The Hard Rock Hotel boasts exceptional bars, restaurants with the best pizza outside Italy, live entertainment and this giant mosaic mural of the Beatles in the foyer.
The Hard Rock Hotel boasts exceptional bars, restaurants with the best pizza outside Italy, live entertainment and this giant mosaic mural of the Beatles in the foyer. Ann Rickard

Penang rocked my world

“HOW can I rock your world?” came the voice on the end of the telephone.

The standard greeting at the Hard Rock Hotel in Penang when you make a call from your room to anywhere in the hotel holds promise.

“You can rock my world by tickling my toes,” I answered, getting into the spirit of things. I was booking a pedicure at the spa and the girl on the end of the phone knew exactly what I wanted without my having to explain any further.

“Ten o’clock, pedicure, see you then. Have a rocking day,” she answered cheerfully. A rocking day? You have to love that.

And you have to love the atmosphere at Penang’s Hard Rock Hotel too. Although I am old enough to relate to all the old Beatles and Elvis photos extensively spread throughout the property, this is not a hotel just for old rockers, it’s very much a family or singles’ place.

There are stylish bars and restaurants and live entertainment from afternoon until late into the night, all a discreet distance from the luxurious rooms so a good night’s sleep is never disturbed.

We were in a deluxe pool room which meant our room led right into the pool; we could open the sliding doors and jump off our private veranda straight into the free-form swimming pool, the largest on the island.

This exciting pool access became such a highlight we spent a lot of time leaping into the pool, swimming along to our friends down the other end of the hotel and gate-crashing their pool-front veranda. It was all friendly, especially at cocktail time. Swimming along with a bottle of vodka in hand and a can of tonic between the teeth might not be a good look but we like to BYO when we gate crash.

The Hard Rock Hotel is not only a glam hotel with all the facilities you expect (spa, gym, five restaurants, meeting room, presidential suite, conference centre and gorgeous beachfront location on the famous beaches of Batu Ferringni), it is a museum of all things rock ‘n roll.

Over 500 pieces of rock memorabilia are displayed throughout the property: a leather jacket worn by Bon Jovi; one of the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ guitars; a riotous scarlet suit worn by (who else?) Elton John; a revealing Borat-like spandex suit worn by Paul Stanley (Kiss) and a floor length velvet gown by Stevie Nicks. And that’s just a few of the items I jotted down.

You could spend days standing in front of the cabinets on every level of the hotel just admiring the displays. The rock theme is evident everywhere – from the giant mural of the Beatles at the hotel entrance to the silver guitar door handles leading into the dining room.

The Hard Rock Company has 73,000 pieces of rock memorabilia stored in a warehouse in Orlando which are rotated at their hotels and cafes throughout the world every five or so years. A team of spotters seek pieces through world-wide auctions and sales.

Dining choices throughout the property are varied and all excellent: giant hamburgers, enormous brownies and big cocktails in the Hard Rock Café; Asian international cuisine in Starz dining room (the laksa and mee goreng are worth going to Penang for alone) and the best pasta and pizzas outside Italy at the beachfront Pizzeria (watching chef twirl and throw the pizza dough into the air is part of the experience.)

The Rock Spa, situated right on the beach is a haven of fragrant air in tranquil treatment rooms, or with sea breezes in the tented cabanas facing the sea. You’ll want more than one spa visit to this temple of indulgence. Rock Spa was named Harper’s Bazaar Top 30 Spas in Malaysia (2010) for “Most Relaxing Ritual”.

The spa is popular with everyone, and is one of the few spas on the island offering specialised kids and teenage treatments.

“Since we implemented spa services for children, we’ve seen many families encouraging and indulging their offspring in various treatments to help them unwind and relax, or even use the time to bond,” general manager John Primmer said.

“This is especially evident with mothers and daughters.”

Although the Hard Rock Hotel is a one stop holiday place and you don’t need to leave this oasis for a Malaysian holiday experience, you might like to wander down the road to the night markets for the shopping where the bargains are irresistible.

We flew with air Asia from the Gold Coast to KL and then on to Penang.

Ann Rickard was a guest at the Hard Rock Hotel.

IF YOU’RE GOING...

Hard Rock Hotel - http://www.penanghardrockhotels.net

Air Asia - http://www.airasia.com

AirAsia, the leading and largest low-cost carrier in Asia, services the most extensive network with over 132 routes covering over 70 destinations in the UK, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, China (including Macau), Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Philippines, Brunei, Myanmar, Iran, South Korea, India and Singapore. The airline services some of the world’s most popular holiday destinations including Bali, Phuket and Hong Kong.

As a “no frills” budget carrier, AirAsia X does not serve complimentary food or drinks. Instead, food and beverages can be purchased.



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