Hello to all heritage hotel lovers and travel enthusiasts. It’s been a while since our last Penang visit, and we can’t wait to return. In case you missed our E&O Penang Hotel review, don’t hesitate to check, and see why we crowned the E&O Hotel as the best heritage hotel in Malaysia. No matters what, grab your seat; not so far from Eastern & Oriental, there is another fantastic heritage hotel. The former mansion is now a boutique hotel with only eight rooms and, on top of that, it is one of two design hotels in Malaysia. We are talking about Macalister Mansion, and here is our presentation of this lovely boutique hotel.
About Macalister Mansion
More often than not, heritage hotels are involved in cool stories; hence it is interesting to learn about the building’s past. It would be a pity if there would be only an Eastern & Oriental Hotel with a rich history in Penang’s UNESCO protected city, Georgetown. To be exact, Macalister Mansion was built in 1880, only nine years before the first Eastern Hotel.
However, at that time, the mansion was owned by an Indian moneylender but only for a short while. Rich Straits Chinese were rapidly settling on Penang island, and one rich Nyonya named Choong Lye Hock bought the mansion. At that time, the estate had 41 rooms and an iconic spiral staircase that led to a watchtower on the third floor (This staircase is still a part of room number 4).
Did they need that many rooms? I think yes, where else could you put 20 servants from China, they had at that time. After Choong Lye Hock’s death, his two sons took over the mansion. One bought others’ share and leased the whole estate to the Consumers Association of Penang for about ten years, followed by the Arredo furniture showroom and Crystal Brides, a bridal house.
First Design Hotel In Malaysia
Finally, in 2010, local businessman Datuk Sean H’ng and his wife Datin Karen H’ng undertook the restoration that took about 20 months. With the refreshed looks, Macalister Mansion was opened to the public. Now guests can choose among the eight guest rooms, in addition to the Living room, Dining Room, Bagan Bar, The Den and The Lawn took places. After our visit, they facelifted the Dining Room and even all eight guest rooms. To be exact, the hotel is evolving all the time and excites guests with its aesthetics.
Who Was Macalister?
Macalister Mansion’s name honors Sir Norman Macalister, one of Penang’s (Penang was formerly called Prince of Wales Island when the Malay States were a British colony) first British Governors from 1808 to 1810. In Penang, the present brick structure of Fort Cornwallis was built by convict labor in 1810 during his term as Governor of Penang. In August 1810, Sir Norman Macalister was lost at sea, in the South China Seas, while traveling back home to Scotland. His successor was his good friend Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles.
Macalister Mansion Design
The main idea is to keep that old English mansion feel and uplift it with a contemporary touch. All heritage details are preserved and well composed with modern design. With this approach, we get a nice balance between nostalgia and a vision of the future.
The interior came from architect Colin Seah from the Ministry of Design (MOD), a Singapore-based interior design company. I should point out that Macalister Mansion is decorated with many local art pieces. So, this place is not only stylish but also artish.
Through the site, you can see bespoke furniture pieces and bold carpets that merely round every room. If you think the design ends at the bathrooms, you are wrong. Both mosaic tiles and mirrors as a centerpiece are features that will shine to you.
Macalister Mansion Rooms
At Macalister Mansion, one can find eight unique spacious rooms designed with an idea of a glamorous lifestyle and functionality. Every room has its unique art pieces and luxurious amenities. All this will give you a feeling of staying at some private mansion rather than in a typical hotel.
All rooms are equipped with all you need; a Nespresso coffee machine, TWG tea collection, Bluetooth sound system, and well-known Aesop toiletries. The best feature in this hotel, in our opinion, is a tower where you can read a book or enjoy the sunrise before the birds start their morning song. To get to the tower, you will use the original staircase and provoke that colonial feels.
The Food at Macalister Mansion
What we truly like is breakfast. At Macalister Mansion, they realize the most significant advantage of being a boutique hotel, and every breakfast is made fresh. You choose from the menu, and the kitchen is right on it.
Macalister Mansion Afternoon Tea
Not having Afternoon Tea in the English mansion would be Sin! And not only that, Malaysia is all-in when it comes to the high tea tradition, and we can only encourage this. If you are interested, you can check the best afternoon tea in Kuala Lumpur, and you will see how relentless the competition is here.
However, Macalister Mansion afternoon tea is pure joy. It is served in their chic Living Room or, as they call it, now Guest Lounge, which can be a show by itself. However, not for long. When the afternoon tea set arrives, you will forget about everything. To find out more, please check our Macalister Mansion Afternoon Tea Review, and if you wanna find the best afternoon tea in Penang, click here.
What Else They Serve Here?
We haven’t tried any other dishes so we can’t make conclusions about that. However, we can give you the information; their focus is on contemporary French cuisine, which can be paired with selectively curated wines. To show the seriousness of the wines, they opened their Cellar with more than 300 labels of wine. We will stop there for dinner next time we visit Penang.
Who Should Stay at Macalister Mansion?
Macalister Mansion is a fitting hotel for all heritage hotel lovers, sophisticated people, or simply tourists with high standards. I can guarantee that you will enjoy yourself here and explore Penang Island like a boss. As a matter of fact, the hotel is located in a great location from where one can get around and find all these delicious meals. Penang is known as the culinary pearl of Malaysia where foodies from all around the globe can find their next pleasesures.