The grand old lady of Penang

E&OA few days at the wonderful E&O Hotel in Penang, Malaysia, was a reminder of the outstanding value Asia offers travellers.

We’d left it rather late and booked only a few weeks in advance. Yet for the price of a nondescript room in a second-rate hotel in my home town of Sydney, instead at the E&O we were given a spacious deluxe suite with sea views – as well as free broadband. Other luxury hotels should take note!

The specialty of the Eastern & Oriental is gracious “old-school” hospitality. And our bargain room rate included superb breakfast spreads to entice lengthy lingering: fresh fruit, cereals, eggs cooked to order every which way, hot dishes ranging from congee to hash browns, waffles with a bewildering variety of toppings, fresh espresso and tea. All this bounty – and service with a smile. It was difficult not to spend the entire morning over such a meal enjoyed on the verandah overlooking the sea.

The E&O was created by Armenian brothers the Sarkies in the late 1800s, the same lads who were originally responsible for creating Raffles in Singapore and the Strand Hotel in Rangoon, Burma.

The Penang hotel has had its ups and down over the years and was recently restored. Thankfully it retains a pervading sense of the colonial grandeur and refined sense of service that in past years has pleased a honour-roll of guests such as Rudyard Kipling and Herman Hesse, Charlie Chaplin and Noel Coward.

Although it’s Penang’s grande dame of hotels, the E&O is devoid of snootiness and exclusivity. Everyone may pass through its doors and are made welcome by a courteous and friendly staff. More tellingly, half of Penang seems to eat there on the hotel’s regular buffet nights, which is all the more remarkable considering Penang’s reputation as a city brimming with culinary competition and renowned globally as a foodie hot spot.


One thought on “The grand old lady of Penang

  1. Pingback: Exploring the Pearl of the Orient, Penang, Malaysia « Discover the Orient

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s