Where To Stay In George Town When You Visit Penang
Before booking your flight, let’s look at some places to stay in Penang.
If this is your first time traveling to Penang, did you know that international movies were shot here in the lovely city?
Indochine (1992), Beyond Rangoon (1995), Anna and the King (1999), BBC Channel 4 TV series Indian Summers screened (2015–16), Crazy Rich Asians (2018), and a host of other HK movies.
Now you’re probably thinking, no wonder Penang looks so familiar.
Penang is an island that doesn’t disappoint.
Whether you are looking for that once-in-a-lifetime luxury hotel, a beach resort, an intimate boutique hotel, a value-for-money town hotel, or a budget guesthouse.
Where To Stay In George Town, Penang
If you want to be in the middle of all the best street food in Penang, you will stay in George Town.
Once Penang was a cheap haven for backpackers traveling from Thailand. Most backpackers arrive in a minivan and hang around along Chulia Street.
Inaugurated in 2010, The George Town Festival was mooted to celebrate the inscription of George Town as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Since then, the festival has grown into a “major Asian art event,” attracting about 250,000 visitors in 2015
The George Town Festival is an annual cultural festival held within the city of George Town in Penang, Malaysia.
Since then, George Town has attracted visitors from all over the world who marvel at this heritage city’s uniquely preserved architecture.
The old shophouses once used as warehouses are now beautifully restored boutique hotels, cafes, museums, and art galleries.
Where To Stay In George Town Today
Penang is made up of Penang Island as well as part of the mainland.
Most visitors who visit Penang choose to stay close to Old George Town.
The unique architecture, sights, and atmosphere of the old town draw in the crowds.
Many know of Batu Ferringhi, but the hidden beaches and small islands around Penang are worth visiting if you like a secluded beach.
Most beach lovers head for nearby Langkawi, where the water is clearer.
If you are traveling with kids, some resorts along Penang’s most famous beach area, Batu Ferringhi, have lovely pool options.
Locals generally don’t swim in the sea as there are jellyfish and sea rambutans in the ocean.
As Penang is a small island, you can base yourself in either Batu Ferringhi or George Town and take day trips either way.
What people like most about this guide is we make recommendations based on budget.
You can plan your vacation to enjoy the best hotels in Penang by mixing up your stay between a Top-End, Mid-Range, and Budget accommodation.
You can choose a beach resort, a quaint privately run hotel in Penang Hill, or boutique-type refurbished heritage buildings in George Town.
As Penangites, we can give you the best holiday tips on where to stay, what to do, and the best food in Penang.
Note to travelers: Hotels’ recommendations are based on our experience and visits, and we are not compensated with sponsored stays. If you book through any of our links, we earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you) that helps keep our site going – so thank you in advance for your support! ♥
We hope you find this little guide helpful for finding the best place to stay in Penang!
The Best Areas To Stay In George Town
The good life isn’t always about expensive eateries and fancy seaside resorts.
You can enjoy the charm of old Penang with its eclectic mix of the ancient and modern in refurbished heritage buildings.
Visiting the older sections of George Town is like visiting wonders of the world where time stands still – in a city founded in 1786.
Most visitors prefer to stay and enjoy Old George Town for the best option that allows you the most accessible access to the sights.
Batu Ferringhi has the best beach accommodations if you prefer a beach holiday.
Tanjung Bungah beach is a mid-point that is the closest to George Town.
Other popular areas to stay in Penang are the modern suburb of Gurney Drive, with mega malls and legendary seafood hawkers.
Bayan Lepas district is excellent for business travelers who must stay close to the international airport.
The five different areas to stay in Penang, Malaysia, start with George Town, Batu Ferringhi Beach, Gurney Drive, Tanjung Bungah Beach, and Bayan Lepas (near the airport).
George Town, Penang
George Town, the capital of Penang, is a heady mix of old colonial buildings, stunning temples, beautiful, unique street art, murals, and coffee culture.
