Crafting your first trip to Malaysia? Prepare to face the challenge of choosing where to stay in Penang.
As one of the most popular destinations in Malaysia, Penang has an accommodations scene that’s anything but easy to navigate. Hundreds of choices await—and in varying quality. From backpacker hostels you’d rather not tell your folks about to five-star luxury resorts that sit among the best hotels in Penang, it’s all here.
Need help searching for the best places to stay in Penang? Take away the stress with this complete guide to the top areas, neighbourhoods, and hotels in Penang for travellers!
Best places to stay in Penang
When travellers talk about visiting Penang they’re often referring to the island. And, more specifically, to the island’s main city of George Town.
No doubt, there’s more to crafting the perfect Penang itinerary than its urban centre. But many of the most interesting tourist sites fall in & around here.
Let’s not get bogged down in details. The best areas to stay in Penang for travellers are:
- George Town: The heart and soul of Penang and the best area to stay for first-time travellers, foodies, and culture lovers.
- Batu Ferringhi: A beach town 30 minutes west of George Town. It’s home to the island’s best nightlife, great beaches, and top-notch mid-range & luxury accommodations.
- Tanjung Bungah: A sleepy, but growing, beach town. Little goes down here. It’s the perfect place to stay for travellers looking for a relaxing urban getaway in Penang.
- Bayan Lepas: The closest area to Penang International Airport. It offers a few quirky attractions. It’s most suitable for travellers transiting in or out of Penang.
✓ Best area for first-timers, foodies & culture lovers
When you’re on a quest to decide where to stay in Penang, there’s no better choice than George Town. The island’s urban centre is the most compelling destination in Penang. It’s an absolute must-see whether you’ve got 10 days in Malaysia or a month.
The heart of George Town, and most of the best things to do in Penang, beats around its UNESCO World Heritage area. The area is a fascinating mishmash. It’s chock-loaded with British colonial architecture, scruffy Chinese merchant houses, historic temples & mosques.
Throw in a smattering of shopping, local restaurants, street art & some of the best street food in the world. You’ll see why George Town is the ultimate place to stay during your visit to Penang.
Recommended hotels in George Town
George Town offers the most eclectic selection of accommodations in Penang. And that’s why it’s so hard to choose where to stay here!
In George Town, you’ll stumble upon everything. From scruffy budget guesthouses to the most Instagrammable luxurious digs in Penang, you’ll find it in George Town.
- B Street Hotel: A contender for best budget hotel in George Town. This property offers clean modern accommodations in George Town’s UNESCO area. The rooftop bar, unleashing views over Old Town, is a delightful surprise in its price range.
- Noordin Mews: This superb mid-range boutique hotel sits within a lovely historical building. It’s located in the heart of George Town. Rooms are spacious & bright and offer a quiet, relaxing escape amid the urban bustle. The UNESCO World Heritage area is 10 minutes away by foot.
- Cheong Fatt Tze The Blue Mansion: This hotel is a famous tourist attraction in its own right. Recently, the brightly-coloured historic Chinese mansion transformed into a boutique hotel. At Cheong Fatt Tze, each of the classically inspired rooms features a unique design. And there’s more to this property than its historic old-world charms. Extra amenities like a delightful outdoor pool area give it an added boost.
- Eastern & Oriental Hotel: George Town’s most prestigious five-star hotel. The Eastern & Oriental Hotel is set in a glorious 19th-century building overlooking the Strait of Malacca. The hotel charms with spacious colonial-style rooms and a luxurious outdoor pool area. Still not convincing enough to grab a room here? The 24-hour butler service should push the scale in its favour.
✓ Best area for nightlife & adventures by the sea
When the bustle of George Town seems a little much, beeline for the seaside charms of Batu Ferringhi.
To be sure, there are better beaches elsewhere in Malaysia. But the stretch of white sand in & around this beachfront town is some of the best ocean frontage in Penang.
The town has a chilled-out beachfront vibe. It’s the perfect place to stay for travellers who want to spend their time on the water. Hit the beach for some swimming. Or partake in more adrenaline-pumping activities like parasailing, waterskiing, paddle-boarding, or windsurfing.
Batu Ferringhi also hosts Penang’s most popular night market. It’s a bustling affair spinning deals for everything under the sun. From tacky souvenirs to designer fashion accessory knock-offs, you’ll find it all here. The area around the night market has also sprouted a strip of bars. They’re perfect for lounging around as the sun dips below the horizon.
Recommended hotels in Batu Ferringhi
Unlike in George Town, you won’t find as much of a variety of accommodations in Batu Ferringhi. The selection here shines most for those with mid-range & luxury travel budgets.
In recent years, the stretch of white sand beaches here has grown in popularity. It’s left some of the world’s most recognizable hospitality brands battling over frontage. The result is that Batu Ferringhi is now home to some of Penang’s best resorts. (At surprisingly reasonable prices!) It’s the perfect place to stay for a relaxing, stress-free holiday on the island.
- Double Tree Resort by Hilton Hotel Penang: This resort offers just about the cheapest price you’ll ever find to stay in a Hilton. (And one on a pristine white-sand beach to boot.) The chain holds up to its name here. The hotel offers spacious family-friendly accommodations. There’s also a whole host of amenities. Staying here, you’ll enjoy an outdoor swimming pool, play areas for the kids, and even a spa for mom & dad.
