The Malaysian city of George Town is steeped in intriguing history. Located on Penang Island, off the northwest of the mainland, the city was an important trading port and as such it attracted an eclectic, and wealthy, population who embellished the town with architectural riches and brought with them culinary flavors from afar. This has given the city a unique mix, and whether you come here for its world famous cuisine or to explore its heritage, there’s no better place in stay in Penang than at a hotel that embodies the essence of the city: Cheong Fatt Tze’s Blue Mansion. Read on to find out why…
A Magical & Sumptuous City Mansion
A leading business of the late 19th century, and often referred to as the Rockefeller of the East, Cheong Fatt Tze embarked on the creation of a magnificent abode for his family. He turned towards Chinese architectural traditions and even consulted with an imminent Feng Shui master with the design of his sublime residence. From the intricate wooden screens carved by the best artisans brought in from China to the finest ironwork custom forged in Scotland, no detail was left overlooked. The result is a completely enchanting building which can’t help but leave the beholder in awe… and wanting to discover more.
Inside the Private Quarters of Cheong Fatt Tze
After all of his hard work, the mansion gradually fell into a state of terrible disrepair after Cheong Fatt Tze in 1916, eventually falling into virtual ruins. We are fortunate enough to be able to still experience this sublime and historically important home thanks to a group of Penang conservationists who to undertook painstaking restoration work in the 1990s to restore the mansion to its former glory. This project was at the forefront of the revival of historic George Town which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008. Parts of the mansion can be visited on thrice daily tours open to the public (highly recommended!), however, today it is also home to a divine boutique hotel and a stylish restaurant.
Imperial Rooms of Elegance
On either side of the central courtyard are two secretive wings which contain 18 luxurious and unique rooms. The rooms, divided into four categories, the Liang collection, the Ming collection, the Tang suites, and the Han suites, are all individually decorated and have spectacular features from the original mansion like delicately carved woodwork, precious antiques and massive original doors. I was lucky enough to stay in a gorgeous Ming room. Located on the ground floor and with direct access to the hotel’s garden and pool, the vast room features a awe-inspiring original screen behind the plush king-sized bed and decorations from Cheong Fatt Tze’s family as well as a fabulous modern bathroom, the latest entertainment technology, tea and coffee, biscuits, fruit and a few other surprises. Pure George Town heaven!
Chic & Creative Dining at the Indigo Restaurant
If that weren’t marvelous enough, their Indigo Restaurant caps off the Blue Mansion experience. It features a sleek modern decor cleverly incorporating both Asian and Western aesthetics. This is also reflected in the menu, designed by chef Weng, who acquired experience at the Cordon Bleu and top restaurants around the world before returning home to his native Penang. The regularly changing menu could include the likes of lamb croquettes with Asian pear, watercress and beancurd sauce, Black Angus sirloin steak with bok choy, braised potato with garlic, basil and soy and local twist pandan crème brulée with coconut cookies. They have an excellent value lunch menu, so even if you’re not staying over night you could also dine here before or after taking a tour.
However, you manage it, Cheong Fatt Tze’s Blue Mansion should definitely be on your list for a visit to George Town. Room rates generally range from RM500 to RM1,100 depending on the room category and date. See their website for full details and booking.
I was a guest of the Blue Mansion, however, all of the opinions above are entirely my own.