Amidst backpackers’ inns and travelers’ rooms along the busiest street of George Town called Lebuh Chulia, lies Yeng Keng Hotel  a quaint 19th century old Heritage Chinese mansion that was beautifully restored into a tourists’ haven.

Having a facade with a gate similar to what you see in Chinese temples, it struck me as such initially. I have been working in Penang for almost a year now and somehow, I have familiarized myself with some parts of George Town but passing through Yeng Keng almost every weekend never gave me a clue that it’s a boutique hotel until I read its reviews in! haha! 🙂

refreshing fruit juices as welcome drinks from the warmest & efficient staffs of yeng keng hotel

Months ago, I was looking for a budget-friendly but clean hotel to spend a night with my family as we witness George Town Festival 2011, its 3rd Anniversary after being listed as one of UNESCO World Heritage Sites (which deserves a separate post) on 7th July 2011 and fortunately I found Yeng Keng Hotel online. I booked and immediately reserved a room.

The George Town Holiday falls on a Thursday this year, so I filed a replacement work leave for the next day, for us to make it to a very long weekend! Another reason is my folks will be arriving in Penang from the Philippines and UAE over the weekend so it’s logically enough to maximize our days off.

Elegance in simplicity : In one of the 20 creatively restored rooms in Yeng Keng Hotel, we stayed in Mansion Double Room 102 located at its ground floor. Despite its limited space, its Oriental theme made us feel so comfortable and closer to home (read : Philippines!).

Ranked by commenters in as number 1 hotel in Penang, Malaysia with surprisingly affordable rates, it lived up to my expectations. Despite the fact that it isn’t a premier contemporary hotel, the unique old world charm of Yeng Keng, complimented by its very homey atmosphere and warmest service from its highly efficient staff are more than enough to comfort and impress anyone. Best of all, my wife, Tina and our almost 7 year old son, Gabby loved it too!

Is it not charming to you? The furnitures and fixtures looked so Filipino! Notice the solihiya headboard on the bed, and the fridge was enclosed in wood and solihiya too (not in photo). We felt so home!

While Tina and I were impressed with the tiny but adorable room, Gabby was too excited to check out his favorite cartoons (read : Our cable TV is still  yet to be installed hopefully within 2 weeks for we just applied days before we moved in to our new appartment).

Mansion Double Room is equipped with a Panasonic Flat Screen LCD TV with 16 cable TV channels & 3 radio stations, a King size bed (very firm which I prefer), toilietries, FREE WIFI (best things in life are free!), air conditioner, a wooden ceiling fan, en-suite shower room with hot & cold water, coffee and tea making facility and a personal fridge.

Tandas (Bahasa Melayu term for toilet) : clean and well maintained. I liked how they provided the toiletries complete with sewing kit, shaving cream and razor packed individually in resealable plastics making it practically clean. Towels are adequate too.

After checking in our room, we decided to view the first floor.

Yeng Keng’s first floor houses some more rooms, huge framed paintings and several lounges that can perfectly serve as sitting, reading areas or just a nook to while away time.

I told Gabby that during my childhood, we had great memories of having family weekends in few hotels and resorts particularly during daddy’s days off from his work in K.S.A, Now that we have him as our own child, I am trying to return the favor to my parents by doing to Gabby what they did to us dearly.

And because Gabby hopes to become a chef, restaurateur and hotelier someday, these little getaways serve also as his early exposure to his dream.

Went down to the ground floor again and saw more of  Yeng Keng Hotel.

No-frill-chic, welcoming, comfortable and unique ambience makes Yeng Keng Hotel a top favorite of the tourists who come to Penang.

the courtyard transforms into an alfresco dining area in the late afternoon

Another best with this boutique hotel is its location; few steps from its gate will take you to a variety of gastronomic delights offered by hawker food stalls and little restaurants. Indulgence is cheap in this side of Penang.

Dinner at Hakwer Food Stalls in Lebuh Chulia (parang kumakain lang sa Recto Ave!) : We had instantly prepared foods upon order --Char Koay Teow for me with prawns and fish fillet + egg RM 5.50, Seafood Mee Soup for Tina and Gabby RM 5, Freshly squeezed OJ, large RM 2.50 and Watermelon juice RM 2 (present conversion as of this posting RM 1 = PhP 14 = USD 0.33)

Because the entire George Town was celebrating its 3rd Anniversary of being one of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Yeng Keng Hotel has its contribution to the festivities by serving as a venue for Teochew Puppet Show for 3 consecutive dates, July 7, 8 and 9 at 7pm to 10PM; admission is absolutely free!

a little performer is being prepared for the show

If you must know, dusk in Penang comes late at around 7 or 8 in the evening. So Mr. Sun was still up when the TeoChew Puppet Show started at the courtyard of Yeng Keng Hotel.

tina and i would not mind if gabby befriends those blonde little kids but our little-big boy was too shy to mingle.

