I feel like I’ve done this place a massive disservice…
Because when you have so many complimentary things to say about an awesome accommodation option, they really should be shared much sooner!
I briefly mentioned what an awesome place Tofu Cafe, Beds & Bikes was in my early post where I waxed lyrical about Penang, and there’s no doubting that our “home” base for our four amazing days was a big part of that. But what’s so great about it?
To start with it’s one of the most uniquely designed hostels/guesthouses you’re likely to have come across. Owners Lucas & Joyce have done an incredible job in converting a vintage style Penang pre-war shophouse into an excellently equipped renovated guesthouse that can cater for all types of traveller. The front part of the building is a cosy little cafe – you may have guessed from the name – but the rest of the building holds everything you’ll need for an extremely comfortable stay.
Make sure you take the time to try out some of the interesting concoctions that the crew might be cooking up in the cafe by the way – the chicken & yoghurt toast I had was surprisingly sublime!
Stepping past the cafe you’ll find the actual hostel reception and downstairs chill-out area. Breakfast is served down here – toasts with various spreads – and you won’t fail to notice the bikes dotted around. These are rentable (or free if you stay long enough as we did), and I’d completely recommend taking one out for a fun trip around Penang’s amazingly scenic streets.
You’ll also find the kitchen down here. It’s more for cafe use, so you can’t really bring your own food to cook here, but this is understandable when your hosts provide breakfast, assorted snacks (for a small price) and their own cafe with which to get munch from. A microwave and kettle is available however.
Beyond this at the far end of the ground floor you’ll find four cubicle bathrooms. Each contains western-style toilet, sink and excellently heated shower, and were always spotlessly clean every time I visited.
Heading upstairs you’ll see just what a superb – and innovative – job Lucas & Joyce have done on the accommodation front. Remember to take your shoes off before you head up though, and make use of the free slippers.
Upon reaching the top of the stairs you’ll be in the adjoining corridor. The female only dorm is behind you, whilst straight ahead you’ll find the mixed dorm. The dorm is proceeded by a small chill-out area, complete with TV, some various games and quite impressively stocked mini-library. Whilst small this is a comfortable little space that I enjoyed making the most of so that I could cool down from the sticky Penang heat before heading to bed.
Once you decide to bed down for the night you’ll be greeted by a superbly comfortable and cosy pod-style bed. There’s even a couple of double pods available, which is what me and Chelcie made use of.
Each pod comes complete with privacy curtain, individual reading light, personal fan, towel rail and mini tray table. Large personal lockers are included too, and you’ll find these on the opposite wall. I found the pod beds amazingly comfy and had an awesome night’s sleep every time in these, and you can’t fail to be impressed at the care and consideration that’s gone into the design of these. Absolutely spot on!
Oh and don’t worry – the entire dorm is air-conditioned. It’s definitely needed in the warm Malaysian climate.
Also of note you’ll find a small dressing table and wall-mounted mirror around the far corner of the pods. And free Wi-Fi is available throughout the entire building.
So as you may have noticed I really only have positive things to say about Tofu Cafe, Beds & Bikes. Facilities wise for me it’s pretty much perfect. But to have such an excellent experience of a place there generally has to be something extra special about it, and for me this comes in the shape of the awesome owners Lucas & Joyce.
From the moment we arrived me and Chelcie were made to feel incredibly welcome, and Lucas even took us out to a great little cafe/restaurant (check out Caffa) on our first night, and they also dropped us at the KOMTAR bus station a couple of days later.
They were always on hand to give us tips about Georgetown and Penang and share the history of the island, but also keen to hear about our travels and our home too. It was great to be able to have that much interaction with our hosts – helped by the fact it was particularly quiet during our stay, due to Tofu only just joining Booking.com before our visit – and with how they went out of their way to help us out it really made our time in Penang that much more special.
It also helped that the both of them are great photographers too! And their love of photography and design is evident throughout the cafe and hostel – just check out the cafe walls – so we definitely had that in common. Check out their photography work here.
So to sum up, Tofu Cafe, Beds & Bikes is one amazingly comfortable and quirky hostel/guesthouse in the heart of Georgetown. It’s in a great location, being in the Chinese part yet also just a short walk from Little India. And it’s run by the most delightful team that have genuinely put their heart and soul into creating the coolest possible hostel/guesthouse that could hope to stumble across.
Yes, you can find a slightly cheaper bed in Penang, with Tofu’s prices being around £19 (96 MYR) for a double pod, or £11 (55 MYR) for a single, but please don’t let that put you off – quite frankly it’s worth it!
This place deserves to be a massive success, so don’t hesitate to stop by if you’re in Georgetown. You will not regret it!
Tofu Cafe, Beds & Bikes: 484 Lebuh Pantai, Georgetown, 10300 Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia