3 Reasons To Check In To Stylish Heritage Boutique Hotel 21 Carpenter

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by Coleen Leong

In Singapore, many heritage buildings have been given new leases of life as hotels, offering travellers the chance to stay in a piece of history while indulging in modern comforts.

One of the city’s newest heritage boutique hotel located at the crossroads of New Bridge Road and Carpenter Street, 21 Carpenter breathes life into the site of former remittance house Chye Hua Seng Wee Kee, following an impressive restoration by award-winning architectural firm WOHA. Built in 1936, the remittance house would be where Singapore’s earliest immigrants went to send money back home.

3 Reasons to Check In To Stylish Heritage Boutique Hotel 21 Carpenter
21 Carpenter gives a new lease of life to former remittance house Chye Hua Seng Wee Kee, following an impressive restoration by award-winning architectural firm WOHA
Photo: Jovian Lim

The 48-room hotel sits across four historic four-storey shophouses and a contemporary five-storey rear extension that’s wrapped in a sleek perforated aluminium screen which doubles as a sunscreen to reduce the need for active cooling. In a nod to the building’s storied past, phrases from original remittance letters are thoughtfully woven into the aluminium façade and around the hotel.

Spot poetic phrases (in their original Chinese characters and English translations) – “Time flows relentlessly like water”, “Day and night, when will we reunite”, “Looking at the sea, the ship is leaving” – written for the immigrants by skilled writers in Chinatown back in the day, in the lifts, outside windows, the pool area and other social spaces.

3 Reasons to Check In To Stylish Heritage Boutique Hotel 21 Carpenter - Lobby
Adorning the lobby is a stunning tapestry by local artist Heman Chong, his first piece utilising this medium
Photo: Jovian Lim

Located just across from Clark Quay Central mall, the hotel offers easy access to Clarke Quay, Boat Quay and Chinatown. A member of Design Hotels, the hotel is affiliated with Marriott International’s loyalty programme, Marriott Bonvoy.

We spotlight three ways to live it up at the heritage boutique hotel.

Unwind and relax in thoughtfully designed rooms that blend past and present

Rooms are spread across the Heritage Wing, comprising 26 rooms over the first four floors, and the Urban Wing which houses 22 rooms on levels five to eight.

All rooms boast full-sized windows and sport an inviting palette of cream, brown, white, black and red tones. Inspired by the hotel building’s legacy, WOHA adorned rooms with bespoke furniture that have soft curves and bold calligraphic artworks created by WOHA co-founder Richard Hassell.

3 Reasons to Check In To Stylish Heritage Boutique Hotel 21 Carpenter - Unwind and relax in thoughtfully designed rooms that blend past and present
Heritage Luxe room
Photo: Jovian Lim

In Heritage rooms and suites, pieces of the past literally show up on the floors. These original 1930s Chengal wood have been meticulously restored and are also seen on the lobby floors as well as the sculptural handrail along the hotel’s five-foot way.

Heritage Balcony Suites are sought after for their stately balconies overlooking Carpenter Street. For the ultimate luxury, book the only Heritage Balcony Suite that comes with a Kaldewei bathtub for relaxing soaks. Another Kaldewei bathtub can be found in a Heritage Suite.

3 Reasons to Check In To Stylish Heritage Boutique Hotel 21 Carpenter - Unwind and relax in thoughtfully designed rooms that blend past and present
Urban Suite
Photo: Jovian Lim

Urban rooms and suites offer striking views of shophouses, the city and Marina Bay through windows framed by the aluminium façade.

Paying homage to the heritage theme, the hotel has teamed up with local artisans to offer in-room snacks that celebrate local flavours. Nibble on complimentary treats like The Fat Kid Bakery’s Sea Salt Gula Melaka Shortbread, washed down with a cup of Bacha coffee or TWG tea. Caffeine-free beverage choices include Oatbedient Chocolate Oat Milk and Oat Milk with Oats & Chia Seeds, and Specialty Hokkaido Milk.

The minibar menu offers more local snacks such as Ooh Mala Prawn Crackers, Ooh Mala Peanuts, Irvin’s Salted Egg Potato Chips and The Kettle Gourmet’s Pulut Hitam Popcorn.

The heritage theme also shows up in the cups and saucers, crafted by local ceramic studio Un Studio, that feature calligraphy strokes inspired by those found in historical remittance letters.

Dig into Pan-Asian classics and European flavours at Kee’s

Dive into a world of modern European fare and Pan-Asian flavours at Kee’s, named after the 1936 remittance house.

The 71-seater neo-bistro and bar on the ground floor has just the right laid-back vibe, courtesy of WOHA’s contemporary design that’s reminiscent of a 1930s Art Deco banking halls, complete with booth seats, leather lounges, mirrors, futurist-inspired fabrics, marble, metal meshes and colourful artworks by Singaporean artist Khairulddin Wahab.

