The Pearl of the Orient has so much to offer – History, nature, retail therapy, sandy beaches, watersports and of course some of the best food on the planet!
With the recent annexation of Georgetown as a UNESCO World Heritage site, Penang has become a hot destination with tourists from all over the globe. It ranked 8th in The Guardian’s list of 40 holiday hotspots: Where to go in 2014.
The influx of tourism has spearheaded an island-wide gentrification process. Fortunately, this process is centered around Penang’s rich history and culture. Historical properties are finally undergoing restoration works after years of neglect and funky hostels/guesthouses now occupy what used to be run-down shophouses.
Gentrification in this instance is good news to tourists like you and me – A greater variety of accommodation options which feature modern comforts while still retaining its authenticity.
I’m sure many of you who’ve been to Penang have heard of the fabled Eastern & Oriental Hotel and Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion aka Blue Mansion. These options however have an astronomical price tag attached to them and are well out of the budget of the average backpacker.
I’m always looking for bang-for-buck when I travel so here’s my Top 7 Places to Stay in Penang for under $100*
*In no particular order*
1. KE-LAN-TAN HOUSE
I had the pleasure of staying here recently when I was in Penang. A charming Peranakan mansion hidden away in the shadow of the island’s tallest landmark – KOMTAR. For an escape from reality and a trip to yesteryear in a beautiful Peranakan Mansion, stay at Ke-lan-tan House! Read the full review here
Cost: Rooms from $75 onwards
2. SINKEH GUESTHOUSE
Get in touch with your artistic side by staying at SINKEH (Newcomer in the local Hokkien dialect) – A guesthouse cum art studio housed in a refurbished 19th century Straits Chinese house.
SINKEH offers 9 rooms (6 doubles & 3 singles) designed by award-winning Malaysian architect Lillian Tay.
Expect contemporary design seamlessly incorporated with the past. An eclectic mix of old and new. SINKEH’s dedication to the arts is evident from the numerous art exhibits which adorn the property.
Immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of performances, rehearsals and discussions during your stay. You get to support the local art scene too as 20 sen of every ringgit earned is channeled towards programming and production. Treat your senses to all things beautiful at SINKEH Guesthouse.
Cost: Rooms from $73*
*Booking directly from SINKEH’s website. Promotional price good till 31/12/2014*
Tip: If you intend to book after the promotional period, book via airbnb to enjoy $33 discount
For more details and bookings please visit SINKAH’s website or airbnb listing by clicking on the links below.
3. THE SHOPHOUSE
A newly renovated 100 year old townhouse located in the heart of Georgetown’s Heritage Zone. This property features a stylish contemporary design while still retaining its authenticity.
The wooden furnishings & warm lighting creates a rather cozy environment. Natural light filters into the room through the panel “win-doors” so it never gets too dark during the day. Vintage antiques inconspicuously placed around the property lend some perspective to the property’s history.
With the famous Penang Street just a few steps away, The Shophouse is the perfect base for foodies.
Dig into kaya toast & local coffee at the highly acclaimed Toh Soon Cafe round the corner. Penang laksa, chendol and more gastronomical delights are never too far away! Did I mention that there’s even an old school Hainanese bakery right next door?! Ahhh the smell of freshly baked bread…. The host is a foodie as well so no surprise that she has taken the liberty of creating a food map for her guests. EAT SLEEP EAT REPEAT IN STYLE at The Shophouse!
*After airbnb $33 discount*
Foreword: I know this exceeds the $100 budget stated in the title but the aesthetics & close proximity to food haunts is definitely worth the extra $10!
4. CC GURNEY
Penang is essentially an island. For the best views of the Straits of Malacca, stay at CC Gurney. A B&B housed within a condominium complex, CC Gurney offers spacious well-appointed sea view rooms coupled together with all the amenities of a condo.
Guests can access the gym and pool at no extra cost.
CC Gurney benefits from its prime location in the well-known Gurney promenade district. The condominium also has its own private walkway to one of Penang’s most popular malls – Gurney Plaza. Other shopping options such as Gurney Paragon Mall and the night market are also within walking distance.
