Tiger Rock

Pangkor Island, Penang & Pangkor, Malaysia Book from

A relaxed and welcoming Pangkor Island jungle hideaway, serving up exceptional home-cooked cuisine near picture-perfect beaches
A small fishing island with great beaches off the coast of northwest Malaysia, Pangkor is reached by a 2.5-hour drive from Penang, then a short boat ride. Formally the family home of Malaysians David and Rebecca Wilkinson, Tiger Rock is a collection of airy timber houses cocooned in Pangkor's jungle, and it's a very special set-up altogether. There's a relaxed, lived-in vibe throughout, walls are adorned with Rebecca’s colourful artwork, and like an exotic Gauguin painting, the shimmering greenery dominates the landscape, exploding into view through every door and window.

There are 4 houses with a total of 8 rooms, so you can book a room or come as a group and rent a couple of houses or the whole place. Open-air communal spaces and comfortable interiors encourage a convivial house-party ambiance, and at the heart of the property is a stunning infinity pool, fringed by tropical plants and loungers.

Come dusk, guests convene in the Pool House with its glowing lanterns, to enjoy the balmy evenings. Talented cook Bavanni rustles up an abundance of fine Malay cuisine, while husband and manager Mohan ensures the smooth running of the whole show. About as far as you can get from a bland 5-star hotel experience.

Highs

  • Living in close quarters with nature, surrounded by giant butterflies, great hornbills, flying lemurs and wild boars, with their thrilling whoops and calls
  • Bavanni’s menu is delicious, and was the best food we ate in Malaysia during out 2016 trip: fish curries, nasi lemak, chicken in pandan leaves
  • It's extremely easy to relax and do very little except lie by the pool, though there's a tennis court if you get restless
  • Exploring the island and local culture - expect beautiful beaches, interesting boat yards, ornate Chinese temples and colourful markets
  • Bedrooms are large with cheerful throws and plump cushions
  • Great for families and couples alike

Lows

  • Jungle living means mosquitoes, ants and crawlies so be prepared with repellent
  • The nearest beach is a 25-minute walk through forest trails, but Mohan will drive you to the best beaches on the island
  • The price tag is high, but it does include all meals and a delicious help-yourself afternoon tea
  • The accommodation is more homely than hip, but we adored the gold cushions, hanging lanterns and old wooden toys
  • Occasional day visitors

Best time to go

Although there is no rainy season as such, April to July has less rain on Pangkor Island. The busiest time is mid October to mid Feb so guests should book well in advance over these periods.

Our top tips

Bring tools for relaxation such as books, iPods and speakers, and lots of loose informal clothing such sarongs. Binoculars would be useful for bird and monkey watching, and insect repellent is a must. If you'll want to play tennis, bring trainers.

Watch Bavanni at work and learn the secrets of her fantastic cooking, including her addictive sweet chilli sauce and tomato chutney.

Great for...

Family
Foodie
Great Outdoors
Wedding
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Jungle Hotel
  • 8
  • All-inclusive
  • 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
  • Tennis Court
Room: The Studio

Rooms

There are 8 bedrooms divided between 4 houses; groups can book multiple rooms in order to request exclusive use of a particular building.

The Main House, originally David and Rebecca’s house, is a 2-storey wooden building set on a grassy slope. Accessed via stone steps winding up from the pool, there’s a twin room with a gorgeous mural and a master double bedroom. This room opens out onto a small covered terrace facing the dense undergrowth. Downstairs, the kitchen and living space are filled with cookbooks, decorative crockery and wooden ornaments.

The impossibly romantic Studio was our favourite hideout. A self-contained double room, it has a large bed in the centre of the room and all around are vivid jungle scenes swathed on large canvases. The beautiful wooden French doors fold back, engulfing the room with light, to reveal a stunning jungle panorama.

We stayed in the Pool House, another self-contained option (slightly smaller, but just as romantic). Despite being the closest to the dining area, it felt very private. At the front, a small veranda provided beautiful view onto the jungle and pool.

Hill House consists of two separate houses, each with 2 double bedrooms (all ensuite with terraces). In between the buildings, there’s a communal outdoor pavilion, a swimming pool, and an outdoor dining area with a view to the sea. Hill House is located away from the other houses, up a steep slope and across a bridge, so it feels very secluded.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Hairdryer
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi

Eating

Bavanni reigns Queen of the Kitchen, and with good reason. Her food is fantastic. Meals are served in the Pool House; beautifully lit by lanterns in the evenings. The lack of a menu means there's no agonising over what to have; plate after plate of utterly delicious food comes to the table, while you simply help yourselves and enjoy the conversation.

