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“Extraordinary”
Review of Macalister Mansion

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Macalister Mansion
Ranked #29 of 84 Hotels in George Town
Certificate of Excellence
New Zealand
Level Contributor
6 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
“Extraordinary”
Reviewed 10 October 2013

If you're going to Georgetown I'm guessing you're probably there to browse the historic sights and eat street food, so it would take something pretty special for you not to stay in the heart of the heritage district in one of the newly-renovated shop-house hotels (plenty well-ranked here on Tripadvisor) or the luxury spots along the waterfront.

Well Macalister Mansion is that special. Everything about it (with the slight exception of the swimming pool - more on that later) is stunning. I was in Room #5 - the cheapest I think - and I was simply gobsmacked upon walking into the room. For the first time in my experience the room was actually better - way better - than the admittedly impressive pictures on the website. It is huge. It is amazingly designed. The lighting (a weird thing to mention I know) was extraordinary. I've stayed at a lot of high-end places and this I think was the best room I've ever stayed in. The bath! The two showers! Everything about it is a design triumph.

But it's not just the room that was so impressive, it was the level of pampering. At MM they go out of their way to make your every whim feel catered for. Some examples: the (very good) welcoming drink. The personalised stationary in the room (very cool!). Free juices in the fridge (refilled daily) and free water bottles all over the place. Free snacks (chocolate, chips, bars, etc) in the room (refilled, natch). Free Nespresso machine in the room (refills refilled daily). 2 groovy little cakes left in the room with each night's turndown. Complementary breakfast (and a good one at that, not just tea and toast). Excellent toiletries and great bubble bath (I know, but it was a bit more pampering). The pillow menu. 2 x 46 inch TVs with Blu-ray player (DVD and Blu-ray movies free at reception). Lots of little touches like...

...well here's a very small one that I thought spoke to the care and attention - in Room #5 where I was there are two twin beds. I was on my own. The first night during turn-down service they put out a little mat and 2 slippers next to one of the beds. I happened to use the other bed. From the next night on the slippers appeared by that bed.

Beyond that the staff were consistently helpful and ready to be helpful, from reception to the restaurants to the bars. With only 8 rooms there aren't a lot of guests (I didn't see any others) and the staff are there but unobtrusive (I never saw anyone cleaning or doing turndown in the rooms). The wine bar is very impressive with a 3 for 2 happy hour from 5pm to 7pm, making for very affordable wine by the glass (some good stuff too). The Den (whisky) was also cosy and elegant but I'm not a fan so I stuck to the Cellar. Great range of cigars too and knowledgeable service.

The two restaurants are excellent in different ways. The Living Room does a mix of local and European and is remarkably cheap for the quality. The Dining Room is fine dining and interestingly adventurous. I had the full degustation, most of which was very good and the less good bits were at least aiming for something. I'd eat there again in a flash, though I think the lights need to be a bit brighter to appreciate the colours of the food (a pet peeve of my pedantic mind, sorry).

Check-in and check-out couldn't have been more efficient, taxi to the airport ordered, and when I checked later in the day that it had been - being a bit paranoid - a different receptionist immediately said, without looking it up even, "yes the taxi's been booked for 9.30". They're onto it.

Talking taxis, it's about a half hour drive from the airport which costs 45 ringit. That's probably the only taxi run that actually uses meters (despite the signs on the side of many taxis) so, for anything else, agree a price before you start. To the heritage area is 5 minutes. It it's round town it'll be 10 - 20 ringit (i.e. not much) and it hardly seems reasonable to argue over a couple of ringit with people who obviously don't make a whole lot of money. 12? 15? Who cares? (BTW, since it's new a lot of drivers don't know the MM). But Jalan Macalister is a one-way street at that point and it's the white building on the left with a terracotta-coloured roof. Once you've seen it it's easy to identify for the taxi drivers and if you look left on Jalan Macalister you really can't miss it.) Also, if you want a cab, head to a hotel or shopping centre - they're a bit hard to flag down.

The only downside to MM is the pool, if you really want to swim. It's a bit near the road and there's a tall building being constructed next door (I didn't have any noise problems in my room - don't know about the others). It doesn't make for a very conducive atmosphere for swimming (though it's regularly cleaned and has a bar, etc). But that's the way it is and there's nothing can change it (the construction looks like it'll take a while). If your main plan is swimming, go somewhere else; I wasn't planning to so didn't care.

And - excuse the length here but I've got a few tips.

If you are in Penang for local food then remember there's quite a lot within walking distance of the hotel. Not the famous night markets but some damn fine stuff nonetheless. But you need to brave the notorious Penang pavements for 5 - 10 minutes. Seriously, these are not pavements in any strict sense of the word and the cars are close. But it looks and feels more dangerous than it is. (I wouldn't recommend doing this walk with small kids, unless they are a) brave, or b) well insured.)

