Relive Chinese Opulence At Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion

BY NADIA CHO

Why we love this: As soon as you step into Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion, you know that there’s no other property like it anywhere else in the world. As one of the most iconic buildings in all of Georgetown, anyone who visits Penang should relish the opportunity to stay in one of the most immaculately restored UNESCO Heritage Sites in the world.

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The Story:

Cheong Fatt Tze was known as the Richest Man in China and the “Rockefeller of the East” throughout the 19th Century. As a rich, successful industrialist Cheong Fatt Tze constructed his residence in Penang, Malaysia: a stunning structure which elegantly blended traditional Chinese architecture and Western influences. The distinct Indigo-dyed exterior, excellent artisan craftsmanship and expert Feng Shui made Cheong Fatt Tze’s mansion one of the most celebrated buildings in all of Penang, which it continues to be today.

After Cheong Fatt Tze’s death, his seventh wife and their descendants inherited the mansion. Unfortunately the mansion gradually degraded into dilapidation due to the global Depression and poor upkeep. Finally in 1989, a passionate architect was able to buy the property off of Cheong Fatt Tze’s last descendants and started the tedious work of restoring the mansion.

In 1995 the mansion was restored to its full immaculate glory utilizing only authentic materials and artisan techniques used during its original construction. Such techniques included breaking up and gluing curved ceramic tiles back onto the trimmings and painting the exterior with the same imported indigo dye. The meticulous restoration was awarded UNESCO’s Most Excellent Heritage Conservation Award and the historic center of Georgetown became a UNESCO World Heritage Site as well. The mansion’s visually striking design has served as the backdrop for movies such as Indochine with Catherine Deneuve and more recently in Crazy Rich Asians in the pivotal mahjong scene.

The Experience:

There are just 18 guestrooms at Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion which line the serene turquoise hallways of the two wings of the mansion. There are four room types: Ming, Liang, Tang and Han. Each room is categorized by its size and the type of antique furnishings decorating the rooms. The numerous antiques throughout the mansion are original heirlooms of Cheong Fatt Tze’s family and are striking for their retained detail and authenticity. Guests have plenty of relaxing and picturesque spaces to lounge in along the tranquil blue halls.

Every guest should definitely attend one of the three daily tours of the property to learn the full history of the mansion and its place in Penang’s heritage. There’s also an informational museum upstairs tracing the rich history of Cheong Fatt Tze, his family and his mansion. Guests have access to every area of the property—as the daily tour groups do not—including Indigo restaurant, the hotel bar, courtyard, outdoor swimming pool, museum and hallways.

For those who wish to stay in and explore Georgetown, there’s truly no better location than Cheong Fatt Tze on Leith Street. Because it’s right in the heart of the UNESCO Heritage sanctioned area of Georgetown, it’s easy to walk to the many temples, food stalls, markets and the coast. Another perk is that the hotel is right next door to the happening Red Tiger Food Paradise. In less than two minutes from their hotel room, guests can eat in a buzzing food court that’s packed with mouthwatering hawker foods of every kind.

Amenities:

Breakfast in the gorgeous central courtyard—featuring cold continental buffet as well as a hot menu from the kitchen. MUST try the Roti Canai!

Access to all areas of the property including up and downstairs passageways, courtyard, museum and outdoor swimming pool

Daily tours of the property

Hotel bar with happy hour from 5-9 PM.

Suitable for:

Couples, History Buffs, Leisure Travelers, Families

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