Nestled on the banks of Robertson Quay in Singapore, The Warehouse Hotel — the first hotel development from hospitality group Lo & Behold — is more than just a place to lay your head. The former warehouse building is steeped in scandalous and mysterious history that has been used as the foundation for its contemporary restoration
Arriving at Changi Airport in Singapore and stepping into a taxi, the driver asked where he was bound. "The Warehouse Hotel," I replied. He turned around to look at me, a huge smile on his face: "You are the first passenger that I get to take there! It has such a great history here in Singapore!"
Throughout our 30-minute journey to the hotel, he told the tale of a building that has iconic status in the city. Originally built in 1895, at the turn of the century the warehouse — also known as a godown — was notorious as a hotbed of activity for
secret societies, business deals and underground spirit distilling. In the 1980s, it was transformed into one of the hottest discotheques in the region, and was known to host some of the best bhangra parties in the world.
Today, the building is home to The Warehouse Hotel, a thoughtfully transformed space that respectfully pays homage to the diverse history of the structure and yet simultaneously offers a contemporary and modern vibe to its guests.
It is, at its very essence, an industrial space, designed to store spices and grains as they moved along the spice routes that connected the straits of Malacca with the rest of Asia and the world. So this is what Lo & Behold Group had to consider when coming up with the concept for the hotel transformation. The team brought on board local architecture studio Zarch Collaboratives and crossdisciplinary
design firm Asylum to work on the project together.
"The 'industrial' part is important in the context of the warehouse, but we were mindful from the beginning that we wanted the hotel to be elegant and comfortable," explains Chris Lee, head designer and founder of Asylum. "For the lobby, we used green and grey marble complemented with brown leather sofas. For the rooms, we used maple wood flooring, customised carpets and fabric bedheads with leather tables to soften the edges."
It's details like these that make staying at the hotel a wholly enjoyable experience. The lobby and reception areas actually serve as a communal space and comprise the hotel's signature restaurant and bar. During the day, this space — which features custom-designed lights inspired by pulleys found in godowns — is a relaxed area where chilled-out music allows small business meetings or coffee chats to take place. At night, the music lifts in tempo and fervour as groups of friends meet for drinks, and couples nestle into abundantly plush seating.
Exposed brick walls line both sides of the entrance, as a further nod to the building's cultural heritage. Guests ascend a staircase to find their accommodation, with each of the 37 rooms being slightly different in both layout and design. All have a similar sense of modern luxe running through them, with copper fittings sitting next to black-metal framing and mattresses that seem to envelope you as you sleep.
This is an excerpt from the “If these walls could talk" article from the May 2017 issue of Perspective magazine.
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