George Town is a fascinating city with a great history and exciting culture with a unique blend of diverse ethnicities.
You will meet Malays, Chinese, Indians, and Eurasians – some with a lineage that can be traced back to colonial times.
The heritage is reflected in Penang’s food, reputed to be the best in Southeast Asia!
Woven in the fabric of old George Town, at the fringes, you are greeted by modern skyscrapers and shopping centers, and some top-notch restaurants and cafes.
Like any metropolitan city, George Town is a mix of old and new with something interesting for everyone.
George Town, UNESCO World Heritage Site
George Town, Penang, and Malacca’s designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site (WHS) on July 7, 2008, was a boast achievement, particularly for Penangites and Malaysians.
With a rich history of over 500 years as the central trading hub between East and West – George Town has won many accolades over the years.
George Town Penang’s popularity is high among Asian and worldwide visitors and remains one of the biggest tourist attractions in Malaysia.
Where To Stay In George Town
The UNESCO World Heritage Site George Town is divided into the Core Area and the Buffer Zone, where the most important sights are the core zone.
The Core Zone (109.38 hectares) and Buffer Zone (150.04 hectares) of the George Town UNESCO World Heritage Site contain 5,013 buildings.
These include shophouses, home to long-time residents, and places of worship where the locals have worshipped since the 1880s.
The Core Zone Of George Town
The Historic City of George Town covers an area of 109.38ha.
The area is bounded by the Straits of Malacca on the north-eastern cape of Penang Island,
- Lorong Love (Love Lane) to the north-west
- Gat Lebuh Melayu
- Lorong Carnarvon
- Lebuh Carnarvon to the southwest corner.
There are more than 1,700 historic buildings within this Core Zone aligned on four main streets of
- Pengkalan Weld
- Lebuh Pantai
- Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling
- Lorong Love
This includes several perpendicular streets of
- Jalan Tun Syed Sheh Barakbah
- Lebuh Light
- Lebuh Bishop
- Lebuh Gereja
- Lebuh China
- Lebuh Pasar
- Lebuh Chulia
- Lebuh Armenian
- Lebuh Acheh
The Buffer Zone Of George Town
The Core Zone is protected by the Buffer Zone (not including sea buffer), bounded by a stretch of sea area around the harbor, Jalan Dr. Lim Chwee Leong and Gat Jalan Prangin to the southwest corner, and Jalan Transfer to the north-west corner.
The George Town hotel recommendations are divided into these two areas in this guide.
George Town is a relatively small walkable city that you can cover on foot easily. There isn’t much difference between these two parts of the city.
Packed with beautiful old colonial buildings, heritage shophouses converted to cafes, restaurants and shops, street markets, and hotels.
Why Stay In George Town – The Core Area and the Buffer Zone
You will find many beautifully restored, conserved, and repurposed buildings in the heart of George Town.
Some humble shophouses were repurposed into cool cafes and restaurants, cozy boutique hotels, art gallery books, and souvenir shops.
From the highly-priced Somerset Maugham opulence of the Eastern and Oriental Hotel to only the former home of the Last Mandarin of China – these are the places visitor can experience the ambiance by staying there.
Lebuh Chulia and Love Lane, George Town’s traditional backpacker area, are where the action is with hipster cafes, pubs, bars, and night markets.
Top pick on where to Stay in George Town
Some of the most beautiful and historical hotels are in the Core Area.
- Eastern & Oriental Hotel, Penang
- Cheong Fatt Tze – The Blue Mansion
- Yeng Keng Hotel
- Seven Terraces
- Ren I Tang Heritage Inn
- The Prestige Hotel Penang
Eastern & Oriental Hotel (E&O) (c. 1885)
Fondly revered as the Grand Dame of Penang, the Eastern & Oriental Hotel, a visit to George Town is not complete without dropping by the E&O.
Founded by the Sarkies Brothers in 1884, the white-washed E&O has stood the test of time in Penang.
