This hotel, like many older things (including myself), is best approached with sunset and candelight. It doesn't stand up well to the glare of afternoon sunlight.
The building is an interesting old place, maintained well. Rooms are absolutely huge, and the bathroom was quite nice. But it's the service and the little things that give a property a five star rating, and the E&O came up lacking.
I reserved a non-smoking room (premier suite) directly with the hotel. This was to include little things like a "welcome cocktail," cold towel upon arrival, fruit plate in the room, etc.
Arrived at about 3:00 in the afternoon. The large lobby smelled of paint (they were re-painting the first floor hallways). Check in was awkward, with three clerks who were not particularly responsive nor was it clear as to who was to be doing what. No cocktail was offered as advertised, no towels.
I was brought to my room, which was large but smelled badly of stale smoke. I also noticed things like mismatched bedspreads on the two beds in the room (distinctly different, a bit worn, and old), mismatched robes in the bathroom (one terry, one waffle), and the "fruit plate" was comprised of two soft whole apples on the coffee table.
I immediately reminded the individual who brought me to the room that I had asked for a non-smoking room. He indicated that the hotel was very full and they didn't have any available. He offered to bring an ionizer, which he did, but it made little, if any, difference.
I went back to the front desk to try to change to a non-smoking room. One of the clerks first told me they don't have non-smoking rooms. I indicated that I found that hard to believe, since I made a reservation specifically requesting one and was never informed of the non-existance of non-smoking rooms. At that point a second clerk came over and, without checking, told me that because I made a reservation through on online agent like Travelocity, they were not obligated to meet such a request, but do so when they can. I NEVER use those sites for just that type of reason, using them instead to find hotels, fares, etc., but then booking directly with the hotels/airlines. I told him I booked directly with the hotel, whereupon he looked embarrassed and brought out a manager. The manager was pleasant, and told me that while they do, in fact,, have non-smoking rooms, they are limited and offered the ionizer. Given the lack of options, I accepted it, but it did nothing.
Other service issues included requesting information about buses to travel to the Cameron Highlands, and I was simply told to go to the bus station. I say that with a smile, because it really wasn't that big a deal, but to direct someone to a large bus station at the base of a tower in the middle of town, (which, by the way, was the wrong station to get to long distance buses, was confusing, dirty and frenetically busy), without any other information, is not exactly five star service.
The "fitness center," (a number of machines in a hallway on the way to the pool) was locked without explanation for much of the time I was there.)
'Happy hour' in the bar was mediocre; things like hot hor d'ouvres served in chafing dishes with no flame, rapidly turning cold, and not particularly good.
On the upside, the room was in fact large, with a nice balcony overlooking the Straits. The pool area was lovely, and the breakfast buffet ample and fine. The internet access was free and available 24 hours, (albiet in an odd, underutilized, and relatively empty room shared with a staff workstation), and the overall building, while of course showing its age, was interesting and different. (And really -- in the evening, after the paint smell diminished, with with much dimmer lighting and no need for any real service, the place was quite pretty.)
In short, the place was fine. Not outstanding, not even really much above 3 star. If it had been advertised as a three star property, I probably (except for the smoking room and the misrepresentations) would have been satisfied. As a five star property, though, the E&O is just simply lacking.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Eastern & Oriental Hotel is the embodiment of both a special time and a special place. For well over a century, this remarkable hotel - known simply as `The E&O' to generations of travellers - has stood as a testament to the grand elegance of the British colonial era.In many ways, it has also come to represent Penang itself; its story inextricably woven into the island's history, its traditions an indelible part of many a traveller's treasured memory, its name synonymous with the magical island once known as The Pearl Of the Orient. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Eastern And Oriental Hotel
- Eastern Oriental Georgetown
- Eastern & Oriental Hotel Penang/George Town