We recently stayed at the Hard Rock in Penang in a hillside view room and have to say we found it pretty average. This is sadly going to sound like a Carl Pilkington review. The hillside view is pretty poor as you have to see over the reataurant roof, air conditioning units and around the adjacent hotel to see the hillside. We booked this hotel after reading some of the reviews on trip advisor. Have to question is there another Hard Rock there as it can't have been the same place we stayed ?? We were holidaying with our 16 year old son so thought it would have plenty going on to keep him entertained. Er nope. How wrong we were. From the off it wasn't so great. Check in wasn't great. Very busy with people pushing in and jostling. Then when we were finally seen to we were told our room wasn't ready! This wasn't very impressing considering the fact we didn't actually arrive unti 5:30pm, so we had to wait another 30mins for room key. Reception staff were Ok, apologetic enough and offered us a glass of orange cordial while we waited, whoop whoop. First impressions of room was that it was ok, nothing special, in fact it all looked pretty tired and worn and had a funny stale smell to it. Behind the wash stand in the bathroom must never have been cleaned as dust and hair was inches thick. We had booked and paid for a roll away bed for our son but this wasn't in the room, so we had to call down to reception, who in fairness had the bed there within 20minutes, and it literally was a roll out bed. A mattress on a metal base with wheels that sat inches from the ground. First night was terrible. TV controls only work when you are stood right in front of the TV. The air conditioning fan constantly rattled and general noise from other guests meant fo a sleepless night. The smell was getting worst. Discovered we had been put in a smoking room on a smoking floor. Still can't believe smoking is still permitted inside. Wasn't happy about this so politely asked for room change. Reception said they could oblige but a room wasn't available until later that day. Didn't get new room until gone 6pm in the evening. Once again there was no roll away bed there. We had to call housekeeping for that and also to come and reclean the batrhroom as there were sticky marks on washstand, there was a luggage sticker on there, long black hairs in the shower and sink clearly had not been cleaned as still had toothpaste in it ! Room still didn't smell much better. Main door handle was coming away from the door so felt like it would come off in your hand any minute so had to be gentle when opening and closing. The ever present stale smokey smell wasn't surprising because even though the floor is clearly labelled as a no smoking floor, ash trays were still placed by lift waiting area and they always had nub ends in them. Breakfast was Ok. Enough choice but very busy in main restaurant dining area. 2nd day we were asked to use the restaurant by the pool/beach area. This was definately quieter but then you had to contend with keeping the flys off of everything. Had to get there early if you wanted a pastry. Staff were friendly and professional though. Enough choice and it did vary slightly from day to day.
If you ventured onto the beach you were instantly hassled by the water sports guys, or guys with horses who were out there all day in the heat with no signs of a water bowl and food and again at night it was same further along the beach you went. Sadly the beach is home to feral cats and dogs which I still find confronting and sad.Then there was the reflexology lady who would even call you while you were lay reading on the sun lounger next to the hotel pool. Talking of sun loungers you had to get there early for one of these as people would selfishly place their towels on them first thing only to rock up after lunch and lay on them for an hour. We gave up our loungers which were placed next to a parasol one day so a family with young children could use them as all the loungers were taken or had towels on them. Shade was hard to find. The beach was Ok. Again you run the gauntlet of avoiding water sports salesmen to walk along the beach while at the same time trying to avoid getting hit from behind by a paraglider. The hotel itself was very expensive for food and drinks which was disappointing as there isn't a huge choice outside along the strip until you get past the night markets which sell the usual tat. We dined in the hotel restaurant one night and were the only ones in there. This wasn't that surprising when you see the price of things, so there was no atmosphere and staff were standing round. There was a rather dingy looking Indian restaurant over the road from the hotel that doesn't look very inviting with its grease splattered tablecloths and situated right next to the sewage outlet but the food was surprisingly very good. We had starters, mains, naans & 2 lots of drinks for 3 people for a total of $20. Staff were lovely. We only had veggie dishes as Im veggie and husband and son wanted to play it safe. We ate their twice in the end.Further along strip Ferringhi Gardens was a nice place to dine. Lovely food and pleasant staff, Very clean and inviting but understandibly pricier than the Indian over the road.