Dating back to 1885, the bright white colonial-style hotel by the sea is the most iconic in George Town.
The E&O Hotel has everything one would expect from a top-end hotel, from big comfortable bathrooms with 24-hours butler service to an impressive six dining options!
The restaurant 1885 serves traditional English afternoon tea, and the Sarkies Corner offers an international buffet with local dishes.
Corporate guests are invited to the coveted Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony every year.
Famous visitors and guests of the hotel include Kings, dignitaries, movie stars, and writers.
Sir Noël Coward, Rudyard Kipling, Somerset Maugham, Charlie Chaplin, and Douglas Fairbanks are her famous guests.
If you want to stay in style with a lovely swimming pool right by the sea, the Eastern & Oriental Hotel is the perfect match for you. Stay at the E&O suites for a good pampering.
Cheong Fatt Tze – The Blue Mansion (c. 1880)
In a true-life rags-to-riches story, Cheong Fatt Tze was a penniless Hakka from Guangdong, China, who eventually became a diplomat, politician, philanthropist, and minister.
The Blue Mansion was built to amplify the fundamental feng shui elements.
With a central traditional Chinese courtyard, the mansion’s sense of scale and space harmoniously blends Chinese and Western architecture in Penang.
The striking indigo beauty and former mansion home of the Last Mandarin & First Capitalist of China remain one worthy of a boastful stay today.
Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion is an unusual boutique hotel that sets the standards high with an inherent quality many modern resorts can’t offer.
The 18 spacious and comfortable guest rooms are elegant and stylish.
Each room is uniquely intricately furnished to suit its theme, centered around the great Cheong Fatt Tze’s passions and history.
You will find a visually pleasing eclectic mix of East and West styles with antique furniture.
All rooms face an airy courtyard, and yes, there is an in-ground swimming pool.
If you want to look around the Blue Mansion without staying the night, you can join one of the three tours arranged every day, at 11 AM, 2 PM, and 3.30 PM.
Travel Tip: Try to make it for the 11 AM tour and continue with a set lunch at Indigo restaurant located on the first floor. You can order a la carte or take one of the set menus for delicious food and excellent service.
Penang’s most outstanding Cheong Fatt Tze: The Blue Mansion was awarded the UNESCO Most Excellent Heritage Conservation Award in 2000.
Yeng Keng Hotel
The restored Anglo-Indian bungalow on Chulia Street had a more colourful life in the early days as a brothel, as Penang was an important port on the silk trade routes.
Completely restored, each of the 19 rooms and suites is tastefully picked and organized to guarantee comfort and exclusivity.
The superb hotel is stunning, dressed in a Bright Yellow Ochre coat of limewash.
The location is excellent for those keen to explore the heritage area of George Town, all within easy walking distance.
The site is surrounded by lots of hawker food options and cafes.
A stay at Yeng Keng Hotel is comfortable and pleasant.
The rooms have comfortable beds, an extra lounge, and a good shower.
As the heritage hotel is just off the busy Chulia Street, it can be noisy at night.
But living in the inner city is fun, and you will soon get used to the noise.
To top it off, there is a swimming pool, limousine service, and a tour desk if you want to explore Penang further.
Seven Terraces (late c. the 1900s)
Seven Terraces is a grand row of seven C19th Anglo-Chinese terraces converted into a luxurious boutique hotel filled with antiques.
The hotel embraces the spirit of George Town’s UNESCO Historic Site and celebrates its unique Peranakan culture.
Seven Terraces are good neighbors with the Kuan Yin Teng, the oldest of Penang’s most critical Taoist temples.
One thing that Seven Terraces has very successfully done consistently is to provide very competent service.
If you’re are looking to stay in the typical beautiful home of a rich Baba of a century ago, Seven Terraces is where you will find luxury.
Step into the Seven Terraces, and you’ll be transported by the hotel’s architecture and culture of peaceful seclusion.
The location of Seven Terraces behind the iconic Kuan Yin Temple is hard to beat.
