Reply To: Blue Mansion, A Cheong Fatt Tze Legacy, By Samadhi, George Town, Penang, Malaysia

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July 2015, 2 nights / 3 days

When researching our stay in Penang we decided we wanted to stay at a boutique hotel in the Heritage Zone of George Town for two nights.

We were immediately attracted to the Blue Mansion – A Cheong Fatt Tze Legacy By Samadhi and UNESCO World Heritage Site with its indigo blue facade
and lavish decoration.

An added bonus was that the hotel belongs to Samadhi Retreats. We have already stayed at the Villa Samadhi in Kuala Lumpur – please see also review – and loved it, so we thought we would enjoy staying at the Blue Mansion too.

There are four different room types bookable. Some categories have more rooms, like the Liang (entrance category) and Han (highest), while the 50’s room and the Tan Room are especially unique, because there is only one each available.

After much debate we decided to book the Tan Room. It is located in the former kitchen of the mansion and is also known as the Old Kitchen Room.

The original stove is used as minibar.

Since we like to cook and eat, we thought it was just the room type for us.

Besides being a hotel with a Cantonese and modern Chinese Restaurant, named after the original owner, it is also a museum.

Guests can join tours for free daily at 11.00 hours, 14.00 hours and 15.30 hours. Otherwise it costs 16 MYR or ca. 3.30 Euro / ca. 3.75 USD per person.

The Blue Mansion houses a library and lounge, where films made at the Blue Mansion (Indochine) or Penang (Anna and the King), are regularly shown.

Guests can have drinks and aperitifs on the balcony of Cheong Fatt Tze’s bedroom daily from 18.00 hours.

We took a taxi from the Shangri-La’s Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa in Batu Ferringhi to the Blue Mansion. The journey took ca. forty minutes and was as picturesque as the journey to the Rasa Sayang. Please see also this and the Feringgi Grill review.

There were a gate and security guard. The guard asked if we were guests. When we confirmed we were staying guests heinvited us to go inside. Another couple, not staying at the Blue Mansion, was a bit surprised we could enter the hotel, even so there wasn’t a guided tour available at the time. It seems many people aren’t aware the Blue Mansion is more than just a museum.

We were welcomed warmly by the Resident Manager James Lim and other staff. We received refreshing towels, welcome drinks and bookmarks with the password for the free Wifi access attached. Checking in felt more like signing a rent agreement. The Blue Mansion was used as a lodging establishment for a while, so this harks back to those times. Our arrival was around an hour before check in and our room wasn’t ready as expected since there are only eighteen rooms. Our luggage was stored until our return later in the afternoon. To our surprise we didn’t receive the room we booked, but the equivalent to it – the 50’s room. At first we were a bit disappointed, but it turned into a delight.

The room was very large with extremely high ceilings and large windows.

The bed was king sized and comfortable.

There was also a large writing desk, a credenza containing the minibar, a TV, a seating area, vanity table and a wardrobe.

All the furniture was from the 50’s and accordingly smaller than contemporary ones would be. It was ideal for me, because I normally have issues hanging or reaching things.

The furniture was mint green, but it was suitable and in mint vintage condition. The floor was tiled with honeycomb shaped terracotta tiles. The air condition and fan made sure the room was always cool.

The TV channels were limited, but we were happy with the Asian Food Channel and BBC World.

The mini bar was stocked with Belvoir lemonades and ginger beer, Samadhi water and Carlsberg beer; snacks included vegetable chips, cashew and pistachio nuts, Kit Kat, Snickers and other knickknacks. The water cost 8 MYR (ca. 1.65 Euro or ca. 1.90 USD), the lemonades were 15 MYR (ca. 3.10 Euro / ca. 3.50 USD) and the beer 13 MYR (ca. 2.70 Euro or ca. 3 USD). The snacks started from 7 MYR (ca. 1.45 Euro or 1.65 USD).

Artwork was a collage of Malaysian stars from the 50’s.

The bathroom was large with a Jacuzzi, separate shower, sink, toilet and towel rack.

It was black and white tiled and the bathroom amenities were locally produced and came in porcelain dispensers.

Two small side tables could be used for your own beauty products and held also some amenities like mouth wash, cotton wool and a shower cap.

