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George Town, Penang’s historical heritage stems back into a time where the British imposed their architectural influence upon this then-fertile land. One such trademark left behind is the Straits-era shophouse building, which had an adaptable influence of both Colonial British and South East Asian elements in its structure. Today, much of the buildings remain intact within George Town, some remain as they were, while others became dilapidated. A select few buildings throughout George Town’s core heritage zone have been restored and refurbished since UNESCO’s 2008 World Heritage Zone classification, and as such host a variety of contemporary cafes that attract generations from old and new alike. Here are some featured cafes on George Town’s streets:


Mews Café, Muntri Mews

  • Located on Muntri Street within the Muntri Mews boutique heritage hotel, the building was once a communal parking for horse carraiges, with the rooms upstairs meant as quarters for the drivers during that time. Having received a major restoration effort by noted Penang hotelier Chris Ong in 2009, the hotel now welcomes tourists and locals alike, with the café itself being renowned for its Malay and local delicacies served alongside the more common Western alternatives. Whether it be breakfast, teatime or dinner, the café (and hotel) offers guests a chance to dine back in time.

Macallum Connoisseurs Coffee Co.

  • Located at the corner of Macallum Street Ghaut and the Lim Chong Eu Expressway, the Macallum Connoisseurs Coffee Co. Café serves a plethora of Western (with additional Asian) cuisine, in a retrofitted former warehouse. The comfortable, chic, yet noticeably industrial aura makes for a relaxing location for passers by to sip some tea and enjoy some savoury dishes whilst also serving as a coffee academy for caffeine aficionados wishing to master the fine art of coffee roasting, as exemplified with the visible presence of a roastery within the cafe.

China House

  • Comprised of 3 heritage shophouses artfully restored, the inimitable China House complex connects Beach Street and Victoria Lane, thus making it the longest café in Penang and one of the few remaining Straits-era structures to have its entire compound, structure and interiors fully refurbished, into what is now one of the more popular hangouts in the whole of Penang, with 14 of its spaces retrofitted into shops, cafes, art galleries, multi-purpose theater halls, and even a winery. A more defined trait of China House is its numerous eatery outlets housed within, such as the Australian-styled Kopi C. Espresso café, Beach St. Bakery, BTB & Restaurant, Courtyard Café & Burger Bar and the Canteen & Bar. All outlets serve a wide variety of Asian and Western breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert offerings, all housed within a contemporary/traditional hybrid atmosphere that will ultimately prove to be a bang for your buck.

Awesome Canteen, Sekeping Victoria

  • A Victoria Lane popular hangout spot and part of the Sekeping Retreat group, the Sekeping Victoria boutique hotel was retrofitted from the remnants of an abandoned warehouse. Following an upgrade into a more rustic-forest-themed retreat for boutique travellers, the Sekeping Victoria hotel has since welcomed a wide variety of guests both local and abroad. The Awesome Canteen café housed at the front of the artsy hotel serves an array of fusion and Western cuisine crafted specially and deliciously by all-natural organic ingredients, for those looking to satiate their healthy cravings.

Kim Haus

  • Formerly a renowned jewelry outpost and goldsmith, the Kim Haus café still houses artifacts and goldsmith craft tools from past generations in proud display, whilst functioning as a modern-day hipster café serving contemporary Western and Asian fusion cuisine. The space above the café popularly also serves as a multi-purpose theater, for those looking to experience some art along with their sandwiches and lattes.

The Mugshot

  • Housed on Chulia Street in the center of George Town, The Mugshot Café’s reputation has shot up recently due to its affinity to sell bagels and coffee. Particularly popular amongst tourists passing by, the Mugshot Café’s roots began as a building that once housed a classic Straits-era hotel. Besides breakfast, scrumptious bagel sandwiches, dessert and pastries courtesy of the Rainforest Bakery next door, the space also hosts an exclusive optical shop that sells fancy shades and spectacles, perhaps for you to get a better look at your delicious snack?

The Alley

  • Located on Stewart Lane just off Muntri Street, The Alley, hosted in a former Strait-era sandalwood shop, is placed adjacent to the Goddess of Mercy (Kuan Yin) temple. It’s location makes it elusive for the public to spot at first glance, but its laid-back interiors proves inviting for a few guests seeking a nice hot cup of tea with a couple of Western-tinged bites to go with it. Serving an array of Western desserts and sandwiches, The Alley proves itself to be a worthy rest stop for those looking to savour more from George Town’s heritage.