The Edison George Town is a storied 1906 mansion steps away from the World Heritage district in Malaysia’s madcap culinary capital. All its architectural clout and historic grandeur has been maintained, but the interiors are revamped with art deco furnishings and pops of vibrant colour. You can keep cool at the pool or kick back in a cabana – and then it’s time to explore. Bring your appetite: in George Town, skyscrapers and shophouses rub shoulders with temples and mosques, and cultures collide to create a famously cosmopolitan food scene.
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A local, seasonal gift and, subject to availability, a room upgrade, late check-out and early check-in
Noon; check-in, 2pm – but both are flexible, subject to availability.
Double rooms from £123.52 (MYR680), including tax at 6 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional government tax of MYR10.00 per room per night on check-in and an additional local city tax of MYR3.00 per room per night on check-in.
Rates include Continental breakfast of artisanal bread and pastries, fresh fruit, granola, and eggs made to order.
The hotel is on Lebuh Leith, one of George Town’s very first streets. In the evenings, the hawker centre across the street creates quite the commotion until a little after midnight; the hotel provides ear plugs for guests who’d like a little shuteye while the market is still buzzing.
Book a Deluxe Premium room for extra space, plus an espresso machine (the more caffeine you consume, the more inspired you’ll be to dance around all that extra space). The Suite is the largest option of all, and it comes with a deep-set bath tub.
Take a dip in the long, turquoise pool, then flop onto a striped sunlounger, a comfy cabana day-bed, or a couch in the open-air lounge.
A recipe book – empty – so you can scribble down notes on the dishes you taste, then try to recreate them at home.
This hotel isn’t set up for wheelchair users.
All ages are welcome; cots can be added to all rooms.
Every effort is made to recycle, and there’s not a plastic straw in sight. The breakfast chefs source seasonal food locally.
In this multicultural city, take your pick from Malay, Chinese, Indian or Colonial British-themed threads.
No restaurant, no problem. George Town is filled with hawker stalls cooking up Chinese, Indian and Malay specialities, and there just so happens to be a street market opposite the hotel. Look for the likes of char kway teow (spicy dry noodles with prawns and cockles) and pasembur (a nutty Indian salad with potatoes, fish and tofu). Between meals, you can tuck into snacks and drinks in the lounge, or feast on what you find in the in-room minibars.
Breakfast is served from 7am to 10.30am.
There’s no room service, but you’ll find snacks and free soft drinks in the minibar.
The hotel is in George Town, on the island of Penang. All the major attractions are within a short walk, including the iconic Blue Mansion.
Penang International airport is a half-hour drive away (transfers arranged by the hotel cost MYR 100 – about $25). Airlines including Cathay Pacific and Qantas fly into Penang, and there are direct flights from major Asian hubs including Hong Kong and Singapore.
Butterworth station, on the mainland, is 40 minutes away by car (a transfer costs MYR 200). From there, you can take the KTM electric train south to Kuala Lumpur in under four hours, or north to Padang Besar – for connections to Bangkok – in under two hours.
If you’re brave enough to take on the local roads, you’ll find free parking at the hotel.
Worth getting out of bed for
You don’t have to go far for a dose of George Town heritage – the hotel itself dates back to 1906, and the clued-up staff will happily give you the potted history. Settle down in the sunshine by the pool, find a nook in the courtyard, or snooze in a shaded cabana. When you’re peckish or parched, drop by the free snack bar – complimentary wine and nibbles are also served from 6pm daily. Start with a step back in time – The Blue Mansion (14 Leith Street) is an impeccably-preserved 19th-century merchant’s house, offering insightful tours every day. Continue your education at the Penang Tunnel Museum (39 Jalan Green Hall), which delves into the island’s murky history, from pre-Colonial times to air-raids in the Second World War. Then immerse yourself in Chinatown and Little India, where colourful shophouses and spice markets are packed along the art-splayed streets. Take the funicular train to the 821m peak of Penang Hill, and you’ll be greeted by panoramic views over George Town and the Strait. It’s around 5°C cooler up there than sea-level too, if you fancy a break from the heat.
Make your first stop a food court – Penang is famous for them, and it’s a great excuse for a lunch-crawl. Sri Weld (21 Lebuh Pantai) and Goodall Food Court (Jalan Gottlieb, Taman Selamat) are two of the most esteemed, where you can dabble in local delicacies such as wan tan mee noodles and nasi lemak (a spicy coconut-milk-based rice dish served with anchovies). For pastries and a brew, drop by the Black Kettle (105 Beach Street), or sample the artisan coffee at cafe-cum-roastery, Macallum Connoisseurs (1 Gat Lebuh Macallum). Have lunch alfresco at China House, a trio of timeworn buildings around a sunny courtyard, or slurp till your tongue’s content at 7 Village Noodle House (37 Lorong Abu Siti). Traditional Peranakan cuisine and Indochinese classics fill the menu at the dapper Kebaya Dining Room (Stewart Lane); for a modern twist on Malaysian favourites, book in at Gen (68A Lebuh Presgrave).
Speakeasy-styled Magazine 63 Bar (63 Jalan Magazine) is a buzzy drinks den mixing creative cocktails late into the night – order the Spicy Grave (with Ocho Blanco tequila, firewater and bitters), for further proof that the Malaysians really know what they’re doing with chili peppers.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this historic hotel in Malaysia and unpacked their batik textiles and tau sar piah pastries, a full account of their George Town break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside the Edison George Town in Penang…
The Edison George Town wasn’t always this nice. The colonial architecture, of course, has been turning heads since the mansion was built, in 1906, for a Hakka tycoon named Yeo Wee Gark. Later though, it was repurposed as an administrative centre during the Japanese Occupation, and subsequently became a guesthouse of, ahem, questionable repute. It was only in 2016 that Edison Hotels completed a painstaking restoration, breathing new life into the marble tiling and cast-iron courtyard pillars, and adding a contemporary colour palette and garden-set pool. Outside, George Town life continues at a rollicking pace. Listen for the din across the road, and follow your ears (and nose) to the hawker market – it’s just a taste of the city’s vast and multicultural food scene. Then set out to explore the urban chaos, where you’re as likely to stumble on a Hindu temple as a Colonial relic, among the rows of crumbling Chinese shophouses.