Campbell House: a romantic stay in the heart of Georgetown

We remember very well that feeling of excitement when we booked our flights from Kuala Lumpur to the Malaysian foodie city: Penang.

Penang is well known as one of the famous food capitals in Southeast Asia so we were dead excited about wandering through the streets of Georgetown and literally stuffing ourselves silly!

Needless to say, we needed to find a nice place to stay, preferably strategically located close to restaurants, street art and with a gym nearby to burn all those calories.

After much research on Tripadvisor, we decided to go for Campbell House, a stylish and romantic little boutique hotel in the heart of Penang, which we instantly fell in love with. Campbell House is located at the corner of Lebuh Cambpell and Lebuh Cintra, minutes away from the Unesco Heritage area and surrounded by foodie wonders.

We were greeted by the lovely owners Roberto and Nardya, who bought this old Chinese building many years ago and refurbished it.

Campbell House is a cosy boutique hotel and for us was like a little paradise, where guests are treated with a five star service and feel at home.

Campbell house in Penang with Nomadic Boys
The friendly owners of Campbell House, Nardya and Roberto

#1 A HOUSE WITH A HISTORY

The building was initially built in 1903 and its history and development is all part of its charm.

The building was initially used as a Haiwanese Hotel until 1960 when it was converted into small businesses and thereafter became derelict. Nardya and Roberto purchased the crumbling building in 2009 and converted it into the dream it is now. Most of the original features were retained, such as the wooden beam arches and the floorboards, giving it a very authentic feeling.

Nardya and Roberto put their heart and soul into restoring this old building to make what it is today: a chic and authentic heritage boutique hotel, boasting an eclectic mix of colonial heritage, Chinese, Malay and Indian styles.

Campbell House boasts a mix of styles in Penang
Campbell House boasts a mix of colonial heritage, Chinese, Malay and Indian styles

The 11 rooms each have their own personality, carrying their own unique theme. Perfect for couples who are looking for a romantic getaway in Penang.

Rooms at Campbell house with different styles
Each room has its own style

#2 OUR ROOM: THE COLONIAL SUITE

We stayed in the Colonial Suite, a beautiful room decorated in colonial style, with some touches of Chinese, Malay and Indian influences. It was our love nest for a few days.

The stylish wooden teak bed was the most comfortable we had during our travels and we also had one soft and one hard pillow each to choose from. It was pure bliss going to bed every evening.

The colonial suite at Campbell house in Penang
The Colonial Suite at Campbell House in Penang with Sebastien's “more tea Aunt Emilia?” pose

The bathroom has a terrific shower with powerful pressure, which is warmly welcomed after spending a day wandering through the streets of Penang. We particularly liked the Moorish design tiles, inspired by the 5 pillars of Islam.

Bathroom in the colonial suite at Campbell house in Penang inspired by moorish design
The bathroom in the Colonial Suite, with tiles of Moorish design.

Right next to our room, was the rooftop balcony, accessible by all guests. Great for a bit relaxation and meditation in the morning.

Rooftop terrace at Campbell house in Penang
The relaxing and peaceful roof terrace at Campbell House, great for yoga in the morning

#3 THE LITTLE TOUCHES

What makes Campbell House unique is the quality of service you get, which makes you feel special. Every guest gets a welcome personalised letter and every evening, the friendly staff will place a weather forecast print out for the next day along with a delicious home made cake and iced tea .

The big plus for us (as coffee addicts) was the Nespresso coffee machine in each room. We don't think we've ever been to a hotel offering Nespresso machines in every single room!

A few other little touches we loved about Campbell House was the body oil and availability of breakfast until noon.

The little touches at Campebll House: your own coffee machine, weather forecast, cakes, and body oil!
The little touches at Campebll House: your own coffee machine, weather forecast, cakes, and body oil!

#4 ACTIVITIES TO DO AROUND CAMPBELL HOUSE

The owners are very passionate about Penang and will give you a plethora of information about what to do, places to eat and best things to see. The famous street art of Penang, for example, is minutes away from this boutique hotel.

