This week we’re escaping to a beautifully restored colonial mansion on the tropical Malaysian island of Penang. Its tranquil pool and 6 handsome suites make it a real retreat after a hard day’s sightseeing and friendly hosts will ensure you feel welcome from the moment you cross the threshold.
Unesco-listed Penang is ripe for exploring: Clove Hall can arrange guided tours which take in the antiques markets and artisan workshops, and if your visit coincides with a local festival like Nine Emperor God or Hungry Ghost Festival, they’ll show you the highlights.
Rooms: There are 6 elegant suites: 3 in the Main House and 3 in the converted garden outbuildings. Saffron and Cardamom in the Main House have four-posters and rolltop desks inside, and airy balconies overlooking the drive and the pool. Similarly styled, Cinnamon doesn’t have a balcony but makes up for it with the master view out from the front of the house. All have compact bathrooms with rainshowers. In the garden, Star Anise has beautiful antique furniture including a silk-covered Chinese daybed downstairs and a generous four-poster bedroom upstairs with a rain shower that’s open to the monsoon. The biggest is Clove, which has an Edwardian partition dividing the living and sleeping areas. The huge bathroom is open to the elements with a big bathtub and a separate shower. The most private is airy studio Ginger, which has its own little garden and a double bed that sits on a stone platform.
Food: Served on the terrace by the pool, breakfast is delivered on delicate blue and white china. A plate of fruit is followed by a choice of eggs and bacon or French toast. If you prefer, you can order an Asian breakfast in advance. A complimentary afternoon tea is laid out from 4-5pm but you’ll have to venture out for evening meals (or order in a takeaway). The owners have put together a handy map of restaurants in the nearby lanes and their recommendations.
Author’s tip/ when to go: Bring an international driver’s licence, comfortable shoes for walking, and for the tender-skinned, a sunhat. Most will want to be here for a minimum of 2 days, but 4 or 5 days will do nicely; much longer and you’ll suffer some kind of syndrome. Or bracket a beach holiday in Langkawi or Phuket with a couple of days each end here.
Customer review: “We stayed at Clove Hall for 5 nights on our way back from Australia and absolutely loved it. Jo and Jim are wonderful hosts – very welcoming and sociable but not at all intrusive. They and their team were very helpful and attentive and were always on hand if we needed anything. Our room (Cardamon) was lovely – and the super-comfortable bed deserves a special mention. The breakfasts were perfect, and we can highly recommend Erylan’s omelettes! And we loved the fact that everyone has their own little private spot for breakfast. We wasted quite a few hours just idling over tea and coffee and reading the papers. As the i-escape reviewer says, getting into the centre of Georgetown is a bit of a walk (or only a £3 taxi fare), but the massive pay-off is that you get to stay in a little oasis of peace and serenity! If you’ve been you’ll know that this is a major bonus.” Lisa, United Kingdom (05.01.14)
i-escape gift: a free room upgrade subject to availability on arrival