Clove Hall

Georgetown, Penang & Pangkor, Malaysia Book from

Feel the colonial splendour of old Penang in a beautifully restored, tranquil guesthouse
A gentlemen’s club in the 50s, this colonial mansion and outbuildings in a residential part of Georgetown were left to the termites for decades before being reclaimed and restored to, if anything more, than their former glory. Impeccable workmanship and care went into the conversion, and Jo and Jim Lim are now the proud owners of its 6 suites, cream walls, chocolate-brown rafters, great stone pillars, antique tile floors, open archways and lazily spinning ceiling fans. A tranquil swimming pool, fringed with ginger bushes, offers refreshment after a hard day’s sightseeing. Birds twitter in the tropical foliage as you rest on your flagstone veranda or recline on your silk-covered Chinese daybed before striking out again into UNESCO-listed Penang, full of heritage and history and one of Asia’s foodie heavens.

Furniture comes from India, China and Sri Lanka, including some colonial antiques, all assembled in the best possible taste. The atmosphere is one of total serenity, and we were made to feel completely at home. After a full day’s sightseeing in the sun, Clove Hall is the ultimate remedy.

Highs

  • A taste of colonial tradition, beautifully restored
  • Jo and Jim are incredible hosts; along with their dedicated team, they make everyone feel welcome and offer exceptional local recommendations
  • Elegant spacious suites cosset you with four-poster beds and big bathtubs; just 6 of them ensures an intimate feel
  • The pool, a rare boon in Georgetown, in a lovely garden setting - when we revisited in 2016, we found it hard to tear ourselves away
  • The knowledgeably designed restaurant guide, which effectively makes the great local restaurant scene part of your accommodation

Lows

  • No bar, nor in-room fridge or bottle openers. Guests can use the fridge in the kitchen and drinks can be brought to you throughout the day
  • You're not in the bustling centre of Georgetown (a plus for some) and the location isn't very interesting in the daytime. Walking to the main sites is possible though, and taxis are cheap and easily arranged
  • Children are not permitted to stay in the Hall Suites, though they are very welcome throughout the rest of the property
  • No twin beds, but an extra bed can be provided

Best time to go

May to October is best. It rains hard from November to January, and February can be unbearably hot. But whenever you come you should expect stifling heat and some rain - this is a tropical island so the monsoon is more or less permanent.

Our top tips

Bring comfortable shoes for walking and, for the tender-skinned, a sunhat. You 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. We’d suggest you bracket a beach holiday in Langkawi or Phuket with a couple of days each end here.

Great for...

Cheap & Chic
City Style
Family
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Guesthouse
  • 6
  • Breakfast only
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Concierge Service
Room:

Rooms

The six gorgeous suites are spread across the Main House (Hall Suites) and various converted outbuildings (Garden Suites).

In the Main House, Hall Suites Saffron and Cardamom are mirror images of each other at the hotel of the stairs. Both have four-posters, handsome old rolltop desks from India, and airy balconies with space for a table and colonial planter’s chairs. One overlooks the drive and a big tree, the other the pool. Hall Suite Cinnamon is larger, but lacks a balcony. Instead, it gets the master view over the front.

Despite being innocuous from the outside, Garden Suite Clove is in fact the largest of this group, at 800 sq.ft. Surrounded by a stone veranda, it is divided into a living area and sleeping space by an Edwardian partition; at the end lays a vast bathroom.

Second largest is Garden Suite Ginger, a single airy studio space under exposed rafters. Its best feature is a sprawling built-in seating area. It also has its own little garden, making it by far the most private realm.

Garden Suite Star Anise boasts a drawing room with an old display cabinet full of blue-and-white china and a silk-covered Chinese daybed. Steep stairs lead to the cosy bedroom and generous four-poster bed.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Cots Available
  • Dvd player
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Hairdryer
  • Mosquito net
  • Radio
  • Satellite tv
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi

Eating

Breakfast is taken in the airy ground-floor hall, in the gardens, or on the terrace of the Main House (8-10am). Dishes include French toast, scrambled eggs and cereal, but their full cooked breakfast is famous (and for good reason). All is made to order, accompanied by coffee or tea, and served on delicate blue and white china. A delicious Asian breakfast can be ordered in advance; any requests can be catered for.

Complimentary afternoon tea is available daily from 4-5pm, which is a welcome treat after a day's exploring, and a range of drinks are available whenever you’d like.

Jo and Jim have created a map of their favourite surrounding restaurants, none more than 10 minutes’ walk away, and can make helpful recommendations. While the neighbourhood lies well beyond the Heritage Site and the buffer zone, it still has plenty of lanes of pre-war shophouses. There are interesting places to eat in almost every other one, many catering to the local middle class and therefore the best in town.

Features include:

  • Afternoon tea
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner by arrangement
  • Lunch by arrangement
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Room service
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Sightseeing: a Unesco World Heritage Site, Penang has some of the best of everything, from proud colonial villas to Chinese and Hindu temples, all brought together in a handy compact location - be sure to visit the indigo-blue Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion which encapsulates the cultural diversity of Georgetown. The hotel provides a map of the sights
  • Further afield, have a look at Penang Hill, a colonial Hill Station straight out of Somerset Maugham, with a nice café for afternoon tea with scones and cream, and oddly pokey, suburban bungalows from the 1920s. Combine a trip here with a visit to the impressive Kek Sok Li temple
  • Clove Hall can arrange guided tours to go antiques shopping, explore the local markets, or discover heritage enclaves and artisan workshops. If your visit coincides with a local festival such as Nine Emperor God, Hungry Ghost Festival, or Thaipusam they'll show you the sights.
  • The Clove Hall concierge services extend to arranging trips to the beach (Batu Ferringhi is the most popular), boat trips, scuba diving and snorkelling, horse riding and cooking classes
  • Back at the hotel, lie by the pool; relax with an in-room massage; take a private yoga lesson (book in advance); get some clothes made up by a local dressmaker (ask for details)

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Boat trips
  • Cooking classes
  • Historical sites
  • Horse-riding
  • Museums / galleries
  • Nightlife
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Scuba diving
  • Shopping / markets
  • Snorkelling
  • Swimming

Kids

Children are welcome; they will enjoy splashing in the pool and exploring the grounds, but it worth bearing in mind that there are lots of antiques around and the ambiance is fairly tranquil.

Family friendly accommodation:

Clove Halls has 2 extra beds and 2 baby cots which can be used in any of the rooms. The Garden Suites provide families with added space and privacy. Clove is the largest and has a huge bathtub; Ginger is the most private, with its own little garden.

Baby equipment:

Baby cots are available on request.

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Kid Friendly: Batu Ferringhi

Our guests' ratings...

10/
Rooms
9/
Food
10/
Service
10/
Value
10/
Overall

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Rates for Clove Hall