There is no better way to soak in Georgetown’s historic past than at The Prestige Hotel housed within a characteristic 19th-century English colonial structure.
The 162-room boutique hotel in Penang’s historic Georgetown is a luxurious getaway for modern travelers looking for an authentic travel experience in a city known for its colorful, British Colonial buildings. Designed by interior and architecture design firm Ministry of Design, The Prestige Hotel concept is the first of its kind in Penang, attracting urban travelers with its classy Victorian-style facade with fully-loaded amenities including a garden-inspired all-day dining restaurant, a rooftop infinity pool, events pavilion and terrace, and a vibrant Victorian dining and retail arcade.
The core of the design philosophy is to draw upon the cultural relevance and colonial past of the region by restoring the intricate architectural details of the original heritage building, yet at the same time, creating a distinct brand experience by incorporating contemporary elements, installation art, branded graphics, and an innovative concept revolving around magic that aims to amuse and surprise. The result is a holistic hotel stay that will be remembered for years to come.
Due to Penang’s warm, tropical weather and its abundance of lush green vegetation, the design team brought the outside in to emulate a Victorian garden vibe by incorporating plenty of greenery. While the colonial Victorian heritage and tropics are key elements of the design concept, the studio also faced the challenge of transforming the building’s original long corridors that made navigating the retail arcade or guestroom hallways a monotonous experience.
To overcome this, subtle design elements of visual trickery and surprises were incorporated throughout, ranging from the transformation of familiar heritage floor patterns, furniture design including the bespoke reception desk that appears to magically balance on balls, and hidden doors within the guestrooms that open to reveal washrooms and storage area.
Unusual patterns play a huge role in the hotel’s interior, and guests can often find unique floor patterns in different sections of the hotel. For example, the circular lobby features a maze-like floor pattern on the white marble floor with references to magical illusion. The design not only adds an interesting aesthetic to the lobby but also acts as a fun visual game to keep guests entertained while they wait in line to check-in.
The custom reception desk made of curved, mirrored stainless steel appears to stand on a series of chrome spheres, further playing to the magic illusion theme of the hotel. Guests navigating through the hotel can also expect to enjoy a visually animated walk. Alternating dark and light colour schemes along the long guestroom corridors and the mechanized light feature casting lively shadows of intricate lattice patterns offers something new to look at every step of the way.
The Prestige Hotel’s main restaurant, called The Glasshouse restaurant, takes inspiration from the traditional English Victorian conservatory - typically a sunroom with glass walls and intricately wrought metal lattice panels. The spacious restaurant seats 110 diners in a delightful garden conservatory setting, offering patrons delicious creations from Head Chef, Mr. Shafiq Rizhar Rozali, who specializes in local cuisines with a contemporary spin. Some of his most popular dishes include the ‘Nyonya Ulam Rice’, a roasted chicken dish with local spices, salted egg, poppadum, veggies, and chilli shrimp paste on the side, as well as the ‘Crispy Chicken Gochujang’, a crispy deep-fried chicken dish with honey Gochujang paste, mashed potato, butter broccoli and scallions.
The bright and airy restaurant features a mix of real plants and tropical upholstery to add to the Garden of Eden allure, making it a relaxing hangout for guests hoping to stay indoors. Strategically placed large mirrors give the optical illusion of multiple rooms while a variety of seating options accommodate all kinds of party sizes. Those who are in the mood to relax can sit on the cozy, wicker chairs facing the lushly landscaped greenery, while others can opt for the forest-green leather banquettes that look out the bustling street, perfect for people watching.
The design team’s meticulous attention to detail can be observed in the interiors of the elevators. Within each elevator, the studio custom-designed a floor-to-ceiling polished tinted metal wall with intricate, etched illustrations that embody the unique features and characteristics of Penang. The elaborate design highlights local heritage buildings, famous landmarks, and well-known vegetation of the area, giving out-of-towners a minute-long crash course of the region during their brief time in the elevator.
As guests approach the highest floor of the hotel from the elevator, they are welcomed by a spectacular, semi-outdoor rooftop space. The 4th-floor rooftop features an assortment of amenities for hotel guests to enjoy, including the ‘Angier & Borden’ Function Room which can be used to host indoor events for up to 110 guests, as well as an outdoor garden lounge called the ‘Olivia & Julia’ where larger parties can lounge underneath the elegant white gazebos.
Next to the lusciously landscaped ‘Olivia and Julia’ rooftop lounge is the popular infinity-edge rooftop pool where hotel guests can enjoy a hand-crafted cocktail in the pool overlooking the panoramic water view and the Church Street Pier. To give pool users more privacy, the design team added boundary walls disguised by lush greenery to shield sunbathers from guests of the gazebo lounge.
There are 4 room types in total at The Prestige Hotel: The standard room named ‘Deluxe’, the ‘Premier Deluxe Suite, the ‘Loft Suite’, and a unique ‘Deluxe Trio’ room which features a smaller bedroom for a child traveling with parents. Highlight design features in the guestrooms include the geometric champagne-bronze metal and glass that acts as a spatial divider, inspired by the elaborate magic props used in the iconic magician Houdini’s escape box.
The custom vanity mirror frame is another design feature inspired by traditional Victorian mirrors, although modernized with a more angular form. To create yet another optical illusion to surprise and amuse hotel guests, the design team used polished brass and integrated lighting to trick the eyes, appearing as if a second frame floats on top of the vanity wall mirror. Finally, to further bring the Hotel’s illusion concept home, hidden doors that open up to a vibrant tropical washroom and additional storage space can be discovered as guests explore their room.
The Loft Suite is specially designed for business travelers or couples looking for a longer stay, offering a more homey feel with a generous lounge on the ground floor and a separate bedroom area on the mezzanine level.
For first time visitors to Georgetown, a trip to The Prestige Hotel will bring you straight to the heart and soul of the city. Whether you are looking for a history lesson within the colonial-esque structure, or yearn for a one-of-a-kind hotel experience with surprises at every corner, The Prestige Hotel will bring you a touch of magic in its tropical, Victorian Eden.
About Ministry of Design
Ministry of Design is an integrated architectural, interior design and branding firm that has won Singapore’s President Design Award twice, New York’s Gold Key Award thrice, and named “Designer of the Year” by International Design Awards (USA), and been featured in Wallpaper, Frame and Surface.
Created by Colin Seah to question convention and redefine the spaces, forms and experiences that surround us, MOD’s explorations are created amidst a democratic studio-like’ atmosphere and progress seamlessly between form, site, object and space. At MOD, we provide our clients’ services that transcend mere design skill sets or technical prowess. We prefer to start far upstream and instead of merely designing solutions, we design holistic experiences. The resultant design thinking then translates into a wide variety of possible downstream design applications and media: be it architecture, product design, interior architecture, branding, graphics, landscape or even the weaving of diverse disciplines into a single project. Visit here to learn more about MOD’s past projects.
Project Name: The Prestige Hotel
Interior Design: Ministry of Design
Architect: KL Wong architect Sdn Bhd
Hotel Address: 8 Gat Lebuh Gereja, 10300 Georgetown, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
Size of Hotel: 8570 Sqm
Opening Date: October 2019
Photography: Edward Hendricks, CI&A Photography