George Town has enjoyed an outbreak of rooftop restaurants and bars in recent years, which, according to their location, offer splendid views over the varied rooftops of the Heritage Zone, the sea, or the hills of Penang.
Setting the trend was the Three Sixty Revolving Restaurant and Rooftop Bar, on the top floor of the Bayview City Hotel in George Town. The roof deck is trendy and elegant, with hip DJs maintaining the vibe. From here you overlook the port of Penang, the roof of the E&O Hotel, and the sparkling lights of the City beyond. It is a wonderful place to watch the sun set above the hills.
The bar offers a full range of wines, beers and cocktails, and a variety of bar snacks are available. The revolving restaurant has a rather uninspiring buffet dinner and is best avoided.
The Bayview Hotel is located at 25 Lebuh Farquar, and the bar is open Monday-Thursday 4pm to 2am, Friday-Sunday 4pm-3am. The phone number is 04-261 3540 and the website is 360rooftop.com.my.
A more recent addition to the selection of rooftop eateries and drinkeries is D’Shining Roof Top Sky Room, on level 31 of the Wembley St Giles Hotel. Its is much less “design” than Three Sixty, but as the highest rooftop bar in town it certainly also offers up tremendous views of the City. There is also an indoor rooftop bar where you can take shelter if it rains, or if it is a particularly airless night. Pizza and other bar snacks are available to accompany the wines and premium whiskeys served here.
The Wembley St Giles Hotel is located on Jalan Magazine, near Komtar, and the opening hours of the bar are Monday-Friday 4pm to midnight, and Saturdays, Sundays and Public Holidays 5pm until midnight. More information can be found at http://www.stgiles.com/hotels/malaysia/penang/stgiles-wembley/dsrt-sky-room.
On the 24th floor of The G Hotel on Kelawai Road (not the one on Gurney Drive), is Gravity. A little distance from the heritage area, the views from here are nevertheless spectacular, with the lush greenery of the hills in the background, and the modern high rises studded by the colourful temples, pagodas, churches and mosques of Pulau Tikus in the foreground. The bar aims for a lounge bar vibe, and with its swimming pool for hotel guests, it is reminiscent of the Bali or Miami scene, but much less rowdy and crowded. A full beer and wine menu is available, as are cocktails, and a more extensive bar snacks menu than most, which includes soft shell crab, Balinese spring rolls, and satay.The G Hotel is at 2 Lorong Maktab (behind Gurney Drive). The rooftop bar is open Monday-Saturday 5pm to 1am, and Sunday 5pm to midnight. The telephone number is 04-219 0000, and you can find more information at http://ghotelkelawai.com.my/index2.php.
Not quite so high, but with a lovely view all the same is the rooftop of The Chambers restaurant. The restaurant, which serves Chinese, dishes with a Nyonya touch such as pig stomach soup, and stir fried cuttlefish, also has local Western dishes such as chicken chop and pasta. It is located on the second floor of the newly renovated Chinese Chamber of Commerce building. But its real charm is the outdoor roof deck, which is reached by exiting the restaurant through its French doors onto the balcony, then climbing the steep staircase up one floor.
The breezy roofdeck has views over the tree-lined grass Padang, Fort Cornwallis and the ornate Town and City Hall buildings. There is no music, and fans are switched on only on request, so it is a peaceful place to enjoy a very reasonably-priced drink before or after dinner. The bar snacks menu includes French fries, and chicken wings, and local favourites such as loh bak.
The Chambers is located at 2, Penang Street, and is open from 11am to 3pm and 6pm to 10pm daily except on Sundays. The phone number is 04 262 5568, and their facebook page is The Chambers Facebook Page
No list of rooftop bars would be complete without mentioning The Top on the 60th floor of Komtar, Penang’s tallest building. Although opened with great fanfare, reviews of both service and food have been universally bad. Not one to visit in our humble opinion…