Eastern & Oriental Hotel

Imperialists, Sophisticrats and Well-heeled Globetrotters

PRICE: Affordable

RATING: Wow factor

The Eastern and Oriental in Malaysia’s Penang – known simply as `the E&O’ to generations of travellers – has stood for well over a century as a testament to the grand elegance of the British colonial era. This remarkable hotel was founded by the brilliant Armenian Sarkies brothers (also behind grand colonial hotels in Yangon and Singapore).

The E&O’s status is almost as legendary as that of Penang itself. It has welcomed generations of notables – Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, Noel Coward, Rudyard Kipling, Somerset Maugham and Hermann Hesse to name but a few. The discreet service, superb food and opulent interiors are a delight. Cast aside any notion of the E&O being fuddy duddy; this is timelessly elegance.

And when you’ve  make the 45-minute journey from the airport, passing soaring skyscrapers and a plethora of indeterminate hotels, you’ll brief a huge sigh of relief as your driver pulls into the horseshoe-shaped driveway and you see the stunning Victorian facade of one of the most photographed hotels in Asia.

It was with the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 and the arrival of the steamship that travels to Asia assumed unprecedented style and luxury. And the Sarkies brothers provided that in spades.

Perfectly located on a 902ft frontage to the Andaman Sea, just a stone’s throw from iconic Love Lane and the world heritage zone, the E&O makes the perfect base from which to explore Penang. And when you yearn to kick back and escape the heat of the narrow lanes, you can cast a smile at the E&O’s bellhops in their pith helmets as you head for the blissful indulgence of the hotel pools.

For those staying in the E&O’s Victory Annex, there is a short but sweet hour-long service of free cocktails and canapes in the Planters Lounge with its terrace overlooking the Andaman Sea. It’s an early evening session not to be missed.

Yonder Insight

You’ll get a cracking photo of Penang’s largest mural, The Rickshaw, from the top floors of the Victory Annex. Jump in the lifts and it will be visible directly through the windows.

On your doorstep

Stroll to nearby Khoo Kongsi to wander around the narrow lanes, photograph the old chinese shophouses and marvel at the hidden temples.

Thoughts on a postcard

The rooftop infinity pool has a view to die for. After an early-morning dip followed by ice cold cucumber water served to our lounger, we felt alive and ready for whatever adventures the day had to offer.



Eastern & Oriental Hotel: The Map


Macalister Mansion

This place is the embodiment of Penang in Malaysia. Located along the historic Macalister Road, it’s cool, arty and has fantastic food. What’s more, although it is set around a lovingly restored colonial mansion built in the early 1900, it has a quirky contemporary feel, although the love-them-or-hate-them art installations might come as a bit of a surprise.