38, 40, 42, Jalan Pintal Tali,, George Town,Penang, Malaysia
Rates starting fromUSD 67
per night or lessCHECK RATES & AVAILABILITY
1881 Chong Tian Hotel
Step inside this row of shophouses and enter a world of opulent golden carvings, stone-lined courtyards and furnishings inlaid with precious mother-of-pearl. Does this place have a name? Yes: it’s 1881 Chong Tian Hotel. Once upon a time, this used to be a thriving hotel for merchant traders in the 19th century, until it eventually fell into a state of ruin. Thankfully, local entrepreneur Seah Kok Heng swooped to the rescue and poured his heart and soul into restoring it back to its former glory.
Today, the hotel features 11 maximally luxurious suites, each named after a clan of historic Chinese immigrants. Fiercely proud of his own Chinese roots and tapping into his deep ties with the local community, Seah has put together a living museum of collectibles: gilded screens, carved opium beds and dazzling Peranakan mirrors covering the blue and crimson walls. You won’t find any tacky Chinatown knock-offs here: all are genuine antiques sourced from his private collection. Don’t forget to visit the second floor museum to admire his prized porcelains — some dating back to the 18th century Qing dynasty.
The authenticity doesn’t stop there however: downstairs, the excellent restaurant draws diners from across Penang looking to feast on classic Cantonese and Teochew dishes. Outside, the historic sights of George Town are just a short walking distance away. A stay at 1881 Chong Tian Hotel is the perfect introduction to Penang’s rich cultural legacy – one that, thanks to Seah, remains alive and well today.
- Banquet facilities
- Luggage storage
- Free WiFi
- Safety deposit
- Airport transfers
- Meeting rooms
- Multi-lingual staff
- Rooftop terrace
- Non-smoking rooms
- Boutique Hotel
- No. of rooms:
- Swimming Pool:
- Disabled Access:
- Recommended for:
- Art, Architecture & Design
- Romance & Honeymoon
- Culture Vultures
- Sleeps in the City
- Weddings & Events
- Budget Boutiques
- Weekends from Singapore
What to Know
- Staying here is a rare opportunity to experience a living museum, surrounded by precious antiques.
- Each room is exquisitely decorated with tons of character. Some even have enormous, semi-outdoor bathrooms.
- Staff are genuinely warm and friendly and go out of their way to make guests feel at home.
- Good location within a short walking distance to most of George Town's cultural sights in the UNESCO World Heritage Core Zone.
KEEP IN MIND
- The original wood floors and thin walls means it can get quite noisy, especially if there is an event at the restaurant downstairs.
- Due to heritage restrictions, there’s no lift and stairs are fairly steep; although a special lift is available for luggage.
- Not for those expecting 5-star levels of consistency – keep in mind that this is a privately-run, heritage building with all the accompanying quirks.
Named after the various Chinese clans that emigrated to Penang in the 19th century, each of the 11 individually-decorated suites at 1881 Chong Tian Hotel are more sumptuous than the next. The Khoo Suite is artfully composed of rich shades of emerald green and chairs inlaid with mother-of-pearl, while the Ong Suite is painted in cheery fuschia tones. Honeymooners should spring for the Lim Suite, with its antique carved wedding bed amidst sensuous crimson walls. The largest is the Seah Suite, located on the second floor and boasting a semi-outdoor bathroom with private Jacuzzi for two. No two rooms are alike, and some are much larger than others.
Eclectic living museum hidden in the streets of George Town with authentic 19th-century Chinese furnishings.
Food & Drink
The hotel’s ground floor is home to the well-regarded Eastern Restaurant, which serves authentic Chinese fine-dining that draws customers from all over Penang. Housed in a semi-outdoor courtyard, the dining space is lined with antique bric-a-bracs, including vintage Peranakan mirrors, porcelains and gold-leafed carvings, which stand out against the vibrant blue walls. The menu is equally opulent, starring Chinese banquet classics such as Buddha Jumps Over the Wall (a prized Fujian dish), Cantonese roast duck and Teochew-style whole steamed fish. With space for up to 150 diners, it's no wonder that it's a popular spot for hosting weddings and corporate events.
