Once home to the man who the New York Times described as the ‘Rockefeller of the East,’ Cheong Fatt Tze, The Blue Mansion is cloaked in a rich history and intrigue. Located in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of George Town, this 19th century property is the ideal venue from which to explore and embrace the vibrant historical and cultural essence of Penang.
A few minutes by foot can have you on the seaside, or possibly enjoying a cocktail overlooking the seaside at the institutional Farquhar’s Bar at the E&O. A few steps further afield will have you stumbling across historical sites such as forts, clock towers and piers. Head towards the city and you’re met with a plethora of food options, both hipster cafes and old school street stalls alike. The Red Garden Food Court, a celebrated hawkers’ nest for filling one’s tummy with Penang’s delights is in the very same street. Enter some nearby shop-houses to browse arts, antiques and partake is a spot of shopping, or just wander the alleyways on a car-free Sunday morning to admire wall murals and pre-war architecture.
Managed by the Samadhi group (best known for their gorgeous Tamarind Springs restaurant in KL, and Japamala, their 13 chalet jungle luxe resort on Tioman), The Blue Mansion has recently undergone major refurbishments, turning the once beautiful but budget hotel into an oasis of opulence and calm. Grandeur of the past is layered with contemporary amenities, in the 18 rooms making up the boutique hotel. Each room is individually themed and furnished, with exquisite heirlooms from the family’s private collection, alongside modern amenities such as TV, mini-bar, iPod dock, WiFi, electronic safe, hairdryer and rain shower.
Two stories built around two garden courtyards house six different room categories. From the beautiful LIANG, to the grandiose 50’s ROOM, a stay here guarantees an authentic romp mirroring the historical district in which the property is rooted. At the time of writing the Jin and Zhou rooms have future plans of direct pool access when the planned lap pool should be ready at the end of the year. The Tang and 50’s Rooms offer the most decadent living quarters with Jacuzzi baths hallmarks of each, and the Han with a sitting room, dining lounge and ensuite bathroom including tub and shower is well designed to fit a family of three.
Rooms are marked with names rather than numbers and we’re appropriately in the Chang Yu – the wine label Cheong Fatt Tze cultivated to be the most important producer in all of China. In the past, no government or high-roller function was complete without lubricious amounts of the drop. It’s a perfect match, and we’re sure to enjoy a bottle of Chang Yu’s finest in the elegant Cheong Fatt Tze Cantonese Restaurant during dinner.
Turn Down Service
Directly outside our room is a long courtyard centred with a peaceful fishpond, lined with the signature blue walls, and adorned with verdant shrubbery. Arched wooden windows and doorways indicate the height of the lofty ceilings in each room – a true luxury in these times of monetizing every square inch. Coffee table with chairs mark the entrance of each residence, and we find this a favourable spot to sit early morning and later afternoon with some of the gourmet treats found in our mini-bar.
Courtyard Outside Rooms
An enterprising day of sightseeing gets set on the right route with a hearty breakfast, and most packages at The Blue Mansion include a sound beginning. Served in the Courtyard Dining Room, local and western dishes provide sustenance for a day of enthusiastic exploration.
A light buffet of fruit, cheese, salad and bread, immediately abates hunger pangs, giving us time to browse the long list of brekkie items. Eggs, pancakes, noodles, soup and rice, are supported by some creative smoothie combos, yoghurt drinks, fresh juices and hot beverages. Apart from our standard tea and coffee we try a few different concoctions, with repeat orders of the watermelon, ginger and mint blend as a fantastic wake-me-up boost.
Hubby’s first morning choice, The Blue Mansion’s Special, is a take on Egg’s Benedict. Hollandaise sauce coats runny poached eggs atop a fat slice of soft white bread. Wild mushrooms and cherry tomatoes are sautéed on the side with some flaky pastry and lettuce filling the rest of the plate. I attempt a healthy start with Oatmeal Porridge. It’s a pretty bowl adorned with fresh yoghurt, blueberries, ginger and apple compote. Lavender honey can be added at will to suit individual sweetness preferences. Hubby cottons on to this toothsome treat and has soon snavelled my remains for his tea.
The Blue Mansion Special
Our second day sees us enjoying some fluffy pancakes with banana compote, maple syrup and wild berries. We can’t escape without having something local and the wonton noodle soup, made with egg noodles and prawn dumplings in chicken broth, proves both filling and flavourful.
Wonton Noodle Soup
Sophisticated Cantonese cuisine prepared with contemporary flare is served in the hotel’s signature outlet, Cheong Fatt Tze Restaurant. With Chef Maurice Khoon Meng Toh at the helm, the menu reflects the jet-setting lifestyle of its namesake, promising a gastronomic journey bridging the passage of time in an elegant fine-dining experience. Dinner here is a ‘must’ while in Penang so do be sure to reserve an evening here – with time for cocktails on the verandah (once the master’s bedroom balcony) beforehand. Follow this link to find our recommendations of what to order, photos and prices.
Cheong Fatt Tze Restaurant
Prawns at Cheong Fatt Tze Restaurant
Guests wanting to take a little taste of a memorable evening at Cheong Fatt Tze Restaurant home with them can partake in a cooking demo with Chef Maurice. Set in the peaceful courtyard, we learn how to prepare Deep-Fried Prawns with Mango Mayonnaise. Click here to find the recipe and discover a few tricks hubby learned in the kitchen.
The Blue Mansion with a fabulous tale behind it (book in for a guided tour to hear the scandals, historic details, and some surprising Feng Shui facts) enriches any stay in Penang. Whether visiting for a relaxing weekend getaway or a schedule full of sightseeing, this stunning boutique hotel ensures the details from start to finish are furrowed in the elegance of tradition but with the comforts of modern times.
The Blue Mansion
Room prices vary according to the season. In low tourist times and mid-week you’re more likely to hook a good deal. Check out the promotions section of their website to locate The Blue Mansions latest offers.
Reasons to visit: it’s like staying in a beautifully maintained museum – only with delicious food and luxurious amenities.