New Majestic Hotel

31–37 Bukit Pasoh Rd, Singapore 089845

Set in a row of shophouses—traditional double-use structures with a storefront on the street level, the owner’s residence on the floors above—the New Majestic Hotel is a small gem in Chinatown filled with quirks and contrasts. Colonial design is plentiful, from the vintage Compton fans in the lobby to furniture from the 1920s–1960s throughout. The rooms are a little more free-form. They range from suites with their own urban gardens to attic-style spaces with loft beds and 20-foot ceilings. Then there are the five rooms in which Singapore artists were told to unleash their creativity (Work, one of these rooms, looks like temporary housing, with plywood sections everywhere). Pieces by local emerging artists include murals with hidden messages or displaying pop art influences. The bottom of the rooftop pool has small portholes that look down onto the Majestic Restaurant, one floor down.

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New Majestic Hotel, Singapore

In the center of bustling Chinatown, the New Majestic Hotel offers 30 rooms outfitted by Singaporean artists with such features as full-wall mirrors, four-poster beds suspended from the ceiling, and garden terraces. Windows along the bottom of the lap pool let swimmers peek at the Majestic Restaurant, which serves grilled rack of lamb in Chinese honey with pan-fried carrot cake. From $306. This appeared in the March/April 2011 issue.

The Space Program: Singapore

The 30-room New Majestic Hotel in Singapore’s Chinatown is part of the Unlisted Collection group owned by local boy Loh Lik Peng, who builds high-concept design properties in distressed neighborhoods to help rejuvenate the local economy. I’m writing this in the New Majestic’s pop-up lobby called “The Space Program.” It’s part art installation, design museum, boutique shop and new urbanist think tank, “where visitors can learn about local culture in an unconventional context.” The collecton of contemporary books and art for sale is surrounded by a crazy mix of mid-century modernist furniture below vintage schoolhouse fans and paper lighting. Peng has a thing for barber chairs and kleig lights too. I like the campy, colorfully upholstered bicycle rickshaw next to the espresso bar. Peng calls his design vision: “heritage chic.” The local Foreign Policy creative agency conceptualized The Space Program with plans to scale globally. Their website reads: “We explored contextual elements of the hotel to compress and deliver 3 elements to the guests—Design, Intellect and Contemporary Culture—compressed into nugget size for easy consumption.” In effect, you’re surrounded by the future of Singapore. The city has long been associated with food and shopping, but there’s an uprising of local creative arts/design talent as the city continues to distance itself from its “Disneyland with a Death Penalty” political past.

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