Temple Tree

Pantai Cenang, Langkawi, Malaysia Book from

Stylish living history at this delightfully different heritage project, on Langkawi island, off the NW coast of Malaysia
Temple Tree is a dream for architectural students; for the rest of us, a beautiful, unique haven. The concept? A collection of classic Chinese, Malay, Indian and Eurasian houses from all over Malaysia, painstakingly reassembled, and divided into 20 rooms and suites. Owner Narelle is the brains behind neighbouring Bon Ton Resort, and the execution of this living museum is spot-on.

Each house maintains its own character and Narelle’s eye for interiors is evident in bold colour schemes, which effortlessly blend antique pieces with modern flourishes. It's a fascinating insight to traditional Malaysian living, with the bonus of excellent service. Communal life centres around the beautifully laid-out 90-year-old Straits Clubhouse with its restaurant, games room, library and bar. The houses are arranged down a ‘main street’ where saplings sway in the breeze, leading to the resort's swimming pool. Hit the beach for sunbathing or watersports; hire a car to set your own island agenda. Or stay put - the houses are so delightful, you might not want to leave.

Highs

  • Spectacular houses - spacious, colourful and wonderfully comfortable, each with an individual identity
  • Plenty of special touches: bright sarongs in your wardrobe, enticing Chinese wooden bathtubs, snacks and sundowners served poolside
  • Wander next door for Malay specialities at the Bon Ton restaurant
  • His'n'hers showers, with the water running through the wooden slats below, feel simultaneously luxurious and simple
  • Animal sanctuary, founded and funded by the owners. Guests can take dogs for a walk, or help out at the shelter

Lows

  • The peace can be disturbed by planes landing at the nearby airport, and the beach is a little too far to walk, although the hotel offers lifts
  • Breakfast is a continental selection conveniently left in your fridge overnight, but lovers of the big buffet spread may be disappointed
  • It can seem a little expensive for the area
  • Animals roam freely around the resort. If you have an allergy, let staff know and they will ensure animals are kept out of your house
  • Some recent reports suggest the air con can be a little hit and miss

Best time to go

The hotel is open year-round. The peak season is December and January, but temperatures remain warm (around 30C) and the sun shines all year. The rainy season is September to mid-November, when it rains for around two hours per day, but usually at night.

Our top tips

Stay 3-4 days here to just absorb the resort’s atmosphere, or use it as a base for a 2-week exploration of Langkawi. Think about combining it within a broader Malaysian peninsula itinerary, or include it in an island-hopping fortnight in the Thai Andaman Sea.

Great for...

Beach
Foodie
Honeymoon
Wedding
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Resort
  • 20
  • Restaurant + bar (open daily)
  • 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
  • Snooker Table
Room: Colonial 3

Rooms

Each of the houses that make up the resort has its own story, and together they tell quite a tale of Malaysian architectural history over the past century. The Colonial House comprises 4 units, the Penang and Chinese 2 apiece; then there is a long Estate House with 5 separate rooms. Two Plantation Houses total 6 units of various sizes and, finally, we stayed in the stunning Black and White House, which holds a single suite.

The suites share common characteristics: plenty of natural light and cool breezes circulating, helped by fans (or air-conditioning if necessary); lots of authentic antique objets - vases, lacquered boxes, intricately carved furniture and woven tapestries, sofas littered with bright throw cushions, wide firm beds in pristine white cotton, a generous selection of books and magazines, a large DVD-only television (satellite TV is available in the Clubhouse), double rainfall showers and a quirky wooden bathtub, more often than not in an atmospheric outdoor bathroom. Each has its own distinct identity though - we loved the red and black luxe of the Chinese House, and the meditative greens and blues of the Penang House.

Our own, the wooden Black and White House, proved our favourite. Set on stilts, it’s immaculately painted (as you may imagine) in black and white, with stained glass shutters that let in the breeze during the day and filter light in the evening. It’s a successful combination of themes and textures: an ornately carved wardrobe and black ivory-inlaid lacquered box complement the patterned satin throw cushions and red Chinese lantern vase. Somehow, it just works - an inspirational space of total tranquillity.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Cd player
  • Coffee tea making
  • Cots Available
  • Dvd player
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Internet access
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Mosquito net
  • Safe box
  • Tv
  • WiFi

Eating

Breakfast is taken in your suite and more than keeps you going until lunchtime. Each suite is equipped with a toaster and tea- and coffee-making facilities. A couple of pieces of bread each, with butter and jam, some homemade cake, yoghurt, bottled juices and generous hunks of fresh fruit are left in the fridge overnight to be enjoyed at your leisure.

The Straits Club, located in the Clubhouse, serves lunch and dinner, as well as a cooked breakfast for brunch should you desire it. Expect western and fusion dishes, for example the big breakfast, an impressive spread of eggs, a lamb roll, a beef patty, fried potatoes, caramelised onions and chilli jam. For dinner, tuck into a 5-spice roasted chicken with cashew rice, or try the hot and sour mango salad. There’s also a bar; frozen daiquiris and margaritas come highly recommended at any time.

Guests are also welcome at the widely acclaimed Nam restaurant at Bon Ton for lunch and dinner. The dining area is extremely atmospheric in the evenings, with soft lighting, colourful textiles and a warm summer breeze drifting through.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Coffee tea making
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurant
  • Restaurants nearby
Eating: Straits Restaurant
Activity:

Activities

  • Hire a car and explore - Malaysians drive on the left and the Langkawi roads are relatively quiet
  • Take a trip over to the north of the island to see the beautiful mangrove swamps, an unmissable ecological highlight
  • Drive up to Gunung Raya, the highest peak on the island, to hang out with the hornbills and enjoy great views over the rice fields and Kuah Town
  • Ride up the Langkawi Cable Car from Oriental Village to the summit of Gunung Mat Chinchang, and take in the waterfall at Telaga Tujuh, which is particularly spectacular during the wet season
  • Go island hopping across the 99-island archipelago - take an organised tour or charter your own little bumboat
  • Get a lift down to the beach at Pantai Cenang, for sunbathing, jet-skiing, waterskiing, windsurfing, parasailing, snorkelling or kayaking; fishing trips and diving can be arranged
  • Take a yoga class - these can be organised through the hotel
  • Soak up some local culture, at the Ibrahim Hussein Museum, then visit the night markets around Pantai Cenang for souvenirs and local handicrafts
  • While away a few hours by one of the 2 pools with a good book, taking the occasional dip to cool off

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Cycling
  • Fishing
  • Golf
  • Historical sites
  • Horse-riding
  • Kayaking
  • Museums / galleries
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Sailing
  • Scuba diving
  • Shopping / markets
  • Snorkelling
  • Swimming
  • Traditional cultures
  • Windsurfing
  • Yoga

Kids

Children are more than welcome.

Best for:

Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

Penang 1 has a single daybed on its living room, Plantation 1 has a double and a single room, while Black and White House, Colonial 4 and Plantation 3, 5 and 6 have a double and a twin bedroom.

Babysitting:

Babysitting is available by arrangement.

Baby listening:

Baby listening/monitors are available on request.

Baby equipment:

Baby cots are available on request.

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

Kid Friendly: Straits Clubhouse

Our guests' ratings...

9/
Rooms
8/
Food
9/
Service
7/
Value
8/
Overall

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