11-room boutique hotel Campbell House is number one on Tripadvisor’s list of 150 B & Bs in Georgetown Penang. I had a sneak peak when I visited the city back in May.
(Click on photos above to launch the photo gallery.)
In town with Matt to catch up with Narelle McMurtie of Chinahouse fame, I also made plans to meet up with friend Sharon Dhillon for dinner and drinks. She had recently moved to Penang to become the General Manager at Campbell House and suggested I pop in to take a look on the way out together, so at 7.15pm I was downstairs in her hotel lobby.
Set amidst the hustle and bustle at the corner of Campbell Street and Lebuh Cintra, this romantic boutique hotel’s setting seems unlikely, but step inside and the noise and heat of the street quickly fades away.
Luggage here is hauled up to the floors above using a pulley system, but we must slip off our shoes – a policy practised in many heritage hotels with wooden floors – so we can ascend rather more mundanely by the stairs.
At the top, nestled in an alcove and surrounded by wooden shutter windows and lit up in colour by Nyonya-style glass windows, a comfortable common area presents an inviting enticement to curl up on with a good book or write that postcard to a friend.
The hotel, which is owned by well-travelled Italian-Malaysian couple Nardya Wray and Roberto Dreon, has been designed and decorated by them with various modern and colonial-era pieces, as well as art and artefacts from across Southeast Asia including the photographic works of local photographer Howard Tan. It very much reflects their tastes and the wonderful multicultural flavour of the city in which they now reside.
The hotel’s 11 rooms are located on the first and second floors and I’m let into the few remaining vacant ones for a look beginning with the lavishly styled Loft, a duplex suite with a sitting room downstairs and bedroom and bathroom upstairs tucked under the building’s rafters. (See image gallery above.)
I’m also shown the exotic Opium and charming Rose suites but Sharon’s favourite, the Sari suite is occupied so we have to give it a miss. It’s a bright, colourful room brought to life with sumptuous sari material and the only suite with its own balcony.
Guests can still appreciate the hotel’s setting as the rooftop terrace on the third floor provides a vantage point from which watch the changing sky and the comings and goings of the street below while imbibing in a glass of wine and cicchetti, the Italian version of tapas, from the hotel’s ground floor restaurant.
Sure the hotel’s location means it’s steps away from some of the most recommended local dining experiences in the city, like dim sum authorities Tho Yuen and Tai Tung, but Il Bacaro‘s Italian eatery comes highly regarded too. Helmed by Allesio, formerly of Vineria in Kuala Lumpur and specialising in cuisine from the Venetian region, it’s rated 42 out of 1036 restaurants in Penang, which given the island’s reputation for food is not to be shrugged at.
If the comments on Tripadvisor are anything to go by, the icing on Campbell House’s cake is its amazing service, which has been described as warm and personal, and Sharon and owners Nardya and Roberto are frequently on hand to extend their services and share their knowledge of the island.
Ultimately Campbell House is a classy place – one where each guest gets complimentary pressing of three items of clothing (because they want you to look immaculate) and turndown service doesn’t involve mints or sweets or even chocolates but freshly-baked cake.
Rates at Campbell House start from RM362 and include breakfast at Il Bacaro, which is served until a wonderfully indulgent noon. Il Bacaro is open from 12noon to 10.30pm, and happy hours runs from 5pm to 7pm.