Located in the middle of Waterloo Street, South East Asia Hotel, a family-run enterprise, is seemingly untouched by the tides of time. Eclipsed by the towering modern Ibis Hotel in the background, the three floors of South East Asia Hotel stand in humble contrast.
Architecturally, its façade is simple and plain with minimum embellishments: metal-framed windows cut out of a backdrop of modern reinforced concrete, accompanied by a fixed ventilator either above or below.
Many may know the hotel by the famous restaurant situated at its lobby. The Kwan Im Restaurant is popularly known for providing sumptuous Chinese vegetarian cuisine. The restaurant is adjacent to the well-known Kwan Im Thong Hood Chod Temple.
Built at the cost of $600,000, South East Asia Hotel was opened on 1 October 1953. The boutique accommodation, which initially featured 30 bedrooms, eventually expanded to encompass 51 bedrooms by 1986.
Looking at its present-day success, few are aware that South East Asia Hotel has been through its share of trials. Records reveal that the hotel, despite being priced affordably as compared to competitors in the market, experienced a fall in occupancy in 1986 due to the influx of large hotel chains into Singapore. Back then, rooms were let for a low rate of $33 to $40 per night.
Today, the hotel features furnishings that are reminisce of Singapore’s history, for travellers looking for a unique experience. Mini-televisions mounted up on the walls, hand-written reservation ledgers and coin-operated scales by the lift add to its nostalgic charm.
Buildings and sites featured on Roots.SG are part of our efforts to raise awareness of our heritage; a listing on Roots.SG does not imply any form of preservation or conservation status, unless it is mentioned in the article. The information in this article is valid as of September 2019 and is not intended to be an exhaustive history of the site/building.