Street art in Campbell house with Nomadic boys
Street art of Penang, close to Campbell House

There are a variety of restaurants in the area. Our favourite for the yummy chendul dessert was Teochew Chendul on Lebuh Keng Kwee road:

The famous Road Chendul stall in Penang, near Campbell House
Spot Sebastien at the famous Teochew Chendul road stall in Penang, near Campbell House

Penang is famous for its Chinese clan house, with the most famous one being Khoo Kongsi where the Jodie Foster movie Anna and the King was filmed:

Nomadic boys at Khoo Kongsi temple
Spot Stefan at the Khoo Kongsi Chinese clan house in Penang

And for gym bunnies, there's a new gym called 24-M1, 5 minutes walk away from Campbell House, located behind the Komtar shopping mall.

Sebastien discovering Gym 24-M1 in Penang
Sebastien discovering Gym 24-M1 in Penang

#5 GAY FRIENDLY STAFF

We were met on arrival by the very friendly owners, Nardya and Roberto, along with the hotel manager, Sharon. They were fully aware we are a gay couple and actually welcomed us with open arms. They have hosted many gay and lesbian couples before and were only pleased to have us join the Campbell House family.

All staff were always on hand to help with any request at all times: a 5 start service you just can't fault. It was this which made our experience here so special.

Nomadic Boys posing with Sharon, General Manager at Campbell House
Nomadic Boys posing with Sharon, General Manager at Campbell House

#6 THE IL BACARO RESTAURANT

The in house restaurant of the hotel is called Il Bacaro and is where the excellent breakfast is eaten. Roberto, the Italian owner, brings his excellent recipes with him to offer some really yummy dishes for those looking for good Italian food and want an alternative to local food.

Some of the dishes we had certainly rival some of the best Italian restaurants we tried back home in London, particularly the Duck Ravioli and Four Cheese Gnocchi.

Bacaro restaurant in campbell house in Penang
Il Bacaro restaurant serves authentic italian dishes

If you wish to book your love nest at Campbell House, check out their Booking.com listing.

For more about our adventures through Malaysia, please check out our Malaysia travel video:

 

OUR FAVOURITE TRAVEL TIPS

⭐️ TRAVEL INSURANCE — We recommend you always take out travel insurance before your next vacation. What happens if you suffer from illness, injury, theft or a cancellation? With travel insurance, you can have peace of mind and not worry. We love World Nomads travel insurance and have been using it for years. Their comprehensive coverage is second to none and their online claims process is very user friendly.

⭐️ SAFETY & SECURITY — All travelers can sometimes encounter danger when traveling. CloseCircle is your “virtual body guard” mobile app which provides security alerts and support wherever you are in the world. They have a 24/7 emergency response team monitoring their users who will contact you immediately if the SOS swipe button is activated. Support can include anything from practical advice, to free evacuation from areas with extreme weather or security risks. You can read more about CloseCircle in our article about how to stay safe whilst traveling.

⭐️ ONLINE ANONYMITY — A VPN (Virtual Private Network) is a must in many countries: it allows you to surf anonymously and maintain your privacy whilst traveling. You'll particularly need it in countries where dating apps are blocked by the government. We recommend ExpressVPN, a reliable and cost effective service which we used and loved during our travels.

⭐️ HOTELS or APARTMENTS — When we plan a trip, we always look for the best hotel deals. We love Booking.com because not only do they have a comprehensive listing of accommodation options, they also offer the best prices. Added bonus: they provide 24/7 support and free cancellation for most listings.

⭐️ SIGHTSEEING and ADVENTURES — When we travel somewhere, we like to seek out the best experiences, whether it is cooking with locals in Bangkok, hiking on a glacier in Patagonia, or going on a wildlife safari in Sri Lanka. Our favorite place to look is GetYourGuide because they have over 30,000 highly rated activities, a user-friendly booking process with free cancellation and a 24 hour customer support.

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About the author

Hi there! We are Stefan and Sebastien, Greek/French couple behind the travel blog Nomadic Boys. Since we met in 2009, we have been travelling all around the world together, visiting over 100 countries.

Our mission is to inspire you, the gay traveller, and show you that you can visit more places in the world than you thought possible, by providing a first-hand account of our travel adventures, to help you plan a fun and safe trip.

To find out more about us

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