If the movie Night at the Museum left you wanting a cultural sleep over, The Blue Mansion in George Town, Penang, Malaysia, offers you the opportunity to have one. If you’re wondering how it got its name, once you see the photos, you’ll understand.
The Blue Mansion dates back to the late 1800s, when Cheong Fatt Tze, a Chinese businessman and trading company owner, expanded his business to Malaysia. He built the mansion to accommodate his growing family of eight wives and six sons, and it served as his home until his death in 1916. The mansion passed through numerous owners after that, and was eventually purchased by a local group interested in restoring the historic site. The preservation and restoration continues, winning UNESCO awards for the efforts.
Today, The Blue Mansion is a museum, private residence, and a hotel, allowing you to spend a night – or nights – in a museum.
The 16-room hotel is located to the side of the museum and residence. The rooms were designed by a local artists, with a focus on cultural and historic themes, and furniture and decorations were added to complement the themes. For example, the Tang room is known as the room with the old stove. The stove, originally used for cooking for the main house, is now a coffee table and the room is decorated with kitchen accessories. The Liang rooms were part of the Fatt Tze family bedrooms. They are located around the courtyard and are now decorated with art and antiques that were inherited by the family. Each room has a story, and when you spend the night you become a part of the story.
The rooms have been modernized and all are air-conditioned with private bathrooms, and daily maid service. Rates include breakfast, served daily in the courtyard. Breakfast can be a bit of a mixed bag. A buffet is always offered, and occasionally a short ala carte menu as well. Western palates may not love the Eastern version of breakfast, but give it a try. Wifi at the guesthouse is free. When I was there, the signal was strong and consistent.
A fine dining restaurant is located on site. It’s open for dinner daily, and most days for lunch. Check for hours of service upon arrival as reservations are usually required. Malaysian food is delicious, and I’d recommend trying the food court behind the hotel for some local fare or head to the hawker stalls for street food.
This is a working museum and is currently open to the public for structured touring three times a day ( 11 am, 1:30 and 3 pm). While musuem guests are kept away from guest rooms, you should be prepared for some stragglers to wander over into the courtyard or try for a peek at the rooms. The mansion is also rented out for wedding and special events which can mean additional visitors wandering around. Ignore, or plan to be away during those times, and don’t let it bother you. Overnight guests are welcome to tour the musuem complimentary (I recommend taking the time to do it), but must be done at one of the regularly scheduled tour times.
The Blue Mansion is located at 14th Leith Street, 10200 George Town, Penang, Malaysia. Room rates vary widely depending on time of year, holiday season, and exchange rate, but currently start at about $147, including breakfast and all taxes and fees. You can check rates and book through Travelocity, Hotels.com or Expedia as well.