Areca Hotel

Special thanks to Areca Hotel Penang for extending this hotel review invitation.

Areca Hotel Penang is a boutique hotel within a short walking distance from KOMTAR Tower. The hotel spans 12 contiguous shops that were once owned by Khoo Sian Ewe, a prominent Chinese businessman and philanthropist who lived in the Prince of Wales Island (Penang's colonial name) in the early 20th century. The road in front of the shops, Jalan Khoo Sian Ewe, was named after him.
After several years of renovation, Areca Hotel has been meticulously restored to its former glory. As the building is located within George Town's UNESCO World Heritage Site buffer zone, much care has been taken to preserve the original character of the historical structure. For instance, the lobby's floor is covered with old-fashioned tiles reminiscent of the bygone colonial days.
Upon arriving the hotel, guests are treated with welcome drinks. The lemongrass tea is a good remedy to quench thirst on a hot afternoon. While waiting to be checked in, guests can browse through travel brochures on suggestions of places to visit and eat. There are also toys to keep the young ones occupied, including a large teddy bear slouching on the sofa chair.
Areca Hotel is named after the areca palm (also known as Pinang palm), from which this island derives its name. The hotel has 48 rooms under 4 different categories. There are three floors; an elevator connects guests to the upper floors. In compliance with George Town's city ordinances, smoking is strictly prohibited in the hotel.
The common area at the ground floor is where guests can relax, read the papers and mingle. This section is decorated with ornaments, potted plants and cozy chairs. Many of these objects are the owner's personal collection. The glass ceiling provides shelter from rain but allows natural sunlight to illuminate the area.
The Heritage Room re-enacts Penang's heritage with wooden doors and windows that invoke memories of the state's colonial past. The guestroom can comfortably accommodate two guests and still has sufficient room for an extra bed.
The Heritage Room provides modern comfort such as air-conditioning, minibar, television and Wi-Fi connection. This stands in contrast with vintage furniture like dressing table, wardrobe and shoe cabinet. Golden lighting gives this room a nostalgic charm.
The ensuite bathroom has a shower stall with heated water. Complimentary toiletries include dental kit, shampoo, soap and body lotion.
The Garden Room is located on the upper floors. Although smaller than the Heritage Room, the Garden Room provides sufficient space for two. This guestroom is named so because it overlooks a small bamboo garden at the back of the hotel.
A small alley around the block leads to the bamboo garden. In the morning or evening, it is nice to take a stroll under the bamboo canopy.
The Family Suite is the largest room category in Areca Hotel. This suite accommodates up to 4 people with option of an extra bed. As the name implies, the Family Suite is ideal for families.
The attached bathroom is also larger to cater the needs of more occupants. For instance, there are two wash basins at the dressing area.
Last but not least, Heritage Loft comes with two single beds, making it suitable for business travelers. As the room occupies the top floor of the hotel, its ceiling follows the gradient of the roof. The Heritage Loft also has a partitioned dressing area for extra privacy.
Areca Hotel's library is just above the lobby. Furnished with antique chairs and tables, the room presents a homely atmosphere. The library has a small collection of books and a computer terminal for guests to pass the time. At the side is a conference room where corporate guests can conduct boardroom meetings or small seminars during their stay.
To provide family-friendly hospitality, Areca Hotel has a dedicated children's room to keep the young ones entertained. The play area has an attached washroom, much to the convenience of parents.
Areca Cafe is where breakfast is served. The restaurant is also open to walk-in customers during breakfast, lunch and dinner. At the helm of the kitchen is a Swiss-trained chef. Areca Cafe specializes in European cuisine with a touch of local ingredients.
Although the main dining area has air conditioning, many in-house guests opt to have breakfast outdoors. The al fresco dining section takes advantage of cooling air in the morning. The tables here are made from old sewing machines.
Breakfast is served between 8:00am and 10:30am. On weekdays, food is served à la carte. On weekends or whenever there are more than 30 in-house guests, Areca Cafe serves breakfast in a buffet setting.
There are several choices in the à la carte breakfast menu. Areca Breakfast is among one of them. The meal consists of scrambled eggs, beef bacon, chicken sausage, grilled tomato, black-eyed peas, toasted bread and sourdough bread. Butter and orange marmalade serve as bread spreads.
Lontong Soup is a dish that originated in Indonesia. The main ingredient is compressed rice cake, which is made by boiling rice in a roll of banana leaf. The gravy is rich in coconut milk and is infused with savory-spicy flavors. The soup also comes with hard-boiled egg, tofu, yardlong beans, carrots, chili paste and chopped scallions.
Fried Noodle is an all-time Malaysian favorite. Yellow noodle is stir-fried with sweet-spicy seasoning made from tomato sauce, sweet soy sauce and spices. Shrimps, fried egg, tomatoes and cucumber are also included. Fried shallots and chopped coriander help to improve the dish's aroma.
Areca Cafe takes a cosmopolitan approach to Nasi Lemak. Like the traditional recipe, the rice is cooked with coconut milk. Popular ingredients like chicken rendang (slow-cooked meat), fried anchovies (ikan bilis), roasted peanuts, sliced cucumber, tomato and sambal (chili paste) are added. In addition, this fusion dish also comes with onsen tamago (温泉玉子) and papadom (அப்பளம்).
Last but not least, espresso-based drinks provide the extra shot of adrenaline to start the day. Shown here are cups of latte and mocha. Guests who do not take coffee can request for orange juice instead.
Areca Hotel serves the needs of holidaymakers and business travelers alike. Its refined design invokes a certain degree of nostalgia of Penang's cherished heritage. At the same time, the hotel also provides modern comfort that caters to families with young children. Would-be guests are urged to book online to enjoy 15% discount off the standard price.
Name: Areca Hotel Penang
Address: 5, Jalan Khoo Sian Ewe, 10050 George Town, Pulau Pinang
Contact: 04-261-0050
Business hours: 24 hours
Website: http://www.arecahotelpenang.com
Coordinates: 5.41750 N, 100.33024 E
Directions: From Burmah Road (Jalan Burma), turn right to Transfer Road (Jalan Transfer), and then take the next right to Jalan Phee Choon. Follow the road as it curves right to Jalan Khoo Sian Ewe. Areca Hotel is at the row of shops on the left. Street parking is available on Jalan Khoo Sian Ewe and Jalan Phee Choon.

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