Head left out of the hotel along Jalan Macalister. Nothing to see for about 500m. Then after the first intersection things appear. Another hundred metres and there are food stalls/courts of all varieties on both sides of the road. There's a particularly good one on the corner of Jalan Rangoon (on the left) but there are many, climaxing in the New Lane food centre which is open late every night (I forget the road but it's on the right just after Jalan Madras (which is on the left). A hundred metres down Jalan Madras there are more stalls, mainly vegetarian and offering food a bit different from the usual suspects.

Also, if you happen to be a fan of Sichuan food (not the most obvious thing for Penang I know), there are two Sichuan restaurants in walking distance. Da Ban is closest (I've forgotten the street already - it's on the left again) but I found the flavours muted and the cooking a bit sloppy. However... down Jalan Madras is Red Chillis Wok Restaurant which isn't as nicely decorated but will blow your mouth off with fantastic authentic Sichuan flavours and leave your lips tingling in pleasure (and that little bit of pain!). It rocks.

OK. There we go. Penang was a blast and the Macalister Mansion is brilliant. Can't recommend it highly enough. (Sorry about the length of this.)

  • Stayed October 2013, travelled solo
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank KiwiDerek
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
8RoomsMM, General Manager at Macalister Mansion, responded to this review, 17 October 2013
We are thrilled and thank you for your kind compliments and comprehensive review. The owners did indeed put a lot of love and care into the designs of Macalister Mansion and all the little details that gives it that extra special touch, including the personalized service. We are always delighted when our guests had an enjoyable and memorable stay.

We hope to welcome you back at Macalister Mansion soon!
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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153 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
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Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (45)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Indonesian first
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English first
Level Contributor
23 reviews
13 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
Reviewed 30 September 2013 via mobile

This review is for Room #8.

I must say I've made the right choice for picking room 8 as it is not adjacent to any other rooms. We walked pass room 6 one afternoon and they were blasting their music. We were glad we weren't staying adjacent to their room! Room 8 is also near the stairs that leads to the Living room where breakfast is served.

The first thing that caught my undivided attention when we entered the room was the bathroom. The design was opened and I love the layout. Only problem was the little toiletries trolley which I felt was a bit too cranky and lack of space for my personal items. The toiletries provided by the hotel were from H2o and these are very nice products.

The size of the room was ample for 2 person. I love the high ceilings and indirect lightings. The linens were very comfortable and soft though the mattress was a tad too soft to our liking. We do appreciate the Bang and Olufsen sound system which came into handy if you have a pre-iphone5. There is one thing which I would like to see in the room is a full length mirror. The only mirror in the room was one in the toilet and for an average Asian woman, you can only see up to your shoulders or chest.

Turn down service came with 2 cakes on both nights and it was delicious. The minibar was also stock with non alcoholic refreshments though they are not replenished daily.

We had dinner at the Dining room and service was good. We got a 10% discount as hotel guests so that was useful. Food was reasonably priced and was served like a Michelin starred restaurant with little dishes served before each course.

Breakfast at the living room was good. We really liked the Truffled egg white scrambled eggs on brioche. The coffee was good too and it also came with a choice of juice. One of the waiters had a good memory and he remembered our drinks preference the next day.

I didn't get to try the pool as it didn't look as inviting when I got there. Mainly because there is a building under construction next day and it feels like one would be exhibiting themselves by the pool for the workers.

One slight issue we faced was the noise from the construction site at 745am on Saturday morning which was quite annoying for people who wants to sleep in. But on Sunday, I think the site was closed hence it was quite peaceful. Not so sure about weekdays!

The downside is the location. There isn't much nearby whereby you can walk to. But taxi is readily available if you get the reception to call for one.

I've enjoyed my stay and I will definitely visit again.

  • Stayed September 2013
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Ellyellie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
eightroomsMM, General Manager at Macalister Mansion, responded to this review, 4 October 2013
Thank you for your kind compliments and comprehensive review. We are thrilled that you did enjoy your stay with us as our aim is to provide personalized service and serve delectable food with beautiful presentation. With regards to the minibar, we only replenish the items that have been consumed. We will look into your comment of a full length mirror and the toiletry trolley. Unfortunately, we are unable to do anything about the construction next door.

We hope to welcome you back at Macalister Mansion soon!
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed 2 September 2013

we spent 2 nights with kids on my bithday month. Great service that the hotel staff brought us a birthday cake. A suprise that once we back to hotel at night to see it. The hotel staff do prephare the kids slipper n bath rope to my kids. But i do hope MM will provide a SPA then we can really have a relaxing stay.

