On a road filled with dilapidated colonial structures, the majestic ivory coloured Macalister Mansion (MM) on Macalister Road on Penang Island stands out with its preserved heritage style and golden eagles in its driveway. With a 20-month restoration behind them, this 17,286 sq ft property was going to be home for the next two nights.
Unlike pulling up on a lobby entrance of a huge multi-storey hotel chain in the city, a drive up the long gravel driveway towards a large house gave us an indication that our stay was going to be different. A sanctuary for those who seek undivided attention and private space in a luxurious 8-room only boutique hotel, MM caters to the opulent and chic travellers who seek a combination of old world charm and contemporary designs to pamper their aesthetic senses.
Our Living Quarters
Room 3 – Our abode for two sleeps
“You shall be staying in Room 3”, exclaimed the receptionist. Having read up on the hotel before embarking on an island hopping trip from Singapore to Penang, we knew that this room was the mansion’s largest room. Comprising 60sqm of bedroom and living space with a built-in bathroom suite, Room 3 also boasts the original wrought-iron balcony where we could sit out and enjoy the expansive view of the MM lawn, pool and pool bar.
The first thing that overwhelmed us was the extremely spacious bathroom adorned by circular twin mirrors, basins and side tables. Everything in the bathroom focused on a circular theme that made the ambience excitingly unique. Not to mention, the beautiful white, grey and silver mosaic tiles that gave the bathroom a late 1890s feel. It was charmingly nostalgic indeed!
As we lay on our king size bed admiring the bathroom through its large glass panelling that separates the living space from the bathroom, we loved how an old–fashioned tile pattern covering the wall added to the classic charm of extremely modern fixtures and finishing. “It’s a butterfly not a bunny”, argued Joseph when we kept trying to decipher what the mosaic tiles were portraying at different angles. Not one to photograph bathrooms in our hotel reviews; we kept doing so as it was just too opulently enticing.
Our beautiful bathroom with a circular themed design
Furnished with 400 thread count percale bed linen and 80% goose down pillows, Nespresso coffee machine, Smart LED TV, complimentary WiFi and the usual in-room facilities, the elegant room also comes with a complimentary mini bar and snacks that are replenished daily. If that wasn’t welcoming enough, the turn down service in our room was excellent as it was accompanied by beautiful pastries to satisfy our midnight craving to snack.
The Bang and Olufsen BeoPlay A8 in our room was a welcome surprise with its wireless streaming of music from our iPhone and iPad through integrated Apple AirPlay technology. We also didn’t have to bother using our chargers since the BeoPlay is a docking station as well. With the sweltering heat outside, our cosy yet spacious room was all that we needed for a relaxing day indoors.
The first thing you see when you enter Room 3
The TV in and living area in Room 3
Room 3 has several doors that opens into the only balcony in the hotel
Our view from the balcony
Our Dining Experience
The Living Room at MM
The homey names to Macalister Mansion’s eateries like the “Living Room” and “Dining Room” somehow gave us the impression that we dined in comfort of a grand home. Though their names are homey, their artistic décor is far from it. Each room has its own bespoke features and artwork.
Encompassing all day dining and a casual space to hang out, the Living Room offers a delectable selection of local cuisine and international flavours. Set within a playful and colourful apple green theme, the modern whimsical art décor and unique chairs and sofas found in the Living Room go well with the original grills, staircase and traditional Peranakan floor tiles.
“Our signature dishes are the Sago Gula Melaka Sundae and Hokkien Mee”, said Kishen Sagumaran, Outlet Manager who has been working at MM for the past several months. “Our walk-in customers come in just to savour these two specialities, he added.
Seared Barramundi with Guava Purée, Mashed Potato and Sautéed Kailan
Though tempted to try his suggestion, we went ahead and ordered the Seared Barramundi and Nasi Lemak with Curry Kapitan for lunch instead. We were not disappointed. The guava puree and mashed potato went extremely well with the fish and we were pleasantly surprise at how well the combination of fruit and seafood could be.
The Living Room also carries a wide selection of TWG teas. TWG Tea has the largest collection of tea in the world with each tea being meticulously selected and blended to ensure the very highest standards. The Living Room is a lovely spot to grab a bite with a lovely area to try your hand in a game of pool. See Living Room menu here.
The Dining Room at MM
For dinner, we dressed up and headed down for a fine dining experience in surreal settings. Pastel blue and pink deer, blue chairs and stark white finishing and décor made up the Dining Room which was formerly the mansion’s courtyard.
Offering a selection of modern cuisine, the Dining Room is all about innovative gastronomy using quality ingredients. Visitors can opt to go À la carte or table d’hôte. Table d’hôte is the French word for set menu, a new word we learnt that night.
While the À la carte options sounded scrumptious, we chose table d’hôte with a Chargrilled Wagyu Oyster Blade and Pan Seared Miso Cod as our mains. Dessert, our most favourite course was made up of a chocolate bowl filled with peanut butter mousse, hazelnut crumble, chocolate ganache and salted ice cream. Our night ended with happy thoughts and full tummies. See Dining Room menu here.
Pan Seared Miso Cod with Braised Shimeji, Olive Soil, Caviar and Watercress Coulis
With a good night’s sleep and back down to the ground floor for breakfast, we realised how personalised the service at the hotel was when we were greeted with a big morning cheer. “Good morning Ms. Rosemarie and Mr. Joseph”, welcomed a server as we descended the stairs into the Living Room.