3 Reasons to Check In To Stylish Heritage Boutique Hotel 21 Carpenter - Dig into Pan-Asian classics and European flavours at Kee’s
Two specially commissioned artworks by Singaporean artist Khairulddin Wahab enliven Kee’s chic and charming spaces
Photo: Jovian Lim

To match the sleek interiors, Michelin-starred chef and Kee’s Culinary Director Andrew Walsh has crafted a menu of bold and lively flavours that are inspired by his global journeys through Europe and Asia.

Start with refreshing small plates like Tuna Tartare featuring Vietnamese and coconut ceviche dressing; Citrus Kale Salad, tossed in a peanut brittle, pickled ginger and a zesty lime dressing; Japanese Baby Gem Salad, a unique twist to the classic Caesar Salad; or Norwegian Shrimp Cocktail, served with herb avocado and prawn cracker.

3 Reasons to Check In To Stylish Heritage Boutique Hotel 21 Carpenter - Dig into Pan-Asian classics and European flavours at Kee’s
Tuck into appetising small plates and communal-style meats with bold and lively flavours crafted by Michelin-starred chef and Kee’s Culinary Director Andrew Walsh
Photo: Nikko Pascua

Then move on to meatier options like Pepper-Crusted Ribeye Steak Frites, served with pickled red onion, parmesan cream and chimichurri; Sunchoke Black Pepper Garganelli, freshly made pasta in a flavourful truffle pecorino cream sauce, topped with a slow-cooked egg; Mediterranean Sea Bream, paired with a herbaceous green curry emulsion and coconut rice; and the fork-tender Slow Braised Beef Cheek Rendang, served with a tangy housemade snake bean achar and coconut rice.

A sweet finished is guaranteed with the Pistachio Cake, flecked with pistachio crumbs and accompanied by housemade Madagascar vanilla ice cream; and Chocolate Mousse, an assembly of cocoa tuile and pandan meringue pieces.

The bar serves up cocktails that tell the history of Singapore and the two quays through the use of exotic spices and fruits which were once sold by peddlers on Carpenter Street in the 1930s.

3 Reasons to Check In To Stylish Heritage Boutique Hotel 21 Carpenter - Dig into Pan-Asian classics and European flavours at Kee’s
Kee’s craft cocktails tell the history of Singapore, Clarke Quay and Boat Quay through the use of exotic spices and fruits that were once sold by peddlers on Carpenter Street in the 1930s
Photo: Hosanna Swee

Sip on standouts like Spice & Sips, a mix of Los Arcos agave spirit, passionfruit, chilli and spiced salt; Citrus Tales, a blend of Widges gin, tangy-sweet mandarin sake, rich spiced pear liqueur, lemon bitters and fizzy ginger beer; and Calamansi Melange, made with Canerock spiced rum, calamansi, candied winter melon and soda for a subtly sweet and zesty flavour.

3 Reasons to Check In To Stylish Heritage Boutique Hotel 21 Carpenter - Dig into Pan-Asian classics and European flavours at Kee’s
Start your day with comforting Western staples and local favourites, most cooked to order
Photo: Ohemaa Akosua

Guests having breakfast at Kee’s can look forward to a buffet spread of Western faves like artisanal breads, pastries, cured cuts, French cheese, fruits, salad and granola along with Singapore’s iconic breakfast staple of Homemade Kaya Toast.

Egg dishes like Mushroom & Cheese Omelette, Organic Japanese Egg with asparagus and bacon, and Avocado Toast, as well as coconut pancakes are cooked to order. Add-ons include Smoked Salmon with capers and gherkin, sauteed button mushroom, chorizo, crispy bacon, asparagus, and smashed avocado with basil, parsley and chive.

Soak up inspiring views from the hotel’s social spaces

No WOHA hotel project would be complete without green spaces and at 21 Carpenter, this space is nestled between the Heritage and Urban wings on level 3.

3 Reasons to Check In To Stylish Heritage Boutique Hotel 21 Carpenter - Soak up inspiring views from the hotel’s social spaces
The Garden Terrace is nestled between the Heritage and Urban wings, and overlooks the glass-roofed lobby
Photo: Jovian Lim

Overlooking the glass-roofed lobby, the Garden Terrace offers views of the old and new buildings, and provides a captivating foliage backdrop for quiet reflections, intimate conversations and moments of relaxation.

3 Reasons to Check In To Stylish Heritage Boutique Hotel 21 Carpenter - Soak up inspiring views from the hotel’s social spaces
The rooftop pool is arguably one of the best spots in town to soak up unobstructed skyline views of Marina Bay
Photo: Jovian Lim

For more inspiring views, head to the rooftop, home to the first exposed stainless-steel infinity pool in Singapore. This is arguably one of the best spots in town to soak up unobstructed skyline views of Marina Bay. After taking dips or doing laps in the pool, chill out in the air-conditioned lounge while flipping through coffee table books on WOHA’s awe-inspiring projects.