Up on the rooftop, Fei Chui Bar boasts 360 degree views of Penang amidst terracotta tiles and laid-back rattan furniture. It's a chilled-out spot to enjoy a glass of ice cold beer, an old-fashioned cocktail or a few nibbles from the afternoon tea spread.
Served in a cosy dining nook overlooking the courtyard, breakfast at 1881 Chong Tian Hotel is a simple spread of toast, eggs, cereal, milk, orange juice, coffee and tea, along with a rotating local dish such as fried noodles or nasi lemak (Malay coconut rice with chicken). We recommend venturing out to sample some local hawker fare instead: try the famous roti canai (Indian flatbread with curry) along nearby Transfer Road.
No visit to Penang is complete without sampling the city’s famous food, and luckily some of the best are within a short walking distance. Try the famous Lor Mee (noodles in gravy), Lor Bak (beancurd-wrapped spring roll) and Or Chien (oyster omelette) around the corner at Kedai Kopi Seng Thor (corner of Lebuh Carnavon and Lebuh Kimberley, open from 7:30am-12 noon); or pop next door to enjoy the duck koay chap noodle soup in a rich meat broth (7 Lebuh Kimberley). Alternatively, visit Sin Kheng Aun Restaurant (2 Lorong Chulia, open 11am-8:30pm) to taste Hainanese-style dishes such as sliced pork in dark soy sauce and Curry Gulai Tumis (pomfret topped with a spicy, tangy gravy).
A visit to several nearby attractions will provide some historical context to 1881 Chong Tian Hotel's Chinese theme. Admire the opulent Khoo Kongsi (18 Cannon Square), the recently restored Cheah Kongsi (8 Gat Lebuh Armenian) or the understated Han Jiang Teochew Gongsi (corner of Lebuh Chulia and Lebuh Queen, no website); three historic clan associations. Stop by the Sun Yat-Sen Museum (120 Lebuh Armenian), where the father of modern China drummed up overseas Chinese support for his successful revolution; while the House of Yeap Chor Ee (4 Lebuh Penang) will fill in the gaps on the remarkable 19th century Chinese immigrant story.
Your Booking Makes a Difference
For every booking that you make at 1881 Chong Tian Hotel, Indistay will donate 1% of profits to the Friends of the National Parks Foundation to conserve tropical rainforests in Borneo.Learn More
Penang International Airport is served by a wide range of domestic and international flights from around the region. Popular domestic budget airlines include AirAsia and FireFly, as well as Singapore-based Tiger Airways and Australia-based Jetstar. A connection at Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia and a regional air travel hub (50 mins flight time), may be necessary. Cities with direct connections include Singapore, Taipei, Guangzhou, Xiamen, Jakarta, Medan, Phuket and Bangkok.
FROM THE AIRPORT
A taxi ride from the airport will take anywhere from 30-60 minutes, depending on traffic conditions. Be wary of touts who approach you – a one-way fare to George Town should cost no more than RM40. Alternatively, look for the bus stop just outside the arrival terminal to the left, where you can hop on the RapidTransit bus no. 401 or 401E service for RM 2.70 which will drop you off at Komtar Tower, a 10-minute walk from the hotel.
In The Area
Nestled along a quiet alleyway just off Lebuh Campbell, a semi-pedestrian street, 1881 Chong Tian Hotel is ideally situated in the heart of George Town’s UNESCO World Heritage buffer zone and at the fringe of the core zone, on the island of Penang. Most of George Town’s historic sights are within a short walking distance or bus/taxi ride.
Taxis are easily hailed along the streets or you can ask the reception staff to call one for you. The hotel is located along Medan Lebuh Campbell, in practice a pedestrian street, although this is not entirely the case. Alternatively, hop on board the free Rapid Penang CAT Shuttle Bus, which is a convenient way of getting around the UNESCO Heritage zone. The nearest bus stop can be found at Penang Road (Station no. 8, Lebuh Campbell), a short walking distance away.
Penang International Airport: 30 minutes by car (17 km)
George Town UNESCO World Heritage Buffer Zone: 0 km
George Town UNESCO World Heritage Core Zone: 100 m
Batu Ferringhi (Ferringhi Beach): 30 minutes by car (16 km)
Penang Hill: 35 minutes by car (13 km)
Balik Pulau: 40 minutes by car (26 km)