At the brand new Hotel Indigo Singapore Katong, guests aren’t just living within one of the country’s most well-loved heritage towns – they get to absorb the rich facets of life in this neighbourhood.
Hotel Indigo is part of a growing number of hotel brands that are positioning themselves in neighbourhoods in a bid to offer travellers a truly authentic local experience.
No two of the 69 Hotel Indigo locations around the world are alike. Rather, each one is designed to reflect the local culture, character and history of its neighbourhood.
The brand has just opened its first Hotel Indigo in Singapore in the heart of Katong. This is perhaps one of the best locations it could have picked, given the area’s rich history. The Katong/Joo Chiat area used to be home to coconut plantations before it developed into a residential suburb in the early 20th century and started drawing in the wealthy elite, in particular the Peranakans (Straits born Chinese) and Eurasians. Today, the area’s multi-ethnic influences can be found in its architecture. Many buildings have received conservation status, and Joo Chiat was also the first Singapore precinct to be named a Heritage Town by the National Heritage Board in 2011.
The 131-room Hotel Indigo Katong Singapore is composed of a new multi-storey building, and the former Joo Chiat Police Station, which was built in 1928 and gazetted for conservation in 1993.
Starting from the outside, the new building conveys elements of the neighbourhood through a perforated canopy at the main entrance that is inspired by Peranakan motifs, and which draws diffused natural light into the space. According to Yap Weng Seng, Director at ONG&ONG, the firm responsible for the architectural aspect of the project, the canopy also allows the public to enjoy the natural ventilation, “protected yet still part of the hustle and bustle of the surroundings.”
Hotel Indigo Katong Singapore follows a rather unusual programme. While the main reception and rooms reside within the new multi-storey building, the lounge, workstations and retail area is located in a separate Pavilion, a new structure that guests have to walk through to get to the conservation building, now home to the hotel’s restaurant Baba Chews Bar and Eatery.
Yap explains that the space was designed “in accordance to different user requirements,” adding that the different functional spaces were woven together in a manner that would create a seamless guest experience.
The interiors were designed by eco.id to reflect the colourful character of the neighbourhood without being too literal. “We did not want the hotel to look like a Peranakan museum,” says Carol Chng, Director of eco.id.
Art inspired by the neighbourhood can be found throughout the space, from a wall collage of Peranakan ceramic tiles at the reception, to wall-to-wall sketches by local artist Don Low in the rooms.
The rooms are designed to feel like home, and are infused with a host of nostalgic elements and references to the locale. Unique features include a carom table, and a vanity basin that rests of a ‘vintage-looking’ sewing machine pedestal. The tub also features a dragon motif, which Chng says alludes to the dragon urns that used to be found in most traditional Singaporean households. Other thoughtful details include custom-blend toiletries with localised scents, and tidbits such as the traditional White Rabbit candy.
The hotel’s Baba Chews Bar and Eatery is a warm and intimate space, with herringbone-styled wooden flooring and Peranakan-inspired designs that are retold in a contemporary way.
The new-build Pavilion is designed like a large living room. A communal table takes pride of place where guests can hang out or take part in workshops on local craft. There are screened-off areas for work and internet surfing, lounge seating, as well as a ‘Mama’ corner inspired by the neighbourhood provision shop (known locally as the Mama shop) where guests can shop for souvenirs.
At Hotel Indigo Singapore Katong, the neighbourhood story is told in every inch of space. Above all, the atmosphere is relaxed, and the service strives to be personal and friendly, encouraging visitors to take that journey of discovery at their own pace.