Hotel Review: Shangri-La's Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa, Penang (Rasa Premier Room)

With century-old rain trees that surround you, the Shangri-La’s Rasa Sayang Resort and Spa, Penang is located along the Batu Feringgi Beach and it is just a short drive away from the famous Georgetown in Penang. For those of you who follow Malaysian politics, the state of Penang is an opposition state where supporters largely back the Democratic Action Party. More importantly though, Penang is a haven for food-lovers and is well known for her delicious hawker cuisine. 

A lot of people will probably recommend the Eastern & Oriental Hotel in Penang due to its iconic neoclassical structure and its location, the Shangri-La's Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa, Penang took me by surprise and I fell more and more in love with it with each passing day. During my visit to Penang in June 2016, I stayed in the Rasa Premier Room in the Rasa Wing of the Shangri-La's Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa, Penang. Rasa Sayang Reosrt & Spa features a number of distinctive Minangkabau architecture houses artefacts of Malaysian culture and the whole property houses a large number of commissioned artworks that draws inspiration from the culture and the surroundings of the property. 

View from Rasa Premier Room Rasa Wing - Shangri-La's Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa, Penang

View from Rasa Premier Room
Rasa Wing - Shangri-La's Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa, Penang

There are more than ten flights that connect Singapore to Penang directly each day and the flight journey is roughly 90 minutes. I took an evening Silkair flight (MI 354) out of Singapore and arrived in Penang at approximately 830PM. Getting to the hotel is pretty simple - you can either get a prepaid taxi from the airport or for the ultimate convenience, contact the resort for an airport transfer (there's complimentary WiFi in the car!). I arrived at the Rasa Wing of the Shangri-La's Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa, Penang at approximately 10PM after spending about an hour in the car. The resort is located on the northern side of the Penang Island so there is definitely some traveling time to factor in but you do get transported into a beautiful place at the end of it so it is definitely worth it. By the time I got into my room, it was pretty late so I decided to take most of the photos in the morning instead but when I opened up to the balcony, I could hear the ocean waves crashing onto the shore - I was excited to see how the property was like in the morning! 

Rasa Premier Room Rasa Wing - Shangri-La's Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa, Penang

Rasa Premier Room
Rasa Wing - Shangri-La's Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa, Penang

There are two main wings at the Shangri-La's Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa, Penang - the Garden Wing (main) and the Rasa Wing. If you have been to the Shangri-La Hotel, Singapore, the Rasa Wing reminds me a lot of the Garden Wing in Singapore. The Rasa Wing features a private driveway and entrance and some of the most beautiful accommodation spaces in Penang. Guests in the Rasa Wing also enjoy a whole suite of privileges like lounge access, a private pool and unlimited drinks (more on these benefits later!) that you will not get in the Garden Wing. The Rasa Premier Room at the Shangri-La's Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa, Penang is one of the biggest rooms (excluding suites) that I have ever stayed in and I would go as far as to say that rooms this size are generally branded as junior suites (or even suites!) in other luxury hotels. 

Living Room - Rasa Premier Room Rasa Wing - Shangri-La's Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa, Penang

Living Room - Rasa Premier Room
Rasa Wing - Shangri-La's Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa, Penang

Offering 62 sqm of beautifully-appointed space, the Rasa Premier Room offers a separate living area, a bedroom, a large private balcony and a bathroom in this open plan space. If you are thinking about occupying this room with three adults, a rollaway bed can also be arranged at a third occupant rate. There are so many things I love about this room - firstly that sofa is amazing to lie on and the whole living area made working from the room so much more pleasant. I write and edit a lot from hotel rooms so it is always nice to have a dedicated space to get some work done - the bed is great but I always end up getting distracted with TV or Netflix. 

Open Plan - Rasa Premier Room Rasa Wing - Shangri-La's Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa, Penang

Open Plan - Rasa Premier Room
Rasa Wing - Shangri-La's Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa, Penang

Here's a sneak preview of how the balcony looks like and check out that impressive tub! If you are worried about privacy when taking a bath outside, electronic blinds can be controlled from a remote control found next to the TV. Even though the massive bath tub is located on your very own private balcony, the bathroom in the Rasa Premier Room still comes with a really good rain shower and jets for a rejuvenating shower (more on this later!). The Rasa Premier Room also has a huge desk for you to get work done (always a good thing!) and if you would like to enjoy some shows on TV, it can be easily adjusted to face either the bedroom or the living room. 

Outdoor Bathtub - Rasa Premier Room Rasa Wing - Shangri-La's Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa, Penang

Outdoor Bathtub - Rasa Premier Room
Rasa Wing - Shangri-La's Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa, Penang

Do take note that guests from the other Rasa Wing building may be able to look into your balcony if you do not lower the blinds but as I have mentioned earlier on, you can easily lower one (or all three) of the blinds electronically to protect your decency. Taking a bath in the open while listening to the ocean waves is truly quite a unique experience - one that you do not get at many resorts! If bubble baths are not your kind of thing, there is also a small seating area and a daybed (located on the other side!) for you to laze your afternoons away. 

