Nomad & Roots

Magical Places: The East Indies Mansion

I’m currently traveling through Malaysia, and let me tell you, it has been a real treat. The country is beautiful and easy to navigate, the people are friendly and happy to chat in English, the food is friggin amazing, and everything is super inexpensive. I’ve particularly fallen in love with George Town on the island of Penang – while Kuala Lumpur feels a lot like a big city in the U.S., George Town maintains an exotic vibe with streets full of historic buildings and Chinese temples tucked into alleys.


I wanted to stay in a historic building during my time in Penang, and the East Indies Mansion did not disappoint. Built in the 1800’s as the home of Koh Lay Huan, a powerful Chinese leader in Malaysia, the over 200-year-old mansion has been exquisitely restored to maintain its historic charm while providing modern amenities. Though it looks tiny from the street, the mansion is deceivingly huge, stretching the full depth of the block. Two large courtyards offer plenty of daylight to the ten suites inside.


We stayed in the Clove 2, a large suite overlooking the rear courtyard, complete with a little private balcony over the back alley. The room features a king sized bed, an optional second twin bed, a sitting area, and air conditioning. The beds are comfortable and the air conditioning is a wonderful addition in Penang’s hot climate! The wifi situation was meh while I was there, I was able to make a voice call over it late in the evening, but during peak hours could hardly get a basic website to load.


The Clove 2 bathroom is not en-suite, we had to go outside to get to it, but it is dedicated to the room, so no one else was using it. I believe most of the other rooms have attached bathrooms. The bathroom was huge and had a big fan, but was not air conditioned and got a little hot during the day – like “no way you were going to blow dry your hair in there” hot. I forgot to take pictures of it… but it was well decorated just like everything else!



The East Indies Mansion is not a full-service hotel. Rooms are cleaned daily, but the on-site staff is limited to front desk reception for most of the day. Guests are given keys to both their rooms and the front door to get in and out. Simple breakfasts can be ordered the evening before, but we didn’t make use of the menu. George Town abounds with  AMAZING cafes and restaurants, so we didn’t mind venturing out to eat!




  • Gram worthy interior, both in rooms and common areas
  • Easily walkable to the best parts of George Town
  • Quiet rooms off of the street
  • Clean & air-conditioned





  • Spotty wifi
  • No restaurant/limited breakfast
  • No AC in some bathrooms





Last Word: The East Indies Mansion is a beautiful and convenient place to stay if you want to explore the historic streets of George Town, Penang, Malaysia.








Mindset coach and creative, currently rooted in Washington, DC.


  1. Shirley


    This looks like an amazing travel destination! After reading your post, I need to add Malaysia to my bucket list. Thank you!

  2. Pam


    What a beautiful place to stay! I haven’t been to Malaysia, but it’s on my list!

  3. alison


    These are the kind of places I love to stay as they are unique in character and you are contributing to local business. Yes, the bathroom would be an issue, but it does add to the excitement of staying somewhere with historic roots. Besides, it adds well to your story. Makes it more exciting and almost rustic!!!

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