Kiri N/T168, Bukit Penara, Mukim 6, Balik Pulau 11000 Penang, Malaysia
You don’t have to love the exotic durian fruit to love staying on this private estate (durian fanatics descend on this hilltop estate during durian season June-July). It provided one of the highlights of our Malaysian trip.
After arriving tired, frustrated two hours after arriving at the Georgetown ferry port (our taxi driver got lost navigated the windy roads into the hills – Malihom is very remote!), our hosts Mim and his family (who look after the estate year round) could not have been more welcoming (the chef had finished for the evening but Mim cooked up a welcome and delicious meal within minutes). The following four days followed a similar pattern of friendly staff, fab food, and peace and relaxation.
Accommodation: The name Malihom means ‘village of the fragrant rice’ and nine converted rice barns are available to rent (we stayed in BaanMai – meaning ‘house in the woods’) mostly accommodating 2 people and all en-suite with balcony/platform areas. All are decorated to a high standard and enjoy a variety of views – the estate is on top of one of the highest hills on Penang so you can enjoy panoramic views across to the mainland or out to the ocean on the western side.
Restaurant: All meals are included (alcoholic drinks are extra) with a mix of SE Asian and European dishes available for breakfast, lunch and dinner (it’s a set 3-course meal at dinner, no choice but always good). You can choose to dine on the upper or lower decks, both ‘semi-al afresco’ which offers a rather special setting day or night.
Facilities: As a boutique retreat, Malihom offers the expected spa treatments (massage, aromatherapy), swimming pool and yoga, but also encourages guests to enjoy its unique surroundings (there are a number of trails around the estate – take some binoculars as bird-watchers will get a thrill from spotting species including the Japanese sparrowhawk and crested serpent eagle). We visited out of season (early January, just before Chinese New Year which is one of Malihom’s peak periods) and, apart from one night, had the entire estate to ourselves! We didn’t leave (the nearest town is several kilometers away down a long, windy road) but spent our days strolling around the pretty gardens (and counting dozens of frogs in the ornamental ponds), taking in the scenery from the look-out tower, exploring the orchards and woods surrounding the estate, and on one particularly rainy day, reading and relaxing in the communal living room. If you do like durian fruit, visit during May-August (book well ahead) when you can taste some of the best durian around!
Recommended for… Complete relaxation! Best to visit out of season when you need a break from a hectic schedule, or June/July if you love the ‘King of Fruits’.
Be aware that… Malihom is a retreat on top of a high, remote hill so once you get here, you won’t be going anywhere else for a while! As an otherwise private estate you won’t have a choice of bars, places to eat, shops etc – but once you’re there, you’ll realise you really don’t need them…
- Most of the stuctures on the estate are built from reclaimed/recycled wood (the barns were unused rice barns from Chang Mai in Thailand; the decking around the main living areas are made from reclaimed railway sleepers)
- Cleaning products for furniture and flooring are 100% biodegradable and natural
- Bathrooms are stocked with organic handmade toiletries made at Malihom
- Malihom encourages guests to appreciate the wildlife and natural surroundings of the estate
Date of visit: January 2011