  • Stayed August 2013, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Lyssa K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
eightroomsMM, General Manager at Macalister Mansion, responded to this review, 3 September 2013
Thank you for the compliments and feedback. We are pleased that you have enjoyed your stay with us as we put in great effort to provide our guests with that personalized service. We will look into your comment regarding a Spa service.

We hope to welcome you back at Macalister Mansion soon!
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Hong Kong, China
Level Contributor
6 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed 30 August 2013

What an amazing property! As long as you are ok 5-10 minute taxi ride to the heart of Georgetown then then this unique and well designed hotel comes highly recommended.

They get it right, from the start. A warm smile and lemongrass/cardamom infused pineapple juice greeted us upon our arrival. From this point onwards the impressive elements kept rolling in.

My wife and I were extremely impressed with the room layout, decor and service (especially the nightly turn down service which includes 2 free desserts, yum!) throughout our entire stay. The designers paid so much attention to detail that even the in-room waste bin has a unique and stylish look. Another point is that the stationary was personalized with my name on it. Nice touch! Another great feature is the B&O BeoSound 8 iPod dock speakers which filled the room with audiophile quality sounds from our playlist. Also our room came with free breakfast which was a $20+ USD value per person. Not to mention, everything in the minibar and snack stand are complimentary so chow & chug down all of it with no remorse! When ordering from the cafe/kitchen, I'd recommend the prawn mee. Maybe its just my personal taste but I found this to be much tastier than the assam laksa, but both were certainly good by any standard.

If you are a hip couple who appreciates the finer touches high end hotels typically offer and like the idea of an 8-room max exclusiveness, then this is the right place for you. However, if you want a kid friendly hotel where there are more guests than diners & bar patrons then perhaps this would not be your first choice.

They do boast a "state-of-the-art" gym, which literally is just a treadmill and a stair master. I'd prefer they just mention they have this equipment than to call it state-of-the-art.

Note that the hotel is not that easy for most taxi drivers to find. Tip: Mention that the hotel is just after the "Loh Guan Lye" hospital on Jalan Macalister. Also, if you want to eat some great street food there is New Lane within a 15 min walk in the East direction down Jalan Macalister.

  • Stayed August 2013, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Chris C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
eightroomsMM, General Manager at Macalister Mansion, responded to this review, 2 September 2013
Thank you for your compliments and providing us with a comprehensive feedback. Indeed, we endeavor to provide our guests with that extra touch of luxury during their stay with us and making sure that when they leave, there will only be sweet memories.
With regards to the gym, we state that the equipments are state-of-the-art, not the gym. We sincerely apologize for any confusion.

We hope to welcome you back at Macalister Mansion soon!
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
George Town, Malaysia
Level Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed 24 August 2013

about Macalister Mansion and how I enjoyed the dinner together with my wife - it was our anniversary. But the day before yesterday I got a computer generated message that my five star opinion was taken off because of foul language (???) and some competitive something. It was five star ... this must have been a glitch in their software. So here we go again. MM is an amazing place. The architecture and interior design is fabulous. Thanks to Chef Lance the food compliments this place very well. The service is good and friendly. When you are in Penang and you want to pamper yourself and partner - go and enjoy. I hope this review will stay. The team deserves a 5 star review. We need more places like this in Penang. Bon appetite !

Room Tip: I didn't stay - I live in Penang.
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  • Stayed April 2013, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank TheBitterTruth
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
eightroomsMM, General Manager at Macalister Mansion, responded to this review, 27 August 2013
Thank you very much for your compliments and taking the time to re-write your review. We are thrilled to know that you had a lovely time here with your wife on your special day. Our team does indeed work hard in order to satisfy.

We look forward in welcoming you back at Macalister Mansion soon!
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Manila, Philippines
Level Contributor
95 reviews
58 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 97 helpful votes
Reviewed 14 August 2013

Let me talk about the fine things about this hotel. The reception was friendly and helpful. Upon check-in the staff went out of her way to explain the amenities of the room: the remote controlled curtains, the snack bar, etc and even gave us advise regarding the Hungry Ghost Month activities. The snack bar was a nice touch (and to be honest, better than a lot of internationally branded 5 star hotels), it was stocked with San Pellegrino, M&Ms (a reference to Macalister Mansion= MM?), etc. There's a Nespresso machine with a good stock of good coffee. Loved the fact that they even have champagne flutes available in the cupboard.

We dint manage to use the Bang and Olufsen speakers. Stationery was personalised and there's even a computer keyboard in case you needed one.

The bathroom/toilet was huge with H20 toiletries. We stayed at Room 7 by the way and curtains are remote controlled. I think perhaps the hotel can do away with the sharp corners (the glass counter where you place the toiletries in the shower area, very dangerous if you ever slip).

The hotel is walking distance to the Ghee Hiang Bakery, and some hawker stalls. We had a car so it was no problem for us driving around except the really annoying Penang One-way streets recently enforced and it seemed the local government forgot to put out huge signage to guide motorists. We ended up driving in circles!

