Penang’s Eastern & Oriental Hotel is a colonial grandeur. Disguised behind a thick curtain of modern enigma, the hotel proudly wears its past history…

Penang’s 120-year-old Eastern & Oriental Hotel paints an illustrious background to the region’s colonial heritage. 

Eastern & Oriental, fondly known as E&O,  is a five-star heritage hotel along the promenade of George Town, Malaysia. Painted in all white and embellished with wrought iron, the hotel echoes its historical heyday in colonial grandeur. Touting 134 years of history, the E&O is an architectural splendor with a nod to its European past and Malay culture

The Lobby

Upon entering the revolving doors at the Heritage Annex, guests are greeted by an airy circular façade. The ‘echo dome’ sits right above, echoing the whispers and the footsteps that its guests have made in the past century. The reception desk is simple and vintage. Long corridors that stretch the length of the hotel are illuminated by the wide windows on one side. The hotel’s historic past is underlined by rotary-dial telephones that may have sat in their spots for the past decades.

The Room

The majority of the suites in the Heritage Annex open to a wide view of the Andaman Sea from the living room. As early as the sun rises, a steady sea breeze gusts through the windows, as the translucent drapes gracefully curl in and out from the walls.

A stroll through the hotel grounds is a must. Checkered hallways in dim lights and century old ballrooms echoes the historic background of the hotel. In the Victoria Annex, there are shops that sell beautiful handcrafted Malaysian goods and a museum that showcases the long history of E&O and its founders. Outside, Java Trees that have seen a handful of weddings and receptions still stand with the hotel.

The Hotel

Enjoy an early breakfast at Sarkies’, the waterfront restaurant at Eastern & Oriental named after its founders, the Sarkie Brothers. The breakfast buffet includes an array of oriental options, western cuisine and freshly made juices. The colonial ambiance is accentuated with iron arches and a glass skylight.

Two swimming pools deck the hotel. The original pool, behind the Heritage Annex, is classy but small and crowded with a handful of sunbathers. The other, on the 6th floor of the Victoria Annex gives a sprawling view of the sea. The infinity pool is much quieter and partially shaded for those who wish to hide under the sun. The pool-side Planters Lounge is another place to sit and relax.

E&O is located some distance away from town. The ambiance by the waterfront is calm, the perfect contrast to the buzzling heart of George Town. Plenty of restaurants and bars, which only open at night, are a few minutes’ walk from the entrance.

The History

Well before 1885, the hotel was built and owned by a local landlord. Since then, the Sarkie Brothers took over and turned the humble hotel into what became ‘The Premier Hotel East of Suez.” Eastern & Oriental wears its illustrious heritage proudly, welcoming travelers from across the world. Penang has charmed millennial travelers with its ornate temples and colonial villas, whereby the E&O retains an amicable colonial atmosphere.

Notes from the writer:

E&O is approximately a 20-minute car ride from Penang International Airport. The hotel is quite a distance to central George Town, while a walk to the city center takes at least 30 to 45 minutes. Do take note that the walk is shade-less under scorching heat during the summer. It is best to travel by Grab or the bus whereby the walk is too long. The close proximity to the promenade and the sea view is a bonus advantage with staying at E&O.

Although a 5-star accommodation, E&O is well worth the extra bucks. Standard rooms begin at USD 170 per night, which includes a daily buffet breakfast for 2. Standard rooms in the Heritage Annex are spacious with separate living and sleeping space, although they tend to have dim lighting. Hotel website: here

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