Seven Terraces: The Ultimate Penang Hotel Experience
As Penang enjoys a renaissance of sorts as one of Asia’s culinary and cultural capitals, Malaysia’s island that loves to eat is stepping up its game as a holiday destination with a full range of attractions and activities for visitors of all interests. From the many festivals taking place throughout the year to the newly opened Habitat at the top of Penang Hill, there is something for everyone on this tropical island where beaches are only one aspect of a multifaceted destination. The state capital, George Town, is at once one of the most traditional and modern cities in Asia, showcasing its rich history while simultaneously adjusting happily to the modernity of the 21st century.
Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008, George Town’s central business district is a charming agglomeration of classic shophouses, religious temples of various faiths, and grand administrative buildings from the British colonial era, a time when Penang was part of what was then called The Straits Settlements. It is the shophouses, though, that have commanded the most attention in recent years as the formerly dilapidated structures are renovated and reborn as innovative boutiques, accessible art galleries, vibrant bars, and hip cafés, often run by youthful entrepreneurs whose business acumen allows them to provide adults young and old the type of social spaces expected by a new generation of clientele.
Some shophouses are also hotels, none more impressive than Seven Terraces. Himself an enterprising entrepreneur, former Sydney banker turned visionary hotelier with impeccable taste Christopher Ong acquired seven adjacent terrace houses and combined them in a spectacular renovation sensitive to the houses’ architectural past. The 16 rooms and suites of Seven Terraces are filled with valuable artworks and antiques that are part of Mr Ong’s private collection, accumulated in his effort to preserve Penang’s special culture which saw Chinese, Indian, Malay, and European influences meld into what became known as Peranakan culture. Each room is different in size and configuration, but all provide exceptionally spacious accommodation in beautiful surroundings.
Backing up the hardware is a dedicated staff committed like its owner to the best and only the best, making the standard of service at Seven Terraces comparable to that of a large five-star hotel, here proffered instead in an environment emulating a private mansion. Niceties such as complimentary afternoon tea by the pool and a lobby that serves as a de facto museum elevate the guest experience further, as do the delicious dinners at Kebaya, Seven Terraces‘ much lauded restaurant where Peranakan cuisine is given a contemporary twist. As elsewhere in the hotel, the grandeur of the space, elegance of the decor, and attentiveness of the staff provide what can only be described as a remarkable dining experience.
Seven Terraces is one of several properties in Mr Ong’s George Town Heritage + Hotels portfolio, all meant to preserve the integrity of Peranakan culture. Muntry Mews, down the street from Seven Terraces, is a more casual hotel and social dining establishment where the millennial ethos found in Penang’s many small cafés also thrives. At the other end of the spectrum are entire mansions decorated in tasteful style available through George Town Heritage + Hotels for short-term stays.