My Hard Rock Hotel Penang Review (with Kids) 21

With a plethora of family hotels to choose from in Penang will the Hard Rock Hotel Penang be the right fit for your family?

Hard Rock Hotel Penang review

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We stayed at the Hard Rock Hotel Penang in October 2014 on our recent holiday to Penang with Kids.

Hard Rock Hotel Penang is located on Batu Ferringhi Beach; the popular tourist resort strip that offers a number of family resorts many of which were initially built in the 70’s and have since been refurbished.  Batu Ferringhi is nearly an hours drive from Penang’s capital Georgetown if you wish to go shopping, however it is very close to the tourist attractions of Tropical Spice Garden, the Penang Butterfly Farm, Penang National Park and the night markets.

Each resort has its own unique features.

  • The Golden Sands by Shangri-La is great for toddlers and pre-schoolers with their large shaded toddler pool and mini water slide.
    • We stayed here when Lewis was a toddler, read about that trip HERE.
  • The Bayview Beach Hotel is a more budget hotel yet still offers simple family rooms and a small water park.
  • The Park Royal has 2 large water slides for big kids
  • The Holiday Inn offers family rooms, kids club and games room.

But let me tell you in detail about the Hard Rock Hotel Penang.

Booking Review

After I had done my usual extensive research when planning our holiday looking at all those hotels I decide that the Hard Rock Hotel Penang should be the right accommodation for our family.

I book our accommodation directly through the Hard Rock Hotel Penang’s website – no travel agent can match the fantastic online deal that is available for a Lil Rock Suite for 14 days over the October school holidays.

Included in our deal is:

  • Free WiFi
  • Complimentary full buffet breakfast
  • 10% of all other food and beverages
  • Kids club access
  • 1 day free pool side cabana hire
  • One way airport transfer

I had a confirmation email from the hotel the next day asking when I would like the transfer (arrival or departure) and for my flight details.

So a few months later when we fly into Penang with Singapore Airlines we are promptly greeted by a hotel representative who guides us to our private transfer car.  As the car door closes the hotel representative says, “have a rockin’ stay.”  It sets the tone for our holiday.

Our driver is so friendly during the 45 minute drive to Batu Ferringhi pointing out landmarks including: Gurney Plaza shopping Mall – raving about the new extension, the university sporting grounds, Jimmy Choos new home that is being built, all the while we are admiring the traditional buildings in the city and then the beaches from the winding cliff top road.

As our car pulls into the Hard Rock Hotel Penang we see the guitar standing proudly at the front of the hotel.

Hard Rock Hotel Penang review

Then the concierge are gathering our luggage and guiding us to reception, who swiftly check us into room 551.

Lil Rock Suite Review

Our Lil Rock Suite is located on the 5th floor with a mountain view.

I am pleasantly surprised that the 47sqm room feels fairly spacious considering it has a dividing wall for a separate kids room offering a large single bed (with trundle), the bed-head book-case is filled with children’s books and soft toys, the room is decorated in pink wall paper – I really thought Lewis might object.  However maybe because of the cute guitars within the pattern it has appeased him, or perhaps it is having his own flat screen TV and PlayStation console he has failed to notice.

Hard Rock Hotel Review

Our section of the room has 2 large side tables with draws providing enough storage space along with the 2 very large draws under the luggage racks.  However as the mini bar with tea and coffee-making facilities plus the ironing board are located within the wardrobe there is very limited hanging space – lucky I only brought a couple of dresses.

Hard Rock Hotel Penang Review

We find that the room is perfect for 14 days.  We all love the free in-house movies during “quiet time”.  In Lewis’s room there is a small shelving unit which is perfect for his Lego to be left out without loosing any pieces.  We have enough bench space to deposit our purchases during the fortnight plus a small table in the corner that has the most delicious dark chocolate petit fours for us on arrival and was later replenished with fruit.

On Trip Advisor many people complain about the size of the bathroom.  Look it’s very basic layout with basin, toilet and large standing shower (no bath tub), however it is bigger than our bathroom at home and we like the grey contemporary tiles.  My only complaint for the bathroom is having just one clothes line in the shower (you may have noticed I have not mentioned the balcony – there isn’t one) so the shower is the only area to dry your bathers.  Fortunately part of my handy items to pack are cordless clothes lines.

The Pool Review

Now I mention hanging out the bathers because for the majority of our stay we visit the pool daily and the pool was the first thing that drew me to choose the Hard Rock Hotel Penang for our stay.

This is the largest free form pool in Batu Ferringhi.  With its sand bottom toddler pool (great so little ones don’t hurt themselves when they fall), water slides for all ages to use and the splash zone water park, in deeper areas of the pool older children are having fun jumping and diving into the pool, and if you want to escape the noise of the kids you can make your way round to the far side where it is much more tranquil.  I have to say we have so much fun at the pool every day.

Around the pool you can pay for a few extras (if you like) there is the pool side cabana which comes with water and a fruit plate or the inflatable tubes to ride or float about the pool – we try out both, the inflatable tube is such hit we hire it for a couple of days.

There are always lounges available, though of course there are the premium locations that everyone wants so they can watch their kids whilst relaxing, because isn’t that what a family holiday should be – everyone doing what they want.

Kids Club Review

Speaking of having a bit of peace and a great family vacation I rely a bit on the kids club and up until now I have not been disappointed.

Sadly this kids club seems inconsistent in their policies and the kids club is really designed for toddlers and pre-schoolers.

I walk in with Lewis on the first day and ask if I can watch from the side whilst he participates in the craft (Lewis gets anxious when starting something new and I have found if I hang around a bit he will join in then I can leave), however the staff member said no adults – which is great for security but not for Lewis so we leave.

