On a small triangular plot just off Singapore’s Orchard Road, in one of the world’s most expensive neighbourhoods, sat a pretty ordinary and small two storey hotel from the early 1990s. Just ripe to be pulled down and replaced with a new high rise condo development by a leading starchitect, or so you’d think. Maybe there were some planning issues here: although rapid development in Singapore appears unstoppable, the city state is carefully laid out and in amongst all the skyscrapers there is still plenty of breathing space and green zones and perhaps this is one of them. What has happened to this pretty ordinary plot, is that leading local multidisciplinary agency, Farm, was employed to give the hotel and its brand a complete overhaul.
The old name (Lloyds inn) and the structure has been kept, but it seems that pretty much everything else was skipped. I am sorry about the landfill issues, but this is otherwise a remarkable piece of recycling and conservation because what has emerged, is part of a new era of hotels that does away with all those dodgy runners over the end of your bed and the silk cushions liberally sprinkled throughout the room, and leaves behind just what you need: a decent bed, plenty of daylight, free wifi and coffee, a kettle with herbal tea bags, a good shower and a hanging rail. What you did not realise that you needed was an outdoor shower, a view of green trees, the sound of tropical birds in the morning and a soft Japanese dressing gown. The colour scheme is distinctly monochrome – black, white and natural oak – which is a great relief after the carpets at Changi airport. The floors are all poured concrete, with a corner of beige carpet. Importantly, the sense of location in the tropics and just some 130 kilometres from the equator is not far away. The corridors are all open to the elements so you step out of your room into the humid atmosphere. The view from 11 is straight on to lush greenery on a vacant plot next door to the hotel. The hotel has a few double heights spaces planted with trees and there are plenty of chairs and tables dotted around outside. Best of all is the small 2 metre wide pool outside the front of the hotel, just big enough to lie down in and take a few minutes to relax before you head back out into the frenetic buzz of the city.
Are there any drawbacks? There is no bar or restaurant and no room service. You can get some breakfast around the corner at a local cafe – you are given a voucher to cover some coffee and toast – and you are near a supermarket so that you can bring back snacks and wine and beer to the room. There is a SIN$50 minimum laundry bill or you have to take it to the laundry yourself. My room did not have much of a desk nor was there a place to hide away your bags . But I would definitely choose to stay here again, and in an increasingly expensive city, the room rate at just over SIN$200 to include the local taxes, does not seem at all bad.