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Asia's Hotels - Then and Now.
The stories behind Southeast Asia's heritage hotels.
14th June 2012
Ponder the legacy of colonialism as you swill gin and tonics on the verandas of these grand old dames of hospitality
Before the Suez Canal opened in 1869, a clipper took three months to sail from from England to China. A steamship only a month less.
Once the highway to India opened, the journey could be made in a mere 30 to 40 days. It was then that travel to Asia assumed new levels of style and luxury.
Writers, playwrights, actors, the rich and the royal all turned their attention to the exotic East. Entrepreneurs then set about building a new breed of hotel to cater to the sudden wave of well-heeled globetrotters.
An impressive collection of hotels built more than 100 years ago in Southeast Asia still stand proud today -- albeit with a few contemporary touches like Wi-Fi and LCD TVs.
Eastern & Oriental, Penang, Malaysia
Famous Guests: Noël Coward, Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, Rudyard Kipling, Somerset Maugham, Herman Hesse.
Historical hospitality giants, the Sarkies brothers are credited with founding iconic hotels including Singapore's Raffles and Myanmar's Strand, but it all started in George Town, Penang, back during the Malaysian island’s days as an outpost of the East India Company.
The grand dame of all Sarkies brothers' hotels was initially two separate accomodations -- the Eastern Hotel, built in 1884, and the Oriental Hotel, built a year later on an adjacent piece of land.
The hotel simply became known as “Eastern & Oriental” between 1889 and 1900.
Current room rates: from US$200. Eohotels.com