- PARKROYAL Penang Resort: This upscale and affordable resort charms with its spacious rooms. They’re decked out in modern Asian designs. Pad your travel budget to upgrade to a premier room for a private balcony with dramatic sea views.
- Hard Rock Hotel Penang: This legendary Penang resort is exciting for both grown-up music fans and kids. Rooms are decorated with rock-inspired motifs. They throw in extras like BOSE sound systems—and Fender guitars for good measure. The Hard Rock Hotel Penang sits on Batu Ferringhi Beach. It’s a five-minute walk from the town’s famous night market.
- Shangri-La’s Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa Penang: One of the most exclusive resorts in Penang. This 5-star gem charms with 30 acres of tropical gardens set to oceanside vistas. The rooms here are delightful, of course. But what pushes the Shangri-La’s Rasa Saya beyond other Penang resorts are the amenities. You’ll enjoy the nine-hole golf course, the Eco Centre and Adventure Zone. To relax, slip into the on-site spa & wellness centre.
✓ Best area for a quiet urban getaway away from the crowds
Although only a 10-minute drive from Gurney Plaza in George Town, the town of Tanjung Bungah feels miles away. It’s a fantastic escape from the non-stop buzz of Penang’s capital.
Tanjung Bungah is stretched out along the northern shores of Penang Island. It presents one of the best opportunities in the area to catch a sea breeze. At the same time, you’ll get plenty of little rest & relaxation. And you’ll do it without getting too far off the beaten path.
The town of Tanjung Bungah has experienced upward growth in recent years. But it’s still a quiet alternative to George Town’s big city vibe.
Beyond attacking your need-for-speed with high-octane water sports, there’s little to do in Tanjung Bungah. And maybe that’s why you’ll love (or need) to stay here.
Recommended hotels in Tanjung Bungah
The seaside glories of Tanjung Bungah have left the area with a barrage of accommodation options. They range from budget homestays to mid-range resorts. Compared to George Town or Batu Ferringhi, there’s a smaller selection in Tanjung Bungah. There are fewer high-quality properties available.
- Ardour Lodge: The best budget guesthouse in town. It features an unmistakably Southeast Asian influence. The garden-like atmosphere is a nice touch.
- Suites @ Straits Quay Marina Mall: This mid-range apartment offers plenty of space for up to five guests. It also delivers a wide array of on-site amenities. You’ll enjoy an outdoor swimming pool, gym, tennis court, and restaurant.
- Four Points by Sheraton Penang: This resort offers excellent value in Tanjung Bungah. It boasts spacious rooms with a clean-lined modern design aesthetic. Grab one of the value-laden deluxe oceanview rooms. You’ll love falling asleep to relaxing seaside scenery.
✓ Best area for late-night arrivals & early-morning departures
The industrial hub of Bayan Lepas might not seem like one of the best choices for where to stay in Penang. Your intuition is probably right—although it comes with a caveat.
I would sway most travellers towards George Town or Batu Ferringhi. But there are certain situations where staying in Bayan Lepas makes sense.
The area is home to Penang International Airport. When arriving late or departing early, this might be one of the smarter places to stay on the island.
Even if you manage to get “stuck” here, Bayan Lepas has a handful of quirky attractions. In the area, you’ll find The War Museum, the Snake Temple (just what sounds like), and Penang Aquarium.
With the brand-new Queensbay Mall, the largest of its kind in Penang, Bayan Lepas is also a great destination for shoppers.
Recommended hotels in Bayan Lepas
Bayan Lepas is close to both the airport and the bridge to the mainland. It’s left the area with decent accommodations choices at almost every price point.
For a wider selection and better location, check out George Town or Batu Ferringhi instead.
- U Hotel Penang: This stylish modern hotel is far better than its bargain-basement prices would predict. The rooms are cozy and decked out with contemporary furnishings and fixtures. Penang International Airport is six kilometres away.
- Hotel Equatorial Penang: This resort-style hotel offers 5-star amenities at 3- to 4-star prices. It oozes with appeal for couples & solo travellers alike. You’ll enjoy plenty here, from squash & tennis courts to an on-site spa. The hotel also offers a free shuttle to George Town and Batu Ferringhi to pad your Penang experience.
- Lexis Suites Penang: This luxurious 5-star escape sits on the southern shores of Penang. It’s just five kilometres from the airport. Each of the 222 roomy & well-appointed suites comes equipped with a private pool. Relax to incredible panoramic sea or town views.
Summary: The best hotels in Penang
- Looking for the best budget digs in Penang? There’s a whole slew of options in central George Town to choose from. Among the best is the delightful & budget-friendly B Street Hotel.
- Travelling with your family? Forget the hard-partying ways of its inspiration. The Hard Rock Hotel Penang in Batu Ferringhi is one of the most family-friendly hotels in Penang. It’s loaded with tons of on-site activities for the kids. And there’s plenty of fun for mom & dad, too
- Got a little more to spend on some mid-range digs? It’d be hard to do much better than Noordin Mews. This beautiful boutique hotel is within a short walk of the main sites of George Town.
- Ready for the ultimate Penang luxury stay? You can’t go wrong with the legendary Eastern & Oriental Hotel or the Shangri-La’s Rasa Sayang Resort and Spa Penang. With their dramatic sea views and brag-worthy amenities, you’ll sing praises to both.
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