Our taxi driver, who did not say one word to us, drove us from Penang Airport to our hotel, The Eastern & Oriental in Georgetown. At the airport, you prepay for your taxi at the taxi kiosk before you get into one of the waiting taxis. Since the taxi ride is prepaid for at the airport, there is no need to worry about getting ripped off. We paid 44.70 RM, which is about $13 USD, for the taxi ride from the airport to Eastern & Oriental Hotel.
When we arrived at the the hotel, the porters, who were dressed in old Colonial British Style Uniform, took care of our luggage and escorted us inside to the lobby where we were shown to the lobby’s sitting area. Once we were seated, a front desk employee brought over welcome drinks and cold towels for us. Instead of having to go up to the front desk, the front desk staff came over to us to collect our passports and credit card which were taken back to the front desk and after a short while, the passports and credit cards were returned along with the paperworks. My dad signed the paperworks that were brought over to us before one of the hotel staff member personally escorted us to our room, while explaining all of the hotels amenities, features and history.
Our room was located in the original building built in the 1800’s. Unlike modern hotels, the rooms are recessed into a hallway from the main corridor which I thought was interesting. My mom though the hallway, with the whitewashed walls, reminded her of a mental hospital which was a turnoff for her. It did have somewhat of of mental ward feel, but I was more enchanted by the history of the hotel which was the playground of the British Colonial Rulers when Penang was part of the Straits Settlements and then British Malaya.
The gentleman who escorted us to our room, showed us around our deluxe suite and explained the features and amenities of the room before thanking us for staying at the hotel and leaving us to explore our room on our own. Our room has a balcony with a view of the hotel’s pool and the Straight Of Malacca. The bathroom was huge with a separate bathtub and a shower plus two separate sink vanities. The bedroom and the living room were in separate rooms but the division between the two rooms was more akin to a den and the living room of a typical home. Many of the light switches in our room were originals according to the gentleman who escorted us to our room. In the living room, there was a old school writing desk but the desk was not so modern computer friendly, but it did give the room the extra Victorian Age charm.
Coffee and tea along with bottled water were available in the living room next to the TV. In the evening, there is a second housekeeping service which we found out about when we got a knock on our door. In the morning, newspapers are delivered in canvas bags and hung on the door instead of just being left on the floor. While our suite was in the original building built in the late 1800’s, the suite had air conditioning which worked extremely well. Not once during our two night stay did we feel hot or uncomfortable in our suite. The air conditioning was working so well that it became too cold in our suite and we had to raise the thermostat a bit for the air conditioning to shut off. If you wear glasses or take your camera and walk outside onto to the balcony, the lenses will immediately fog up with condensation from the temperature difference between 65 degrees air conditioned room and the hot and humid weather of Penang.
Breakfast was included in our room rate and it is served in the hotel’s Sarkies Restaurant. Both Malaysian and Western breakfast items were available in the breakfast buffet lineup. At Sarkies, a cook who cooked eggs as well as Malaysian flat breads to order was available. Both mornings for breakfast, my mom and I ate the Malaysian items such as curries and Nasi Lemak along with eggs cooked to order all washed down with some nice strong coffee. Everything in the restaurant was fresh and tasted good. I thought the balance between Malaysian and Western breakfast food items on offer was well balanced to please everyones taste.
The hotel has a bar called Farquhar’s Bar, located in the lobby. While the bar is nice, I did feel the drinks were overpriced for the strength of the drinks. A Long Island Iced Tea would normally get me buzzed but the one I had at Farquhar’s Bar did nothing for me at all. Just my theory but after drinking the drink from Farquhar’s Bar, I could probably have still passed a breathalyzer test back home in California. I think the bar is beautiful and a great place to kill time or socialize, but definitely not a place to get drunk on the cheap.
One flaw at the Eastern & Oriental Hotel is that there is a mosquito problem in the rooms. The first day when we checked in, my mom was bitten multiple times within the first hour that we were in our suite. On our way out wander around Georgetown, we told the front desk staff about the mosquito problem and the lady working told us that she would send housekeeping to spray the room and she also let us know that the room has mosquito repellents in one of the drawers in the bedroom. The fact that the room was equipped with mosquito repellents clued us in that mosquitos have been an ongoing problem at this hotel. When we arrived back from dinner and a walk around town, I could tell that the room had been sprayed from the smell, and I also found the electric mosquito repellent system and turned it on after placing one of the repellent pack in the device. The mosquito repellent did not seem to work very effectively at all. My mom was covered in bites but for some reason, the mosquitos avoided my dad and myself.
Overall I enjoyed the hotel but my mom did not like the hotel. But in all fairness to the Eastern & Oriental Hotel, my mom is not a fan of hotels in old historic buildings. She prefers new modern hotels and the corridors which reminded her of a mental ward did not help. My mom, who has worked in the medical profession her whole life thought the heritage wing of the hotel reminded her too much of hospitals that she worked at from her younger days. If we stayed in the newer tower of the hotel, my mom’s opinion might have been different.