Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Hotel: Macalister Mansion - Macalister Road, Georgetown (Top Pick)

MM location map
It’s rare these days that I find hotels to get too much excited about.  Most tend to be either corporate chain establishments with little to endear, increasingly popular boutique hotels, some of which manage to pull the concept off much better than others, or the ‘cheap as chips’ glorified guest houses.  All in all, a bit meh.  Once in a blue moon however you come across a truly outstanding establishment  which really impresses at every level.  One example is Macalister Mansion which, for ease of reference and conveniently, is located in Macalister Road, Georgetown, Penang.

I think it’s fair to say that the vast majority of visitors coming to Penang do not come for the beach experience.  While the option is there, with numerous hotels in the Batu Ferringhi area, its is clear that the ‘down-town’ experience is in hot demand with visitors in abundance at the numerous heritage sites and areas in Georgetown, soaking up the ambience, indulging in Penang’s famed street food, shopping in central Georgetown and the maze of ‘Komtar’ and wandering round the backstreets that make up Little India and the Chinese Quarter.  For many, this is what Penang is all about.  But where do you stay, or more pertinent to this article, where do you say if you want somewhere a cut above the rest, somewhere with some class and style?  And of course it’s not only visitors from afar who will at times wish to seek out the occasional gem of a hotel.  Local residents searching for somewhere to stay for that special occasion or celebration, a couple looking at a super-special place to host a wedding dinner and maybe even have a few special invited guests to stay a couple of days, or visitors from out-station just looking for somewhere special to spend a few days in the ‘Pearl of the Orient’.  So why is this hotel special, what makes it really stand out.  Read on…….

Macalister Mansion, or MM as it is known locally, is housed in a magnificent heritage building which is very befitting to its name.  Sweeping in from Macalister Road the driveway can swing you round right outside the front door with ample off-road parking for your car, a godsend in this part of town!  

As you enter the reception you will immediately be struck by its style which flows throughout the establishment (unlike many corporate boxes where the, ahem, ‘style’ comes to an abrupt halt once you go beyond reception), it exudes chic and elegance and yet is done in a very tasteful way which compliments the heritage exterior of the hotel.  Spacious, minimalist and tastefully lit, the reception area sets the scene well.  The staff are also worth a mention, friendly and welcoming with nothing too much trouble.

One of MMs superb rooms

Once checked in you will be shown to your room and I have to say that these are probably some of the most beautiful rooms I have ever seen in a hotel, far better, for instance, than some of the (so called) 5 star gilt-heavy glitz that you see in some chain hotels.  

An equally superb bathroom
Spacious, beautifully designed and furnished, with big comfortable beds, large flat screen TVs (some of which spin to allow you to watch the super-size screen in the bath!) and outstanding bathrooms.  The beds are superbly comfortable and the rooms quiet!!  No thumping discos and adjoining nightclubs here!  The rooms alone are enough to warrant a true 5* rating IMO but there is so much more to Macalaister Mansion too.

MM's restaurant

Without doubt, one of the finest restaurants in Penang is also located at Macalister Mansion.  Again, tastefully decorated and appointed, the restaurant is definitely a place to linger with a partner or with friends as you savour some of Penang’s finest cuisine.  

Exquisite fine dining at MM's renowned restaurant

Under the watchful eye of head chef Lance U’reen the kitchen team produce some truly inspiring dishes with more than a hint of classical French influence fused with a distinctly Asian twist that gives the restaurant its unique appeal.  

Each dish a feast for the eyes and palate!

Reasonably priced and with an excellent wine cellar (the restaurant also serves a superb wine-pairing menu) Macalister’s restaurant is a great place to dine, whether or not you are staying at the hotel.

The Living Room cafe

The hotel also houses its own café, 'The Living Room', decorated in a fresh and airy ‘garden’ style, the café is open all day until turned midnight and offers a superb range of very reasonably priced dishes, delicacies and cakes for a great mouth-watering lunch, high-tea or supper.  

Delicious Hokkien Mee at The Living Room

The café also serves something which I find increasingly difficult to get these days, good coffee, you know, coffee that TASTES like coffee!!!  The café is a superb place to chill, chat and relax as you take a break from exploring town.  

The Living Room's 'Gourmet Shop'

The newly opened 'Gourmet Shop' at the cafe stocks and sells a wide variety of delicacies and you can even pick up a loaf or two of your favourite freshly baked bread when visiting.  

Fashion show at MM

Occasionally MM also plays host to themed events such as fashion shows.  Such is the quality of the food and environment at the restaurant and café they will both be subject to their own dedicated reviews.

The Cellar

Speaking of chilling, also housed within MM is ‘The Cellar’ wine bar, a modern and luxuriously furnished wine bar with an extremely well stocked cellar, a wide range of whiskies and spirits and also specialist imported beers.  

Lounge at The Cellar

You can choose to sit at the bar, at one of the tables with high stools (one of which can easily accommodate 8-10 people) or at one of the very comfortable low tables with leather armchairs or sofas, there’s even a sofa in front of flame effect fire that is very cosy.  

Superb cheeseboard at The Cellar

While talking about ‘The Cellar’, it would be remiss not to mention the exceptional cheeseboard here, available in two sizes, the largest costs just RM 35 for a great selections of cheeses, biscuits and accompaniments, great with a glass of your favourite wine and, given the price of imported French cheeses in these parts, exceptionally good value.

The Cigar Lounge

Moving on again, the hotel also boasts a very chic ‘Cigar and Wine / Champagne’ lounge, The Den, nestled near to reception it’s a great place to indulge one of the many fine cigars stocked at MM which I suspect will have something to appeal to even the most hardened connoisseur.

MM's pool and pool bar

Finally, and moving outside the hotel, despite its very convenient central location, MM boasts a very nice pool area and poolside bar, great if you fancy a cooling dip or an afternoon / early evening (or morning for the ‘early risers’!) relax with a cocktail as the sun goes down, and of course to work up an appetite for the superb restaurant!

That then is MM, a real gem of hotel, a cut above the rest, with an unrivalled air of style and panache, and right in the heart of Georgetown.  Whether it’s to stay, eat dinner, doing lunch or chilling at ‘The Cellar’, MM IMHO offers a 10/10 experience and is most definitely worth a visit.  Understandably it qualifies with ease for a ‘Top Pick’!  You can visit the hotel's website here and their Facebook Page here.

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