The islands of Penang and Langkawi are Peninsula Malaysia’s northern gems, perfect for leisurely getaways or cultural excursions.
Words: Chitra Santhinathan
As the taxi rounded the bend towards Telaga Harbour, I caught my first glimpse of The Danna. Glinting in the midday sun, the hotel seemed to wink at me, beckoning me to come closer. Curious to discover what lay in wait behind the nondescript white façade, I scuttled out of the taxi, almost forgetting my bags!
Walking into The Danna, I felt as if I had stepped back in time, to an era where evening cocktails in the drawing room were a daily affair. High ceilings and imposing columns evoked the colonial vibe of British Malaya, lending the property an air of nostalgia. Opened in December 2010, the hotel is in no way ‘old’ but instead, embraces a reimagined colonial style, imbued with contemporary touches yet exhibiting a sentimental charm of its own.
Whisked by a porter to a ‘salon’ with plush sofas and muted lighting, I was treated to a shoulder massage – a complimentary little luxury offered to all guests at check-in. The Danna prides itself on personalised services, which include an employee specially assigned to familiarise guests with the hotel’s layout and to escort them to their rooms.
My room, the Viceroy Seaview, looked out onto the hotel’s infinity pool, the largest in Langkawi, and the glorious Andaman Sea. The 65 sq metre room was incredibly spacious and elegantly decked out with a four-poster king-sized bed and luxurious bathroom replete with His and Her vanities. It is clear that space is not an issue at this property as even the standard Merchant room measures 60 sq metre in size. Generosity, of course, is a hallmark of The Danna as after all, danna does mean ‘gift’ in Sanskrit.
This five-storey property has a total of 125 rooms with corridors connecting four separate wings framing a lush courtyard. Rooms range from the Merchant that has hill or courtyard views to the Royal Imperial Suite, a 600 sq metre space that spans an entire wing and boasts its own infinity pool.
Staying at The Danna, it’s easy to get swept up in its colonial theme. Black and white photographs of British Malaya line the walls and the long corridor from the lobby to the dining outlets opens onto a ballroom like space, which features an archway that perfectly frames the pool and sea beyond it. Wicker furniture placed around the room invites guests to enjoy the view while the gentle whirring of ceiling fans offers respite from the tropical heat. In fact, guests can have their meals here too as the room is flanked by the hotel’s restaurants.
Straits & Co is a cosy little restaurant with rattan furniture, marble-topped tables and patterned floor tiles like those found in Peranakan homes of Melaka and Penang.
The outlet offers a tiffin lunch – a meal of curries served in a tiered metal container – and traditional English afternoon tea with scones, clotted cream and a selection of tasty nibbles. The hotel’s other eatery, Planter’s, serves up an excellent menu of Asian, Continental and fusion cuisine. Dining outdoors on the sea-view deck or on the beach is also possible. The executive chef and friendly wait staff are also always on hand to recommend the day’s specials and off-the-menu items. I feasted on a delicious three-course meal, which included prawn mimosa (king prawn marinated with balsamic vinegar and fresh herbs), a delicate chicken consommé, pan-seared salmon with sautéed spinach and an amazingly refreshing homemade black pepper ice-cream!
Another plus point of The Danna is the privacy it offers. There’s always a space you can claim as your own without being intruded upon. For pre-dinner drinks, head to the Verandah, a delightful lounge, which again conjures the nostalgia of British Malaya. All that was missing was the mems sipping their whiskey stengahs. Other private spaces include the Drawing Room with its wine cellar and humidor and, the first floor Library where you can catch up on some reading or play a game of chess.
For a little pampering, The Danna Spa is highly recommended with an extensive list of treatments that range from a traditional Malay urut (massage) to a heavenly yoghurt wrap. A must-try is its candle nut scrub, a gentle exfoliating treatment that leaves skin feeling smooth as silk.
The Danna is within easy reach of the island’s many attractions but if you’re anything like me, leaving may prove a challenging task. In this land of myth and legends, the spell cast by The Danna will leave you wanting nothing else.
THE DANNA LANGKAWI
Address: Telaga Harbour Park, Pantai Kok, Langkawi