Thank your lucky

Fus­ing his­tory and moder­nity, this warm bou­tique ho­tel in Sin­ga­pore is a re­fresh­ing find for this writer.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - TRAVEL - By JO ADAM star2­travel@thes­tar.com.my

WHEN some­one found out that I was go­ing to stay in this ho­tel in Kg Glam, there were two com­ments. The first was, “Where is Kg Glam?” The sec­ond, “Wow, must be a very glam place.”

And this some­one was a Sin­ga­porean!

Firstly, this Ho­tel Clover is sit­u­ated in what is ba­si­cally Sin­ga­pore’s hip­ster cen­tral while be­ing in a his­tor­i­cal area es­pe­cially noted for its eth­nic her­itage. Per­haps Haji Lane would ring a bell – well, it’s just a quick walk from here. This area sits within the Bugis locality.

And Glam does not ref­er­ence glam­orous, but is the Malay name for a tree that grows in that area. And not just any tree but one whose resin, bark and leaves are used for many dif­fer­ent pur­poses.

This area used to be a Malay set­tle­ment; the palace of the first Sultan, Sultan Hus­sein, was turned into a Malay her­itage mu­seum. One of the most beau­ti­ful mosques in Sin­ga­pore, the Sultan Mosque, is lo­cated just down the road from the ho­tel.

As this is an area pro­tected by the Sin­ga­pore Gov­ern­ment for its cul­tural, his­tor­i­cal and ar­chi­tec­tural her­itage, many of the build­ings and shop­houses have been well-pre­served.

The 27-room Ho­tel Clover is a his­tor­i­cal gem. It’s ba­si­cally a trio of two-storey, con­served shop­houses con­structed be­tween 1840 and 1960. They were for­merly a tai­lor’s shop and a jew­ellery par­lour.

I was im­me­di­ately drawn to its fa­cade – in “Early Shop­house Style” as it were, its clean-cut ex­te­rior ex­hibit­ing a har­mo­nious mix of Greco-Ro­man col­umns and Chi­nese-style walk­ways. Its neigh­bours next door and across the road are equally en­chant­ing.

Once you en­ter, warm and gra­cious smiles im­me­di­ately greet you at the re­cep­tion. And then your eyes cap­ture the views of the in­te­rior and you stop in your tracks.

On your right is this strik­ing bul­lock cart (mi­nus the bull, of course) filled with gunny sacks. It’s flanked by an old-style cam­era with tri­pod (you know the one where the guy holds the flash in his hand) and an­tique lug­gage chests.

It doesn’t stop there. The main fea­ture is the large com­mu­nal ta­ble for guests to min­gle over break­fast and cof­fee in the midst of hand­picked vin­tage, dec­o­ra­tive pieces like a re­stored hair salon high­backed chair, a gramo­phone, a ro­tary dial tele­phone, a fan and a type­writer cheek­ily jux­ta­posed against a rather mod­ern Mac desk­top.

This calm, serene but arty lobby is com­ple­mented by a quiet cor­ner oc­cu­pied by a gor­geous leather sofa adorned with metal studs, a quar­tet of yes­ter­year’s steel-lined leather arm­chairs and a sew­ing ma­chine, echo­ing the his­tor­i­cal con­nec­tion with the shop­houses’ past.

All of this is com­ple­mented by a soothing pal­ette of white, beige and brown and mod­ern clean lines. I was told later that they ac­tu­ally had most of the fur­ni­ture, fit­tings and fur­nish­ings cus­tomised.

I don’t think I’ve ever spent so much time in the lobby of a ho­tel be­fore. So much so, it hit me later that I still hadn’t reg­is­tered at the re­cep­tion.

The fa­cade of Ho­tel Clover on 769 North Bridge Road.

Step back in time:

the lobby – and its main fea­ture, which has many in­ter­est­ing and unique items on dis­play.

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