I have always admired all the beautiful heritage buildings in the old city of Georgetown— most of them still left in disrepair, and some of them lovingly restored to its former glory. Malaysia‘s northern island of Penang has one of the largest pre-war building collection in the whole of Southeast Asia, and these buildings reflect the rich and unique heritage of the city. You can read about some of these old buildings here:- Mynn’s Top 10 Historical Buildings to Visit in Georgetown, Penang.
Recently, many old colonial mansions in Georgetown have been magically transformed to reflect its previous grandeur, and converted into luxurious boutique hotels. During my recent visit, I stayed at the Jawi Peranakan Mansion— a restored Anglo Indian mansion; one of the latest boutique hotels to open in Penang (2016).
The Jawi Peranakan Mansion is situated on Hutton Lane, which is not exactly a lane, but a major road just on the edge of Georgetown’s UNESCO World Heritage Site zone. The road was once known as the ‘Malay Millionaires Row’, due to the many beautiful mansions built by the Muslim traders who made their fortune in the city back in the 19th century.
One of the mansions standing along the road is the Jawi Peranakan Mansion. It has been beautifully and painstakingly restored, and now stands proudly with the many pre-war shophouses along Hutton Lane. The mansion has a diverse range of architectural designs– from the 18th/19th century British influence, to Mughal Muslim designs and ethnic Indian motifs.
The Jawi Peranakan Mansion Experience
Steel gates guard the beauty of the Jawi Peranakan Mansion from the chaos outside. Upon ringing the doorbell, they opened up, unveiling the mansion in all its grandeur–wooden shutters that adorn its exterior walls, tiles with intricate motifs that line its ledges, and a lovely fountain hidden amongst the plants and flowers in the courtyard. I was instantly mesmerized. I felt like I was taking a step back in time.
Once inside, I was greeted by more Mughal Indian designs– the reception area is decorated with beautiful wooden furniture with plush cushions, brass decorations and lattice panels. My attention instantly went to the gorgeously carved ancient wooden arch that separates the front part of the mansion from the dining room.
Check-in was easy as they had a list of guests arriving for the day– and I was immediately ushered to my room, given a quick rundown of the facilities inside, and offered a pot of aromatic tea. The staff were really helpful and accommodating throughout my stay.
There are a total of 6 mansion rooms and 4 family mansion suites in the Jawi Peranakan Mansion. I stayed in the mansion room number 2 on the ground floor, and I loved it because it is right next to the water feature (pool). It cost me about RM400 (~US$100) per night.
I was absolutely in awe with the design of my room. A comfortable king-size bed with handblock indigo printed bedspreads sits in the center of the room. It is separated from the sitting area by a lattice screen, and the daybed is fitted with colorful woolen Kashmir cushion covers and throws. There is also a gorgeous roll top writing desk, a wall-mounted movable flat screen tv, bluetooth speakers and mobile charging devices in the room– everything I need to keep me all cozy, and connected. I could stay in all day!
The family mansion suites are much bigger; with high ceilings and lofts connected by wooden staircases. They can easily fit a family of 4.
Breakfast is served at the dining area in the middle of the mansion every morning. The entrance to my room opens straight into the dining area; and I was greeted by the lovely smell of toasted bread as soon as I stepped out.
I only stayed at the mansion for one night, so I can’t comment about the variety of dishes they provide in the morning. Breakfast is pretty simple though– they had a table with toast, cereals and packed nasi lemak; and another table with cut fruits like mangoes and papayas, as well as fruit juices. I was also offered freshly made roti canai from the kitchen, as well as coffee or tea.
In the evenings, coffee, tea, as well as other refreshments are served at the lounge area.
Facilities and Upcoming Projects
The Jawi Peranakan Mansion has a beautiful courtyard to sit and relax in. However, if it gets too hot (because it’s the Malaysian weather), there’s always the lovely rectangular pool (or water feature, as they call it) to cool off in. The side door of my room opens up to it– so I had a wonderful time chilling by the pool and the cozy lounge couch in the evening; and getting out of bed and jumping straight into the pool in the morning. Such luxury!
Just outside the mansion are a couple of good restaurants to eat in, as well as old colonial buildings to admire– however, if you are planning on visiting the more popular tourist spots in Georgetown, you might have to walk a fair bit. The reception can help with calling a cab, or you can borrow one of the few bicycles available at the mansion.
During one of my conversations with the receptionist, he mentioned that aside from the main mansion grounds, a restaurant is also being built on an open space next to the mansion. There are also a couple of shophouses beside the mansion that are being restored for future use.
At the End of the Day
I think that it is absolutely amazing what many of the boutique hoteliers are doing with the heritage mansions in Georgetown. Many of these mansions have been left in disrepair for years, and are now being restored to its once regal state– and then made available for guests to visit and stay, and to experience the grandeur of days past.
The attention to detail in the restoration of the Jawi Peranakan Mansion is impressive– from the architecture, design, furnishings and finishings. Being inside the mansion is like being in a whole new world, a whole different era. There’s always something interesting to see everywhere in the mansion, in every nook and cranny– a beautiful tile, an intricate arch, a precious piece of antique, or a fascinating lamp. Everything is Instagram-worthy, and my camera had a great time. I did too.