The first time I heard about E&O was, funnily, at a countryside pub in Surrey. It was near Christmas time. My friends and I were all in a jolly mood, jingly and ready for a big legless night. I toddled into the pub on a promise of a merry merry English Christmas and I was told that I would meet Terry. Terry is also a Malaysian living in the UK. He used to run the E&O Hotel, which at the time and shamefully, I knew nothing about. The night went on fabulously. Throw in a few rounds of bubbles with Chambong (which, according to Business Insider is intended for “the rapid and enhanced experience of champagne consumption” ROFL) and maybe some Strawpedoes…we all got predictably sloshed. I woke up the next day and forgot all about E&O and well, actually, most of the night.
Two years on, I was on my way to Penang, checking into E&O and these memories come flooding back.
Eastern and Oriental Hotel is a dapper colonial Gatsby who slipped into an accidental coma at what seemed like the prime of his age, then woke up with a new owner, a handsome renovation and realised, hang on, I haven’t at all missed my time. The building itself was a UNESCO heritage site, grand and beautiful and exudes all the spicy old colonial charm one would imagine and expect. The doormen wear khaki short-sleeved shirts and pith helmets. The lobby has polished floor and the entire place is festooned with history. Steamer trunks, ceiling fans, exotic travels, cocktail bar, linen and cotton, flaura and fauna – the coloniser came, the coloniser never really left. E&O withstood the test of time proudly at the intersection of Farquhar Street and Penang Road, rightly where the East copulates with the West.
It all makes sense now, doesn’t it? A Penangite who lives in the English countryside yet holds fast to his roots. Terry’s team couldn’t have done a better job.
A short one today to get you (and myself) through the week… Next time, we go to the Peranakan Mansion. You ought to come along.
With love x