Right in front, you will find Antarabangsa Enterprise, where you can find a selection of really cheap beers, wines, and spirits – if you want to meet locals and visitors.
The location is near enough to the bustling street food stalls of Chulia Street and the backpacker hub of Love Lane bars.
Guest Rooms are accessed through a private courtyard, and the main entrance is on a quiet lane.
Like the rest of the hotel, the rooms have carved four-poster beds decorated with ornate Chinese antique furniture and rich textiles.
The bathrooms are impressively large and fitted with rain showers.
Staying here feels like being transported to a long-lost era.
Ren I Tang Heritage Inn (c. 1885)
“Ren I Tang” was formerly South East Asia’s oldest Chinese Medical Hall Wholesaler, Yin Oi Tong.
Established by herbalist Koo Suk Chuan the Yin Oi Tong Chinese Medical Hall continued trading until 2009.
The beautifully-restored building turned hotel is an experience that starts with luggage being hoisted up to your room through the air-well.
If you have stayed in a similar old house shophouse, you will remember the steep wooden staircase leading to the upstairs rooms.
The guest rooms retain their original colonial charm.
It is fully air-conditioned, with crisp freshly-laundered bedding. Staying here feels like your grandmother’s home had a makeover with modern fittings.
Downstairs old memorabilia of a working Chinese medical hall are all kept in the small museum.
Ren I Tang Heritage Inn is perfect if you are looking for a comfortable stay in a heritage shophouse smack in the middle of the busy, colorful and lively Little India district.
The Prestige Hotel Penang (c. 2019)
The 162-room Prestige Hotel is a luxury homegrown hospitality label and a gem amongst the island’s boutique hotels.
According to the designer’s Ministry of Design (MOD), Penang’s newest accommodation, The Prestige Hotel, cues from illusionists and magic props.
MOD designed the interiors, branding, signage, and art that ‘transposes heritage’ by combining the traditional and the modern.
Here you have an independent bespoke luxury hotel built from scratch, not conserved.
Set amongst 19th-century Victorian buildings in George Town UNESCO World Heritage Site, The Prestige Hotel blends with a colonial façade.
As crafted by MOD, you enter into a “contemporized and magical quasi-colonial universe” of modernity inside.
A clever design dazzles guests with optical illusions that start at its mirrored reception desk, to beds even appear to levitate off the guest room floors.
Things To See, Do and Stay in George Town
The peaceful and charming Muntri Street has some excellent boutique hotels and cozy cafes in the heritage zone.
The narrow streets come alive in the evenings.
In the evenings, you can walk to the lively street food night markets at Kimberley Street, Chulia Street, and Penang Road for mouth-watering food at a low price.
Walk around the Street of Harmony to take in the multicultural and ethnic vibes of George Town, along with several churches, mosques, and temples.
Founder of George Town, Captain Francis Light, was buried at the Protestant Cemetery in 1794
At Love Lane and Chulia Street, enjoy clubbing at the restaurants and street food. Further down Chulia Street, you will find plenty of Indian Muslim restaurants for Halal food.
You can grab a Teh Tarik (Malaysian pulled tea) or a Teh Halia (Malaysian Ginger tea), have some fried dough snacks, or grab some Sofuto Ice Cream at Family mart.
George Town’s Clan Jetty is a close-knit community with homes, several Chinese temples, cafes, and businesses, all connected by wooden walkways.
It is an excellent place to go for a stroll, watch fishing boats, families cooking their dinner, and kids playing around.
Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion (Blue)
The stunning iconic Blue Mansion, a boutique heritage hotel in historic George Town, Penang, is worth a visit, even if you are not planning on staying there.
Join one of their earlier guided tours at 11 AM and continue with lunch at Indigo Restaurant.
Remember the Mahjong scene in ‘Crazy Rich Asians’?
Well, The Blue Mansion was the unsung star – the movie was shot there!
