In October 2019, I checked into the River View Room at The Warehouse Hotel Singapore, a boutique hotel situated along the banks of the Singapore River, near the vibrant Robertson Quay and Clarke Quay districts full of dining and nightlife options. The 37-room riverside property is a 20-minute walk from Clarke Quay MRT Station and the Orchard Road shopping belt, and a half hour away from Changi Airport by taxi.
The UTW (“Under Ten Words”): Riverside heritage naughtiness in Robertson Quay.
The must-dos (if any): Take a luxurious shower with Ashley & Co bathroom products, enjoy a meal at Po Restaurant, have a cocktail at Lobby Bar after dark.
THE WAREHOUSE HOTEL SINGAPORE
The 1895 colonial-era two-storey waterfront property has a colourful history due to its location in a former red light district, with the premises being a hotbed of prostitution, gambling as well as illegal drug and alcohol use back in its libertine heyday. Previously a spice warehouse, oil mill as well as a popular discotheque before its current incarnation as a boutique hotel, the property retains visible traces of its industrial heritage throughout its interior design, courtesy of creative design agency Asylum and architectural firm Zarch Collaboratives. The lofty hotel lobby plays it all soaring cathedral-style ceiling with black-iron beams, exposed brick walls and machinery-inspired hanging pendant lights, with plush leather seating available for post-meal lounging or after-dark social affairs.
I must say that the hotel lobby’s mood and vibes before and after dark is startlingly different, and that the lobby bar is a surprisingly atmospheric and conducive place for late-night tipples.
The hotel’s heritage-inspired Po Restaurant and Lobby Bar are located on the ground level. Guests can access the modest-sized swimming pool on the second level using the grand staircase or by taking the elevator, and while the fortuitous location of certain trees assist in providing the requisite tranquility and privacy, the pool’s transparent glass walls does mean one should not skinny-dip or play naughty underwater games with their pool companions.
The hotel’s proximity to the buzzy Robertson Quay area provides guests with an opportunity to live it up like an expat. Shopping mall Great World with its Japanese supermarket Meidi-Ya and myriad of dining concepts is a short walk away. Cafes across the river such as Toby’s Estate and clean eating concept Carrotsticks & Cravings offer lazy riverside brunch experiences, while the Robertson Quay stretch offers endless dinner options such as Mexican (Super Loco), Japanese (Aburiya), Italian (Bella Pasta), steaks (Wolfgang’s Steakhouse Singapore at InterContinental Singapore Robertson Quay) and many, many more.
RIVER VIEW ROOM
With tall glass windows facing the Singapore River on the ground level, the 34sqm River View Room sports a decidedly industrial-chic aesthetic with earthy concrete walls, charcoal-grey furnishings and flashes of copper textures, with the nude silhouettes of those in the shower only faintly obscured by the black metal-framed frosted doors and walls of the bathroom. A work-station is set up behind the comfortable king-sized bed which sits in the middle of the room. A Bang & Olufsen portable Bluetooth speaker is available for you to drown out noise from pedestrians using the footpath outside your window (the expat-centric Robertson Quay neighbourhood was particularly lively during my stay due to rugby match airings).
The pantry features Nordaq bottled water, tea and coffee from local companies A.Muse Projects and Hook Coffee respectively, Korean cup noodles as well as a range of snacks such as gummy candy from The Natural Confectionery Co and chocolate bars from Vietnamese company Marou. On the alcohol side of things, guests can help themselves to baby bottles of Macallan whisky and Paper Lantern gin in the drawer as well as the bottles of beer, wine and tonic in the fridge.
Aside from retaining visible traces of its industrial heritage across the property’s design, the hotel also cheekily pays homage to the complexes’ former history of vices with its in-room “Minibar of Vices” menu, which actually offers Gentlemen’s vibrating rings, peacock feathers, organic lubricant, BDSM paddles and Okamoto Maximum Sensation condoms (“Lust”) alongside functional items like multi-purpose ointment, sunscreen and mosquito repellent spray (“Vanity”), with some of these items discreetly stocked within the pantry area itself. Shiver me timbers.
The bathroom features a large vanity with green forest marble tiling as well as an enclosed bathing area with rainfall shower facilities and a built-in bathtub. Bathroom amenities are from New Zealand-based scent company Ashley & Co, and the shampoo and conditioner smell deliciously like candied liquorice.
Each registered guest enjoys a complimentary cocktail voucher redeemable at the Lobby Bar.
Breakfast is served at Po Restaurant, the heritage cuisine concept which takes its name from both the Chinese word for grandmother (po) as well as a local fresh spring roll dish (popiah). The breakfast comprises a modest buffet of cold cuts and cheeses, pastries, cereals and fruits along with a selection of bottled juices and fresh coconuts, as well as your pick from a menu of a la carte selections such as the robust Herbal Pork Bone Broth, the comforting Classic Singaporean Congee as well as the intriguingly piquant Colonial Chicken Curry with Prata.
While breakfast is a concise offer, the heritage menu reveals its charms more extensively during dinner service. The titular Popiah is an essential interactive experience – guests are invited to follow the instructions on a card as to how to assemble their own spring roll (a dish comprising egg strips, crushed peanuts, freshly ground garlic, crispy flatfish, fried shallots, coriander sprigs and beansprouts along with a feisty chilli sauce and sweet sauce). Hermes-toting diners and illustrious gourmands can opt for additional toppings of fresh tiger prawns or flower crabmeat for an elevated popiah experience. Signatures include the Kurobuta Char Siew as well as the posh Hokkien Mee send-up Carabinero Prawns with Kombu Mee, but the showstoppers were the refreshingly tart and Asian-flavourful yusheng-esque Barramundi Salad and the smoky Charcoal-grilled Iberico Pork Satay with its delicious bits of sticky-sweet fat.
The Lobby Bar serves cocktails inspired by three specific eras from the property’s history – spice trade (sample drink: the chamomile whisky-based High Tea), godown (sample drink: the sweet banana whisky-centric B.B. King) and discotheque (sample drink: the fruity and light Disco Sling). One of the standout cocktails would be the fragrant and heady Singapore Sazerac (raisin bourbon, pandan bitters, rye, cognac, absinthe), which is a gustatory dead ringer for my favourite cocktail The Sun Also Rises at The Old Man Singapore due to their common pandan-forward inclinations. Guests can pair their libations with bar bites from Po Restaurant such as Po’s Ngoh Hiang (crispy beancurd skin wraps with handmade five spice pork filling, lotus root crisps).
The hotel’s beautiful interiors, playful nudges to the property’s historical legacy and proximity to the vibrant Robertson Quay neighbourhood lend to a memorable, one-of-a-kind stay experience. Recommended for romantic getaways.
The Warehouse Hotel Singapore
320 Havelock Road