G Hotel Kelawai must have done something right to have regulars who keep coming back to stay at this entirely gorgeous hotel (I heard that the shoe design mogul Datuk Jimmy Choo and celebrity interior designer Eric Leong are part of that list). But this doesn’t come as a surprise because being design stars themselves, the hotel ideally fit their chic, luxurious and exacting standards!
Strategically located on the bustling Jalan Kelawai that is famous for a diverse array of attractions ranging from traditional temples, shopping malls (Gurney Plaza and Gurney Paragon), and the vibrant food scene including Gurney Drive (home to the congregation of roadside iron chefs), G Hotel Kelawai makes for a perfect base for both first-timers and seasoned travellers to Penang. Moreover, the hotel is relatively near to the city’s free trade zone, hence, corporate travellers would find this helpful.
Our arrival during one scorching hot sunny afternoon was welcomed with a warm smile by the doorman. As we stepped into the hotel’s sleek and sophisticated lobby, we were amazingly taken in by the oh so charming, inviting and comfortable set of Italian-made Baxter Molly Armchair designed by Doriana and Massimiliano Fuksas, including the Baxter Moon Sofa designed by Paola Navone. Though the look is minimalist, it is by no means cold. It is even considered creative, designed as a conceptual golden bird cage offering a quiet refuge from Penang’s bustle. A refreshing welcome ice cream is also given to guests when they check-in, which we find laudably thoughtful considering the weather can be unforgivingly hot at times.
The hotel offers 208 rooms, in which all are crafted as elegant yet casual. Mine was the spacious 45 metres squared Executive Premier that comes with Serta Royal Platinum Mattresses, 55-inch smart HD LED TV (said to be the biggest offered by a hotel in Penang), 300 thread count linens, ironing facilities, free customisable non-alcoholic minibar, 150Mbps high speed Wi-Fi and power plugs at all the right places. But believe it or not, it was the Herman Miller designer work chair in the room that caught my attention the most: a smartly designed creation that is not only ergonomically comfortable but so pleasing to the eye. I swear I might have sat on the chair for hours without knowing it! Moreover, there is an additional sofa and extra living space in the room that makes hosting cosier.
The bright bathroom also personifies a sense of opulence with its glamourous white marble floor, a huge mirror on the wall and an elegant bath tub at the end of the room to soak away the day. A brownie point for the hotel too for having my personal favourite toiletries brand, Appelles, which is one of Australia’s finest eco-friendly products.
The hotel’s halal-compliant restaurant, Spoon, is without a doubt the main drawcard, serving consistently delicious Asian and international cuisines by the culinary team led by Chef Ong, who had been more than 20 years in the industry. The breakfast buffet is also extremely generous with the pleasantly surprising appearance of chocolate fountain counter, to the liking of the much younger guests. Come Fridays and Saturdays, Spoon hosts its weekly Japanese buffet that is said to be a hit among locals. And of course, staying true to the hotel’s “Style Redefined” ethos, the overall ambience of Spoon does not disappoint at all: relaxed, convivial and reminisces a French Bistro expressed through the beautiful classic tiles, industrial lighting fixtures and chic dark wood wall panels. My favourite part of the restaurant? A tree planted in a huge pot sitting majestically within the al-fresco section of the restaurant.
Speaking of favourite, there is also another area that I spent most of my time when I was in the hotel: The Club Lounge on the rooftop, which Club floor guests – including those who stay in Executive Premier rooms – are given complimentary access. It is cosy and quieter – almost like a private library with plenty of shelves full with books – where guests can enjoy breakfast, afternoon tea, evening cocktails and canapés.
Stepping outside of the lounge, the Gravity Bar comes alive at night with music and lights while affording guests the panoramic view of Penang’s beautiful cityscapes. This is also the best place to witness sunset with a pomegranate mojito (G Hotel Kelawai’s signature drink) in hand. The lobby lounge – 2PM – on the other hand, oozes old New York charm with cosy armchairs, long wooden communal tables and bar stools in a dimly lit smart space.
For those who prefer to stay in shape while travelling, be sure to make use of the hotel’s 24-hour gym that comes with a steam room, or swim a few laps in the infinity pool on the rooftop. But if guests prefer to branch out, there is a free shuttle service that takes guests to the sister property, G Hotel Gurney, where guests can enjoy its facilities too; or to Batu Feringghi Market on Fridays and Sundays. There are also complimentary G Cycle available on site in case guests want to do urban exploring on two wheels.
Overall, it is not too difficult to see why G Hotel Kelawai is one of my favourite places stay in Penang. The design in general feels well thought out without overthinking. Kudos to K2LD Architects for making G Hotel Kelawai a tasteful retreat. With these said, I think I will be their next regular too…