EL Tries

VIL­LAGE HO­TEL KA­TONG

Expatriate Lifestyle - - Contents - By Karin Chan

The thought of va­ca­tion­ing in met­ro­pol­i­tan Sin­ga­pore im­me­di­ately brings tourist hotspots like Or­chard Road, Ma­rina Bay Sands and Sen­tosa Is­land to mind. But if you’re keen for a more lo­cal ex­pe­ri­ence, try vis­it­ing the quaint neigh­bour­hood of Ka­tong in the south­east of the is­land.

Be­fore land recla­ma­tion on the East Coast, Ka­tong was once on the seafront, at­tract­ing wealthy for­eign set­tlers to es­tab­lish es­tates and plan­ta­tions there – a mix of cul­tures re­flected by the eclectic ar­chi­tec­tural style of the sur­viv­ing build­ings, har­mo­niously blend­ing Chinese, colo­nial and Per­anakan (Straits-born Chinese) in­flu­ences. Now, it’s con­sid­ered the Eurasian (mixed Euro­peanAsian her­itage) and Per­anakan hub of Sin­ga­pore.

Within the vicin­ity, Vil­lage Ho­tel Ka­tong is well-placed – only 10 min­utes’ walk to most of Ka­tong’s pop­u­lar at­trac­tions – to be your base. It shares a his­toric build­ing with Ka­tong V, a small shop­ping cen­tre; both ex­ten­sively refurbished by Far East Hos­pi­tal­ity. At­ten­tion to de­tail is ev­i­dent in the Per­anakan-in­flu­enced dé­cor, along with thoughtful ser­vice add-ons like free data-en­abled smart­phones for guests and a Grab kiosk in the lobby.

We went from the ho­tel to the Joo Chiat area – Sin­ga­pore’s first Her­itage Town – for In­sta­gram-wor­thy shots of the colour­ful colo­nial-style shop­houses and Per­anakan ter­race homes, and then took a guided tour of the Eurasian Her­itage Cen­tre to learn about their ar­rival in Sin­ga­pore, World War II and more. Mean­while, vis­its to beau­ti­ful stores like Rumah Bebe and Ka­tong An­tique House gave us glimpses of tra­di­tional ke­bayas, beaded slip­pers and vin­tage Per­anakan fur­ni­ture.

There’s an up-and-com­ing café scene in Ka­tong, but it’s still best known for its tra­di­tional fare. We break­fasted on soft-boiled eggs and toast with kaya (co­conut jam) in a Hainanese-style cof­feeshop, shared a tiny plas­tic table with the lo­cals to sam­ple creamy Ka­tong laksa for lunch, and made nine-layer steamed cake and on­deh-on­deh (gluti­nous rice balls with palm su­gar) in a Per­anakan kueh (cake) ap­pre­ci­a­tion ses­sion with pop­u­lar rice dumpling mak­ers Kim Choo.

Upon re­turn­ing to the ho­tel, we made full use of our Per­anakan Club Lounge ac­cess priv­i­leges to snack on canapés and sip on cock­tails be­fore din­ner at Ka­tong Kitchen, their ha­lal-cer­ti­fied restau­rant. Qual­ity over quan­tity – ev­ery­thing I sam­pled from the mod­est se­lec­tion was tasty, with the fresh seafood, Ka­tong laksa and salted egg cray­fish be­ing def­i­nite high­lights.

My bright, spa­cious Per­anakan Club room on level five (the largest in the cat­e­gory) was a wel­come sight to re­turn to. I most en­joyed tak­ing a long soak in the free­stand­ing, in-room bath­tub while watch­ing a movie on TV. A slid­ing door sep­a­rated the bath­tub and bath­room, but al­lowed easy ac­cess for rins­ing off.

Leav­ing was men­tally hard but lo­gis­ti­cally easy – we took the free ho­tel shut­tle to the air­port and were at Ter­mi­nal 2 in 20 min­utes. Since Per­anakan Club room guests also en­joy two-hour com­pli­men­tary use of the air­port lounge, we had lunch there and took pic­tures in the sun­flower gar­den be­fore mak­ing our way to our gate. If you’re look­ing for a luxe stay and a down-toearth Sin­ga­porean ex­pe­ri­ence, the Vil­lage Ka­tong is a good bet. EL

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