Crag Hotel Penang Hill – The Untold Stories of This Building

This is out of the regular posts that I usually write. This post is nothing related to crunchy, succulent or juicy. Instead, this post is about eerie, spooky and haunting. The name of this place is called “Crag Hotel”.

This name and owner of this place were changed many times. The original name of this place is called The Crag Hotel. It was once a famous hotel located on a hill shoulder in Penang Hill, commanding a panoramic view of Penang Island from a height of 833m. The hotel was established by the Sarkies Brothers.

The idea to go into the hotel business came about in 1885, when the Sarkies brothers met the Khaw family, who had their hands in various enterprises all the way between Penang and Bangkok. Meanwhile, up in Penng Hill, a Scotsman by the name of Captain J. Kerr had leased a plot of land and erected his bungalow named The Crag. The Sarkies brothers acquired the bungalow from Captain Kerr, and opened the Crag Hotel there in 1895.

The Crag Hotel was said to operate until the Second World War. In 1955, it was leased to the International School of Penang, commonly known as Uplands School, to operate as a primary boarding school. The first intake of 60 pupils began classes there in mid-January, 1955. The Uplands School occupied Crag Hotel and Grace Dieu not too far away, until 1977.

After then, this place was operating on a small scale of homestay until 1999 and has been in disuse since then.

Today, there are 2 ways to get to The Crag Hotel, the first way which is the easiest way to get there is by the tar road of Botanical Garden, but the problem of this trail is you will always get blocked by a bunch of dogs and the caretaker of this place. As for the other route is via the Batu Ferringhi Trail that requires 14km of hike. With the second trail you will be able to enter this place as you will be entering via another entrance.

The whole place here looked gloomy and humid even though it was scorching hot outside. I got goose-bumps due to the chilling wind when entering some of the chalets.

In between this place, there are some huge rocks that have been stacked up to make into a triangle-like entrance. This is like an entrance to some secret path.

Although this place has been kept away from civilization for decades, the condition of the building is not as bad as we thought.

According to folklore, this place became haunted due to a school girl was found hanging herself due to some depression issues. Since then, students claimed to have seen her soul lingering around this place. The school also started to get lesser students and finally they ceased operation in 1977.

Until now there are still some joss papers sticking around the building.

A friend of mine told me of his own supernatural experience at this place. It was way back in 1990s’ when he was still in secondary school. He came here for vacation with 3 other friends. Back then, this place was known as “Royal Simla Club” (RSC).

The 4 friends were staying in 2 rooms that night. According to him, they slept on the bed in separate rooms. But when they woke up all 4 of them were sleeping under the bed and placed in a very straight position. They were so afraid and left without packing in a blink of an eye.

Another friend of mine also told me that he was at RSC with a group of friends back then for campfire and gathering. When they were happily singing and chilling around, they heard some noises at the bushes nearby. With the flash of the torchlight, there was nothing there. At first, they thought it was just some dogs that ran across. However, the frequency of the noise was getting higher and at that time they were at different places. Some of them felt someone had touched on their shoulder. Not long after that, they all screamed and immediately dashed out from the place.

As for my own experience, while I was taking pictures at the main hall of RSC, I heard something like a fallen can at the corner of the hall. I looked at that place and there was no one there. After a few seconds, I heard another can fell at the other corner. I quickly went out and regroup with my friend and told him there was someone inside the house. We didn’t talk much and left this place immediately.

Royal Simla Club or also known as Crag Hotel is full of mysteries and undiscovered truths. I wonder why this place is still left untouched until today despite the high demand of Penang properties.

6 thoughts on “Crag Hotel Penang Hill – The Untold Stories of This Building”

  1. You’re wrong it wasn’t called the Royal Simla club, it was used as a TV set for a BBC series called Indian summers a show which is set in Simla in Indian during the colonial era but is actually filmed in Penang. In this show the building acts as the Royal Simla club, that’s why the sign is still there and I guess must be why it’s in such good condition. It’s probably worth watching the show because in the show these bungalows are stunningly beautiful.


  2. I was a student in the 60’s up there and some of us regularly get together in Penang once a year and I’ve never heard of any female student that hanged herself there.
    Secondly, someone is telling porkies about this being called The Royal Simla Club (RSC) once. That name was given to it in the series Indian Summers which was mostly all filmed there. In fact someone has been telling porkies about their story there.

  3. I too was up the hill, in the early 70’s and never heard of anyone hanging themselves.
    It is still owned by the last serving member of the Sarkis family.
    It was never known as the Simla Club.. just as previously said, was the backdrop for a series starring Julie Walters.

  4. Agree with Roxanne and John. I was at school here when it was called Uplands School, together with my brother Hugh and for a very short time with sister Alison. My mother worked for a short time as the school nursing sister (Molly). i loved this school although felt very homesick as so young to be boarding and missed home. I think it was an extrodinary experience to have been at school here and know that there was probably nothing quite like it anywhere. Indian Summers brought all these buildings and views back from my memories – just to make sure that it really wasnt just a dream.

  5. It was also used for the filming of the French film ‘Indochine’ starring Catherine Deneuve.

  6. So sad to see my beautiful school so dilapidated and uncared for. I was there in 1960/61 and have incredible memories of it. Lucky to have experienced it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *