The Luxe List 2010, Malaysia: Straits Collection, Penang

Spread between separate rows of restored George Town shophouses, the Straits Collection offers a tantalizing choice between two addresses—one behind the Goddess of Mercy Temple on Stewart Lane, and the other on Armenian Street, at the start of the old quarter’s Heritage Trail. Spruced up by Narelle McMurtrie of Langkawi’s Bon Ton Resort, the accommodations leave you feeling like you’re living in this colorful city, not removed from it. None of this means sacrificing style for authenticity—expect Chinese antiques in eye-popping hues, flat-screen TVs, skylights, and sexy open-air rain showers. Friendly staff can guide you to the best spots for sightseeing and shopping—like the state-owned toddy shop or the incense maker around the corner —while Kopi Cine, the cozy corner bistro, offers fresh salads, tasty local desserts, and nightly screenings of classic films

47–55 Stewart Ln. and 89–95 Armenian St., George Town; 60-4/263-7299;; doubles from US$129

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