So if it’s a one-of-a-kind Malaysian escape you’re looking for with old-world classical charm set in a great location then Hotel Penaga, George Town is the answer.
6. Lone Pine, Batu Ferringhi, George Town
This is the only luxury boutique hotel on Penang’s Batu Ferringhi beach. Lone Pine hotel is tucked away in an idyllic spot along Penang’s coastline, Lone Pine is Batu Ferringhi’s only luxury boutique hotel.
Renewed and rejuvenated after a lovingly undertaken restoration, Penang’s favorite beachside boutique resort recently re-opened its doors refreshed in design and facilities, but still infused with the same colonial spirit and idyllic charm that has made it one of Penang’s legendary hotels.
Highlights include Andaman sea views, a glorious pool, warm service and rooms with balconies and outdoor plunge baths.
7. Shangri-La Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa
Shangri-La’s Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa is a 5-star property that exudes an elegant sense of history and tradition, nestling beneath a verdant canopy of century-old rain trees.
The expansive tropical gardens, with a fantastic lagoon-style pool as the focal point, create a lovely setting for a relaxing holiday. Well-maintained facilities, awesome choices of activities and complimentary daily shuttle service to George Town, make it highly convenient to explore the UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Nestled in verdant tropical gardens, Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa, Penang’s 304 guestrooms and suites offer enchanting views of the ocean or rolling hills. The interiors are artfully designed with traditional motifs and exuberant modern touches, creating a warm and airy tropical-inspired sanctuary.
8. Ren i Tang Hotel, George Town
Ren i Tang is a beautifully restored heritage building that used to be an old medical shop for more than 100 years. Ren i Tang boutique hotel is the result of a 2-year long restoration project on a 19th century Early Straits Eclectic Styled Building. It is located within the core zone of the UNESCO World Heritage Site on Penang Island.
The name “Ren i Tang” is the phonetic spelling in Mandarin of South East Asia’s oldest Chinese Medical Hall Wholesaler, Yin Oi Tong which is translated as The Hall of Benevolence. This welcoming boutique hotel allows travellers to relax in the heart of Penang’s historic city.
Located at the junction of China Street and Penang Street, the building now hosts heritage rooms on the upper floors and the Tang bistro on the ground floor as well as The Yin Oi Tong Chinese Medical Hall Museum.
This heritage inn consists of 17 fairly basic rooms occupying the first and second floors but they are air-conditioned and comparatively cheap, making this boutique hotel one of the best hotels in Penang, if a little less luxurious than some of the other hotels featured in this article.
9. Muntri Mews, George Town
The stylish and welcoming boutique hotel, Muntri Mews is an easy walk to George Town’s main attractions.
Keeping to the utilitarian lines of the building, the interiors have been kept as original as possible with a touch of the 20th century feel to it. Materials such as marble flooring and wood have been salvaged from other houses, schools and even a hospital. The resulting simple and yet comfortable interior that harks back to a bygone era.
Framed old photographs and portraits that were taken in the late 19th to early 20th century decorate the walls while old enamel trays and drinking glasses complete the whole feeling of bringing guests back in time. In keeping with its past, the stables, equine saddles, harnesses are also displayed.
Lush gardens with three large outdoor pavilions give the hotel the feel of the tropical resort and the hotel’s café and pretty garden are ideal for long lunches and relaxing.
10. PARKROYAL Penang Resort
Discover a tropical retreat along the Batu Ferringhi beach. PARKROYAL Penang Resort is probably the best resort to stay in, in Penang, if you are travelling with children.
While this hotel lacks the history of some of the hotels mentioned above, it does have two swimming pools, one with water slides, plenty of space for water sport enthusiasts on the beach in front and offers many more resort-style activities than your other luxury hotels in Penang.
The hotel is located 400 yards from Feringghi Night Walk Bazaar, while Batu Feringghi Waterfall is 1 mile away. The tropical Spice Garden is also 1.6 miles from the property and the hotel is 10.6 miles from Georgetown and 18.6 miles from Penang International Airport.
Rooms at PARKROYAL Penang are decorated in a modern and contemporary style with LED TV featuring local and cable channels. The rooms come with in-room movies, tea & coffee making facilities, minibar, personal digital safe and DVD player upon request.
Other facilities include Zab Lab gym center, Koko-Nut Kid’s Club and Amazonia water theme park. Alternatively, guests can indulge in a variety of facial and body treatments at St. Gregory Spaor local cuisine at Cinnamon Asian Kitchen or at Gustoso for Italian fare overlooking the sea. Finally, to enjoy a wonderful sunset, spent the evening with a cocktail in the Javana Lounge.
Disclosure: Most reviews are sponsored by the proprietor or brand being appraised. All opinions remain our own & are in no way influenced.