PEARL OF THE ORI­ENT

For the epic Spring/Sum­mer ’13 col­lec­tions shoot, BAZAAR cat­walked into Pe­nang, stay­ing at both the iconic Eastern & Ori­en­tal Ho­tel and the cap­ti­vat­ing Lone Pine Ho­tel. By Cai Mei Khoo.

Harper’s Bazaar (Malaysia) - - Contents -

The BAZAAR fash­ion team gets in­spired by the Eastern and Ori­en­tal Ho­tel and Lone Pine Ho­tel

The room was filled with racks of clothes, the sit­ting area strewn with row upon row of shoes from Dior to Roger Vivier, not for­get­ting ac­ces­sories such as that amaz­ing Alexan­der McQueen bee­keeper’s hat. Thank­fully, we were stay­ing at the Eastern & Ori­en­tal Ho­tel, the guest rooms of which were large enough to oc­cupy the tonne of looks brought in for the col­lec­tions shoot that ran in our 10th an­niver­sary is­sue last April. Such a mile­stone is­sue de­served only the best, and in Pe­nang, the Eastern & Ori­en­tal ho­tel, or the E&O as it’s more fondly known, was the ob­vi­ous choice.

The grand dame of all ho­tels in Pe­nang, the E&O has a rich, il­lus­tri­ous past. Es­tab­lished by the Ar­me­nien Sarkies broth­ers, the E&O started life as The Eastern in 1884, cater­ing to the well-heeled trav­eller. Due to its pop­u­lar­ity, the broth­ers then added an­other ho­tel, The Ori­en­tal, a year later on an ad­ja­cent piece of land that faced the An­daman Sea. Com­bined, the ho­tel was there­after known as the Eastern & Ori­en­tal Ho­tel and be­came the largest ho­tel in Pe­nang, boast­ing a seafront lawn ac­knowl­edged as the world’s long­est at 842 feet.

Once, renowned writ­ers, play­wrights, and fa­mous ac­tors the likes of Rud­yard Ki­pling, Sir Noël Coward, and Mary Pick­ford ar­rived in Pe­nang, the Pearl of the Ori­ent, via steamship. Fast for­ward to 2013 and half the BAZAAR fash­ion team drove up from KL while the other half flew in from Sin­ga­pore, large suit­cases in tow, all in prepa­ra­tion for the shoot.

Lo­cated in Ge­orge Town, the ho­tel’s cool, quiet in­te­rior is a wel­come respite from the hu­mid, balmy Pe­nang weather. We were im­me­di­ately given cold tow­els and a wel­come drink upon ar­rival, while wait­ing to be checked in.

Po­si­tion­ing it­self as an all-suite ho­tel, the rooms are de­light­fully spa­cious – our room in the Her­itage Wing had a huge walk-in wardrobe – and as well-ap­pointed as you would ex­pect from a ho­tel of this stan­dard and rep­u­ta­tion. The gen­teel, re­fined at­mos­phere is fur­ther en­hanced by the pres­ence of an army of but­lers smartly dressed in white suits, who are on-call 24 hours, should your dress re­quire im­me­di­ate press­ing or if you would like your shoes

shined. De­tails in the colo­nial ar­chi­tec­ture, from dark wood floor­ing in the rooms right down to the tog­gle switches make you feel as if you’ve been trans­ported into a dif­fer­ent era. It’s this old-world charm and el­e­gance the E&O ex­udes that places it above the rest.

A new ad­di­tion to the ho­tel is the Vic­tory An­nexe, its name­sake be­ing a grand 40-room ad­di­tion that was un­veiled by Ar­shak Sarkies in 1923. More flam­boy­ant than his broth­ers, Martin and Ti­gran, it was Ar­shak who added the ball­room in 1903, the very venue that catered to many a glit­ter­ing ex­trav­a­ganza.