Bath Amenities - Rasa Premier Room Rasa Wing - Shangri-La's Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa, Penang

Bath Amenities - Rasa Premier Room
Rasa Wing - Shangri-La's Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa, Penang

Similar to the exclusive Valley Wing of the Shangri-La Hotel, Singapore, guests of the Rasa Wing will get to enjoy the Jasmin & Bergamote bath amenities from L'Occitane en Provence. While the bottles are pretty small (30ml), they are replenished during evening turndown and in the morning when your room is made up so feel free to use them up for your bath. In the rare instance where you do run out of them, just ask the housekeeping staff nicely and they would be more than happy to replenish them. 

Golden Circle Welcome Amenities Rasa Wing - Shangri-La's Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa, Penang

Golden Circle Welcome Amenities
Rasa Wing - Shangri-La's Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa, Penang

As always, all my Golden Circle personal amenities were delivered (as part of being a Jade member) and none of them were left out - the fruit basket is also one of the best I have gotten up to date. The welcome amenities were left in the living room of my Rasa Premier Room but I took them out to the balcony for photos instead (do watch out for the hungry birds that may swoop in to steal the food though!). The Shangri-La's Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa, Penang has done such an amazing job with the chocolates - I love how intricate the display is! 

Bedroom - Rasa Premier Room Rasa Wing - Shangri-La's Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa, Penang

Bedroom - Rasa Premier Room
Rasa Wing - Shangri-La's Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa, Penang

Bedroom - Rasa Premier Room Rasa Wing - Shangri-La's Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa, Penang

Bedroom - Rasa Premier Room
Rasa Wing - Shangri-La's Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa, Penang

The bedroom in the Rasa Premier Room is also a delight to return to after a day out in the sun - the beds are really comfortable and a dream to sleep in. You may also rotate the TV to have it face towards the bedroom if you want to enjoy some shows in bed. I am personally very happy with my iPad and Netflix selection - the internet is fast enough for streaming so no dramas there at all. I also like that bookmarks are placed on bedside during turndown and the quotes on them are usually quite thought-provoking.

Eggs Benedict - Breakfast Feringgi Grill - Shangri-La's Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa, Penang

Eggs Benedict - Breakfast
Feringgi Grill - Shangri-La's Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa, Penang

Esteemed guests of the Rasa Wing have the option of having a full buffet breakfast at the Spice Market Cafe or a private and quieter one at the famous Feringgi Grill instead. I opted for the latter option as buffet breakfasts in general can get quite daunting in the morning and I have not found enough caffeine-infused courage to deal with that yet. Anyhow, I am glad I ended up at the Feringgi Grill for breakfast since the food quality was much better and the dining ambiance was way more tamed. It is worth noting that even though the breakfast selection at Feringgi Grill à la carte, you may choose to order more or additional servings at no additional charge. The best thing about an à la carte buffet is that everything that comes out on your place is cooked à la minute - there is nothing more disappointing than a hashbrown that is not crispy on the outside. Fortunately for me, everything that was delivered to me on the plate was delicious. The Feringgi Grill also serves good coffee so if you enjoy an espresso-based drink instead of the usual brewed coffee that they serve at Spice Market Cafe, this is your place (provided you are a Rasa Wing guest). 

Outdoor Chess Shangri-La's Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa, Penang

Outdoor Chess
Shangri-La's Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa, Penang

While I know of people who criticised the smaller selection as they are expecting a full buffet breakfast (and probably not aware about the distinction between a club-equivalent room and a regular one), I absolutely loved my breakfast experience at the Feringgi Grill - the sophistication and exclusivity is just perfect to start my morning. I took a walk around the Rasa Wing after a really fulfilling breakfast at the Feringgi Grill, and in spite of the rather gloomy weather, I was pleasant surprised at how many lounging chairs were placed around the property. Most of them faces the ocean as well so you can be sure of a relaxing experience with a view that is hard to beat. 

Rasa Wing Pool Shangri-La's Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa, Penang

Rasa Wing Pool
Shangri-La's Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa, Penang

As a Rasa Wing guest, you will have access to the exclusive Rasa Wing pool and one of the benefits you will have is unlimited soft drinks, coffee and tea here. That's right, you can order any one of those aforementioned drinks by this pool and you will not be charged a single cent extra. For some reason, there were always a number of guests swimming here so I did not want to take a photo to intrude on their privacy - you can see how private the pool is from the photo though! 

Beach Shangri-La's Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa, Penang

Beach
Shangri-La's Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa, Penang

There is also direct access to the beach from the Shangri-La's Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa, Penang. Even though it is not a private beach (meaning to say you should expect to find jet skis and other various sea sport operators out there), the morning walk is still really quiet and peaceful. In fact, if you are motivated enough, you can make your way along the beach to find your at The Golden Sands Resort by Shangri-La. 

