Thursday, 15 September 2011

Hotel: Evergreen - Gurney Drive, Penang

Regular readers will be aware that I stayed at the G Hotel when I came to Penang in April and was most impressed. Despite the temptation to stay at the G Hotel when I returned to Penang full time in July I decided to give the Evergreen a shot, primarily to compare it and write a review. So, that's what I did, stopping at the Evergreen for two weeks from 21 July.

One of the things I had seen written about the Evergreen was the that reception staff were miserable. I have to say, that upon check-in and over the coming two weeks I did find that the staff were generally less smiling and welcoming than the staff at the G Hotel. Checking in though was reasonably efficient and the lobby is pleasant and airy with free wi-fi. Four lifts service the hotel which is enough but at times the wait times can be long. Up on to the floors and it has to be said that the corridors are looking somewhat tired and piped music is played which is unfortunately loud enough that it is audible in your room at times, albeit it gets switched off around midnight.

The rooms themselves are spacious and comfortable enough. I had a superior room with a sea view and I have to say that in terms of the room alone I actually preferred it over the G. The G is very stylish but there is VERY little storage and over time I found the minimalist style somewhat cold. In contrast the Evergreen uses a warm mix of wood, beige, brown and gold to create a very warm feeling. The king sized bed was very comfortable and the room was well equipped. Free internet was provided in the room but wired only. In this case there is ample storage (wardrobe and drawer), large TV and mini bar which, unlike the G, was not free (albeit the G was stocked with soft drinks and snacks only). The bathroom is a little on the small side but was well stocked with toiletries. There is a bath but it is a little on the short side.

The pool area was unfortunately closed for renovations while I was there so I am unable to comment on that. There is a large bar/cabaret room which seemed to be reasonably well used by guests while I was there with live music most nights. I often find these places somewhat overpriced and lacking in atmosphere though so didn't use it myself. The hotel claims four restaurants but those in regular use are the Chinese restaurant which I didn't use and the Cafe Laurel. This is where breakfast and the buffet dinner is served. While both of those are OK they are nothing to get too excited about. Breakfast is OK with a mix of some basic Malay cuisine (which didn't vary much), Western fried stuff, Continental (bread and cheese) and Japanese. Juice and hot drinks are also provided and the is also an egg section for omelettes. The buffet dinner was slightly more so so for me and nothing remarkable. Some of the food lacked taste and much was often luke warm at best. In addition, the restaurant got very busy at certain times and long waits could be expected. For me, the offerings at the G were just better. But then the G has a 'rack rate' of almost RM 200 more than the Evergreen.

Finally, we get to location. I found the G much better in this regard as you could literally walk into Gurney Plaza, something which, because of proximity, I found myself doing most days when staying there. At the Evergreen I often wanted to but couldn't be bothered at it's a good 15 minute walk and with the heat/humidity and/or rain it can make it uncomfortable. Was it a big problem, no, would I rather have done without it, yes. It is of course even further to Gurney hawkers which, from the G, are just a 2-3 minute walk.

Overall I found the Evergreen pleasant enough and I did enjoy the stay. If staying for 14 nights you will likely get a special long stay rate here, just as you will at the G, IF you ask for them in advance. This brings the price of the Evergreen down from around RM 250 ++ a night to around RM 200 ++ (the ++ being +10% service and +6% Government tax). For that the Evergreen will throw in 3 pieces of laundry per day and two dinners in the Laurel. However, given that I got the G for just RM 50 more (250++) per night, albeit there were no free dinners, I just found the location of the G much more convenient which led to a better all-round stay. The extent to which that location, and the style of the G, appeals to travellers will vary according to taste and need but it's worth remembering that the long stay rate at the G gets you RM 200 off the rack rate (a rate which due to demand the G can often command) versus an RM 50 reduction from rack at the Evergreen.

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