Breakfast was simple but awesome: I had Truffle White Scrambled Egg, paired with some cleansing juice with wheatgrass and TWG Royal Darjeeling Tea to perk the senses.

The Den, the whisky bar was beautiful and they are well stocked with different whiskies. Shame they did not have my favorite Bhutanese whisky.

Two things they can improve on:

1) Perhaps put curtains in front of the window or at least dim the lights outside. At Room 7, we were annoyed by the fact that it was bright inside the room come sleeping time due to the fierce white lights outside.

2) Put tall trees by the gate so we don't have to see the street outside making the place more of an oasis. I don't know what to do with the building next door, Kinda ugly to see from the hotel room. Perhaps put more plants to cover the concrete???

Overall, Macalister is a fine place, but can still work on these issues.

  • Stayed August 2013, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank riain
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
eightroomsMM, General Manager at Macalister Mansion, responded to this review, 16 August 2013
Thank you for your compliments and spending the time writing this review. We sincerely appreciate the constructive comments and this would prove useful in order for us to improve further. We will look into the blackout issue and the issue of the sharp corner of the glass counter in the bathroom. Regarding about planting more trees by the gate, there are guidelines from the local council which require us not to block the view of the facade from the street.

We hope to welcoming you back at Macalister Mansion soon!
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Taipei, Taiwan
1 review
Reviewed 12 August 2013

We stayed over the weekend at Macalister Mansion after hearing so much of this new hotel from the internet and many magazines that we have came across. And most importantly, the decision to stay here is because of this hotel which is part of the unique Design Hotel group, which gives us some assurance of the quality and design uniqueness. After all, members of the Design Hotel have to go through strict handpicked selection process, as we have learnt. I think this is also the only hotel in Malaysia that is part of the Design Hotel group.

We were overwhelmed by the sight of this majestic mansion when we arrived. Although location may not be in the core heritage zone of Georgetown but we were pretty satisfied as we have learned of the creepiness of some heritage hotels which can be quite dark and not exactly the comfortable sleep that we were yearning for.

We were greeted with some unique and refreshing welcome drinks upon check-in. Very satisfying after a long ride from airport under the hot sun. We were amazed with the design of the room and all the details put in. Bravo to the owners who have really raised the bar of quality and design based hotels in Penang. Everything in the room is clean and contemporary and nothing resembling the heritage exterior of the mansion, except the high ceiling of the room and the original timber thrust at the ceiling. A really nice blend of heritage and contemporary design!

The hotel is pretty generous as not only WiFi is complimentary, so is the minibar although they don’t stock alcohol in the room. Not to forget also the personalized writing paper with my name on it and other very nice stationery provided! Room is also well equipped with sleek LED TV and B&O docking system for your Iphone. Quite a surprise find for a hotel in Penang.

The bed is super comfy and at par with the heavenly bed at Westin or W. We were so curious and flipped the mattress to find out that they provided Simmons mattress! We were so glad as we really need to catch up with some good rest after hectic work schedule the week before.

There is also a nice guest lounge where guests can use computer for free and a small decently equipped gym. We didn’t try the pool but it was quite lovely designed.

We didn’t have the time to try the restaurants and bars. The Mansion has 2 restaurants and 3 bars (including one outdoor pool bar). Quite amazing for one with only eight rooms.

This is definitely a gem to lookout out for when you are next in Penang if you are looking for an experience of Georgetown heritage with a modern comfort! And for the design geeks, not to be missed! :-)

Room Tip: Each has its unique design due to the shape of the Mansion. Look through each to pick your choice. A...
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  • Stayed August 2013, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank CYChen263
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
eightroomsMM, General Manager at Macalister Mansion, responded to this review, 15 August 2013
Thank you for your compliments and taking the time to write your review. We understand how important rest and sleep is for one's well-being, therefore, we only provide the best. We do hope that you will be able to try our restaurants and bars during your next visit.

We look forward to welcoming you back at Macalister Mansion soon!
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Macalister Mansion

Property: Macalister Mansion
Address: 228 Macalister, George Town, Penang Island 10400, Malaysia
Phone Number:
Region: Malaysia > Penang > Penang Island > George Town
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
#8 Romantic Hotel in George Town
#12 Luxury Hotel in George Town
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): ££
Hotel Class:4 star — Macalister Mansion 4*
Number of rooms: 8
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Eight Rooms at Macalister Mansion promises a quirky and sophisticated new destination to relax and unwind… Set amidst a lovingly restored colonial mansion that was built in the early 1900s, we invite you to embark with us on a luxuriously new boutique hotel adventure within each of our individually designed 8 suites. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Macalister Mansion Penang/George Town

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