At lunch and dinner, expect a huge selection of mainly Malay dishes, inspired by Indian and Chinese food. Seafood and fish feature often, sometimes an Indian-style whole mackerel in a dry, aromatic paste or prawns nestling in an omelette. Vegetables come either stir-fried or lightly battered in tempura with a chilli sauce. Asian staples such as rice and vermicelli noodles are a constant, all perfectly seasoned. Lunchtime puddings usually consist of fresh fruit, but in the evening they tend to be more stylish. Perhaps sautéed mango with coconut and Tia Maria ice cream: a luscious mixture indeed.

Informal breakfast tables are laden with muesli, cornflakes and yoghurt plus bowls of papaya, oranges and bananas (7.30-8.30am). Baskets brim with breads and croissants. strong cafetiere and cooked eggs are prepared to order - we recommend the buttery scrambled eggs. Earl Grey, Darjeeling and scented rose petal tea are also available

If you'd prefer to have meals served in your house, just ask. The in-house kitchens aren't for self-catering, but parents will find them useful for preparing bottles etc.

Features include:

  • All meals included
  • Bar
  • Children meals
  • Communal dining
  • Organic produce
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating: Living Area Hill House
Activity:

Activities

  • Laze by the pool, read a book in the library, or play a game of tennis - there are floodlights for evening knockabouts
  • Birders will be busy - spot several types of hornbill around the grounds; keep your binoculars handy to spot eagles and fish owls; listen out for the rare argus pheasant
  • Ask for a ride to one of the unspoilt beaches (or walk 25 minutes through the jungle); Mohan will send you off with a beach bag, water and a packed lunch if you want one
  • Mohan can arrange for a local lady to come and decorate your hands and feet with beautiful henna designs. He can also arrange for massages from a local Chinese couple, who work in tandem to release knots
  • Take a boat trip to the Sembilian Islands for great snorkelling. The beaches offer kayaking, jetskiing and waterskiing
  • Take a free tour of the island with Mohan - see ornate temples, traditional boat building yards and learn about Pangkor’s local culture
  • Ask Mohan to show you how to tap a rubber tree, a traditional art
  • Go on a fishing trip with a local; Mohan can organise

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Boat trips
  • Cooking classes
  • Fishing
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Jet skiing
  • Kayaking
  • Mountain biking
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Private guided tours
  • Snorkelling
  • Swimming
  • Tennis
  • Traditional cultures
  • Waterskiing
  • Wildlife

Kids

Tiger Rock has an ethos that makes many parents very happy: "Our main aim, is to keep kids well catered for so their parents can relax." You can't argue with a hotel that is parent-friendly as well as child-friendly, can you? The small team will discuss activities with you on arrival and offer free beach transfers, too. It's a good place for all ages - as long as your children are outdoorsy and intrepid travellers (the airport is 4 hours away).

Best for:

All ages

Family friendly accommodation:

Most rooms sleep parents plus a baby. The Main House is good for a large family (up to 4-5 kids). In the Hill House, the purple and yellow rooms can interconnect.

Babysitting:

An English-speaking babysitter is available.

Baby listening:

You can borrow their plug-in monitor (although it doesn't work throughout the whole of the property).

Baby equipment:

  • Baby cots
  • Baby bedding
  • High chair
  • Pushchair
  • Baby backpack/rucksack
  • Potty
  • Night light
  • Baby bath
  • Bottle warming

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

Children's meals:

Although they don't have a specific kids menu, food is available all day and an early dinner can be served if needed. The chef is happy to accommodate specific meal requirements. You can also use their blender.

Kids Activities on site:

  • Swimming pool with shallow end
  • Children's DVDs
  • Farm animals nearby
  • A selection of toys
  • Tennis courts
  • Library
  • Various cultural/farming activities like rubber tapping, sari wearing

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Beaches nearby (free transfer from hotel) for swimming, watersports, snorkelling, picnics etc
  • Jungle trekking
  • Kayaking
  • Hiking

Families Should Know:

There are steep slopes and steps here as well as a potentially dangerous jungle. You will get a safety talk on arrival which among other things cautions against running around barefoot. Sunburn and insects are two of the biggest hazards overall.

Distances:

  • Airport: 4 hours (Kuala Lumpur International)
  • Hospital: 15 minutes (boat ride plus a short drive)
  • Doctor: 5 minutes (by car)
Kid Friendly:

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