Most times, we book our accommodation at central locations so we can save on transport. But for Hard Rock Hotel, Penang, we made an exception. This was probably the only time we’ve booked a hotel stay with no plans to do anything touristy, and just to stay and enjoy the hotel.
We’ve had one Hard Rock Hotel experience in Singapore and we all loved it. So when Hard Rock Hotel Penang (and its awesome swimming pool with 3 slides) had a promotion that we couldn’t resist, we threw our entire Malaysian holiday budget out the window and booked a 2-night stay right away.
The pool was the highlight of our trip. We left the hotel 2 shades darker with obvious tan lines from our swim suits. We must have gone on the slides a hundred times each. We swam so much that our swim suits couldn’t dry fast enough between swims. If the kids had their way, our entire hotel stay would have been spent at the pools.
The thing that led us out of the hotel was the price. Of everything, really. So out we headed, and this is what we did on foot.
First, food, shall we?
At the end of the night market (pasar malam), you’ll find two food courts. First you’ll pass the “I love you” food court, which will look pretty much like a ghost town. And then 5 minutes later, you’ll be greeted by Long Beach Food Court which should really rename itself as “food haven” or similar.
We ate and ate and ate, then ordered more and ate and ate again.The kids wolfed down their wan tan mee, and asked for more satay, we polished off the teppan-yaki fish and I just about licked the plate of prawns clean. And all this, including drinks, for less than the cost of a burger at Hard Rock Cafe.
I think that was the most satisfying moment of the trip for me – good food at unbeatable prices, who wouldn’t be happy?
Frandy Mini Market just across the road from Hard Rock Hotel was a godsend. We had all our clothes laundered at RM5 per kg. Dropped them off by 11pm, and collected them 12 hours later all clean and neatly folded. All in all, it was RM30 to wash everything we had. In comparison, that amount would have allowed us to wash 2 tee-shirts through the hotel’s laundry service.
It may seem strange for a mini mart to offer a laundering service, but they did a wonderful job with our clothes. Hooray for not having to rummage through suitcases for clean clothes.
Two doors down is Enca Cafe where we all fell in love with the Tandoori Chicken and kebabs. They also serve local food and have a Western menu, all at reasonable prices.
The beach, sadly, did not live up to expectations. The sand was rough and grainy, there were lots of broken and sharp seashells, and fair bit of construction going on, complete with excavators. Apparently the beach is going under conservation efforts due to erosion. I sure hope that by the time that’s done, the beach will look wonderful again.
There’s a stable with 6 horses next to the hotel, and the guys that work there will hang out at the gate of the hotel that leads to the beach, so the moment you’re out on the beach, they’ll approach you to offer horse rides. At Rm40. They were persistent even when we insisted we didn’t have any money on us, but nice enough to let us pet the horses.
Our beach-loving kids chose the pool over the beach every day.
And then there’s the night market which had the usual stuff night markets had on sale – souvenirs, t-shirts, bags, toys, and a sprinkling of food stalls (the coconut ice-cream was delicious!). Hard Rock Hotel offers a free shuttle service that starts from 6.30pm but it’s no biggie if you miss it – the night market is about 500m away, so a 10-minute stroll will get you there, and you can catch the bus back when you’re done.
Essentially it’s a row of makeshift stalls that set up on either side of the pavement, blocking out regular shops (that perhaps are open during the day?). The Batu Ferringhi night market was sold to me as “one of Penang’s most noteworthy attractions”. While we enjoyed walking through the 1km or so stretch, I can think of more attractions that are more deserving of that accolade.
Bargaining is expected, but we’re only rubbish at it. Go ahead and bargain because everyone loves a good bargain, but do bear in mind that you saving a couple of dollars is affecting someone else’s livelihood. We were there over the weekend and business could hardly be described as ‘brisk’.
Hold on to your little ones, because sometimes, between roadworks and overly zealous stall owners whose stalls spill onto the narrow pavement, you may that the only way to go forward, is on the road. And traffic can get a little crazy at times.
That’s pretty much what we did in Batu Ferringhi. It wasn’t “much” but considering the amount of non-pool time we had, I’d say we covered a fair bit of stuff!
Closeby there’s also Adventure Zone at Shangri-la’s Rasa Sayang Resort and Spa, but we were kept occupied enough by our pool. Escape Adventure Play and Penang National Park are nearby as well if you’ve got energy to spare.
Batu Feringghi is a 20-minute drive from Georgetown, so if you’re planning a trip to Penang, it’s really easy to stretch your stay at both places. Here’s our pick of ten family-friendly things to do in Penang, including a ferry ride and the Upside Down Museum!
The Penang airport is rather small so you may need to fly domestic to Kuala Lumpur to catch a connecting flight. If you do visit Kuala Lumpur, check out our 5 must-dos with kids in KL (where we vist a 400-million year old limestone cave!), won’t you?
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