IT’S HARD TO SPOT THEM, but there are upsides to gentrification. Long-time residents view the influx of new faces and businesses as an erosion of the old ways. I like the positives though — The elevation of property prices, improved transport systems, and sometimes, even the availability of organic kombucha hand-made by Tibetan virgins.
Location is the game, and gentrified districts are usually nothing more than revitalised social hubs of sorely-missed, past eras. Gentrification is Mother Nature’s recycling, a cultural and architectural detox that sometimes reaps pretty interesting results.
Standing proudly in the middle of Keong Saik Road — a thriving red-light district in the 1960s — just a stone’s throw from Chinatown, KēSa House is a breath of fresh air for neo-hipsters weary of the traditional, white-glove service. Do you really need an enthusiastic porter to show you where the control for the air-conditioner is? What does that really, really say about you?
Housed in an original pre-WWII shophouse rich with heritage design touches, the hotel appeals to the nomad in all of us. Why? Because Instagramming another flute of champagne is exhausting.
Here, affluence is not affluence at all. It is the full permission to be a trusted, socially-conscious adult. I checked in at a modest counter and was given casual advice and tips on entertainment and dining options in the evening — “there is a fully-functioning kitchenette if you wish to cook, and a veranda if you just want to hang out with a cold beer”. I carried my own bags and I found my way to the door.
If perfume-coated air, leather-topped writing desks, and 24-hour butler service are familiar creature comforts, you might feel like an entitled fish out of water. Where are the enthusiastic, hand-shaking General Managers who come around to your dinner table and chat for five obligatory minutes about your hometown? They are elsewhere, tucked into a three-piece suit and tending to a different psychographic.
The space at KēSa House is immaculate, and we all know how cleanliness is next to Godliness. The 60-room “flexible-living” concept feels like it was dreamt up by that friend who studied design in Norway while making cold brew on the weekends. The aesthetics are stylish, unfussy and can appropriately be described as “barefoot luxury”.
The term addresses the category of increasingly self-sufficient crop of independent, culturally-agnostic travellers who leave comments on Reddit and Vice for fun, and open more than 10 apps every week nonchalantly while saying things like, “the journey is the experience”.
Different room types cater to various intentions — larger alfresco areas for social gatherings, open-plan amenities for independent, short-stay co-living, and cosy options for more intimate escapes — and they add to the communal appeal.
Hospitality looms large at KēSa House — there is a roster of six F&B concepts — including Pasta Bar, Olivia Restaurant & Lounge, and The Guild — offering a consistently lively vibe, and more than enough reasons to stay for another drink or chat.
There is an easy freedom accorded to guests. Extend or shorten your stay without prior commitment — it is not necessary. Whether it’s a quick escape for the weekend, a week-long soak in Singapore, or a month-long relocation solution, they are priced and bundled for the intelligently gentrified.
55 Keong Saik Road. Tel: (+65) 6958 1588.
Rooms start from SGD 150++ / night, SGD 725++ / week, and SGD2,820++ / month (28 nights). Corporate rates available upon request. For more details, click here.