Staying at Ren I Tang Heritage Inn brings back many childhood memories. Not that I grew up in Penang but this old-world charming building reminds me so much of the old shops and places of my childhood.
“Ren i Tang” is the phonetic presentation in Mandarin of South East Asia’s oldest Chinese Medical Hall Wholesaler, Yin Oi Tong which is translated as “The Hall of Benevolence”. Isn’t that grand? “Hall of Benevolence” sounds very much like something from a Qing Imperial Palace! Here’s a bit of history on Ren I Tang and more information is available on their website.
Yin Oi Tong was established in 1796 in Penang by Koo Suk Chuan. He quickly established his business as an herbalist in a small shop on Pitt Street.
As business grew, in 1885, Koo moved his expanding business into a larger premise on Penang Street and Yin Oi Tong Chinese Medical Hall continued trading here until its move in 2009. Its history and influence still resonate through the walls of the building that housed it for 124 years.
Located within the UNESCO World Heritage Site of George Town (junction of China Street and Penang Street), this 19th century building took 2 years to restore. Stepping into its cool interior, I can’t help but admire the beautifully-restored wooden staircases, air wells, timber flooring and traditional furniture, resplendent in their unique character.
The steep heritage wooden staircases leading to the rooms upstairs take me back to the time when I used to stay in a similar old house with my grandmother. My grandma and my mom used to also keep our food in those typical wooden larders with netting across the doors.
The rooms are tastefully furnished, maintaining much of their original colonial charm. They are fully air-conditioned, complete with parquet flooring, satellite TV, electric kettle and clean crisp freshly-laundered bedding. Modern fittings are all in place in the attached bathrooms.
Ren I Tang spans an area of 3 shophouse units. The property features free WiFi, a bistro and a small museum on the ground floor, which used to be a medical hall. Old memorabilia of a working Chinese medical hall are all kept in the museum.
Breakfast is provided and guests get to chill-out in the quaint little bistro. Besides basic breakfast items like toast, butter & jam, cereal, fruits, coffee & tea, hot items like fried eggs and even Char Kway Teow are served (from the kopitiam across the road!).
Ren I Tang is just 100m from Pinang Peranakan Mansion and 500m from Fort Cornwallis. Penang Jetty is about 600m away, while the Penang International Airport is a 15km drive away. There’s plenty to see, do and eat around the Little India area where Ren I Tang is.
REN I TANG Heritage Inn | 82A Lebuh Penang | 10200 Georgetown | Penang | Tel: +604-2508383 | Website: renitang.com