Coffee plus a bed
26 Lebuh Pregrave, Georgetown T: (012) 431 8583
Located in a beautifully restored heritage shophouse, Pavilion Coffee Homestay has all the hallmarks of Penang’s best cafes combined with stylish yet affordable accommodation.
Inside, there is a great balance of both heritage and modern features, and the traditional carved Chinese front doors and expertly crafted wooden entrance screen are complemented by striking ceramic floor tiles, offset by modern murals and artwork, a contemporary bar counter and tempting dessert fridge. There is a real warmth to this building, and you feel instantly at home.
In fact, this aesthetic is continued throughout the property, and the interesting paintings and quirky knick-knacks give it a very personal and friendly feel. The excellent restoration of the original building is also consistently maintained, particularly the carpentry, which is worthy of any of Penang’s more expensive boutique hotels.
The air-con rooms are simple but cosy, and currently comprise two twins on the first floor, with wooden, built-in bunks (109 ringgit a night), and a more spacious double (129 ringgit a night) on the second floor under the eaves. Both twins look out over the street to the front, and the double room above has skylights, some very stylish concealed lighting, and windows that open out onto the central courtyard, which combine to make it feel very bright and airy.
On the other side of the central atrium, in the middle of the property, is one of the fanciest six-bed dorm-style rooms you are ever likely to see, with beautiful wooden doors and even its own chill-out area behind. This room goes for 300 ringgit a night, for up to six people, so is perfect for larger groups.
The front three rooms share a bathroom on the first floor, while the six-person room has its own adjoining facilities. Fairly soon there will also be two more rooms right at the back of the property, one double and one family-size, which will both have ensuites and will cost slightly more (prices to be confirmed once the renovation is complete).
The existing rooms feel very fresh, uncomplicated and – most importantly – comfortable, with a sensitive but unfussy attention to detail and some high quality mattresses and bed linens. At the end of the day, this is what makes all the difference to a good night’s sleep so it is definitely worth upping your budget a bit to come and stay here.
Not only that, but this generously proportioned property offers plenty of open spaces to sit down and relax and a big draw is the downstairs cafe, which serves up simple breakfasts of fruit, toast, eggs and tea/coffee (included in the price of the room). One of the owners is from Taiwan and the cafe also serves up Taiwanese and Chinese Malaysian favourites throughout the day (from about 8 to 15 ringgit), as well as tempting cakes and desserts (10 to 12 ringgit) and a range of hot and cold drinks, including beer. The refreshing cordials, in flavours including apple, passion fruit and lavender, are particularly good and are perfect for cooling down after a day in the streets of Georgetown.
The owners at Pavilion Homestay are definitely on to something with their cafe-cum-accommodation concept, and it is one that will undoubtedly become more commonplace as others cotton on to the formula. The area around Lebuh Presgrave and Lebuh Noordin is fast becoming a new focal point for some of Penang’s more stylish and arty cafes, hotels and hostels, including the ever popular Noordin Mews, so although it is a bit out of the centre of town, there is plenty going on here and it is a great place to base yourself. And if you don’t fancy walking fifteen minutes to central Georgetown, well – you could do far worse than spend your whole day here.
By Mark Thompson
Last updated on 18th February, 2017.
The Travelfish newsletter is sent out every Monday and is jammed full of free advice for travel in Southeast Asia. You can see past issues here.