228 Macalister Road
10400 George Town, Penang
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ARCHITECTURE / DESIGN
Design: Colin Seah, Ministry of Design
Macalister Mansion is a pioneer project from Heritage Redefined, an initiative spearheaded by hotel owner Dato Sean with the aim of regenerating historic colonial buildings into useful, practical contemporary spaces. To do this, Dato Sean & his wife Datin Karen worked collaboratively with Colin Seah, design director for Singapore’s celebrated Ministry of Design, recently recognized as a “Rising Star in Architecture” by Monocle Magazine. Together, they conceived the hotel’s design as a single holistic vision, with the eight suites and five dining and bar areas working synergistically. Dato Sean, Datin Karen and their team oversaw much of the interior design themselves, selecting furnishings and art pieces. Macalister Mansion differentiates itself from the local boutique hotel scene by its intimate scale, contemporary design and attention to details – ranging from art curation to uniforms, branding to interior design and everything else in between.
Central to the experience is the hotel entrance, where a fractal bust of Colonel Norman Macalister welcomes guests. A turquoise scalloped canopy and ornate wooden doors open onto the reception area. There, the mansion’s original brick walls are exposed, reminding visitors of the building’s history while also showcasing contemporary art from local artists. From reception, visitors can access the hotel’s eight suites. Each suite is customized with specially commissioned work from an artist or collection of artists, and each has its own unique architectural features. Room 3, for example, boasts a wrought-iron balcony as well as a fabric collage by Malaysian artist Lee Meiling, while Room 8 features exposed truss beams from the building's original construction - and art by Malaysia-based UK artist Thomas Powell that commemorates the life and times of hotel namesake Sir Norman Macalister.
The hotel’s dining concept is headed by Executive Chef Lance U’ren. The formal Dining Room offers French cuisine in a converted courtyard with colorful chairs and whimsical pastel animal decorations, while the casual Living Room, featuring the building’s original filigree window grilles, serves classic Penang dishes with a modern twist. The Cellar showcases some of the more striking aspects of the hotel’s original architecture: an ornate archway divides the room, and two columns frame a bay window nook. However, the dynamic copper-clad bar and lighting sculpture bring the room into the 21st century. Finally, The Den is an intimate hideout with a wide selection of cigars as well as blended and single-malt whiskies.