“Feel the colonial splendour of old Penang in a beautifully restored, tranquil guesthouse”
There are 6 gorgeous suites in total, 3 Hall Suites in the Main House, and 3 Garden Suites in the garden's converted outbuildings.
At the top of the stairs in the Main House, Saffron and Cardamom are mirror images of each other, with four-posters and handsome old rolltop desks from India. Both have airy balconies with table and colonial planter’s chairs. One overlooks the drive and a big tree, the other the pool. At the back they have compact bathrooms with rainshowers. Cinnamon is similar, with an attractive suite of cane furniture in the reception part, but lacks a balcony. Instead, it gets the master view over the front. Suites in the Main House are more like standard hotel rooms than those in the outbuildings but no worse for that, especially for people like me with a neurotic aversion to sleeping on the ground floor.
Of the Garden Suites, Star Anise is a new addition in the Sino-Portuguese shophouse style. A drawing room with an old display cabinet full of blue-and-white china, antique sideboard, armchair and silk-covered Chinese daybed takes up the downstairs, decorated like all the rooms with almost-sepia tint (in fact brown paper) prints of vieux Penang. Steep stairs lead to a cosy bedroom with generous four-poster and 2 adjacent cells, one for the rain shower, which is also open to the monsoon, and one for the loo, which isn’t.
Innocuous from the outside, Clove is in fact the biggest suite, taking up all of the former garage and then some. Surrounded by a stone veranda, its 800 sq.ft are divided into living and sleeping area by an Edwardian partition. At the end lies a vast bathroom, open to the elements and foliage one side, with a bathtub that seats (at a guess) 6 and a separate shower cubicle for easily as many people again.
The second-largest room, Ginger, also in the grounds off the pool, has its own little garden, making it by far the most private realm. A single airy studio space under exposed rafters, its best feature is a sprawling built-in seating area. The double bed rests on its own stone platform, and the bathroom has a vast bathtub.
Most necessities for a comfortably private stay are provided, including a large LCD TV with satellite channels. In the rain shower bathrooms there's fruity shampoo and shower gel from Thailand. You also get a couple of the usual kimono-style bathrobes, for once in a reasonable size for the European male.
Breakfast is taken in the hall on the airy ground floor or the terrace of the Main House, adjacent to the pool area. A plate of fruit is followed by a choice of eggs, bacon and toast, French toast or muesli, with coffee or tea - all served on delicate blue and white china. A delicious Asian breakfast can be ordered in advance; any request can be catered for.
Complimentary afternoon tea is available daily from 4-5pm - a welcome treat after a day's exploring - but that’s it. Although, you can expressly arrange a dinner party with fine cuisine served on period china at the long antique dining table, or arrange for a takeaway to be delivered to eat in one night (for an additional charge).
Instead, and wisely, the owners have drawn their environment into the operation by providing a map of 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, with interesting places to eat in almost every other one, many of them catering to the local middle class and therefore the best in town.
Children are welcome in the Garden Suites only, so that tired little ones don't detract from the romantic atmosphere of the Hall Suites. This also provides families with more space and privacy.
Kids will enjoy splashing in the pool and exploring the grounds, but this isn't the ideal environment for them with antiques everywhere and a tranquil ambiance.
Families are welcome in the 3 Garden Suites: Clove is the largest and has a huge bathtub the whole family could enjoy, Ginger has its own little garden and is the most private.
Baby cots are available on request.
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking