Marina Emmanuel rediscovers the streets of George Town by using a small and independently-run luxury hotel as her base
THE ear-plugs which are thoughtfully supplied in the bedside drawer of my room prove unnecessary to cut out any noise which sometimes travels from the hawker centre across the street from the hotel.
Very comfortable bedding, which included a good mattress topper and cool linens, are among the reasons why sound sleep was easily achieved at The Edison George Town in Penang.
The relatively new and award-winning boutique hotel has the distinction of being Penang’s first Small Luxury Hotel of the World (SLH), and Malaysia’s eighth.
SLH has over 421,000 members worldwide and a database of over 25,000 luxury agents.
The property is housed in the former mansion of a Hokkien tycoon and built in 1906 along Lebuh Leith, in the buffer zone of George Town’s Unesco heritage enclave.
The building’s last use may be better known to locals as the dilapidated but iconic budget hotel known as Cathay Hotel which had been operating since the 1950s.
The Edison George Town’s location is just made for those wanting to explore every nook and cranny of the surrounding and vibrant city where there is more than enough to keep the foodie, shutterbug, shopaholic or history buff occupied.
An early morning walk out of the hotel is best recommended as one gets to take in the sights and smells of the city before traffic fumes, congestion and the scorching heat take over and can sometimes wear you down.
My earlybird excursion is rewarded by cool breezes and an empty parking lot in the grounds of the Church of the Assumption along Lebuh Farquhar, which is currently undergoing a major restoration job.
An up close and personal look of the work in progress is one bonus in taking in the painstaking work being carried out on the church which was founded in 1786 and is home to one of the country’s oldest pipe organs.
Further up the street is yet another equally impressive architectural feat — St George’s Church — Southeast Asia’s oldest Anglican church which was built in 1817 by the East India Company using convict labour.
Even further ahead are more houses of worship like the Kapitan Keling Mosque and Kuan Yin Teng Temple.
Back on Lebuh Leith where The Edison George Town is located, one is spoilt for choice when it comes to food at all times of the day.
Fronting the hotel is a hawker food court and a handful of trendy cafes, local coffee shops and pushcarts offering local smells, tastes and colourful textures.
HOME SWEET HOME
Home is where one feels at the hotel’s The Lounge, which serves as a gathering space for guests and non-guests. The area is a combination breakfast area and lounge where guests have unlimited access to snacks and beverages from self-service counters.
Apart from hot beverages like cappuccino and a good range of premium teas, Milo is also available and there is talk that “teh tarik” may also be on the cards.
For those yearning for a touch of nostalgia, childhood favourites (read: junk food) like lemon tablets, hawflakes, roti kapai (local biscotti), iced gems biscuits and local chocolate wafers are offered alongside favourites like curry puffs and nyonya cakes.
Local and seasonal touches like festive cookies and local Pak Ali pickles are also featured from time to time.
The local sourcing of items ranging from food and beverage to room amenities is something which the ET Group is big on, in working with and supporting the community by introducing their products to its guests.
ET Group is a parent company for ET Hospitality Ventures Sdn Bhd, the company behind The Edison George Town.
“The nasi lemak found at breakfast, for example, is from a neighbouring supplier, as is the fresh artisanal bread from Rainforest Bakery and the Roti Benggali and coconut buns which we source from Malia Bakery around the corner,” says Eugene Tan of ET Group.
The hotel also partnered with local suppliers to provide leather tassels for its room keys, key chain wooden blocks and old school essentials like stationery boxes for its guest rooms.
The Edison George Town also supports the Helping Hands Penan project. The hand-crafted laundry baskets and carryall bags are found in all guest rooms for use and also for purchase.
Seeing is indeed believing and The Edison George Town serves as the perfect pad and home away from home to either discover or rediscover the charms of Penang island and its historical gems.