Eastern and Oriental Hotel (White)
The stunning heritage hotel has a fantastic sea view that makes it an excellent place for afternoon tea and sunset with a setengah in the bar.
Kapitan Keling Mosque
Kapitan Keling Mosque was built in 1801 by Penang’s first Indian Muslim settlers (East India Company troops).
The Indo-Moorish-styled mosque is set at the junction of Lebuh Buckingham and Lebuh Pitt.
Leong San Tong Khoo Kongsi (c. 1906)
Leong San Tong Khoo Kongsi, or Khoo Kongsi, is one of Malaysia’s most distinctive Chinese clan associations.
The Khoo Kongsi is well known worldwide for its extensive lineage that can be traced back 650 years.
The closely-knit and defensive congregation of buildings and a magnificent clanhouse are not to be missed.
Kuan Yin Temple (c. 1728)
Penang’s oldest temple, the Kuan Yin Temple of Goddess of Mercy Temple, was constructed by early immigrant settlers from China.
The temple was built in honor of the Chinese Goddess of Mercy, Kuan Yin, the goddess of mercy, good fortune, peace, and fertility.
One of northern Malaysia’s most magnificent Chinese-style structures was initially named Kong Hock Keong temple (Cantonese-Hokkien Temple) and used for religious and social functions within the Penang Chinese community.
Devotees seek the interpretation of Kuan Yin Oracle Fortune Telling 100 Divine Lots at the temple.
Covering an area around Queen Street, Chulia Street, and Market Street, Penang’s Little India is an ethnic Indian enclave.
Sri Mariamman Temple (c. 1883)
Sri Mahamariamman Temple, the oldest Hindu temple in Penang, is the starting venue for the annual Thaipusam festival.
The location at the center of Penang Heritage Zone and Beach Street financial hub makes it one of Penang’s most notable shopping venues for sarees among locals and tourists.
Little India is famous for its banana rice meal, the epitome of Malaysian Indian cuisine. The place becomes lively during festivals like Deepavali, Christmas, and Thaipusam.
St. George’s Anglican Church (c. 1817)
St. George’s Church is a 19th-century Anglican church in the city of George Town in Penang,
Built in 1817 by the East India Company, the St. George’s Church is Southeast Asia’s oldest Anglican church and one of the oldest buildings in Penang.
Pinang Peranakan Mansion Museum (Green) (c. 1900s)
The stunningly restored distinctive green-hued mansion Pinang Peranakan Mansion is a museum that allows visitors a glimpse back in time.
Once served the home and office of the wealthiest Peranakan of the era, clan leader and merchant Chung Keng Quee who lived in the 19th century.
Rich Straits Chinese (Peranakans or Babas) lived an opulent lifestyle in George Town.
All the doors, walls, and archways are elaborately carved and painted in gold leaf.
The grand wooden furniture has mother-of-pearl decorations and a house filled with stunning antiques.
Get to know how Penang’s vibrant Nyonya community lives in the past at this go-to destination for Peranakan heritage and culture.
The top-notch museum is reputed as Penang’s finest, filled with fine artifacts and walking tours that you can join anytime.
Seh Tek Tong Cheah Kongsi Temple (c. 1810)
Cheah Kongsi Temple is the first of Penang’s five great Hokkien clan houses.
Seh Tek Tong Cheah Kongsi is an ornate and historic ancestral temple open to the public.
Yeng Keng Hotel (Bright Yellow Ochre) (c. 1900s)
The elegant and stylish Yeng Keng Hotel was an Anglo-Indian bungalow residence in the 1800s.
The premises has a signature Yeng Keng Cafe Bar and Restaurant with mouth-watering old skool Hainanese delights.
Final Thoughts on Where to Stay in George Town
With so many reasons to visit Penang, Malaysia – you get the best, from cultural attractions and unique cuisine to stunning beaches and vibrant nightlife.
George Town is the best destination for anyone visiting Penang for the first time with the best accommodations.