Amidst backpackers’ inns and travelers’ rooms along the busiest street of George Town called Lebuh Chulia, lies Yeng Keng Hotel a quaint 19th century old Heritage Chinese mansion that was beautifully restored into a tourists’ haven.
Having a facade with a gate similar to what you see in Chinese temples, it struck me as such initially. I have been working in Penang for almost a year now and somehow, I have familiarized myself with some parts of George Town but passing through Yeng Keng almost every weekend never gave me a clue that it’s a boutique hotel until I read its reviews in tripadvisor.com! haha!
Months ago, I was looking for a budget-friendly but clean hotel to spend a night with my family as we witness George Town Festival 2011, its 3rd Anniversary after being listed as one of UNESCO World Heritage Sites (which deserves a separate post) on 7th July 2011 and fortunately I found Yeng Keng Hotel online. I booked and immediately reserved a room.
The George Town Holiday falls on a Thursday this year, so I filed a replacement work leave for the next day, for us to make it to a very long weekend! Another reason is my folks will be arriving in Penang from the Philippines and UAE over the weekend so it’s logically enough to maximize our days off.
Ranked by commenters in tripadvisor.com as number 1 hotel in Penang, Malaysia with surprisingly affordable rates, it lived up to my expectations. Despite the fact that it isn’t a premier contemporary hotel, the unique old world charm of Yeng Keng, complimented by its very homey atmosphere and warmest service from its highly efficient staff are more than enough to comfort and impress anyone. Best of all, my wife, Tina and our almost 7 year old son, Gabby loved it too!
While Tina and I were impressed with the tiny but adorable room, Gabby was too excited to check out his favorite cartoons (read : Our cable TV is still yet to be installed hopefully within 2 weeks for we just applied days before we moved in to our new appartment).
Mansion Double Room is equipped with a Panasonic Flat Screen LCD TV with 16 cable TV channels & 3 radio stations, a King size bed (very firm which I prefer), toilietries, FREE WIFI (best things in life are free!), air conditioner, a wooden ceiling fan, en-suite shower room with hot & cold water, coffee and tea making facility and a personal fridge.
Tandas (Bahasa Melayu term for toilet) : clean and well maintained. I liked how they provided the toiletries complete with sewing kit, shaving cream and razor packed individually in resealable plastics making it practically clean. Towels are adequate too.
After checking in our room, we decided to view the first floor.
Yeng Keng’s first floor houses some more rooms, huge framed paintings and several lounges that can perfectly serve as sitting, reading areas or just a nook to while away time.
I told Gabby that during my childhood, we had great memories of having family weekends in few hotels and resorts particularly during daddy’s days off from his work in K.S.A, Now that we have him as our own child, I am trying to return the favor to my parents by doing to Gabby what they did to us dearly.
And because Gabby hopes to become a chef, restaurateur and hotelier someday, these little getaways serve also as his early exposure to his dream.
Went down to the ground floor again and saw more of Yeng Keng Hotel.
No-frill-chic, welcoming, comfortable and unique ambience makes Yeng Keng Hotel a top favorite of the tourists who come to Penang.
Another best with this boutique hotel is its location; few steps from its gate will take you to a variety of gastronomic delights offered by hawker food stalls and little restaurants. Indulgence is cheap in this side of Penang.
Because the entire George Town was celebrating its 3rd Anniversary of being one of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Yeng Keng Hotel has its contribution to the festivities by serving as a venue for Teochew Puppet Show for 3 consecutive dates, July 7, 8 and 9 at 7pm to 10PM; admission is absolutely free!
If you must know, dusk in Penang comes late at around 7 or 8 in the evening. So Mr. Sun was still up when the TeoChew Puppet Show started at the courtyard of Yeng Keng Hotel.
Teochew Puppet Show’s amazing; musical score and singing, everything was done live!
Like in most hotels, the overnight stay we availed came in with a breakfast buffet..
The spread was so simple yet satisfying. It had the basic local and International favorites for morning meal. I was surprised it’s not ala carte but an eat-all-you-want inclusive of drinks –coffee, tea and fresh orang juice.
Nasi Lemak (nasi = rice, lemak = fat) is a local Malay food usually served wrapped in banana leaf and paper. It has steamed rice or if authentic, rice is boiled in coconut milk making it more fatty enough to last you through the day, comes with chicken in sambal (spicy) sauce, hard boiled egg, cucumber slices, roasted peanuts and fried dilis Upon unwrapping that local dish, I found out that it’s another variety of nasi. With only rice, 3 pieces of prawns and sambal sauce, I spruced my plate by adding scrambled egg and pieces of chicken sausages. Tina and Gabby made their own ham and cheese sandwiches and enjoyed boxes of cereals and cups of yogurts.
We also sampled other local delicacies frequently enjoyed in Penang…most are sweets, made of brown sugar and coconut shaving fillings, while the fried ones are curry puffs and potato filled goody.
After we stuffed our tummies with those from the spread, we took a stroll around the hotel. The driveway to the parking lot at the back of the hotel is lined by greens and blooms which also leads to the swimming pool.
Gabby did not pass the chance to take a dip.
In a tropical state like Penang where the sun is most of the time unforgiving, a swimming pool, regardless how small or big is absolutely welcoming!
On top of Yeng Keng’s charming ambience,limited but useful amenities and facilities, proximity to shopping malls and hawker food stalls and other tourist spots, we liked their friendly and warm service, hats off to their staff! From the manager, Mr. Jacky Chung, who offered an umbrella for us to use before we went out to Lebuh Chulia and reserved us a table and seats for the puppet show, to the receptionist and all staff, they were so efficient and nice with always ready smile to everyone. Thank you for making our stay wonderful. See you around Penang!
Yeng Keng Hotel -362 Lebuh Chulia, George Town, 10200 Pulau Pinang
Visit their website for more details : Yeng Keng Hotel
PS : For the Mansion Double Room with buffet breakfast, we only paid USD 101 nett for our overnight stay. I hope there will be many affordable boutique hotels in the Philippines, my home country, for Filipinos to enjoy without much hassle on the pocket.