In June 2021, I checked into the Premier Room at KēSa House, The Unlimited Collection by Oakwood. Set within a row of ten shophouses along the buzzy Keong Saik Road in Chinatown, the 60-room and three-storey flexible-living concept is minutes away from both Chinatown and Outram Park MRT stations and within walking distance from attractions such as Maxwell Food Centre, Ann Siang Hill, Chinatown Complex, Sri Mariamman Temple as well as the iconic Buddha Tooth Relic Temple & Museum.
The hotel is managed under the new Unlimited Collection by Oakwood brand. The new brand also includes other Singapore heritage properties Ann Siang House and Wanderlust under its portfolio, all set within architectural conservation precincts. Nearby hotels include Sofitel Singapore City Centre, PARKROYAL COLLECTION Pickering, Singapore as well as Marriott Autograph Collection shophouse hotels Duxton Reserve and the upcoming Maxwell Reserve.
The UTW (“Under Ten Words”): Boutique shophouse experience in the heart of Keong Saik Road.
Must Dos: Spend time at the property’s outdoor spaces, enjoy the Ashley & Co. bathroom amenities, check out the array of appealing food options along the Keong Saik stretch.
As its contraction-borrowing name may suggest, KēSa House is strategically set within a row of distinctive turquoise and white-painted heritage shophouses along the buzzy Keong Saik Road in Chinatown. The hotel’s interior design comes courtesy of iThink Consulting Group, who also designed sister property Ann Siang House. A relatively low-key glass entrance leads to the reception area which, like the rooms of the hotel, plays it all wood textures, warm atmosphere lighting and touches of cool brass. Greenery features very prominently in the overall aesthetic of the property – aside from actual plants being displayed around the premises, the white walls of the hotel’s central stairway as well as lift lobbies showcase vibrantly-coloured plant motifs. Guests can either use the elevator or the main staircase to access the second and third levels of the property, but one should consider taking the staircase from the top floor to the ground level at least once during their stay to admire not just the the stunning sunlight-flooded area below the skylight on the staircase landing on the third level but also the various nature-inspired artworks which adorn the white ledges and walls of the stairway.
KēSa House is a flexible living concept which pairs the stylish chic of a heritage shophouse setting with the increasingly popular co-living experience. The property offer both short and long-term accommodation options as well as different types of rooms to suit your specific budget and needs. There are five different types of rooms – the entry Standard rooms (13sqm), Superior rooms with windows facing the bustling Keong Saik Road (11-13sqm) and the Deluxe rooms with skylights (10-12sqm) are more suited for short getaways or stopovers, while the Premier room with its own outdoor terrace (15-24sqm) and the Studio Premier rooms which features a fully-equipped kitchenette and either a landscaped patio or an additional sofa which also functions as a pull-out bed (29sqm) provide the relevant extras for those seeking an extended stay.
In terms of facilities, the property offers various communal areas on the 2nd level for guests to mingle and socialise. KēSaLounge features sofa seating for casual lounging and ledge space fitted with multiple charging points on both ends of the room for working. KēSaKitchen comes with two fully-equipped cooking stations comprising an induction cooktop and oven in addition to a pantry area with a microwave oven and a coffee machine. In addition, guests can help themselves to the Nordaq Fresh water station which dispenses still and sparkling water for filling your in-room bottles (rooms do not offer bottled water). Accessible via an entrance in KēSaKitchen is KēSaTerrace with outdoor seating which offers opportunities for sundown alfresco gatherings. Finally, a launderette on the 3rd level offers complimentary washer and dryer facilities.
KēSa House also offers bespoke lifestyle activities from time to time such as workshops by Soaprise (candle, soap and bath bomb making), Crafune (leathercraft) and Le Vyr (kombucha making) as well as an educational heritage food trail tour by Singabites (your S$80 per pax fee is inclusive of the cost of hawker fare enjoyed along the route).
One cannot stay at KēSa House without taking advantage of its proximity to the amazing array of dining and bar options in the vicinity. Keong Saik Road plays address to some of the most popular dining concepts in the country, from the Michelin-starred Burnt Ends, Michelin Plate-rated Cure Singapore and multi-storey concept Potato Head Singapore to the famed charcoal roast meat joint Foong Kee and iconic kaya and toast breakfast kopitiam spot Tong Ah Eating House. In fact, the ground floor of the property itself houses various dining concepts, from the Asia’s 50 Best Bars-ranked The Old Man Singapore and artisanal pasta restaurant Pasta Bar to popular Spanish concept Olivia Restaurant & Lounge.
Due to excellent soundproofing, the hotel does feel a world apart from the hustle and bustle beyond its doors. Given my association of Keong Saik Road with enjoyable meals and after-hours debauchery, when I first left the peaceful and quiet hotel premises after having checked in, my initial steps out onto the familiar street in the daytime did feel a bit surreal, like I had just abruptly crossed the doors of the wardrobe into Narnia or similar. It was a pretty novel feeling which emphasizes how brilliant and unique the location of the hotel is.
Boasting an aesthetically dramatic vaulted ceiling as well as a private outdoor terrace, the 15-24sqm Premier Room pairs wood textures with shades of deep green and warm light accents for a certain cosy forest lodge vibe. The bedroom features a queen-sized bed (only the right side of the bed has a power outlet), an open-concept wardrobe with ironing facilities and a Smart TV above a work desk with a leather desk pad which can be lifted to reveal a hidden dresser with hairdryer. Elsewhere, the pantry area is equipped with a refrigerator, a kettle as well as two large bottles to refill with Nordaq Fresh water from KēSaKitchen. Plantation doors which lead out to the terrace as well as the tradition ventilation block next to the bed pay visual tribute to the heritage shophouse setting, while small windows in the bathroom and bedroom assist with letting in small doses of natural light if desired.
The bathroom features clean white tiles as well as a single vanity framed by thick black lines. Perpendicular sliding doors allow the enclosure of the grey-tiled shower space which boasts rainfall shower facilities and bottles which dispense spa-luxe Ashley & Co. bathroom products.
What makes the Premier Rooms (and the Studio Premier Rooms) special are their lush and green-carpeted outdoor terraces with outdoor seats and tables. These outdoor terraces overlook a pedestrian path below which connects Tanjong Pagar and Chinatown and happens to serve as home to a very extended family of chickens who certainly make their presence felt, most notably in the mornings. The elevation of the terrace as well as the partial shielding by trees along the path limit your visibility from public eyes, although the size of the terrace permits the rearranging of chairs further away from the edge if one prefers a greater degree of privacy. Apart from offering access to fresh air after extended periods in the air-conditioned room, the terrace also serves as a suitably atmospheric and intimate setting after hours for late night heart-to-heart conversations paired with a lovely bottle of wine.
While not as spatially endowed as most business hotels, the boutique shophouse experience makes up for it with flashes of luxury, from the Ashley & Co. amenities to the Nordaq Fresh water. Its very unique location also makes the property a brilliant launchpad for exploring what Keong Saik Road as well as the nearby Chinatown and Tanjong Pagar neighbourhoods have to offer in terms of culture, heritage and food.
KēSa House, The Unlimited Collection by Oakwood
55 Keong Saik Road