Penang's most romantic hotels suit a variety of tastes: Our number-one pick is along a private stretch of waterfront near downtown's dining, bazaars, attractions, and British Colonial buildings that made George Town a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Our second favorite trades the bustle of George Town for the beach of Batu Ferringhi; the upscale resort is easily the top hotel in the area, and has a separate adult-only wing and picturesque views of the Malacca Strait. Our third pick is west of the historic city center, but the beautifully restored mansion is a destination in and of itself, and is a short drive to the open-air food stalls and street art of the heritage district, as well as cultural tourist attractions like the Khoo Kongsi and Kuan Yin temples and the 19th-century Kapitan Keling Mosque. Our point? The Malaysian state is one of the most colorful and eclectic places on earth for couples to explore. Here are the most romantic hotels in Penang.
Opened in 1885, the Eastern & Oriental Hotel's seafront promenade was once claimed to be "the longest of any hotel in the world." The beautiful promenade is still there today, with old shade trees that were there before the founding Sarkie brothers began construction (they would go on to open famed hotels The Raffles and The Strand as well). The E&O opened a second building with its own marble-clad reception in 2013, while the restored Heritage Wing retains its original Moorish minarets and wide domed lobby, staffed with doormen wearing British Colonial relics. Split between the modern Victory Annexe and the original Heritage Wing, the suites share a colonial ambience -- expect billowy white curtains and hardwood floors with colorful Oriental rugs. Free Wi-Fi comes standard along with minibars, coffeemakers, and bathrooms with rainfall showers and separate soaking tubs. This is one of Malaysia's top romantic spots, thanks to its rich atmosphere, two elegant pools, and fine dining.
This luxurious beachfront resort has two distinct sections -- one an adult-only wing with its own lobby and pool -- within its 30 acres of garden grounds. Rooms in the adult-only Rasa Wing have marble bathrooms with walk-in showers wand separate soaking tubs, and guests get access to the Rasa Wing Lounge, which includes free drinks, snacks, and afternoon tea. Breakfast at Feringgi Grill is reserved for Rasa guests. The classy restaurant's fine dining is available at other times of the day for all but children under 7, and serves modern grill cuisine with wine pairings. The attached bar has a piano and regular live entertainment. There are also a casual buffet, an alfresco burger-and-barbecue eatery, and a lounge bar with coffee and cocktails. On the white sand of Batu Ferringhi beach, guests can engage in boating and water sports such as parasailing or jet-skiing, while land lovers can take advantage of the three outdoor tennis courts.
It's a bit far from George Town's main attractions, but this 100-year-old mansion -- with a grand white exterior and stunning designer interiors -- is a destination unto itself. Each of the eight suites has its own commissioned artwork and unique architectural details (like a wrought-iron spiral staircase leading to a turret), and all come with Bang & Olufsen BeoSound Systems, flat-screen TVs, stocked minibars, and Nespresso machines. The bathrooms have mosaic tiled walls with free-standing rainfall showers and separate soaking tubs. There are two atmospheric restaurants (one serves free breakfast), as well as a wine bar with 300 wine and champagne bottles on hand and a stylish lounge for cigar and whisky aficionados. Outside, a swim-up bar adjoins the mosaic-tile pool surrounded by a wide sundeck.