As part of my recent trip to Southeast Asia, we stayed at the Courtyard Penang while visiting the island of Penang as our next stop after the capital, Kuala Lumpur. We’d stayed here at the Courtyard for one night before moving to a different hotel nearby.
The Courtyard is nestled in George Town, the capital city of Penang, which has earned a reputation as Malaysia’s gastronomic capital for its distinct and omnipresent street food scene.
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Courtyard Penang – Booking
In planning a three-night stay in Penang, I decided to spend at least one night at the Courtyard to try out a budget-friendly accommodation.
Courtyard properties in Asia tend to be much better compared to the Courtyards in North America, so I was confident we’d be getting a good experience even at a low price point.
Under Marriott Bonvoy’s previous hotel categories, the Courtyard Penang was a Category 1 property. And even after the transition to dynamic pricing took place, we were still able to book a one-night stay for 5,000 Bonvoy points, which was a pretty irresistible deal.
The cash rate is also relatively cheap and reasonable at around $110 (CAD) per night for a standard room. Still, since we value Bonvoy points at 0.9 cents/point (CAD), redeeming points for this stay was a much better deal in the end.
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Courtyard Penang – Location
The Courtyard is on Macalister Road, a major thoroughfare in George Town at the northeastern tip of Penang Island.
The immediate area is more business-oriented, and there’s quite some distance to Penang’s attractions, which are fairly spread out.
Fortunately, you can call a Grab (Southeast Asia’s version of Uber), which will take you around the city easily. You could also walk to the heart of George Town, but given the sweltering heat, we much preferred to call Grabs – which made this area of town as convenient as any.
The Courtyard is just a two-minute walk from Macalister Mansion, another Marriott property in town. This is a Design Hotels hotel, and we’d move next door to it after this one-night stay, so it was certainly convenient that the two were next to each other.
Penang doesn’t have all too many chain hotels, so if you’re looking for a Marriott property, there isn’t much flexibility with location.
In terms of nearby attractions, the George Town city centre is a 30–40-minute journey by foot or a six-minute ride via Grab. This area is home to some of the most enticing eateries on the island.
15 minutes in the other direction, you’ll find Penang Hill in the Ayer Itam suburb, a hilltop resort with several attractions at its peak accessible via a funicular railway.
Lastly, Penang International Airport is a 25-minute drive from the hotel, with Grab again being your best bet for affordable airport transportationt.
Courtyard Penang – Check-in
The Courtyard is housed in a sleek modern building, and the lobby was modern and clean. The interiors featured marble flooring, two marble check-in desks, and contemporary light fixtures adorning the ceiling.
The check-in process was swift, and the staff informed us of our Titanium Elite benefits, such as complimentary breakfast at the Penang Kitchen in the morning.
Unfortunately, there was no suite upgrade forthcoming, even though I asked the question at check-in. However, I didn’t mind too much since this was just a one-night stay, and the suites wouldn’t be overly remarkable at a Courtyard anyway.
The front desk then discussed some of the hotel’s facilities, before offering us our room keys for the king room we had been assigned.
Courtyard Penang – King Room with City View
We were assigned room 2116 on the 21st floor. The Courtyard’s hallways are simple and modern, reminding me a lot of the Courtyard Phnom Penh where I had stayed a few years ago.
The room features a king bed flanked by two nightstands, each with a headboard light fixture. On the wall opposite the bed is a flat-screen TV.
A small chaise longue was on the right-hand side of the kind bed next to the window, and adjacent to it was a circular table and a chair, which was convenient for both eating and working.
In the small nook to the left of the king bed, there was a coffee and tea station, as well as complimentary bottled water.
The bathroom was sleek and modern, with beige marble walls and flooring. The vanity featured a black marble countertop and a large mirror with built-in LED lights.
The design is typical of the newer-generation Courtyards popping up around Asia, which tend to offer contemporary interiors of a higher calibre at a reasonable price point.
The rooms are by no means luxurious; however, they are clean, modern, and sufficiently air-conditioned. There’s not much more you can ask for with a stay at this price point.
Courtyard Penang – Breakfast
Breakfast was served as an extensive buffet spread in Penang Kitchen on the ground floor.
Impressive breakfast spreads is one way that Courtyard hotels in Asia differentiate themselves from their North American counterparts, and the Penang location was certainly no exception.
The buffet consisted of almost every major western breakfast item, with plenty of Malaysian, Chinese, and Indian options to go along with it. I found the fried noodles and nasi lemak in particular to be delectable.
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In addition to the widespread buffet, there was a made-to-order noodle bar.
Of course, Penang has no shortage of local breakfast options to check out as well. Indeed, we’d opt for Malaysian street food for breakfast on our other mornings in Penang, as we wouldn’t have an elite breakfast included at the Macalister Mansion next door.
Here at the Courtyard, however, we decided to fully indulge and fuel ourselves for the day.
Courtyard Penang – Dining
In addition to breakfast, Penang Kitchen also offers a lunch and dinner menu, consisting of a mix of Nyonya, Chinese, Indian, international, and local Malaysian cuisines.
Since I was feeling peckish upon our late-night arrival but didn’t want to leave the property, I decided to order some nasi lemak in the evening to tide me over. It was a pretty delicious plate, with the coconut butterly pea rice adding some colour to the dish.
The hotel is part of Marriott Bonvoy Asia’s dining program, so as a Titanium Elite member we enjoyed 20% off our food and beverage spend on the property.
Meanwhile, the Courtyard also has a Gin Library located on the 23rd floor of the hotel with views of the island’s skyline.
I assume it’s open in the evenings only, since the doors were closed when I went to take a look in the mid-afternoon, and I ended up getting stuck on the elevator clearing for 15 minutes while I waited for the elevators to return to a de-prioritized 23rd floor.
Courtyard Penang – Other Facilities
The Courtyard’s outdoor pool is quite remarkable for the hotel’s price point, elevated by sweeping views of the city.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to take a dip, but I would’ve certainly loved to, given the scorching heat here in Malaysia.
The fitness centre is small but modern and well-stocked, with enough cardiovascular and strength equipment for a quick workout.
There’s also a spa and steam room available as part of the simple spa facilities connecting the fitness and pool areas.
The Courtyard Penang offers incredible value at a very attractive price in the region of 5,000–10,000 Bonvoy points. Given what you’re getting for the price, this would probably be my recommended choice of hotel when visiting Penang.
The Macalister Mansion next door was quite remarkable too, but came at a much higher cost per night. For most travellers, I’d recommend the Courtyard given the sheer value proposition and the fact that you likely won’t spend too much time in the room when in town anyway.
Stay tuned for the next installment for the more upscale Macalister Mansion next door.