The Warehouse Hotel on the banks of Singapore’s Robertson Quay has only been open since January, but its reputation already precedes it.
The Warehouse Hotel, Singapore
The Warehouse Hotel on the banks of Singapore’s Robertson Quay has only been open since January, but its reputation already precedes it. Dating back to 1895, the building was originally a warehouse or ‘godown’ situated along an infamous spice trade route on the Singapore River through times of secret societies, underground business and illegal liquor distilleries. Today it has been reinvented as a boutique DesignTM hotel to a social media frenzy. So what makes this renovation so exciting? In a city of luxury hotels, a new arrival must offer something unique. My interest is piqued.
Gliding through sliding doors past the stark white facade, first impressions are of the enormous communal lobby and bar area with full height ceiling. Low lighting sets off a clean, muted design aesthetic, juxtaposed with references to the hotels industrial past: exposed brick walls, and statement lighting festooned from the rafters, inspired by pulleys from its original incarnation. Dotted around are low sofas filled with media types, and the soft murmur of business meets. So far so good. The hotel’s front desk doubles as a retail installation featuring ‘Objects of Vice’, items curated to educate on The Warehouse’s shady past: lighters, ashtrays, and unidentifiable pieces with a faintly salubrious note. The message? This is a hotel with an edge.
Down to the business of gastronomy at the lobby bar and Po restaurant, which fill the entire first floor of the hotel. The bar menu of craft cocktails pays a stylish homage to three significant eras of the hotel’s past. My ‘Lady Luck’ is served in a tiki style bust that I enjoy as much as the cocktail. The small plates are also spectacular, a dish of tamarind marinated barramundi melts in the mouth. Four cocktails later and through to signature restaurant Po where the mood changes from opium den to nostalgic kampong dining. Rattan chairs, and marbled table tops mix with beaded lights reminiscent of lamps from grandmothers (popo’s) houses. But don’t be fooled, this is elevated food: Renowned chef Willin, thepioneer of ‘Mod-Sin’ cooking interprets local favourites using highest end Asian ingredients and methods. The popiah platters are a revelation, served alongside traditional pots of jasmine tea.
Upstairs, from a central mezzanine with a dramatic view of the lobby, are an intimate thirty-seven spacious bedrooms of six room types: from cosy ‘Sanctuary’ to the one of a kind ‘River View Suite’. All individual, ours has a double height ceiling and original preserved windows overlooking the historic quayside. The muted colour ways and custom designed bed throws produced by local textile brand Matter Print, achieve the elusive ‘cosy’ twist on the hotel’s industrial chic. A ‘mini bar of vice’ is also stocked with locally sourced brands to create an authentic Singaporean experience. The following morning, the discovery of the rooftop infinity swimming pool is the perfect antidote to an evening of indulgence. Tiled in heritage salmon pink, yet unequivocally modern, the small but perfectly formed ‘glass box’ floats peacefully above the bustling urban landscape that surrounds the hotel. Our Singapore staycation is over too soon – but I leave this beautiful, modern, and assuredly unique hotel that has such a connection with its past, with the understanding that I have been touched by a slice of Singapore history. thewarehousehotel.com
© This article was first published in June-July 2017 edition of World Travel Magazine.