A hotel and hostel in Little India.
Just minutes away from familiar Little India establishments, such as the Bib-Gourmand eatery Bismillah Biryani and Wanderlust Hotel, is an unexpected sight: The open-air Cuban-esque reception of The Great Madras Hotel.
The conservation Art Deco building once belonged to a no-frills budget hotel, but a refurbishment by creative agency Farm – commissioned by now-owner Mini Environment Service (MES) Group – has transformed it into a hip hangout for both hotel guests and walk-ins.
“I wanted the communal area to be completely open and inviting, so anyone can check it out without feeling apprehensive. I’ve always wanted an opportunity to work with Farm, too, and told the team to be as creative and expressive as possible,” says Shaik Mohamed from MES, who also manages The Daulat boutique hotel down the street.
The reception area is clad in a vibrant tropical print wallpaper designed by Farm. Look closer and you’ll spot a caricature of The Great Madras owners, a spread of local fare (teh tarik and chilli crab included), and even an SBS bus. Neon signs are abound, while local rattan chairs and salvaged theatre seats from the Capitol Theatre add a charming touch of a bygone era, as well as a chill Havana vibe. There is plenty of Art Deco architecture in the capital of Cuba, after all.
“The Art Deco-style building was a major source of inspiration for this atmosphere; we used a bright and almost-glam colour palette and signages, which were translated into the contemporary context of Singapore and Little India,” shares Peter Sim, the director of Farm.
The Great Madras is both a hostel and hotel. Eight hostel rooms – three of which are female-only – occupy the first level, where guests can use the washers and check out the one-seat The Golden Rule Barber Co. Offering haircuts and hot towel shaves, the barber shop is byappointment only. The largest hotel room, which is also wheelchair-friendly, is located on the first level, too.
On the upper floors is an assortment of rooms, including The Great Suite (2,15sqf), which features an open-concept bathroom, as well as The Balcony Room (1,93sqf), which has an outdoor balcony. The Great Madras also features an outdoor soaking pool, a Catalonianin spired cafe, as well as complimentary bicycles for guests to use.
Find The Great Madras hotel at 23 /32 Madras Street, tel: 6818-56 35.
Creative agency Farm did not shy away from using a plethora of patterns and materials, from terrazzo table bases to woodclad ceilings.
The neon signs add a hip yet nostalgic feel to the establishment.
Shaik Mohamed was one of the first customers of The Golden Rule Barber Co. and their close relationship continues till today.
Flora and fauna, through plants and prints, transport you to a tropical paradise.
The bathrooms feature the backinstyle square tile in vibrant hues.
Good to know
Art Deco buildings like these are aplenty in Havana, Cuba. The style, which originated from Europe, was then given a heavy dose of tropical influence.
Want to recreate this look at home? Head to Bode, where design firm Asylum found many of its wallpapers and fabrics.
With a custom-made two-seater bathtub, and much-ravedabout Sealy mattresses, The Great Suite is perfect for honeymooners.
Classical details like wainscoted walls are juxtaposed with trendy signboards and neon signs.
The hotel owners removed a zinc roof to create this 1.2m-deep swimming pool.
BELOW & FAR RIGHT
The rooms may be small, but they boast Instagramworthy designs!
Good to know
Little India is one of the many Historic Conservation Areas in Singapore. Only certain businesses are allowed to operate in these premises.
text ELIZA HAMIZAH art direction KAFFY TAN photography ANGELA GUO