Stewart Lane, named after Charles C. Stewart, is a hidden residential enclave situated behind the Goddess of Mercy Temple, at the core of the inner city of George Town. Quaint, quiet and stylish – Stewart Lane is a must-visit for visitors to view early 20th century Peranakan-influenced and colonial pre-war houses built as early as 1927.
The narrow L-shaped street offers a step back in time, with some buildings restored and converted into trendy cafes and boutique hotels to cater to the rising demands of tourism. The well-preserved facades provide a glimpse into the rich historical background of those who used to reside in the area, most of which belonged to rich families.
This historical lane and its adjacent streets are a sight to set your eyes on. From the tiles to the wooden windows and doors, wooden beams on the ceiling and wooden stairs, these old buildings create a nostalgic atmosphere, a contrast to the rapidly developing George Town, an UNESCO World Heritage City.
Soak in the tranquil environment of these pre-war buildings while listening to swiftlets chirping away in the daytime. By night, the whole area comes alive and is transformed into a vibrant hangout place to chill and meet people.
And yes, the transformation initiative to modernise Stewart Lane has been paying off. Foreigners with a soft spot for heritage surroundings are bowled over with the restoration works.
Among the boutique hotels that stand out is the opulent Seven Terraces, a row of refurbished terrace houses that boasts of Penang’s unique cultural Peranakan heritage, complete with Baba-Nyonya fittings and décor.
Other homestay outlets available are Thirty Three and Just Duvet Guest House. These two establishments have been tastefully renovated to infuse contemporary features with the original structures.
Drop in bistros such as The Alley, The Daily Dose, Coffee Atelier along Stewart Lane to sip brew coffee while watching the world go by – simply blissful.
The Antarabangsa Enterprise is also a popular joint among backpackers and tourists alike. It is, in fact, a grocery store that sells cheap foreign beers until the wee hours of the night!
Stewart Lane holds a special place in the hearts of Penangites that is close to main tourist attractions such as the St George’s Church, Masjid Kapitan Keling and the Khoo Kongsi Clan House.
Next to Stewart Lane is another famous alley, Love Lane, that used to house brothels in the bygone era. Now rows of pre-war shop houses come alive with live bands in attendance after sunset.