Five Spice Roll - Spice Market Cafe Shangri-La's Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa, Penang

Five Spice Roll - Spice Market Cafe
Shangri-La's Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa, Penang

Condiments - Spice Market Cafe Shangri-La's Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa, Penang

Condiments - Spice Market Cafe
Shangri-La's Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa, Penang

Despite all my love for the Feringgi Grill, I have decided to give the Spice Market Cafe a try for lunch and I was pleasant surprised at the quality of food that was served. Before we go into the food, check out that glorious sambal on the ikan bilis - the condiments alone are worth featuring! 

The common conception that 'hawker-style' food found in a hotel can never be as good as the ones out on the street is completely thrown out of the window here at the Shangri-La's Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa, Penang's Spice Market Cafe. In fact, the Five Spice Roll (made from chicken since this dining establishment is Halal-certified) was definitely the best one I have ever eaten - it was moist, flavourful and that crisp on the outside was just incredibly satisfying. 

If you are here on a holiday and you are thinking about having your meals in the hotel, this is definitely the place to go for lunch. Just remember to charge it back to your room to earn Golden Circle points which you can use on a later stay or occasion - the points will give you 10% back (approximately) which you can redeem for free nights, dining credits or even to offset the price of your spa treatments. 

If you do not know what to order here, you will not go wrong with the Penang Spicy Prawn Noodles which comes with yellow noodles and rice vermicelli, prawns, bean sprouts, hard boiled egg and water spinach in a spicy prawn broth with a garnishing of fried shallots - absolutely the most delicious bowl of prawn noodles I have ever had!

FIP - Fun Interactive & Play Shangri-La's Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa, Penang

FIP - Fun Interactive & Play
Shangri-La's Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa, Penang

Right next to the Spice Market Cafe, you will find FIP (which stands for Fun Interactive & Play) which to me feels a little out of place initially but I guess it caters to the younger crowd. With a bold and colourful interior, FIP features a selection of interactive dishes (think tic-tac-toe macarons!), 3-D lattes, unique cocktails and of course, a selfie corner for all the fun shots. Here's a tip though - if it ever gets too crowded in Spice Market Cafe, get a table in FIP and ask for the menu from SMC instead. 

Rasa Lounge Shangri-La's Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa, Penang

Rasa Lounge
Shangri-La's Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa, Penang

As a Rasa Wing guest, you will enjoy a set of privileges that is exclusive to you - you will have access to this beautiful Rasa Lounge (which contains a mix of both indoor and outdoor tables) which gives you access to coffee, tea, juices and soft drinks all-day as well as a suite of other benefits.

Afternoon Tea - Rasa Lounge Shangri-La's Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa, Penang

Afternoon Tea - Rasa Lounge
Shangri-La's Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa, Penang

Afternoon tea is served daily at the Rasa Lounge from 3PM to 4PM and despite being on my own, I was served this humongous three-tier afternoon tea set which I failed to finish. The teh tarik is definitely something to try - have it iced on a hot day!   

Cocktail Hour and Pre-dinner Canapés - Rasa Lounge Shangri-La's Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa, Penang

Cocktail Hour and Pre-dinner Canapés - Rasa Lounge
Shangri-La's Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa, Penang

My favourite time in the Rasa Lounge has got to be the Cocktail Hour which comes with pre-dinner canapés  (530PM to 7PM daily). There is a selection of hot food (which I did not notice on my first evening there) and another smaller station for smaller canapés as shown above. There is also a cocktail menu or the good old classic beverages (e.g. G&T). Honestly, a benefit like free-flowing cocktails and alcohol in the evening is hard to beat - especially in a resort location. If you are not a heavy eater, the food served during cocktail hour can serve as a light dinner - otherwise just head down to the Feringgi Grill (make sure you have a reservation though!) or the Spice Market Cafe for a fulfilling meal after. 

Durian Shack Shangri-La's Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa, Penang

Durian Shack
Shangri-La's Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa, Penang

Here's something that will probably make the Singaporeans (and other South-east Asians) go crazy - the Shangri-La's Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa, Penang runs a special Durian Package during certain months (usually June to August) in the year. What is a durian package you say? Well think about it as an unlimited durian-feast for two persons from 3pm to 5pm in the evening. Learn about the different durian varietals and feast away on some of Penang's best durian. 

Banyan Tree Garden Shangri-La's Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa, Penang

Banyan Tree Garden
Shangri-La's Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa, Penang

The Shangri-La's Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa, Penang took me by complete surprise - I am absolutely in love with it and I am already planning a trip there next year with my family. Honestly, I have never thought of Penang as a resort destination but this property has changed my mind completely. Not only were rooms gorgeous, the service standards were top-notch and the food within the hotel is excellent. If you have to head out of Georgetown, it is at least 30 minutes away but trust me, staying away from the city center is a beautiful experience and you will definitely enjoy it here. 

Shangri-La's Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa, Penang
Batu Ferringhi Main Road, Kampung Tanjung Huma, 11100 Batu Feringgi, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
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