Breakfast was about brioche, one of our most favourite breads. We ordered the Brioche with Truffle Oil Scrambled Egg with cheese and tomato along with the MM Big Breakfast accompanied with eggs, sausages mushrooms, tomatoes, baked beans and relish. After such a hearty delicious meal, it was out door to some island exploring.
MM Big Breakfast with Choice of Egg (scrambled, fried or omelette), choice of brioche, ciabatta or rye bread with sausage, sautéed mushroom, grilled tomato, baked beans and relish
Brioche with Truffle Oil Scrambled egg with cheese and tomato
The Cellar at MM
The magnificent Macalister Mansion has two spots where one can relax and sample some fantastic vintage wine and whiskey in true aristocratic style. These are not spots where you expect to hear loud pulsating music with gyrating bodies set amid psychedelic visuals. But expect to see grand classical settings with serene ambience set among books and Victorian styled furniture. It is where you can tipple in regal splendour and chat away with your partner while you are at it.
The first of these spots is the Cellar – a space to lounge, relax with a glass of fine wine or champagne. It stocks over 300 labels of wines from all over the world, possibly the largest collection in Penang. The Cellar serves up to 20 different labels sold by the glass, a perfect place to enjoy a pre-dinner drink or a nightcap.
In our opinion wine drinking is an art. It’s not just as simple as gulping down a glass of it. It is however all about tasting and training your palate and also about decanting wine, checking for bad wine and how to spit it.
“The Cellar aims to educate consumers on the origin and consistency of different wines”, said Fadlin Johan, Outlet Manager/ Sommelier when he sat with us to explain the finer aspects of wine drinking while generously letting us experiment with different wines and cheese.
The Tasting Platter comes with the chef’s selection of 3 types of cheese with 3 condiments of your choice. Our platter had Brillat Savarin, Comte AOP and Selles-Sur-Cher AOP
While the connoisseurs of wine have a large selection to choose from, the ones who wish to educate themselves on wine drinking can find instruction at the cellar through their Wine Introduction Programs.
Sommelier/Outlet Manager Fadlin Johan fixing our Single Casks Whiskey at The Den
Next up is The Den. Sounds macho doesn’t it? It conjures up images of hard whiskey drinking men with cigars and hushed whispers. Well the Den is exactly that. It’s not as sinister as we put it but it is indeed a place to relax and unwind with a fine glass of whisky or cigar or both if you so please.
The atmosphere in the den resembled a great English pub of a bygone era. The lighting was hush and low. Spread out in front of us was several flights of Single Cask Whiskeys. Linkwood 1984, Glen Scotia 1992 and Caolila 1981. As is their characteristics, single cask whiskeys have no additives, no colouring and are not watered down. We were reminded of quote by David Daiches a Scottish literary historian…
The proper drinking of Scotch whisky is more than indulgence: it is a toast to civilization, a tribute to the continuity of culture, a manifesto of man’s determination to use the resources of nature to refresh mind and body and to enjoy to the full the senses with which he has been endowed.
The Den at MM
Drinking whiskey is like unravelling a liquid mystery. Here in front of us were some of the finest on display. We were tasked to rank which among the three best suited our taste and we choose Linkwood 1984 for its perfumed leather and grisly manliness with a smooth nutty finish.
The Glen Scotia 1992 was a close second with its rich and earthy elements of coal dust and dark chocolate and the Caolila 1981 a distinctive third that had a smoky and lingering leather finish. Also on display was a Japanese whiskey called The Yamazaki 12 years, a fabulous whiskey that resembled Linkwood 1984 but was smoother in taste and finish. For us it was a great global whiskey adventure from Scotland to Japan whilst at MM. See Den menu here.
The Single Casks Whiskeys we tried that night
Behind the Scenes
Joe Akioka who works at Macalister Mansion serves us with a big smile!
There were some lovely people that we met at the Macalister Mansion. These are people who toil away to provide a guest with a fabulous experience at the mansion. They are all friendly and cheerful and try to do their best.
Notably among these are the barrister cum outlet manager Mr. Kishen Sagumaran, who serves at the Mansion because of his immense love for hospitality and food. Then there is the maestro of wine and whiskey Sommelier Mr. Fadlin Johan and above all our gracious and beautiful host Ms. Josephine Leong with whom we spent many a laugh out loud moments as we exchanged personal tales of travel and adventure.
And of course there are many others who we observed were doing their best in making the stay for other guests including us memorable and comfortable. On a parting note, remember that the aristocratic and grand Macalister Mansion is essentially a home away from home albeit a palatial one at that and we wish it stays that way for years to come.
A Few More Shots…
The pool and pool bar at MM
The Lawn at MM
The reading room at MM also has a laptop that guests can use
The Gym at MM
A different angle of our room – Room 3
Yet another angle of Room 3
The rustic Cellar… just love the art pieces here
For more information on room rates, wine introduction programs and dining reservations, call Macalister Mansion at (604) 2283 888. Located along the historic Macalister Road, Macalister Mansion promises a quirky and sophisticated new lifestyle 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 in the heart of Georgetown, Penang.
Disclaimer: We thank Macalister Mansion for inviting Travel and Beyond to an exclusive stay at their gorgeous hotel. However, as always all opinions expressed are exclusively that of the author(s).