Exploring Penang? Public transportation to other parts of the island are at your doorstep. Feeling hungry? The immediate vicinity is packed with F&B options. Choose from one of the many restaurants offering various cuisines or tuck into local hawker fare at the Gurney food market. Experience promenade living at CC Gurney!
300 meters from Komtar and Pranglin mall, Douhouz is conveniently located in the heart of Georgetown. Douhouz offers a unique Japanese inspired loft-style accommodation.
Each loft occupies two levels. The first level serves as the living area furnished with a sofa bed. The sofa bed can be converted to accommodate additional guests if required (Sleeps 2). The bathroom and bedroom are on the second level.
Douhouz also operates a popular vegetarian cafe. The menu consists mainly of coffee, snacks and a few mains. The mushroom pizza has been receiving fantastic reviews from guests and local Penangnites.
Douhouz offers complimentary bicycle rentals to their guests. You can simply park your bicycle right outside your loft after a long day of cycling around Georgetown. For an affordable and unique accommodation experience, stay at Douhouz!
If you’re really on a tight budget, travelling alone or generally just prefer the backpacking experience here’s two of Penang’s best hostels for you to consider!
6. SYOK @ CHULIA HOSTEL
The largest hostel in Penang is housed in a pre-war building located on Chulia Street, the main artery of Georgetown. SYOK @ Chulia Hostel offers a variety of accommodation options for all types of travellers, flashpackers in particular. Clean cosy beds in spacious dorms for a good night’s rest!
The hostel also has a pretty funky lounge equipped with WiFi, 50” TV, dart board, Foosball table, board games, magazines and FREE Coffee/Tea for in-house guests only.
Cost: Beds from $17 onwards
7. RYOKAN CHIC HOSTEL
Located on Muntri Street, Ryokan Chic Hostel is a Japanese inspired boutique flashpacker hostel.
Unlike Syok@Chulia, Ryokan offers dormitories in 4/6 bed options. If you have personal space issues then Ryokan is for you!
They also have fancier options for the discerning flashpacker such as the luxury room. The luxury room is similar to a hotel room – king sized bed, a 32″ LCD TV, ensuite facilities, a personal wardrobe and locker but available at only a fraction of the hotel price.
Ryokan also has an in-house cafe titled Tidbits which serves drinks and finger food.
Check out the website for more details.
Cost: Beds from $11.50 onwards
How to Book?
All of the listings above (except for the hostels) can be booked via airbnb. Click on the links below each listing and it’ll open up the property’s respective airbnb page.
As mentioned earlier first-time users receive a $33 discount on their bookings. Just when you thought things couldn’t get any cheaper! If you have already created a airbnb account and have not validated it yet, simply sign up for another one using a different email address to enjoy the discount.
Sign up here using this code to enjoy the discount! (If link is not working manually enter www.airbnb.com.sg/c/ndesilva15?s=8) If that too isn’t working, drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll send you the discount personally.
With the Malaysian Ringgit at an all time low, it’s the perfect time to visit the Pearl of the Orient. Get bang for buck with these value-for-money accommodation deals! Also check out my post on some of Penang’s best eats at: Eating My Way Through George Town, Penang – A Gastronomical Adventure.
Penang is a mere 1.5 hour flight away. Alternatively, you can take the train up north if you’re feeling adventurous or intend to stopover in Kuala Lumpur! There’s just no excuse for a quick affordable weekend getaway 🙂
Featured image taken from http://leapingpost.com/2013/11/28/googles-street-view-covers-penang-roads/
Ryokan Chic Hostel Luxury Room taken from http://goseasia.about.com/od/penang_hotels/ss/Images-of-the-Ryokan-at-Muntri-in-Penang-Malaysia_5.htm
SYOK@Chulia Hostel taken from http://dreamexplorewander.com/2014/02/review-syok-at-chulia-hostel-in-penang-malaysia/ All copyright belongs to the respective owners
***All prices displayed are in Singapore Dollars (SGD)***
Photographs & Information taken from airbnb & respective websites