I checked into the Eastern and Oriental Hotel in Penang, Malaysia after a long overnight journey from Colombo.  A weary traveler, I was immediately put at ease by one of the most comfortable and well-appointed suites in which I have ever stayed.

The Eastern and Oriental, or E&O as it is more popularly known, dates back to 1884 when the Eastern Hotel opened by along the waterside of Penang.  It was shortly joined by its sister property, the Oriental, and the two became one grand property. It is now the grand dame of Georgetown.

As with many historic properties, the hotel fell into disrepair over the years but the historic property reopened under new ownership in 2001.  At the time, it had 100-suites, many with sea views, and an historic colonial charm. But, what’s even more exciting to me is that in March of 2013, the E&O unveiled its new Victory Annexe, the 122-suite wing where I stayed.

The Victory Annexe features the architectural elements and styling of the original hotel with such details as claw footed bathtubs, intricate molding, ocean facing balconies, and elegant, tastefully styled furniture. But, the new wing has all the modern conveniences for today’s business and leisure travelers.

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The moment I stepped into my suite at the Oriental Residence in Bangkok, I felt like I was home, and that’s exactly what this hotel is hoping for.  Part residences, part luxury hotel, the Oriental Residence offers apartment-like suites for short and long term visitors to Bangkok.

The sleek, curving, glass and steel building sits among the stately embassy compounds of Lumpini.  In fact, if I looked outside my window, I might be tricked to thinking that I was either in the Netherlands or home in the US based on the number of each nation’s flags!

The styling of the hotel is elegant, but not in your face.  The lobby is marble with plush velvet furnishings and crystal chandeliers, but not overdone.

My one bedroom suite on the eighth floor was outfitted with a nicely-sized living area that included a work desk plus a full open kitchen with a laundry machine – perfect for longer term guests.  Incidentally, I hate hotel suites that feel like they have a cheap kitchenette, thrown into the corner – this was not the case at the Oriental Residence.  The suite felt like a proper apartment.

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After staying in the Hansar Hotel in Bangkok, I knew that its sister property, the Hansar Samui, on the beautiful island of Koh Samui would impress and delight me – and it did.  The 75-room boutique resort is located in the Bophut area of Koh Samui, in a cute section known as Fisherman’s Village.

What’s great about this area is that guests can stroll a little shopping street and venture out to cute restaurants without having to deal with the hawkers, bad food, and junk of the more popular area of Chaweng.

The Hansar Samui is designed in a U shape, built around the property’s stunning swimming pool and beach bar.  Every room has a sea view, obviously some better than others, but none bad, and they also all feature generous balconies with fans and seating areas.

There are only three room types at the property, no huge suites, just all spacious, comfortable, and designed in what I would call a modern, Balinese style.  My favorite rooms are the six beach front rooms with balconies that almost appear to extend into the ocean.  These rooms feature large soaking tubs in the bedroom area, four-poster beds, sitting areas, and a large terrace overlooking the ocean.  The others are not shabby either!

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A Journey to Phuket’s Indigo Pearl

February 19, 2014

When I arrived in Phuket from Malaysia for a stay at the much acclaimed Indigo Pearl, I was not quite sure what to expect.  The resort sits about ten minutes from the international airport along Nai Yang Beach.  At about 175 rooms, the property is the largest resort on my six-week trip. Indigo Pearl’s lobby was […]

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137 Pillars House – Chiang Mai’s Fantastic New Hotel

February 10, 2014

I stepped through the entrance of 137 Pillars House and immediately knew that I had not only found the best new hotel in Chiang Mai, but also the favorite of my six-week tour through Southeast Asia.  I also knew that I was not alone in my thinking; since opening in early 2012, 137 Pillars House […]

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Thailand’s Luxurious Kirimaya and Muthi Maya Resorts

February 3, 2014

After a few days in Bangkok, I decided to escape the heat and humidity of the city. Looking for a change from Thailand’s typical beach excursions, I headed to Khao Yai National Park, located in a mountainous region about two-and-a-half hours northeast of the city by car. I’d heard great things about two hotels, Kirimaya, […]

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The Wallawwa – The Perfect Last Stop in Sri Lanka

January 27, 2014

I arrived at the Wallawwa for an overnight at the end of my Sri Lankan journey.  The seventeen-room boutique, located just fifteen minutes from Bandaranaike Airport, offers a serene way to begin or end your Sri Lankan journey and a pleasant way to avoid the chaos and traffic of Colombo. (While it is the capital […]

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Kahanda Kanda – Sri Lanka’s Sublime Boutique

January 20, 2014

This week we journey to Kahanda Kanda, one of my favorite properties in Sri Lanka.  Set in the low hills overlooking Lake Kogala, not far from the coast and the historic city of Galle, the hotel is a destination in itself.  The creation of British owner, George Cooper, Kahanda Kanda was one of Sri Lanka’s […]

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Beautiful Aditya – Galle, Sri Lanka

January 13, 2014

Aditya is for lovers – or at least that’s the slogan I came up with after recently having the fortune of staying at the 12-room boutique hotel just outside of Galle, Sri Lanka. Perched on a narrow stretch of land separating Rathgama Lake and the India Ocean, Aditya has incredible sea views, rough while I visited, but […]

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Retreat to Lovely Maya – Tangalle, Sri Lanka

December 30, 2013

I arrived at Maya, outside of Tangelle, Sri Lanka, after an early morning expedition to Yala National Park for some leopard spotting. I was a little apprehensive on the drive – the twenty or thirty minute drive from Tangalle is on back roads and not well signed (my driver stopped directions no fewer than ten times) […]

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