Cover An internal courtyard in Tjiong

The team behind Penang’s iconic Cheong Fatt Tze or The Blue Mansion is offering more serene escapes in the heart of George Town

Penang’s Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion was a milestone in the island’s conservation efforts. Since then, this stunning building has not just become a unique opportunity to experience George Town’s living heritage, it has become a destination for a boutique stay combining old-world grandeur with modern-day conveniences.

Just as travel is opening up again, the team behind the Cheong Fatt Tze mansion has unveiled The Townhouses by The Blue Mansion. This team comprises celebrated conservationist and heritage architect, Laurence Loh and his family who owns the Mansion as well.

 

The two townhouses in question also belong to the Loh family, according to Cheong Fatt Tze’s executive director Loh-Lim Shen Yi. “These are two of a row of four shop lots, which are over 100-years-old on Rope Walk or Jalan Pintal Tali, a short distance from The Blue Mansion itself. They have been in the Loh family for many years, and passed down from Datuk Loh Hoot Yeang, to our father, Laurence Loh,” says Loh-Lim.

When the shoplots became vacant, the family initially wanted to restore them as short term rentals marketed on Airbnb. However, Loh-Lim observed how the pandemic had changed travel behaviour, with travellers now looking for a private hideaway but with the assurance of a hotel brand.

“We then decided to take the management of these townhouses under The Blue Mansion brand, giving guests the best of both worlds. That being the exclusivity in these private residences, but with access to all the perks that staying at the Blue Mansion offers.”

 

The townhouses are named Zhang and Tjong, which are versions of the Cheong surname, depending on the dialect. Taking just over two years to complete, the team was inspired by The Blue Mansion with its principles of minimal touch conservation and the belief in the ‘energies of a house.’

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As one of the fundamental design decisions, the team decided to have an unobstructed flow (of air and energy) throughout the space. This was evident in Zhang, where the bathroom was moved upstairs, creating a large modern open bathroom with a large bathtub and spacious vanity.

“Thus, there’s a very clear demarcation of where the old house ends and the bathroom begins, almost like the bathroom was slotted in. This was intentional to highlight the change to the history of the house.”

 

Appropriate to their rustic envelopes, the townhouses are populated with furniture that was upcycled from existing furniture in the family—with dining table and benches built out of the salvaged timber on site and raw planks on concrete at the front of the house repurposed as benches. From the loft-like charm of Tjong to the secret garden allure of Zhang, both townhouses exude an effortless serenity that only happens when a space is comfortable in its own skin. Or in the words of Loh-Lim: “Respectful to its history, we hope we have created a comfortable and honest space focusing on simple pleasures.”

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