The Cheong Fatt Tze Blue Mansion in Penang is one of the most unique hotels I’ve ever stayed in. Built in the late 1800’s, the mansion was originally the family home of Chinese businessman Cheong Fatt Tze. The mansion was a symbol of his wealth and prosperity, with painstaking detail given to the original building and eventual restoration. In modern terms, it’s one of the most “Instagrammable” buildings I’ve ever seen! Keep reading to find out why I think everyone should visit the famous Blue Mansion.
The Cheong Fatt Tze Blue Mansion was originally built with 38 rooms, 5 courtyards, and 7 staircases, and is one of the largest buildings of its kind outside of China. The Chinese concept of Feng Shui played an integral role in the layout of the mansion, and each part of the design had a specific a purpose.
For example, the emphasis on open air courtyards is because water is seen as wealth, so the more water you can have naturally coming into the house the better. Once that water was inside, there is a complex layout of winding drainage pipes to keep the water underneath the house as long as possible before flowing outside. There are 8 pillars around the courtyard, two in each corner, this is another carefully though design choice, since the number 4 spoken in Chinese sounds like death and 8 is lucky.
The building itself was also a confluence of design and materials from around the world, with the iron works originating in Glasgow and the tiles used on the floors from England. At the time there were five shades of dye available to paint the house, with indigo dye being the most expensive and therefore another sign of affluence.
There is so much history and interesting stories behind the building, that the Mansion runs three daily tours so you can learn about the mansion even if you are not staying there. However, I would still highly recommend staying in the Mansion itself because the tours only cover the common areas, not the guest rooms and courtyards. While the tour is definitely still worth it if that’s your only option, staying in the hotel itself allows you to have the full experience and to get all your blue wall shots!
The Blue Mansion offers 18 rooms, each with its own unique name and backstory. I stayed in the Escoy room, which was named after the old smelting company in Penang. Located on the ground floor in the front corner, the room had beautiful tall ceilings, detailed ornate gold carvings, and plenty of room to spread out.
In addition, there are little heirlooms and authentic 19th century furniture scattered throughout. The rooms were all carefully renovated and had amenities that would have made Cheong Fatt Tze himself jealous (!), including a great HDTV, fast wi-fi and a heavenly rainfall shower. It was truly a unique experience to stay in a place with such history, while still having full access to luxury amenities!
I started each day with breakfast in the central courtyard, which is where the “Feng Shui” is strongest. The hotel staff does a great job transforming the beautiful open air courtyard into a delicious breakfast spread. There is a self-served area for pastries, toast and fruit, as well as made to order hot dishes. You can also choose local flavors such as nasi lemak to be fuelled and ready for your day!
There is also a wonderful on-site restaurant called Indigo which I was lucky enough to enjoy. Located upstairs above the central courtyard, Indigo blends Eastern and Western culture in both the food and the ambiance. The in-house chef creates wonderful dishes each night, with each dish looking like a piece of artwork itself. The fish and lamb were especially good, so be sure to make a reservation during your stay!
If you want to venture out from the hotel, I would highly recommend doing a tour of Penang Hill. The Blue Mansion graciously organised a day tour for me of Penang Hill with The Habitat and it was absolutely wonderful! After picking us up in their truck, our driver and friendly guide drove us to the top of the hill to begin our tour. You can also take the newly renovated train to the top, or you can hike the entire trail if you are feeling athletic. The train was closed when I visited, and I wasn’t feeling ready for the 2+ hour hike, so luckily the jeep was the perfect method for me to get to the top!
Once there we began our 1.6 km nature walk through the jungle. Along the way our guide explained that the rainforest was over 130 million years old! There are countless animals and plants along the way, including the adorable Dusky Leaf Monkey, plus some tarantulaa. The Habitat’s mission is to protect the land and educate visitors about the history behind it, and they do a stellar job.
The nature trail is built as unobtrusively as possible to preserve the forest, and they even installed new tree platforms that ingeniously wrap around the tree to hold people without drilling into the tree. There are numerous other activities at Penang Hill as well, including zip-lining, tree top walks, and the tallest canopy viewing platform in all of Penang! (Please note: the tree top walks, zip lining and viewing platforms are not open to public until March 2017 earliest, we were fortunate to see these before Habitat re-opens following renovations)
If you want to stay closer to the hotel for your exploring, the Blue Mansion is perfectly located to many walkable sites. Given that Penang was recently labeled a UNESCO World Heritage Site, there are countless beautiful buildings and little areas to visit. These include the Clan Jetties Floating Village, Little India, and Red Garden, an amazing night food market which is literally next door!
One of my favourite parts of the location was it is a short walk to Muntri Street, where the best preserved shop buildings stand and to many of the famous works of street art dotting the alleyways of Penang. Be sure to grab a map or ask the concierge for the locations of your favourites because some of the art can be tricky to find but worth the effort! Check out my post 7 Reasons To Visit Penang, for more information on what to do in the city.
SO, SHOULD YOU STAY THERE?
Staying at the Cheong Fatt Tze Blue Mansion was one of the highlights of my entire trip to Malaysia. The history behind the building itself was incredibly interesting and the hotel itself was beautiful. Be sure to bring a spare memory card when you visit because I guarantee you will take countless pictures of the Mansion itself, not to mention all the amazing sites nearby. The Blue Mansion was a once in a lifetime experience and I highly recommend staying with them next time you are in Penang!
And if you need any more reasons to visit the mansion – here are some more photos take whilst there!
I was welcomed as a guest by the Blue Mansion. As always all opinions expressed here are my own and reflect my genuine experience of the hotel.