Decisions, decisions. When choosing where to stay on the Malaysian spice island of Penang, we had some choices to make. Whether to go for the beach (though not the best in Asia by a long chalk, it's always lovely to wake up to the sound of the ocean). Or to be in the middle of things in the UNESCO World Heritage site of George Town - with its shophouses and all the noises and smells of an Asia of long ago. What a relief when we came across Macalister Mansion - the best of both worlds we think. Situated in a renovated colonial mansion, just a ten minute cab ride from the old streets of George Town, but with landscaped gardens and its own pool to lounge by. Count us in...
COMFORT LEVEL: 8.5/10 - We stayed in room 4 in what was one of the most comfortable beds we had ever slept in. The transformation of this beautiful old house into a chic, well designed hotel has been done with confidence. We loved the spiral iron staircase that lead to a tiny private terrace above the bay window of our room. The super-chic bathrooms with floor to ceiling Italian tiles, hidden behind heavy velvet curtains and glass doors had everything you'd wish for.
NOISE LEVEL 5.5/10- We had to mark this one down. You can hear the road noise a little and there's street noise and barking dogs that seem to come out at night. Nothing too much of an issue but enough to wake a light sleeper we think. What wasn't ok was that on one of the night's we were woken up around midnight with what sounded like a small helicopter landing under our window. In fact it was the guy who comes once a month to get rid of mosquitoes. Given the noisy 'fogging' machine he uses, scheduling the visit for that time of night was crazy. It went on for ages and must have woken the whole neighbourhood. When we talked to the management team the next day they promised it wouldn't happen at that time of night again. For the sake of their future guests, I do hope not.
LIGHT LEVEL 9/10- Despite the plethora of windows, the shutter and blind combo did a great job of keeping out the daylight so sleep-ins were possible. The room lights were a bit much when on full but fine on the softer settings and the bedside task lighting worked well. And no flashing lights or bleeping machines to disturb us through the night.
TEMPERATURE 8/10 - Given it was 39 degrees outside, our air con didn't do a bad job. A little over zealous at times, but better that than the sweltering heat.
CARE LEVEL 7.5/10 - OK, so if we're honest some of the service was patchy in places but in a very charming Asian way. And everything seemed to work out fine in the end. The management team were always on hand to help. We really appreciated the late check out they okayed for us - things like that make a huge difference when you are travelling long distances.
TOTAL SCORE 8 ZZzzzs /10 - A pristine spot to hang out and recover from the crazy street-life of the town. We loved our stay and felt we'd made the right choice. A few little things to iron out but that all added to the charm. We'd go back, but check we we not going to meet the mosquito man again.