Where to stay in Penang: The Prestige Hotel is a new, whimsical experience like no other
The Prestige Hotel in Penang is quite different from any other hotel I've ever stayed in. It all starts with its corridor, which is unexpectedly the first thing that captures my attention. The corridor leading to guestrooms is an extremely long — all of 143 metres, the longest in Penang — and dark pathway that feels like it never ends. A deliberate decision made by Singapore-based design, interior, and architectural firm Ministry of Design, the studio alternated dark and light colour schemes to break down the potential monotony of the corridor experience and inject clever visual trickery. Mechanised light features are strategically placed at regular intervals, to rotate and cast shadows of lattice patterns to animate the guest journey.
I'm later told that the corridor was the springboard to various notions of magic and illusions incorporated throughout the urban heritage hotel. It's all about the details here, because the subtlety of the design is where the story lies. Keep your eye out for the marble-clad maze with brass trimmings on the floor that lead to the front desk — which appear to balance on chrome spheres. If you stare long enough, the black and white floor pattern in the hotel's main lobby also appear and disappear before your eyes. It makes perfect sense then, that the hotel is named after The Prestige, a psychological thriller film revolving around two rival magicians.
The Prestige Hotel is very much Wes Anderson meets colonial Victorian heritage. Located in Georgetown in the heart of the city, you'll easily spot the hotel's façade from afar — an intricate 19th century white colonial building that seems to stretch on for miles. With 162 rooms, a rooftop infinity pool, all-day dining restaurant, and events pavilion and terrace, the space is set to be a standout amongst tourists and locals alike.
"People who come to The Prestige Hotel are lifestyle seekers who want a new experience. They are the people that want an escape however nice their home is; they appreciate the fantastical and whimsical details," says Colin Seah, founder and design director at Ministry of Design, who was behind the interiors, concept, and branding of the hotel.
The guestrooms are a wonder in itself. There are four room types — the Deluxe, Premier Deluxe Suite, Loft Suite, and Deluxe Trio room which features a smaller bedroom, ideal for those travelling with children. I checked into a Premier Deluxe Suite — only eight available, which ranges from 36 to 42 square metres — and was impressed by the brilliant use of space. The open-plan room is generously-sized (crawling kids or dedicated yogis will be delighted), and is well-furnished with a plush king-sized bed, brass vanity mirror frame, concealed toilets, and a striking custom-designed shower and wardrobe enclosure. Crafted with champagne bronze tinted metal and glass, the enclosure is clearly the centrepiece of the room and unlike anything I've seen before. Inspired by the elaborate magic props such as Houdini's Box, the experience was relaxing and mildly therapeutic, akin to taking a shower in your own private glasshouse. For those who prefer privacy, there's an option to lower the blinds.
Outstanding food is at the heart of Penang's culture, so I was keen to try the fare at Glasshouse, the Prestige Hotel's all-day dining restaurant. While most of the menu is dedicated to Western classics such as pastas and burgers, there was a small selection of local food. The duck egg char koay teow is a must-try, for its beautiful wok hei flavour and creaminess of the duck egg, which elevates what is traditionally a dish best had in a hawker centre or coffee shop. If you're after something Western, the steak is a winner — beautifully tender and cooked to perfection, and served with a side of melt-in-your-mouth mashed potatoes.
Pop outside and the surrounding neighbourhood is filled with excellent hole-in-the-walls which serve up the likes of Penang's famed kway teow th'ng and chendol. Take time to walk around and you'll also find trendy shops interspersed between the local offerings. Just around the corner from The Prestige Hotel is Mano Plus, a chic concept store that features modern furniture and a Japanese café called Fuku.
Ready to make Penang your next port of call? It's only an hour's flight away so there's hardly any excuse not to go. There's no better time to inject that bit of magic into your life.
For more information, visit The Prestige Hotel.
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