What are they? Sister properties that stand next to each other at the northern end of Langkawi's main tourist strip, Pantai Cenang, and just south of the airport. In 1996, Australian Narelle McMurtrie opened the Bon Ton restaurant here, on an old coconut plantation. Soon after followed a shelter for stray cats and dogs - LASSie (the Langkawi Animal Shelter & Sanctuary Foundation; home to the island's only vet) - and later came guest accommodation in the shape of traditional Malay houses. Dismantled in the villages they were found in (five in Langkawi and three from elsewhere in Kedah), the houses were rebuilt in a kampong , or village, layout to one side of the restaurant, now known as Nam. In 2009, the concept was broadened to include Temple Tree, home to a variety of colonial-era buildings from all over western Malaysia. Each one took about two months to dismantle, and six to put back together. While the exteriors in both the resorts remain true to their origins, the interiors (see Bon Ton, above) have been furnished with an eclectic mix of period furniture sourced from Thailand, Indonesia and elsewhere. Bright carpets lay on unpolished wooden floorboards and everywhere are hillocks of multicoloured cushions. The air-conditioning, rain showers and upmarket toiletries were not enjoyed by the original inhabitants of these buildings, obviously. Why the name Temple Tree? The only structure on the site before McMurtrie started populating it with buildings was a small Taoist shrine built at the foot of two different species of tree that grow as one (above). Hoping for lucky numbers, local Chinese gamblers gave offerings to the tree - and still do - returning when they won big to hang sashes from the "supernatural" plant's limbs, making for a colourful target to head for by guests powering their way down the swimming pool. Can you give us some examples of the Temple Tree buildings? There are seven in use at the moment, including the 90-year-old Straits Club House (above), which serves as reception, restaurant, library and bar. The 20 guest rooms are spread through buildings such as Plantation House, which once stood in Penang. One half was built by Malays in 1900 and was added to by a Chinese Hakka family of rubber and durian farmers after they bought it in 1920. The Black & White House (below), which dates from the 1940s and came from south of Kuala Lumpur, is rented as one. What's on the menu? Breakfast is delivered to guest rooms - at around 7pm. Room fridges are stocked with bread, yogurt, juice, milk and jams so that breakfast can be prepared in-room, at residents' leisure, the following morning. The Straits Club serves lunch and dinner but the real culinary magic happens over at Nam, which has earned a fine reputation with the locals, some of whom swear it serves the best Nyonya food on the island. Nyonya, or Peranakan, cuisine combines Chinese, Malay and other influences found in the region, but McMurtrie says the fare served in her restaurant is better described as "Malacca food". Nevertheless, the dish the restaurant is best known for is called the Nyonya platter, which consists of nine servings - fish tamarind, pickled lamb curry and ladies finger sambal among them - delivered on a banana leaf. What do Mr & Mrs Smith say? "Arriving at Temple Tree is like turning up at an old friend's house, albeit a very wealthy, cultured one," claim the boutique-hotel specialists ( here ). And the rest of one's stay continues in similar vein: you're offered wine or whatever else you fancy instead of the pineapple mint tea that is the standard welcome drink, you may well have a complimentary beer served to you as you make use of the Wi-fi in the Straits Club House and if you're not leaving until after check-out time, the staff will do their best to accommodate you until it's time to say farewell. Anything else we should know? These houses were constructed for single families and in the days before traffic was loud. If you happen to be sharing a building with a group of carousing Koreans or boisterous birdwatchers, or are close to the road that runs behind Plantation House, you may find a set of earplugs useful. Also, LASSie's moggies have the run of both properties (the dogs are heard more often than seen). A sign in the gift shop claims "no outfit is complete without cat hair", but if you are feline-averse, never fear, these animals have an island mentality and are content to keep to themselves. If, on the other hand, you or your child falls in love with a particular cat, the shelter can organise for it to be sent home with you. How's that for a souvenir! What does all this cost? Prices range from a nightly 670 ringgit (HK$1,445), for a suite for two, to 1,470 ringgit, for the Black & White House or an almost palatial suite in the Chinese House, from Johor, that has its own mahjong room. Prices include breakfast. For more details, visit www.bontonresort.com and www.templetree.com.my .