The Jacuzzi is heated in the early evenings, but if you ask nicely it can be done earlier or later like in our case, because we were mostly out and about exploring George Town.

Water pressure and temperature were always good.

The bathroom door and bolts were a bit own minded. If not locking the door with one of the bolts on either side it would fall open. When one of us was locking him or her into the bathroom, the bets were on if the bolt was going to work or not. Somehow we always managed to release it and open the door. It was quirky and didn’t disturb us.

Every evening turn down was provided with a “sweet dreams message”.

Our red water flask was daily refilled free of charge and there were personal notes on real leaves left by Mr. James. One read for example “Dear Ms…. + Mr. …, sleep is the best meditation, sleep well! Resident Manager James.” There were also white and dark chocolates left for us.

If we had wanted to we could have sat outside in the courtyard. Every room had its own – not private, though – coffee table and two chairs. There were also large day beds in the public areas.

Reading material in the room was the Penang International Magazine, there was a also a guide to the Blue Mansion and our “50’s Room”.

We loved our room and felt right at home. Spending time there was a glimpse into a more recent history.

We used the laundry service. It was done quicker than expected, same day. The garments were folded perfectly and sealed in a plastic bag, creating a pillow. The cost was reasonable too.

Other services provided are walking tours, Tai Chi classes, Trishaw rides and free bicycle rental.

During our stay we were also advised that there was some renovation work going on in the right wing of the building, but we never heard anything. In the future there will be a spa, swimming pool and a Chinese garden.

In regards to noise a warning for light sleepers: While the room is peaceful during the day, it can be noisy at night due to the nightclubs and bars surrounding the hotel. Music and people talking woke me once each night, but I could settle down within a few minutes again.

We had breakfast every morning at the main courtyard, which is only used for this purpose. Breakfast is available all day a la carte whenever guests wish to partake.

There was a small buffet with a variety of bread, cereals, jams, butter, cold cuts, fruits and much more. All hot items and a wide range of juices and smoothies could be ordered a la carte. We enjoyed the scrambled eggs and smoked salmon, pancakes, the Malaysian egg set and Morning Detox juice among other things. If you have the chance try the Kaya – it’s out of this world.

On our full day we took the guided tour of the Blue Mansion after breakfast. The group was large with around thirty people from around the world. We had a chat with an Australian. Our tour started punctual. The guide gave us a biography of Cheong Fatt Tze. Originally he was very poor and came from Guandong Province in China, moving to Indonesia to have better chances in life. Cheong Fatt Tze built his empire with rubber, tea and coffee. Later his investments were far reaching including banking and railways. The Blue Mansion was his favorite house amongst the many he owned throughout Asia. He also had eight wives and number five and seven were his favorites.

Photographs of them can be seen, where breakfast is served in the courtyard.

The mansion was built according to Feng Shui teachings. The highest energy point can be found in the main courtyard. Our guide pointed it out. There was also a Chinese wedding bed. We learned more about Chinese traditions and where the different materials came from, like Scottish cast iron columns, the Szechuan screens and the Staffordshire floor tiles or the porcelain cut and paste shard works, called Teochew “chien nien”. It was highly interesting and brought us our “home” nearer.

On another occasion we explored areas not accessible for non-guests. One of the courtyards was especially peaceful with three koi ponds.

One morning we met the true master of the house, a very demanding cat.

She ignored us successfully and headed straight to the back of house. We heard her meowing, but didn’t see her.

The location allowed us to walk everywhere we wanted to go, including the Eastern & Oriental Hotel, the Love Lane, Church of the Assumption, St. George’s Church, Fort Cornwallis and the Jubilee Clock Tower to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee.

We loved the Blue Mansion, because of the great heritage, the unique rooms, the atmosphere, the tour, location and the attentive and friendly staff.

Should our travels take us to Penang in the future, we would stay at the Blue Mansion – A Cheong Fatt Tze Legacy by Samadhi for our second time. This was our second Samadhi Retreats property and yes, we would look forward to stay with the Samadhi Retreats Group again in our future.

Would we recommend this hotel to a friend? YES!
Would we stay again at this hotel in our future? YES!

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