Teochew Puppet Show’s amazing; musical score and singing, everything was done live!

Despite the show is delivered in Chinese, music and artistry transcended language barrier.

Like in most hotels, the overnight stay we availed came in with a breakfast buffet..

we sat and dined our first meal for the day last thursday at that little corner.

The spread was so simple yet satisfying. It had the basic local and International favorites for morning meal. I was surprised it’s not ala carte but an eat-all-you-want inclusive of drinks –coffee, tea and fresh orang juice.

bisuits for kids
from a filipino expat to a first-time traveler to penang : must sample local dishes!

Nasi Lemak (nasi = rice, lemak = fat) is a local Malay food usually served wrapped in banana leaf and paper. It has steamed rice or if authentic, rice is boiled in coconut milk making it more fatty enough to last you through the day, comes with chicken in sambal (spicy) sauce, hard boiled egg, cucumber slices, roasted peanuts and fried dilis Upon unwrapping that local dish, I found out that it’s another variety of nasi. With only rice, 3 pieces of prawns and sambal sauce, I spruced my plate by adding scrambled egg and pieces of chicken sausages. Tina and Gabby made their own ham and cheese sandwiches and enjoyed boxes of cereals and cups of yogurts.

We also sampled other local delicacies frequently enjoyed in Penang…most are sweets, made of brown sugar and coconut shaving fillings, while the fried ones are curry puffs and potato filled goody.

After we stuffed our tummies with those from the spread, we took a stroll around the hotel. The driveway to the parking lot at the back of the hotel is lined by greens and blooms which also leads to the swimming pool.

Gabby did not pass the chance to take a dip.

In a tropical state like Penang where the sun is most of the time unforgiving, a swimming pool, regardless how small or big is absolutely welcoming!

On top of Yeng Keng’s charming ambience,limited but useful amenities and facilities, proximity to shopping malls and hawker food stalls and other tourist spots, we liked their friendly and warm service, hats off to their staff! From the manager, Mr. Jacky Chung, who offered an umbrella for us to use before we went out to Lebuh Chulia and reserved us a table and seats for the puppet show, to the receptionist and all staff, they were so efficient and nice with always ready smile to everyone. Thank you for making our stay wonderful. See you around Penang!

Yeng Keng Hotel  -362 Lebuh Chulia, George Town, 10200 Pulau Pinang

Visit their website for more details : Yeng Keng Hotel

PS : For the Mansion Double Room with buffet breakfast, we only paid USD 101 nett for our overnight stay.  I hope there will be many affordable  boutique hotels in the Philippines, my home country, for Filipinos to enjoy without much hassle on the pocket.


  1. yun oh, pa hotel hotel nalang. sowshial talaga ahihihi 😀 Ay doc, crocs ba yung sandals ni gabby? mickey mouse talaga yung design or yan yung parang pini-pin? may ben 10 din bang ganyan? si aleksei kasi muka ng ben 10, yun na daw gusto nya hahaha 😀

    did u know doc eh yung nasi eh rice din sa tin in kapampangan dialect? taga pampanga kas ako. uhm, wala lang, sinabi ko lng, bida bidahan hahaha 😀

    i can see iced gem biscuits! naalala ko tuloy ang kabataan ko haha! yung kakanin nila, anu yun doc, parang kutsinta and puto?

    ps: ang cuteeeeee nung bagets sa likod sa 15th photo!! 🙂

    ps #2 = ms. tina, yung katabi mo na mga glasses ba yan (photo # 9), diyan ka daw iinom ng orange juice next time! choz! ahahahaha!! 😀

    1. hey dyanie, hindi kami sosyal, (issue iyan dito, pinopost pa ng mga demons sa facebook, would you believe)
      like you, we just know how to enjoy life and be thankful of our blessings.

      yes, crocs yun, 1 week pa lang, hahaha SALE kasi 5% off (pero pag great malaysian sale dito after ramadan, 70-80% ang ibang shopping goodies) mickey mouse at donald duck ang design, cute ano? hehehe

      yes, maraming terms sa bahasa melayu na kaparehas sa ilocano, bisaya, kampangpangan sa atin.

      ayun, ang husay mo, i’ve been thinking of the name of ICED GEM BISCUITS! galing mo!
      yup, yup, yup parang kutsinta at puto lang! nakakarelate ang taste buds namin except sa SPICY foods nila…

      syempre, cute si gabby, genetics yan e!
      issue din yang orange juice na yan, nagalit ang chinese food vendor, kasi sa likod ko binili ang OJ, dapat pala sa tabi ng mesa para may kita sila. pasesnya na, di ko alam… hehehe

      thanks sa IT na ginawa mo para sa Sg namin… excited na kami ilang weeks pa! kasmaa si lolo at lola siguro…