While staying at The Hard Rock we also didn't appreciate the live snake show on our last day. We were sat on the other side of the pool and noticed everyone move over towards the reception/ poolside area where a local man had a cobra. We could hear the commentary and it all started off ok as he was explaining about the snakes etc pretty informing and educational but from there he proceeded to start swinging the poor snake by its tail from side to side then flip it onto the ground where he taunted it with balloons in his mouth. The snake naturally would defensively go for the balloons. Very distasteful but made even worst by the amount of fellow Australian tourists whooping and cheering him on, all for their entertainment at the snakes expense. Its as horrendous as the performing monkeys in Bali. I think they must have had hard rocks in their heads to encourage and support this sort of thing.
Getting out and about from the hotel other than walking was easy enough. Theres a bus stop just outside which takes you into Georgetown and even one to the airport, and there were plenty of rip off taxis in the car park out front.We took the bus into Georgetown. To be honest Georgetown is a bit of a hole. Extremely busy and heavily congested with traffic. Some people like this sort of thing and enjoy the culture of it so each to their own. It was hard to get around by foot or by car/bus. The pavements are appalling, if any at all, and you feel like you are running the gauntlet between the open sewage and the cars on the roads. Guide books say you must try the food from the streetside hawkers. Yeah if you don't mind them situated alongside open sewers, with feral cats and dogs roaming around and locals spitting on the kerb and street next to them. All the colonial buildings are hard to see beneath the muck and amongst the falling crumbling buildings around them. It takes an age for the bus to get from one side of it to the other. We were lucky enough to get a seat otherwise you would have to stand sandwiched along 20 odd others for the rest of the journey. Took a taxi one day to the Botanical Gardens which were ok. Were hoping to go to the fenicular railway from there but it was closed so got ripped off in a taxi coming back. Made the bus look ok. Went to the War museum which is situated right at the other end of the island. Took the bus into Georgetown and managed to get a great taxi driver to take us from there to the museum. Good job we did as this would have been very difficlut to find and reach via public transport. The taxi driver was fair and honest, we agreed a price up front and he even waited for us at no extra charge while we went around the museum. It would have taken ages to get one out there. The taxi was very clean and safe. My son enjoyed the museum but you do need strong legs as its built into the hillside. Wear plenty of Mozi repellent to. The museum charges you extra if you want to take pictures. What a rip off !!! Overall it was ok if you are into that thing. Don't expect too much and you won't be disappointed.
As a result I would'nt return to the Hard Rock in Penang or Penang itself. Hard Rock staff were good especailly the restaurant staff in the hotel and the cafe next door. The Hard Rock cafe itself was very expensive and despite the friendly up beat staff the place had no atmosphere. I suppose Id say the Hard Rock hotel was ok if you had children around the age of 8/9 as the pool area for them is great and staff good. They had little comps and a dance they did every afternoon. You'd need plenty of spending money for them as soft drinks, ice lollies, snacks and food were expensive. You even have to pay to hire the rings for the pool for them. Some of the poolside rooms would be hard work with very young children as they open straight out into the pool and if you dont mind them being around the smoke in the main hotel rooms. Even around the pool you couldn't escape the smoke as people are freely allowed to smoke anywhere and everywhere. One guest even had their dog in the pool with them and floating around in the rubber rings with them. Ive no problems with dogs but wasn't aware you could take your dogs there. It wasn't one of the cheapest hotels to stay at in the Ferringhi Beach area in fcat it was up there with the more expesive so we were disappointed with it.
Choose a different hotel or if you like a room with a decent view opt for pool or beach view
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.