Visitors to Singapore who are familiar with the boisterous and beery bonhomie of the Harry's chain of bars will be taken aback by the group's new boutique hotel. Gone are the big-screen sports broadcasts, beer taps and baskets of French fries; in their place come monochromatic minimalism, decent Spanish cuisine and understated cool.
Located in a converted shophouse in a hip, history-rich enclave of Chinatown, the Club Hotel is the latest venture of Indian-born textile trader turned bar entrepreneur Mohan Mulani, who since the early 1990s has grown Harry's to its present 31 venues. Appropriately enough, bars are integral to the latest property there are two (a rooftop cocktail bar and a tapas bar) in a hotel of just 22 rooms.
Well aware of the claustrophobic, poorly soundproofed rooms that plague many of Singapore's converted shophouses, Mulani's sole decree to Colin Seah of design firm Ministry of Design was that all guest accommodation should be insulated from street din (which has been done with unstinting deployment of double glazing) and have plenty of natural light (achieved through cleverly placed windows in rooms and corridors). There are two categories of accommodation Club rooms and the flashier Signature rooms but both feature outsize bathrooms and a black-and-white color palette that lends a Modernist, airy feel, making the Club Hotel something of style oasis amid Chinatown's gaudy hubbub.
Sense of place has not been forgotten, just subtly referenced in Chinese wood carvings that have been spray-painted white, artwork inspired by calligraphic brushstrokes and a luminously white statue of Singapore's founder Sir Stamford Raffles.
The tapas bar is perfectly good for dinner, but guests after something more substantial can repair to the main restaurant, Al Fresco, which offers the likes of montaditos (salmon and tortilla), pulpo a la gallega (boiled octopus and new potato) and four kinds of paella. Looks like Harry's has come of age.
Rates from $150 a night. See theclub.com.sg
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