The next day he wants to try again, we walk in and it is madness (a different staff member is on duty), a huge queue is building to sign into the tiny room and there are adult men lounging about watching their little ones.  I finally reach the head of the queue and ask about the craft activity scheduled for 5 minutes time – the staff member has no idea what she will do with the kids, we leave again.

We do not attempt a third try.  I must say I am really disappointed with the kids club especially as the hotel is so family orientated and Lewis has always enjoyed the craft sessions at other kids clubs.

Inclusive Activities Review

Fortunately the Hard Rock Hotel Penang offers more than just the kids club for activities.

Every afternoon at 2 pm the music gets cranked up for a dance activity which signals the start of the fun time.  Look the music is WAY TOO LOUD but it is only 20 minutes and we discover that at the far ends of the pool the volume is more pleasant.

After the dance party the music is turned down for the rest of the activities.  Lewis and Steve join in some fun things like car racing, sumo wrestling, water pillow fights marble races and sea scooters in the pool.  I have to say the guys who run these activities are loads of fun and remember the kids names.

Of course the highlight activity is the foam party. There is one for the kids and then one for the adults.  The party is scheduled for the first Saturday each month, however we are visiting Penang in October the wettest month of the year and whilst most days it only rains for a short period this particular Saturday it is torrential.  But not to worry as the hotel reschedule’s the foam party for the following morning.  The kids have a ball!

Hard Rock Hotel Penang review

As I said the foam party is for the adults too and this is not the only adults only activity.  On Saturday mornings the hotel offers free yoga in the spa gardens (or gym if it’s raining).  Then every evening there is great entertainment in the lobby lounge that we enjoy after returning from our evening meal.

Restaurant Reviews

Ah yes food.  One of the great things about travelling is trying the local cuisine and Penang is known for its food.

We eat at number of the restaurants along the Batu Ferringhi strip (you can read my Trip Advisor reviews for those HERE) and we eat in-house as well.

On our first night we are so exhausted from the flight we opt to eat in-house at the Hard Rock Cafe’.  On entering I notice the faint smell of tobacco and the music is just a touch to loud for conversation over dinner, however we devour the most delicious burgers ever!  On top of that they have happy hour drinks (2 for 1) until 8 pm, Steve and I enjoy a couple of wines over dinner. Ah relaxation, we are on holiday.

The next morning as we exit the lift we are directed towards Starz Cafe for our buffet breakfast.  The music is LOUD and sounds somewhat like Nirvana – not exactly breakfast music (well maybe if I was 18).  The music distracts from what would be a very enjoyable breakfast: a selection of juices, cut tropical fruits, a choice of cereals, an assortment of tea or coffee, and then there is all the hot food from various cuisines including: Indian, Asian and a typical English breakfast with eggs cooked to your liking, the only thing missing is the pork sausages and bacon – you will have to make do with chicken sausages and turkey bacon.

We are finding it is just a bit too much loud music what with the pool and breakfast, so Steve complains and we are offered access to the King’s Club Lounge.  We head up for breakfast the following morning feeling all important and posh.  The breakfast laid out on the buffet is very similar to Starz Cafe and the music is still LOUD.  The real nicety is having attentive service, a proper coffee and freshly cooked eggs that are beautifully presented.

I remember reading on Trip Advisor that the Pizzeria also serves breakfast so we try there next.  Whilst the music is still loud it is at least easy listening music, no wonder it is so popular every morning.

Hard Rock Hotel Penang review

Before the crowds arrive

The Pizzeria also serves a fantastic pizza during the day.  We enjoy them pool side for lunch.  Lewis also has one for dinner one night while Steve and I opt for a pasta.  The pasta was OK, their speciality really is the pizza that all the kids enjoy watching being made.

Whilst pool side we order our lunches through The Shack, they have the menus from the Pizzeria and Starz Cafe` available for poolside dining.  Along with the pizza the Nasi Goreng and Satay Sticks are a hit with our family.

Our other favourite dining experience is the high tea served in the Kings Club.  We relish the afternoons we pop up there for a cuppa and some little morsels of savoury tarts, rainbow cake, chocolate mouse and scones with jam and cream.

Hard Rock Hotel Penang review

High Tea

Extra Info about the Hard Rock Hotel Penang

If you are planning on eating at any of these restaurants with a bub fear not, high chairs are available and I also noted cribs being removed or added to rooms.  However I did see many people trying to get around poolside with their pram.  It is not easy due to all the beach sand surrounding the pool.

At night we make use of the free shuttle into the centre of the Batu Ferringhi strip, though we usually walk back to the hotel – it is only 1.2km. Please note if you have a pram it is tricky navigating the footpath and narrow roads.

If you are wanting to see more of the island during the day there are taxis waiting out the front of the hotel or you can do as we do, which is use the local Rapid Penang Bus there is a stop right out side the hotel.

Also across the road from the hotel is:

  • Mini mart – for all those little necessities like soft drink, ice cream, potato chips
  • Laundrette – RM4/kg
  • Money changer – we found this the best rate on the island
  • Massage – RM80/hour

You can find more links and stories from this holiday at Penang with Kids 2014: all the travel stories

So do you think the Hard Rock Hotel Penang is the right fit for your family?

About Sally-Ann Brown

I am Sally-Ann the author of Toddlers on Tour. I am a wife and mother who has always had a passion for travel. I love sharing my experiences and lessons learned to help you have a better family holiday or day trip. Read "All About Me" under the "Home" tab to discover my story and what lead me to here.

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