EASTERN & ORIENTAL HOTEL, PENANG
Penang is known as both the foodie capital of Malaysia and as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. So it was with much anticipation that we visited this vibrant island, to both sample its food diversity and relish its many cultural and historical offerings. In Penang we first stayed at the luxurious Eastern & Oriental Hotel. Located in Penang’s old town, George Town, the hotel is minutes away from Penang’s food and shopping strips, the financial district and all of Penang’s main cultural destinations.
In its early days when Penang served as an outpost of the East India Company, the island drew in a variety of travellers ranging from merchants to missionaries that made the arduous route from London to Singapore, a journey that generally took about four long months. But it was not until the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 that travel to Asia took on another dimension, with writers, actors and the rich from Europe and America all making the trip to Asia to see what the oriental world had to offer. And with this new breed of affluent travellers, the demand for luxury hotels flourished.
And so The Eastern & Oriental Hotel was founded in 1885 by the Sarkies Brothers, the same brothers who were also instrumental in the construction of the famous Raffles Hotel in Singapore. The Eastern & Oriental is a tale of two halves. There are two wings to the hotel, first, the traditional Heritage Wing, and the second, the ultra modern Victory Annex. The Heritage Wing evokes a sense of tradition, one that is filled with old, colonial charm. The Heritage Wing maintains many of its original features such as the spacious domed lobby and a grand marbled floor corridor. It’s where many old time traditions have been kept such as the doorman in khaki shorts, knee-high socks and pith-helmets, and the gentlemen at reception with their bow ties and slicked back hair. The Eastern & Oriental Hotel is a popular spot for weddings, and the Heritage Wing truly makes for the perfect backdrop for that all-important wedding photo.