It is the heritage building that helped put George Town in Penang on the map.
It’s eclectic. It’s colorful. It’s a home filled with such an illustrious history. It is one of the best places to learn about George Town’s heritage and history.
It’s the Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion, also famously known as the Blue Mansion. And you can actually stay here and immerse yourself into Penang’s heritage history.
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Staying at the Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion
We arrived in the early afternoon to a cheerful Shiro at the front desk who was ready to check us in. The process was seamless and quick, with a check and copy of the passport and some signing, but otherwise we were all good to go.
She offered us a cool towel and fresh nutmeg juice – a delicacy of the Penang region. Interestingly the nutmeg juice tasted like flat coca cola, which while on a food tour of Penang, I found out that nutmeg is actually a key ingredient in coca cola.
As soon as the check in was complete, Shiro walked us to our room, where she then introduced the room and its facilities.
The Blue Mansion is a boutique hotel. The original mansion was made up of 38 rooms, and so no new rooms were added during the restoration process. Today there are 18 boutique rooms available to stay in for hotel guests. Every room has been restored and decorated in a style that would have fit with Cheong Fatt Tze’s style. Talk about immersing yourself in history!
A Brief History of the Blue Mansion
The Blue Mansion was originally the home of Cheong Fatt Tze, known as the last Mandarin and a great Capitalist who originally came from China. Built in 1890, the home became Cheong Fatt Tze’s main business headquarters. Essentially during Cheong Fatt Tze’s era, the Blue Mansion was the pivotal heart of the city.
It wasn’t until 1989 when the Blue Mansion came up for auction, after the youngest son of Cheong Fatt Tze passed. Unfortunately, the mansion fell into disrepair after Cheong Fatt Tze’s death, and so upon its auction in 1989, the Blue Mansion was a mess. Thankfully Mr Lawrence Loh became the new owner, and so started his tireless work to restore the Blue Mansion back to its old glory.
You see, back in the 1980’s, many of the heritage houses of George Town were being demolished to make way for modern high rises and commercial buildings. But Mr Lawrence Loh had a very different idea for the Blue Mansion.
What makes the Blue Mansion ever so special today is that the restoration team was so pedantic in ensuring that the Blue Mansion was restored in such a way that you would be seeing it the way Cheong Fatt Tze would have seen the mansion the many years ago.
While it took 7 years to build the mansion in the late-1800’s, it took almost as long to restore the Blue Mansion. The restoration team were so very meticulous in ensuring no detail was missing. They even brought workings all the way from China because many of the skills needed to restore the Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion hadn’t existed anymore in the region.
With very little support from the local government at the time, the restoration of the Blue Mansion was the very first of its kind in George Town Penang. And it was this very project that put George Town on the map where it gained the attention of UNESCO. This opened the eyes of the local government to the potential that George Town would have on a global scale should it work to restore more of its buildings.
Today George Town has gained international status as a UNESCO World Heritage City, with the Blue Mansion winning the prestigious UNESCO Conservation & Heritage award in 2000…the first of its kind in Malaysia. And it all started with the Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion.
The Room: Scholar
We stayed in the Scholar room, which was on the ground floor and part of the Liang Collection. Every room has been specially named, paying tribute to Cheong Fatt Tze’s very colorful life.
Why Scholar you might be wondering? Well Cheong Fatt Tze was committed to the pursuit of knowledge. It was his enthusiasm and passion for continuous learning and improvement of skills that added to his extremely successful life, making him one of the most powerful and influential Mandarins outside of China in the 19th century.
The Scholar room is beautifully and tastefully decorated using antiques and artworks that came from the collection of Cheong Fatt Tze’s family – which means you’ll be sure to experience the aura of 19th century George Town, whilst still having access to modern comforts – a perfect combo.
There are no spare keys for each room, because all the keys are the original. So, when you leave to explore the many things to do in Georgetown Penang, it is best to leave the key with the front reception.
The room is spacious. A very large king-sized bed (which is oh-so comfortable) sits in the heart of the room. And while the room is exquisitely decorated with antique, the room also comes with modern features including air condition, a flat screen TV, room safe, mini fridge, coffee and tea making facilities, hair dryer…you name it. All items in the mini bar is included in the room rate and is there for you to enjoy at no additional fee. We even have a speaker set, where you can plug in your iPhone and play music while your phone is charging.
The bathroom has been modernized, while still keeping with the overall theme of the mansion. The shower has a great shower, and there was plenty of amenities….so don’t worry if you’ve forgotten your toothbrush!
Hotel Facilities: Restaurants
There are two restaurants at the Blue Mansion. The restaurant in the central courtyard is where hotel guests enjoy their breakfast. It’s a lovely part of the mansion, because it’s filled with natural sunlight…and it is even said to have the best chi point and is actually 1-2 degrees Celsius cooler than other parts of the mansion.
Room rates include daily breakfast, which consists of a small buffet and a menu selection of main breakfast meals. I try the chicken curry with rice, which came in a good-sized portion and is delicious. And ohhh my favorite – the house made jams. In fact, we love the jams so much that we actually end up buying 4 bottles to bring home! A must try is their Coconut & Caramel Jam.
Then there is the Indigo Restaurant, which is the star of the Blue Mansion.
It’s located on the first floor of the Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion, which is actually the original location of Cheong Fatt Tze’s master bedroom.
Headed by Executive Chef, Beh Weng Chia, the menu in the Indigo Restaurant in George Town Penang is a beautiful fusion between east and west, which perfectly reflects the man that Cheong Fatt Tze was. Combining classic French and Japanese techniques with a finesse and respect for Penang and Malaysian cuisine, the result is a menu filled with skill and creativity.
At lunch you can enjoy three-course lunch, which is priced at RM65 (A$22 | U$17) per person, quite reasonable considering the quality of the food. The menu is seasonal, so you can expect only the freshest of ingredients. I recommend making a booking though, because it is quite a popular restaurant. And good news for all hotel guests – you can enjoy a 10% discount on all food and beverage purchases at the Blue Mansion.
Hotel Facilities: Swimming Pool
So, there is one thing to take note about Penang – it is hot. And after a day of touring the town – walking here, cycling there – jumping into the cool swimming pool at the Blue Mansion is the perfect way to end the day.
It’s a great sized pool considering there are only 18 rooms available, and it is located to the right of the Mansion as you enter into the courtyard from the lobby.
So on your next trip to Penang, don’t forget to bring your swimsuit!
What an amazing way to embrace the history of George Town. The Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion has such a great aura, and I really appreciate the meticulous detailing that had been put into restoring this beautiful piece of history.
A truly special place to stay while you’re visiting George Town Penang. Rates start at RM620 per night for 2 adults (A$210 | U$160). It is best to book in advanced to secure your room as they only have 18 rooms available.
And fear not, if you are unable to stay here, you can still visit this beautiful building and learn all about its history. Daily tours of the Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion are available also, where you can learn more about the history of George Town, about Cheong Fatt Tze, and the meticulous restoration project which put George Town on the map.
No compensation was received for this review, however we were guests of the Blue Mansion in Georgetown Penang. All opinions remains my own and I only promote products/services that I love.
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