The latest entry on the Robertson Quay hotel scene is all chic and history.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel
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The latest entry on the Robertson
Quay hotel scene is all chic and
Like at many product launches today, The Warehouse Hotel targets a pluggedin, trendy generation that values story as much as the platform on which it is delivered. The difference is that its operator, The Lo & Behold Group, is an old hand at the modern heritage business, having converted a former chapel and a historic CBD building into hip dining spots – The White Rabbit and The Black Swan, respectively – for the upwardly mobile.
The Warehouse Hotel, a former godown dating back to the 19th century, follows in the same chic vein, blending history, concept and design into a seamless whole. More importantly, it doesn’t assume that its guests are wont to scrimp on personal space and amenities for the sake of social pursuits.
The size of the 37 guest rooms – from a standard 27 sq m to a 57 sq m open plan suite – is not record-breaking but each, even the inward-facing ones, not to mention the corridor, has access to natural light via windows or skylights.
Combined with the lofty ceilings, the effect is a sense of soaring space.
The makeover of a derelict building is never easy. The project took design agency Asylum two and a half years to complete. Says its chief, Chris Lee: “We said ‘yes’ to the project, but when we saw it, the roofs were caving in and there were holes everywhere.” The team managed to not only patch up the holes, but also inject the original structure with a fittingly industrial aesthetic.
After all, the building functioned as a warehouse during the spice trade, then morphed into a prohibited
distillery housing secret societies,
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before becoming a disco. Lincoln Cheng hosted parties here before opening Zouk at Jiak Kim Street.
To be sure, the heritage element sets The Warehouse apart from new hotels cropping up at Robertson Quay, namely the Philippe Starck-designed M Social Singapore and the upcoming Intercontinental Robertson Quay.
No doubt, the local touch will reinforce this branding. The hotel is a veritable gallery for home-grown brands: Mud Rock created the in-room beverage mugs; Plane and Bevel, the planters; Matter Print, the customised Ikat print throws featuring the hotel’s signature three peaks, to name a few.
The insider’s view of Singapore also drives the concierge. Says Wee Teng Wen, Lo & Behold’s managing director: “We want to give our guests the recommendations we have been giving our own friends visiting Singapore.” As is the challenge for all converted old buildings, The Warehouse does have its construction constraints.
The infinity pool, at 4.6m by 10.8m, is more suitable for soaking than doing serious laps, and the hotel’s boutique size and location next to the river means parking is limited. Just give your keys to the valet.
320 Havelock Road.
What’s in store at The
Warehouse for visitors.
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An homage to po po (grandmother in Chinese), the cosy Po helmed by Wild Rocket chef Willin Low features dishes such as char-grilled Iberico satay, Carabinero prawns and konbu mee. Its signature popiah is presented in platters for diners to assemble. Round marble tables facilitate the communal experience.
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The bar’s concoctions are a nod to the three stages of the building’s history, from godown, to prohibited distillery, to disco. The names are nifty, too. Kopi Cat is a salted caramel vodka with espresso and condensed milk. Kaya Lumpur is a citrusy mix of pineapple rum, kaya and basil that bears unmistakable local character.
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The front desk showcases items that will cause a double take. These include handcuffs, whips, which are also available in the guest rooms, and lighters and flasks that mafia bosses would have used back in the day. As Wee puts it, the warehouse’s “slightly dark, mysterious and illicit history” leaves a lot to the imagination.