“A quirky retro-styled hostel-meets-boutique hotel in Singapore’s colourful Chinatown”
Loh Lik Peng, a former lawyer and quite simply one of Singpore’s hippest people, is the brains behind the idea of turning 5 run-down shophouses into the island’s first tiny designer hotel. It also offers fine dining at the in-house Ember restaurant. Check out the designer chairs in every room and the space age lobby, where Art Deco influences and vintage photos mix with modern gadgets and funky fabrics. The 32 small but cleverly designed rooms have used every centimetre of available space to incorporate all mod cons - it's like being in a futuristic and sometimes psychedelic movie set. Always busy, it pays to book well ahead.
- We think this is a great option for a cosy couple or for solo travellers
- Beds are comfortable and bathrooms immaculately clean
- Excellent Ember restaurant next door, and more eateries along Keong Saik Road
- Good location in Chinatown, and close to transport for city sightseeing
- Excellent value
- The rooms are very small - but they are perfectly formed, with ingenious space-saving gadgets and gizmos
- Avoid rooms at the front if you are a light sleeper
- The bathrooms are actually in the room, separated only by a glass wall
- Some rooms have no cupboards, just underbed storage
- If you're looking for big hotel facilities - large rooms, a gym, roof terrace - this is not for you
Best time to go
There's a multitude of year round festivals from the diverse ethnic traditions of the city: Chinese New Year in February is an experience; as is the Indian Cultural Festival in November. Book early for both.”
Our top tips
If you're into designer chairs, you'll love the wacky collection in the lobby, from repurposed shopping trolleys and barbers chairs to the classic Verner Panton heart chair.”
- Boutique Hotel
- Restaurant (closed Sundays)
- All ages welcome
- Open all year
- Spa Treatments
- Pet Friendly
- Disabled Access
- Beach Nearby
- Off-street Parking
- Restaurants Nearby
- Air Conditioning
- Guest Lounge
The 32 rooms range from small (Deluxe) to miniscule (Superior Singles), but they niftily incorporate all you need. Unique in shape (none has 4 straight walls), they're furnished with the owner's collection of vintage and modern chairs. An eclectic mix of ‘now’ and 60s chic lends a warm and cosy feel. Beds are surprisingly comfortable and rooms are spotless; expect white blackout blinds at the windows and wooden parquet floors. Some Deluxe Rooms have balconies with wooden shutters on the doors and windows, while Suites have small terraces.
There's free WiFi (plus ethernet cables for serious browsing), a plasma TV, a kettle with coffee and tea, and free soft drinks at reception. Few rooms have space for cupboards, so you get hooks and hangers, plus under-bed drawers if you really want to unpack.
Shower rooms are in the rooms - yes, really inside the room - separated by partly frosted glass walls to allow maximum light, with cheery mosaic tiles and chrome shower heads. In the very bijoux Superior Singles the loo is practically under the shower, so you can ablute in one fell swoop. Some suites have outdoor bathtubs screened by a curtain, which we thought looked fun.
- Air conditioning
- Coffee tea making
- Cots Available
- Extra beds
- Safe box
- Satellite tv
A simple breakfast is included in the rate, and served in the ground floor restaurant, Ember. There's a basic fruit-and-croissant type buffet - we liked the kaya coconut jam - plus English-style cooked dishes brought to your table. It's nothing special, but for the rate you pay it's more than reasonable.
For lunch and dinner, Ember offers a much classier menu, including signature soft shell crab in sweet wasabi oil, and oven-roasted seabass with a ginger and soy broth. It's closed on Sundays and only serves dinner on Saturdays, but there's no shortage of alternatives along the road, including The Study opposite (overseen by Jason Atherton), and various Chinese and Indian kerbside eateries.
Further afield, choose from Cantonese, sushi, Korean barbecue, Indian curry and all points in between. Within walking distance, Maxwell Road Hawker Centre delivers great juices and no-frills noodle lunches, while buzzy Ann Siang Hill offers Singapore's only on-street dining (Fri-Sun evenings).
- Coffee tea making
- Room service
- On your doorstep, the enclave of Chinatown is full of colourful street life, from Chinese herbalists to chic shophouse bars; don't miss the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum, with its meditative roof garden and 3.5 tonne gold stupa
- Singapore is renowned for its shopping - cruise the malls of Orchard Road (15 minutes by MRT), or try Arab Street or Geyland Serai for more ethnic markets
- Dining out is one of the great experiences here, as Malay, Chinese and Indian cultures thrive together in world class restaurants and roadside hawkers
- Go to Raffles Hotel for afternoon tea; or try the Singapore Sling after hours
- Take photos of the sleek skyscraper skyline of downtown Singapore
- Sample the thriving club scene - found around the Mohamed Sultan Road
- Pamper yourself at Spa Botanica, a large outdoor spa with lush gardens
- Sentosa Island has the most accessible beaches and a large aquarium where you can meet a shark and swim with dolphins
- The 20-hectare Jurong Bird Park and the open concept 28-hectare zoo both have a huge array of animals and birds in well maintained surroundings - great to take kids to
Activities on site or nearby include:
- Shopping / markets
- Traditional cultures
Children are welcome; extra beds and cots are available on request. Children will love it because they will be sleeping very close to their parents! Children under 6 sharing a bed with their parents stay free, those over 6 are charged a supplement.
Family friendly accommodation:
Cots Available, Extra Beds Available
Baby cots available on request
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking