Business and Pleasure.
In some respects, Singapore has a reputation for being more about business than play (it is a place where chewing gum in public is illegal, and narcotic offence will net you the death penalty, after all). Enter The Lo & Behold Group, a hospitality company participating in the transformation of Singapore from an entrepreneurial hub into a welcoming tourist destination. The company’s latest accommodation, the Warehouse Hotel, opened in January in the city’s Robertson Quay district. Situated on the banks of the Singapore River in a former godown (warehouse), the 37-room boutique hotel is a far cry from the sterile and stuffy stopovers most business travellers know all too well.
Built in 1895 as part of the Straits of Malacca Trade route, the complex—once used for stockpiling spices—is well-known by Singaporeans for its storied past. Marked by a long history of underground activity, secret societies, illegal distilleries, and prostitution, the venue has been born-again, and is attracting a new kind of clientele to what was once known as Singapore’s seediest district.
Designed by local outfit Asylum, the warehouse-turned-luxury hotel looks to the future while paying homage to a colourful past. Save for a few layers of paint, the warehouse exterior looks untouched. Inside, vaulted ceilings supported by contrasting steel beams set the scene for a welcoming, industrial-chic reception, bar, and lobby. Spanning the length of the open-plan entrance way and lounge, an eye-catching pulley-and-wheel light installation harkens back to the days when similar machinery occupied the space, carrying loads of spices to and fro. Plush, leather seats scattered throughout the lobby invite guests to relax while a bartender prepares a bespoke cocktail, or one from a clever list concocted by celebrated bartender Andrew Zeng, designed to send guests on a voyage through the hotel’s flavourful history, from its role in the 19th-century spice trade to its phase housing a popular 90s discotheque. Marble and brass coffee tables add an extra dose of contemporary sophistication.
A tour of the upper suites reveals cozy, understated luxury. Here too, brass and marble details set the mood. Intimate yet spacious, the rooms feel at once homey and refined. Graphic bed linens designed by Asylum and produced by Singapore’s Matter Prints bring the outside in—an abstract pattern mimics the hotel’s distinctive triple-gabled architecture. Overhead, exposed beams make every suite unique. Equipped with high-end tea and ceramic mugs from local brands A. Muse Projects and Mud Rock Ceramics, the rooms simultaneously serve as an outlet for promoting a few of Singapore’s homegrown entrepreneurs.
One of the highlights of the Warehouse Hotel is the stunning restaurant, Pó. With a menu devised by chef Willin Low, Pó serves up modern interpretations of traditional regional dishes, popiah (a type of spring roll) being its speciality. Mixing local history and heritage with contemporary flavours and aesthetics, the Warehouse Hotel is authenticity and audacity tastefully rolled into one.
Photos courtesy of The Warehouse Hotel