Penang Island is a thrilling cocktail of Eastern cultures. In the heart of the island, George Town is an urban center where you can find rows of old Chinese shophouses, glistening Buddhist temples and hundred-year-old mosques. Modern culture is present too, injected by colorful street art, dozens of hipster cafes and boutique shops.
If you ever find yourself in George Town and want to go for a little shopping spree, head over to Campbell Street. Fun fact: Did you know, Campbell Street used to be the red light district of Penang? Bet you didn’t know that! It has certainly come a long way, as in the 70’s, Campbell Street had become the most important shopping street for the locals. It was THE place to shop for clothes, watches and shoes. Nowadays, most of the retail outlets have been taken over by wholesalers.
Over the years, many boutique hotels have popped up all over George Town. These hotels could be quite pricey, so if you’re looking for something more homey and basic, Kim Haus Loft on Campbell Street is for you. Located on the eastern side of Campbell Street, this area was the center of the Chinese jewelry business, with jewelry shops lining both sides of the street. This information is important because the hostel used to be a jewelry and goldsmith shop! The four-story building with a big signboard that says “Kim How” is a testament to how successful the shop was. Wanna know why this hostel is now your perfect accommodation while in Penang? Read on below!
From the moment we entered Kim Haus Loft, we couldn’t help but be overwhelmed by the interior and the smell of freshly baked goods wafting in the reception area. It’s quite a bold move to use black as the theme color with an industrial influence in the decor. Think exposed brick walls, dark wooden furniture, and black accents. The reception area is also a cafe, where you can get freshly baked bread and a multitude of mouth-watering pastries and cakes.
Kim Haus Loft stays true to its history as a jewelry and goldsmith shop. Everywhere you look, you can find items used to make jewelry, and there’s an array of vintage goldsmith tools from different parts of the world on display. There’s even a free tour if you’d like to know more about jewelry making! The Goldsmith Museum is evidently the historical representation of the building as it was a prominent jewelry store in Penang.
Did we mention that the hostel is also a bar? That’s right! On the mezzanine floor, you will find a bar with live music every night. There’s no shortage of entertainment venues in Penang, but if you’re tired of exploring and just want a chill evening, it’s convenient to just head down to the bar (in your pajamas or not, we won’t judge!) and enjoy yourself!
During our trip, we stayed in the studio room with big windows on the fifth floor that offers an amazing view of George Town. The room is a calm respite and perfect for resting our tired feet after exploring the city. Minimalist, bright and basic, it has everything a modern traveler needs. The studio room comes with an en suite bathroom, so it’s perfect if you need your privacy. If you want to mingle and meet other travelers, Kim Haus Loft also offers dorm rooms with a shared bathroom. So, regardless if you’re traveling solo or in a group, you’ll find something for everyone here!
If you’re feeling cooped up in the room, the common area on the third floor is a cozy place to meet up with fellow travelers. Comfy armchairs are scattered around the area, calling our name to pull up with a book for a few hours. We loved the colorful wall murals done by artists Mike Makatron and Louis Gan that are also perfect for an Instagram photo!
Kim Haus Loft is perfect if you’re looking for something that can fulfill all your basic traveling needs. The bar and cafe make it convenient for travelers who need a break from exploring the city and its strategic location in the heart of George Town is a plus too! Overall, the hotel is perfect for solo travelers, a couple or even a group of friends looking for a stay in the middle of the action!
See and Do
Browse books at BookXcess @ Gurney Paragon
No stranger to the “alternative” bookstore concept, the BookXcess outlet in Penang has bookworms and non-bookworms’ jaws on the floor with its “really tall shelf” consisting of never-ending rows of books up to 10 meters high! Another unique feature is the “really long shelf” of over 70 meters that are filled with fiction books, making our dream of having Beauty and the Beast’s library scene come true. There are plenty of Instagrammable corners here too, so be sure your camera is fully charged!
BookXcess @ Gurney Paragon Mall
7th Floor, Gurney Paragon, George Town, Penang.
Opening hours: 10.00am – 10.00pm
Visit the reclining Buddha at Wat Chaiyamangalaram
Penang’s Wat Chaiyamangalaram is one of Malaysia’s most popular Thai-style Buddhist temple. It’s well-known for its 33-meter long reclining Buddha statue that’s housed in the main shrine. When it was built in the late 1960s, it was the largest reclining Buddha in Malaysia but has since been overtaken by Wat Photivihan, located near the Thai border in Kelantan, which has a 40-meter long statue. Still, it was quite a sight to behold! Even if you’re not a Buddhist, you’ll appreciate the details of the statue, from the blissful expression to the gold plated robe and silver-painted toenails.
Have a latte (or a cocktail!) at Norm Cafe
If you need a rest after exploring the city, Norm Cafe offers a great selection of coffee and waffles. The minimalist-looking cafe is perfect for hanging out with friends and the apple crumble waffle is a must-try! Topped with green apple slices and sprinkled with rolled oats, the waffle is crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. Pair it with a cup of matcha latte and you’ll find the perfect culinary pairing. As evening draws in, the cafe is filled with beautiful purplish hue and upbeat music to match the vibe. If you love fun concoctions, you can enjoy delicious cocktails curated by the guys behind Backdoor Bodega right here.
260c, Lebuh Carnarvon, George Town, Penang
Opening Hours: 10.00am – 12.00am
Tel: 017-401 1300
With such a wide range of accommodation options across the country, it can be a challenge to pick the one that’s best for you. To be in the know when it comes to Malaysia’s outstanding stays, keep your eyes peeled for Traveloka’s ‘Super Stays’ posts, a bi-weekly hotel special featuring our top picks!