Okay. I was expecting a lot since the reviews here were RAVING, but to be honest, my first impression was a bit underwhelming.
The place is spoken about with reverence by taxi drivers - as though you need to sell your soul to stay there - and, well, it is quite expensive - even on internet deal. But in terms of cost to value, after only two nights, I'm still not quite sold. And I am more than willing to admit that perhaps it was just not the right place for me.
It is everything as described, classic, antique, chintzy in places with wonderful details like large shower roses and beautiful old bathroom fittings. But although these details were attended to, I found others were not. Such as the bathroom tiles were a bit grimy, the room smelled a bit musty and damp (incense took care of this), bare, minimal balcony (plants would have been nice), and not enough tea, coffee and milk supplied. it was as though there was an expectation that the place (the building and rooms and overstaffing) speak entirely for itself. I booked a Premier room fairly cheap (comparative to regular prices) over the internet.
Perhaps it's unreasonable of me, and perhaps it's about the calibre of the hotel, but the staff were professional (but not really friendly), the room was beautiful (but not really looked after) and while all the facilities are there - the availability of information, such as where to go for local food, was not very forthcoming. It may have been the style of guest that I was (it was an exception and not a rule for me to have my bed turned down and a butler on call) but I just found it slightly wanting in terms of feeling welcome. I have stayed in much cheaper places with 10 times the warmth.
Having said that, I did fall in love with hearing the ocean from my room, great breakfast (almost anything you want), the large, echoing hallways with parquestry floors and barely another guest in sight. REDRUM came to mind a number of times. And for those who have seen The Shining with Jack Nicholson, some staff were dressed in white jackets and I did wonder if I imagined them sometimes. It was the tail end of my trip and I was ready to relax, and it truly was a haven of classic (if slightly unpolished) opulence with ocean views and sounds. If you want more action, however, I'd suggest some luxury resort in Batu Ferringhi - cheap food, market and nighlife is closer to hand there.
In terms of location, it was pretty good. It was a decent, but not unproductive walk to the shopping centre straight down Penang Rd. And I also suggest that (if you are staying at the E&O as a luxurious treat) you get on a local bus to get around. 1.50MYR gets you pretty far and taxis are a premium. I paid 25MYR to get somewhere that cost me 1.50MYR on the bus back. And I saw more from the bus than I ever could have in a cab. It was great.
Look, if you are happy with the prestige of staying here, it is a treat just to walk around and look at the antique chandeliers and wing-backed chairs, and you want service that is impersonal but impeccable, this may be the place for you. But if you are like me and appreciate more informal, friendly service in perhaps less 'character and reputation-driven' accommodation, then I'd choose somewhere else and spend the same money. You are likely to get something a bit more 'all round fantastic' for your dollar. Overall, I found E&O a bit overrated.
- 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