          1. Doc, share ko lang eksena sa bahay.

            Me: * may toy na monster na green na nasa lapag* sabi ko Sino ba to? Monster anubayan ewww
            Aleksei: Ninang, that’s Ben 10!!! (may diin pa yan doc haha)
            Me: Nyek. si Ben 10 monster??
            Momi ni Aleksei: ay kasi ate nag ta transform si ben 10 ng iba iba

            Me: ay malay ko ba na ganyan pala yan

            Hahahaha!!! 😀

            Re IT, no prob doc kaw pa 🙂

  2. i always love wooden furnitures be it small or big kaya super win ang accommodation nyo docgelo, homey and comfy. You’re right solihiya is very classic Pinoy 😀

    1. we definitely recommend yeng keng, mabuti na lang i trusted tripadvisor’s comments.

      yup, furnitures with solihiya are really beautiful; very pinoy!

  3. binagtas yata namin ang kahabaan ng lebuh chulia nung pumunta kami diyan. pero di ko napansin ito hehe. no regrets, wala naman kasi kaming pambayad hahaha. nagkasya na kami sa maliit na kama sa maingay na sleeper train.

    nice photos docgelo! georgetown, i will see you again!

    1. yeng keng’s located toward the end of chulia street going to jalan penang.

      jun, sana sa second chance mo makapunta sa penang, masalubong kita sa lebuh chulia, hehehe.. 🙂

  4. galing that it brought a taste of modern and a touch of the culture on its structure.

    ganda nung mga yellow orange walls. is that a usual malaysian mix?

    Mansion Double Room is equipped with a Panasonic Flat Screen LCD TV with 16 cable TV >>> astig! hahaha… bias ata ako.

    1. i agree, dom. combining contemporary and something that exudes culture and tradition is always a hit particularly for foreigners and people who know how to appreciate. 🙂

      malaysia is a melting pot of cultural diversities so it’s not surprising to see bursts of colors everywhere.

      oh yes, effortless and free ad for panasonic (your company i suppose)!

  5. aba, at sumisipag magcomment ang Dyanie. ayaw pa kasi bumalik sa blogosphere. hehe

    Gabby is really very lucky. At this age, he already experienced a lot of traveling, eating, and splurging. No wonder he would be a great critic too in the future. =)

  6. it’s warm and elegant…a great value for money. the solihiya headboard and mother of pearl inlaid console table and chairs are reminiscent of our grandparents’ homes.:p reading about the food makes me hungry–not a good sign at this time.:p

  7. I really enjoyed all the design elements in this hotel particularly the cheerful color.

    That triangular shaped dough filled with potato is called samosa – or do they call it something else there? Sometimes it’s filled with cheese and/or other meats.

    Did you grow up in KSA?

    1. thanks for reminding me, maria of samosa. yup, they have it here; one of their favorites together with curry puffs and many others. for a well traveled like you, i am not surprised you know about samosa.

      no, i did not spend my wonder years abroad, onli in da pilipins! hehe… my dad was an ofw (safeway supermarket supervisor in different parts of KSA) for more than 17 years. so every time he goes home during those days, we usually splurge within our means by spending some weekends in hotels and resorts.

  8. docgelo, ang ganda nung lugar! promise! parang bahay lang sya. it’s not like the big, sosy hotels. it’s homey! at ang ganda din kasi simple at malinis sya. haaay…. i want to go to penang.

    i’m excited for your post ion the georgetown festival. sounds fun!

    1. i will be more than excited to meet you, grace when you set foot in penang. it’s a cultural diversity overload here, haha! pero probinsya pag kinumpara sa KL of course.

      yup, up next will be george town festival. 🙂

  9. Does Gabby swim well now? If not, better pool-proof him. Alam mo naman ang mga bata are sometimes too adventurous for their own good.

    1. hi bert! no, gabby hasn’t learned to swim yet kaya sa gilid at hagdan lang sya ng pool. haha! maingat naman and we don’t leave them alone in the waters.

  10. nice one, last time I saw Yeng Keng was in 1999, it was an ordinary and colorless backpacker’s inn, in fact i almost stayed there, good that is has leveled-up. Love the way they restored the building.The colors are really brilliant!

    Tip: on your next hotel outing, check out the more stunning Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion (Blue Mansion) on the same street, its another Peranakan house restored and turned into a museum but you can actually stay there. That was also where Anna and the King (remake of the King and I) was shot with Chow Yun Fat. ;o)

    1. maraming salamat, ivan for visiting my blog and leaving such kind words!
      i have heard of that mansion where anna and the king was shot, but i’ve been looking for its name and exact location here for almost months now; thank you for dropping its name! we’ll pay it a visit soon (actually, i’ve already browsed it website and it’s also charming like yeng keng; makes me want to book a room immediately, hahaha!) 🙂

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