Hotel of the Week: The Edison George Town

An opium den, a brothel, and now a luxury hotel. Perhaps no property in Malaysia has gone through as many—and as interesting—lives as this Labuh Leith hotel.

Entrance to the hotel. All photos are courtesy of the property.

Why you’ll want to go: Staying here gives guests a taste of Penang’s history. Built in 1906, it first served as the family home of a local tycoon named Yeo Wee Gark. Designed by a then-prominent architect named David Nathaniel, it was later gambled away by Yeo’s son to a drug lord, who turned it into his illicit warehouse. In World War II, it served as the Japanese forces’ office, then later became a gentleman’s club, and finally a budget hotel cum brothel. More than its gorgeous façade, hospitable staff, or the beauty of the town where it is located, the property’s backstory is its main draw.

Deluxe room

The rooms: Starting from 19 square meters, the deluxe rooms come with leather headboards, and art deco tiles that provide a nice contrast to the off-white walls. Four-poster beds dominate the 58-square-meter suites, which come with wood-paneled floors and a massive desk. Tufted rugs and plush furniture round up the mod furnishings.

The Courtyard

Things you can do: Spend a day lounging at the Courtyard, a prime example of colonial architecture marked by cast-iron columns. Read a book inside the Lounge, a green-and-white space where unlimited snacks are available. Don’t stay cooped up in the property all day however. The UNESCO-listed George Town, with its dining destinations, intricately made temples, and colorful street art, deserves to be discovered.

The lounge

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