By 1927, the E&O was ad­ver­tised as ‘The Pre­mier Ho­tel East of the Suez’, which boasted more than 100 rooms, 40 of them with ad­join­ing bath­rooms of­fer­ing both hot and cold run­ning wa­ter, a lux­ury at the time. Th­ese days, the new Vic­tory An­nexe boasts 122 seav­iew suites with rain show­ers, and Vic­to­rian de­tails such as claw-foot long baths and pedestal ce­ramic basins to keep with the orig­i­nal colo­nial style.

All guests at the Vic­tory An­nexe en­joy delightful lit­tle ex­tras, such as a Lavazza cof­fee ma­chine in each room. Al­ter­na­tively, you could al­ways call some­one to pre­pare a fresh brew; a stay at the Vic­tory An­nexe also in­cludes full but­ler ser­vice. Apart from daily break­fast, af­ter­noon tea and evening cock­tails at The Planters Lounge are also in­cluded in your room rate, tempt­ing you to stay in­doors and in­dulge.

If it’s a change of scenery you’re af­ter, head down­stairs to The Sarkies cof­fee house and choose a spot al­fresco, over­look­ing the sea. The Sarkies of­fers a sump­tu­ous buffet spread, in­clud­ing a mix of lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional cui­sine.

But you can’t travel to Pe­nang and not savour its Per­anakan de­lights, and it was at the Lone Pine Ho­tel that we savoured the best Per­anakan food this side of the is­land.

A mere 20-minute drive out of Ge­orge­town trans­ports you to a wildly dif­fer­ent set­ting. Sit­u­ated on a stretch of white sandy beach on the Batu Fer­ringhi coast­line, Lone Pine Ho­tel is a charm­ing lux­ury bou­tique ho­tel that of­fers just 90 rooms, all of which face the sea. A gen­tle breeze sweeps through the tall glass doors in the lobby, a re­fresh­ing wel­come to the mod­ern re­fur­bish­ments that have been mak­ing waves since the ho­tel re­opened in 2010.

Es­tab­lished in 1948, the orig­i­nal build­ing was a lovely bun­ga­low owned by Dr. Al­bert McKern, who ran a med­i­cal prac­tice in Ge­orge Town. He later leased out the build­ing with the in­ten­tion of op­er­at­ing the first ho­tel in Batu Fer­ringhi. Af­ter the ren­o­va­tion, a new block was added, of­fer­ing fa­cil­i­ties such as a gym, a spa, and meet­ing rooms, which the ho­tel gra­ciously al­lowed us to use.

Two restau­rants are of­fered at the Lone Pine Ho­tel: Matsu, a ca­sual Ja­panese restau­rant, and The Bun­ga­low, the ho­tel’s cof­fee house. Its chic Batubar plays am­bi­ent lounge tunes, great for sun­set cock­tails. The de­li­cious lunch set at The Bun­ga­low of­fers au­then­tic Per­anakan cui­sine served in a tif­fin car­rier. It was just what the team needed to re­fuel af­ter shoot­ing un­der the swel­ter­ing sun. With a mostly out­door set­ting, The Bun­ga­low is the per­fect spot to en­joy the sea breeze, be it at lunch or din­ner, un­der the stars.

While you may be tempted to spend your en­tire hol­i­day by the pic­turesque wa­ters, it is highly rec­om­mended that you take the time to en­joy the many arts, cul­tural, and culi­nary de­lights Pe­nang has to of­fer – and there’s no bet­ter place to start than th­ese two sides of par­adise. Eastern & Ori­en­tal Ho­tel, 10 Le­buh Far­quhar, Pe­nang. Tel: 04-222 2000. www.eo­ho­tels.com. Lone Pine Ho­tel, 97, Batu Fer­ringhi, Pe­nang. Tel: 04- 886 8686. www.lonepine­ho­tel.com

The pool­side ter­race at the Vic­tory An­nexe

The Eastern & Ori­en­tal Ho­tel

A Cor­ner Suite at the Vic­tory An­nexe

The mod­ern in­te­rior of Lone Pine Ho­tel’s lobby

The swim­ming pool at Lone Pine Ho­tel

The chic bath­room of a Cor­ner Suite in the Vic­tory An­nexe

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