Located in the former Katong Police Station (useful for informing taxi uncles), Indigo Hotel sits amidst the old shops and colonial buildings of Katong’s bustling eastern quarter, famous as the home of Singapore’s laksa. Indigo is part of the IHG hotel group, but no two in the Indigo chain are alike, with each hotel channeling local culture and history. For Katong, that means a modern Peranakan look with a huge feature wall of Peranakan tiles during receptions and pop-art renditions of traditional water jars dominating the area near the elevators.
The celebration of Straits Chinese culture pervades the entire hotel, from huge photographs of the famous ceramics and colorful beaded slippers on the hallway walls to a Peranakan “mom stall” – a small convenience stall found in housing estates in the 1960s – left reception area filled with brightly colored clothes, fabrics and decorative wooden screens.
My room is charming, a reimagined kampong (village) setting with individual murals on the walls of historic neighborhood life; mine depicts a Singaporean cafe with someone making kopi and tables of diners enjoying kaya toast. Each 30 square meter room is designed to reflect the flow of a traditional Peranakan home with the sofa and colorful silk cushions and a backlit light in the roof mimicking the local tile design. A display of real museum-like ceramics is built into the cupboard, and the table in the room is actually a Five Stones board, a popular game of kampong for children. The bathroom sink sits atop an iron sewing machine and there is a foot soaking bowl with a Good Morning towel which is a historic Singaporean symbol of hard work. There’s a range of free Asian sweets as well as tea from local Singaporean brand TWG and popular newcomer Bacha Coffee (with a huge new store on the way at Changi Airport). As the only skyscraper in the heritage city of Singapore, the view is amazing.
FOOD + DRINK
Designed by architects Ong and Ong, the public areas are divided between the reception, a garden party space sponsored by Aperol and Baba Chews, the neighborhood restaurant and bar open all day. The menu is a mix of modern European and Singaporean dishes with a Western-Asian breakfast menu and after-dinner pub vibe. Coffee is sourced from local Common Man Coffee roasters around the corner.
OUTSIDE + ABOUT
East Coast Road’s famous laksa stand, Katong 328, is directly opposite the hotel, as is the intersection with Joo Chiat Road, a bustling strip full of pubs, cider bars and a new natural wine joint, Drunken Farmer (drunkenfarmer.sg), which also makes great pizza (hard to find in Lion City). Next door is a decent neighborhood mall at i12 Katong (i12katong.com.sg) full of local fare like Fun Toast kaya toast and the expat favorite PS Cafe.
Indigo finds the happy medium between paying homage to the past and simply indulging in pastiche. Peranakan art, games and traditions are carefully woven into the fabric of the hotel and make a big change from many safer and bland stays in Singapore. The location is in a Goldilocks area close to central Singapore and the airport.
Rooms from $242 a night. 86 East Coast Road, Katong Square, Singapore 428788. See hotelindigo.com/singapore
Our score out of five
The view of the sunset from floor-to-ceiling bathroom windows across the Katong shophouses.
Don’t forget to close the bathroom blinds when showering so that shop residents don’t have a less appealing view.
Paul Chai was a guest at Hotel Indigo.