Amidst the whirl of ultra-modern, high-rise development that characterises 21st Century Singapore, one hotel is on a mission to retain and promote the city’s Peranakan heritage.
While Hotel Indigo Singapore Katong is the newest addition to IHG’s burgeoning Singaporean portfolio, it can also claim to be the oldest. Located in the Katong district of the city, where the streets are lined with heritage-listed shophouses, Hotel Indigo is focused on transporting guests back to Singapore’s bygone era.
Combining the low-rise charm of the former Joo Chiat Police Station – a building that dates back to the 1920s – with a modern extension, the hotel manages to blend the style and charm of the local area with the modern conveniences of a luxury hotel.
This, after all, is Hotel Indigo’s brand philosophy – to deliver one-of-a-kind boutique hotels that reflect the culture of their neighbourhood. In Katong, the delivery of that promise has been achieved with an attention-to-detail that goes beyond the remit of most international hotels.
The entire property has been designed to replicate the Peranakan houses that surround it. The entrance to the main reception area is deliberately masked by a vertical garden, reflecting how one would traditionally enter a home through its garden. Just off the lobby lies a living area with a range of seating styles, books and chinaware, replicating the family living room.
The original police station building has now been transformed into Baba Chew’s – a Peranakan restaurant (which also serves superb cooked-to-order breakfasts each morning) that features wire mesh windows – reflecting the original design to stop criminals escaping. And everywhere you turn, striking pieces or art, sculpture and furniture reflect the area’s Straits Chinese influences.
The rooms – 131 in total – are similarly well thought-out. The long, narrow layout again reflects the shophouse theme, while the split bathrooms – toilet and wash basin at the front, shower and dressing table at the rear – follow tradition, whereby a guest bathroom would be accessible on the ground floor of the shophouse, with the private family washing area tucked away upstairs. Several of the premium rooms also have circular bathtubs, which are positioned next to floor-to-ceiling windows to provide superb views of the local area and far beyond.
The walls are adorned with sketches of local street scenes, the in-room table doubles as a Carrom board – a local game played by families -, and alongside the mini-bar is a pantry area which showcases the family porcelain and provides a selection of traditional snacks, tea and coffee.
But despite this homage to heritage, Hotel Indigo Singapore Katong never loses sight of its need to provide travellers with life’s little luxuries. Wi-Fi is fast and free, and on the rooftop an infinity-edged outdoor lap pool and 24-hour fitness centre provide a unique setting for a work-out, with spectacular views.
Visitors to Singapore’s CBD could be forgiven for thinking that the city is simply a modern metropolis. Look beyond the skyscrapers however, and you’ll find that Singapore’s rich heritage lies within its bustling low-rise streets. By showcasing Singapore’s Peranakan culture, Hotel Indigo Singapore Katong allows guests to delve deeper into this country’s past, whilst also providing the perfect base from which to explore its present.