Eastern & Oriental Heritage Building is a large colonial-style resort that can only be described as legendary. Known as the E&O to generations of travellers, it is a true homage to the British-Raj era with classy rooms and beautiful gardens. Previous guests include some of world’s most notable glitterati.
The embodiment of both a special time and a special place, the Eastern & Oriental has stood for well over a century as testament to the grand elegance of the British colonial era. Full of charm, character and grace, in many ways the E&O represents Penang itself, with countless travellers’ stories intermingling in its history.
Eastern & Oriental History
After the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869, travels to Asia took on an unprecedented style and luxury, as Penang transformed into a trading post that could sustain a hotel as lavish as the Eastern & Oriental Hotel. Built in 1885, the E&O was constructed as an extension of that vision with the famous Armenian Sarkies brothers at the helm. The four-brother hotelier team was at the forefront of some of the most impressive hotels of the British Empire in Asia at the time: besides the E&O, they operated the Raffles hotel in Singapore as well as Rangoon’s Strand Hotel.
At its opening, the Eastern & Oriental was almost at once pronounced as ‘The Premier Hotel East of Suez’. It started out with just 100 rooms and a 902ft seafront – ‘the longest of any hotel in the world’.
Eastern & Oriental Stories
Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, Noel Coward, Rudyard Kipling, Somerset Maugham and Hermann Hesse figure on the Eastern & Oriental’s former guest lists. However, the fact that it has welcomed the celebrities of the literary and entertainment world is not the Eastern & Oriental’s most defining feature – rather it is the hotel’s long and colourful history. It has seen World War I & II, the decline of the British Empire and Malaysia’s rise to independence.
Though the current E&O is not the original building, it is still a throwback to its former glory with lots of fixtures beautifully restored. Staff are friendly and efficient (deferential porters are dressed in pith helmets, white shorts and knee socks) and the atmosphere deluxe. Rooms are decked out with cool white linens and polished marble floors and in-room conveniences subtly and cleverly include modern comforts such as cable TV, Wi-Fi and the works into its Victorian façade.
The Heritage Building of Eastern & Oriental Hotel
While the hotel is a beautiful photo opportunity for non-guests, staying guests are in for a sumptuous treat with attentive service, varied cuisine of international fine dining plus local coffee houses, and extensive facilities.
Over the years the Eastern & Oriental Hotel has made a concerted effort by means of refurbishments to recreate the time period within the modern building: all in all, it pulls off the colonial vibe flawlessly – you would almost expect to see Sean Connery on the lawn sipping a gin rickey and smoking a cigar. Fun fact: the seafront lawn has the oldest java tree in Penang.
Eastern & Oriental Hotel
- Highlights: Stay in Eastern & Oriental Hotel
- Address: 10 Lebuh Farquhar, 10200 Penang.