Southern Hotel in Chinatown


The Southern Hotel in Chinatown started its journey as a boutique hotel with a different name, Nam Tin Hotel in 1936. Interestingly, it was the first Chinese hotel in Singapore with a lift. Eminent architects Swan and Maclaren were appointed for designing The Southern Hotel in Chinatown. They went for ordinary building designs like horizontal lines with angular arches and simple cornices which would suit the purpose of providing functional accommodation to the guests. The architecture of The Southern Hotel in Chinatown is indeed Chinese in its projections of metal railings, grills and windows. The Great Southern Hotel in Chinatown was the highest building in Chinatown.

The Southern Hotel in Chinatown had clear divisions like, offices were on the first floor, hotel rooms on the second floor and a tea house with a cabaret on the roof terrace. Later on,the restaurant on the fourth floor was turned to the owner's office.


On the ground floor it had few shops and entertainment outlets and Hainanese kopitiam. Occasional attractions include operas and dance performances by "Taxi Dancers" as they could be hired like taxis. But all these could not help the Southern Hotel in Chinatown much as it failed to compete with other better accommodation providers and ultimately it had to close down with 40 bed rooms with double bed accommodation and a single fan in each one. The hotel used to charge S$40 per night for one double bed room accommodation.

But the story does not end here. The building of the Southern Hotel in Chinatown was re-designed after it was bought over by Yu Kwok Chun.

This time it was made suitable for a departmental store with an open layout. Floor space was increased from 3,700 sq.m to 4,600 sq.m and in order to create an atrium, a new wall was constructed on the second storey. These were followed by a four storey high waterfall at the back of the building and new escalators and lifts. The Southern Hotel building in Chinatown won the 1997 URA Heritage Award for its restoration project.

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