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NIGHT has barely broken into dawn when I step out of my room on the 30th floor and head across the hallway towards the Executive Lounge. Consciously aware of a much better breakfast spread available to hotel guests at the Wembley Cafe downstairs, I remain steadfast in my choice because of two very basic but yet extremely important reasons, the stunning view and personalised service.

Arriving exactly at the stipulated opening time of 6.30am has many advantages. I get to select the best table which is close enough to the breakfast spread and yet provides a commanding view of the city that is just about to rouse.

Confident that the other guests will not be arriving any time soon, I sit down quietly and bide my time. The sun is still resolutely below the eastern horizon and the streets surrounding The Wembley Hotel are as dark as some old-school black and white movie. After a while, I cast my gaze further towards the dark shapes formed by the distant hills on the mainland.

Then, without any warning, the cloudless sky above the faraway peaks start to brighten significantly. “Get ready. The show is about to start,” I subconsciously remind myself just as the first few orange hued rays of sunrise start appearing over the horizon and begin chasing after the ebbing darkness.


DELICIOUS SURPRISE

It is during moments such as this that remind me that light is the greatest artist in history, creating beauty on the natural canvas beyond the huge window pane separating me from the outside world.

Growing accustomed to the brightening sky, I start to notice more things happening within my vicinity. Traffic is definitely heavier as the residents of George Town begin to go about their daily activities.

After having had my fill of the amazing view, I head off to survey the food. Apart from the customary scrambled eggs, chicken sausages and baked beans, I am pleasantly surprised to find better than expected items like barbecued chicken wings and teriyaki salmon among the selection as well. Even the different types of freshly steamed dim sum are conveniently placed in petite rattan baskets. To me, this attention to detail makes all the difference.

Imagine my utter delight after discovering packets of nasi lemak, each individually wrapped in spotless white paper, in the last serving tray on the buffet table. The triangular shaped mounds may appear common but the delicious aroma emanating from them is enough to entice me to take more than one back to my table.


OUT AND ABOUT

After the sensational experience at the Executive Lounge, I am ready to start exploring George Town’s historic enclave and experience for myself the many attractions that won this city the enviable accolade of being a United Nations’ Educational,

Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) World Heritage Site. The overall size of George Town may appear daunting to many. Fortunately, the hotel has thoughtfully prepared an expandable pocket sized booklet that contains all the necessary information to help guests get around the city with ease.

When fully unfolded, the booklet transforms into a single sheet no larger than an A3 sized paper. Information on one side includes a detailed map with the prominent places of attraction well marked out on it.

The reverse portion is even more interesting as it highlights the various locations where Penang’s best street food can be found.

The Wembley Hotel’s central location on the map shows that practically all the places of interest are actually just a short walk away. This solves the problem of having to drive and also look for parking space.

Based on stories I have heard from friends who have been here before, these are very good things to avoid.

After spending a good part of the day visiting places like Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion, Armenian Street, Khoo Kongsi as well as the many interesting art installations found in Penang’s little known side streets, it is time for me to head back to the hotel for a well-earned rest.


WINDING DOWN

I can feel my weariness slipping away while enjoying a refreshing dip in the hotel’s infinity swimming pool. Purposely moving to the water’s edge to enjoy a panoramic view of the city, I challenge myself to identify the places visited earlier in the day. Surprisingly, quite a sizeable number can be seen from this 11th floor vantage point.

Rejuvenated, I return to my room for a quick change of clothes before taking the lift down to Wembley Cafe on Level 2 for a local fare and seafood themed dinner buffet. The restaurant’s relaxing ambience and wide food selection immediately sets me in the mood for a most enjoyable evening meal.

Sitting at my table and looking out into the darkened Magazine Road landscape, my mind drifts back to George Town’s ornate pre-war shop houses and the opulent lifestyle led by the wealthy Peranakan families who once lived there. To me, this is definitely wonderful way to end a truly memorable day in Penang.



FAST FACTS

THE WEMBLEY — A ST GILES HOTEL

183, Magazine Road, George Town, Penang

TEL 04-259 8000

FAX 04-264 3388

EMAIL info.swpg@StGiles-Hotels.com

WEBSITE www.stgiles.com/penang-hotels/the-wembleyhotel

STAY With 415 rooms that cater to both business and leisure travellers, the hotel is among the most popular in George Town. There are five types of rooms from Executive Suite and Executive Deluxe to Executive Superior, Deluxe and Superior.

EAT Four outlets: the all-day dining outlet Wembley Cafe, contemporary Lobby Lounge, vibrant DSRT Sky Room and exquisite Enoshima Japanese Restaurant.

DO Sweat it out at the well equipped gymnasium or enjoy a relaxing swim at the infinity swimming pool.

GO When you have George Town’s heritage enclave right at your doorstep, the possibilities for adventure and exploration are endless. Everything is literally just a short walk away.

HIGHS Very strategic location.

LOWS Complimentary WiFi is only limited to two devices for each room so those who have more need to log in and out whenever the need arises.

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