Why THE EDISON Should Be Your Choice In George Town

Inside the storied history of The Edison – George Town’s boutique luxury exuding classic beauty and meticulous intention.

In the heart of Penang island’s vibrant capital city, George Town boasts several colonial mansions transformed into sophisticated hotels suitable for modern travelers looking for a fusion of leisure as well as history.

The Edison George Town not only fits the bill, but sweetly, even more. The structure itself is an undeniable bewilderment of stories from the past while embodying cultures of migration, wartime occupation and richness. After years of renovation and tireless preservation, grabbing a cocktail while relaxing by the hotel’s tranquil pool is a sumptuous treat surrounded by an entire city center awarded as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The real story of The Edison does not begin with its elegant suites and handcrafted décor, it starts with a Chinese tycoon who made a fortune in George Town and this house was the bountiful symbol of his prosperous affluence.

THE STORY

Even if you’re visiting Penang for the first time, chances are, this isn’t the first time you’ve traveled outside of your country. If you’re well-traveled and can appreciate architecture with legendary narrative, then The Edison might simply be your perfect option.

In 2016, the posh hotel opened its graceful doors after Eugene Tan – son of Eddie Tan and founder of ET Hospitality Ventures – championed a two-year arduous renovation. Even the name “Edison” poignantly derives from “the son of Eddie,” which undoubtedly accentuates a certain nostalgic romance upon a beautiful structure embodying immense antiquity.

“Our passion was always in boutique hotels, so we started looking at interesting locations in George Town – our hometown. But it was also why we named this hotel ‘Edison,’ because it’s always been about executing new ideas, just like the famous inventor: Thomas Edison,” Tan explains.

The Edison.
PHOTO WENDY HUNG

 

Dragon statues
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Hotel's exterior
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Hotel exterior
PHOTO WENDY HUNG

In the present day, this property is technically owned by a non-profit organization, but along with a long lease, Tan and his wife, Rina Teoh, promised to act not solely as custodians of this ancient building but remain committed to complete a full restoration, renovation, reservation, and redevelopment. Then, they’d proposition the property as one of the best hotels in George Town.

“Our commitment is our investment, we’ve always wanted to do wonders with this property so we can tell the story that is so rich. As a hotel, we love to engage with all types of travelers,” says Tan.

Edison front door
PHOTO WENDY HUNG
Bicycles
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During the early 1900s, all along Lebuh Leith, the street where The Edison proudly resides, used to be housing for Chinese immigrants. In 1906, Chinese tycoon Yeo Wee Gark used this mansion as his private home. Up until WWII, when Malaysia was occupied by the Japanese, his residence was used as an administrative center for battles that the Japanese were fighting. In the back space of today’s hotel was utilized for entertainment purposes by the Japanese military.

“Anything up until Burma was controlled from this house. Anything south, like Kuala Lumpur or Malacca, was controlled from Singapore since it was also occupied by Japan,” Tan reflects.

Main entrance
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Exterior
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After the war, this property was given back to the owner for rebuilding. As he was involved in the opium trade (a part of the hotel was dedicated to storing opium,) folks used to arrive and smoke drugs at the property, using it as an opium den or a smoke house that, at the time, wasn’t penalized by the law.

At some point, the owner’s son lost the house in a gambling match. Once the property was passed through other landlords, the idea of converting it into a bed and breakfast began to brew.

Bicycles
PHOTO WENDY HUNG

IDEAL LOCATION

The location of The Edison cannot be more immaculate as a convenient address in the heart of George Town, steps away from the corner where famed shoemaker Jimmy Choo – a Penang original – learned his craft.

Lebuh Leith is not only one of the city’s first streets, it’s also surrounded by hawker stands and tasty restaurants at night. In midst of vivacity, The Edison seems to retain a certain sphere of calmness despite heavy traffic from tourists in the neighborhood.

Across the street, there’s the iconic Blue Mansion. Within a 10-15 minute stroll, there’s a plethora of street art and murals to admire as well as indulging in brilliant sunsets from the Clan Jetties. Want to try Peranakan (Nyonya) cuisine? Well, Baba Phang is quite literally so close that it only requires several minutes by foot.

Stairs to bedrooms
Grand staircase. PHOTO WENDY HUNG

 

Artisan products
Artisan products sold at the hotel supporting local businesses. PHOTO WENDY HUNG
Wall art
Wall art. PHOTO WENDY HUNG
Decor
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CULTURAL DESIGNS

In the early 1900s, tycoon Yeo – the original owner of the property – hired English architect David Nathaniel to design the house with both formal and informal areas, including dining rooms, servants’ quarters. In addition, the upstairs bedrooms were connected to the kitchen. Back in the day, rich tycoons had numerous children from multiple wives that all lived under one roof.

“During the renovation, nothing could be touched,” Tan says.

Hence, much of the building’s architectural components have been maintained, such as the Peranakan tiles popularized during the 20th century with decorative “majolica” that often brightens the room with dashing mixture of colors. The open-air courtyard – vaulted by rose-colored ornamental columns that frame around plush ivory sofas and tall trees – was also restored from the original mansion.

Reception
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Lobby decor
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Columns
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Open air terrace
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Open air
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Decorations
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ROOMS & SUITES

Each of the 35 rooms and suites welcome guests with heritage and coziness. There are three categories: Deluxe, Deluxe Premium, and Suite. Bathrooms are stocked with artisanal products made by local entrepreneurs: Earthoskin. The name is a wordplay on “earth to skin,” signifying the desire to “harness the goodness of nature (earth) to care for our skin, our largest organ.”

Though every private room at The Edison isn’t only tastefully designed but also exudes touches of quirk. Indeed, next to the coffee machine is a sign playfully asking: What’s perky & easy? Meanwhile, the hotel’s Wi-Fi password cheekily unveils as “happystay.”

The rooms do not showcase city views, instead each offers either garden or pool view which is just as delightful. The Edison’s alluring pool is framed by arched trees and amorous scuppers that turn water streams into melodic sounds in the outdoors. Lounge on a chair or sip on a cold drink, the pool area instantly transforms into a secluded secret garden.

Keys
PHOTO WENDY HUNG

 

Guest bedroom Deluxe
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Bed
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Lamp
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Night stand
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Earthoskin lotion
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Coffee sign
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Earthoskin
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COMPLIMENTARY WINE HOUR

As an added bonus, the communal lounge area is not only open 24 hours a day, but it’s also fully stocked with snacks, fresh fruit, juices and drinks for guests to enjoy. International travelers might not recognize Twisties (one of Malaysia’s most known snacks,) or other chips and candies by brands unfamiliar to Westerners. It’s the exact reason why The Edison offers complimentary local childhood snacks, as a way to introduce Malaysian culture to the guests.

Lounge
PHOTO WENDY HUNG
Snacks from Malaysian childhood