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REVIEW: SHOPHOUSE T Sharifah Nursyafiqah


hophouse The Social Hostel is Singapore’s “first indie boutique backpacker hostel.” The brainchild of 28 year-olds, Calvin Seah and Mustaffa Kamal – both NUS graduates – Shophouse was inspired by their own travels and experiences. Located right along popular tourist destination Arab Street, getting to the Shophouse should not be too much trouble for locals, or travellers armed with a map. This is convenient for backpackers looking to settle in the heart of one of Singapore’s cultural districts, being just a quick walk away from the rows of textile stores selling cloth in kaleidoscope colours, and rich scents and flavors of the local food sold at every turn. The choice of location was a deliberate

one – according to Calvin, as Arab Street provides the “location, charm and less mess” associated with traditional tourists hotspots like Chinatown or Little India. Shophouse has five floors in total, with the first floor is rented out to nearby Café Le Caire, where guests can conveniently grab a bite at any time. Six different dorms are housed on the second floor onwards, outfitted with themes such as that of the six-bed mixed dorm called ‘Arab St’ – an Arabic themed room featuring kooky light fixtures and a cushioned lounge area. The third level comprises of exclusively female-only dorms. Quirkily termed ‘No Man’s Land’, requiring special key card access

to enter and features both eightbed and twelve-bed female dorms, as well as private bathroom facilities and powder room. The rooms themselves are spacious, fully air-conditioned and equipped with individual lockers and Wi-Fi (as the whole hostel is), as well as comfortable beds outfitted with clean sheets. What could be exhausting though, is tromping up and down the central spiral staircase, which cannot be helped given the nature of the place as part of a heritage site. Shophouse has a wide rooftop area – the ‘Social Terrace’, decorated with an eclectic mix of charmingly mismatched furniture (including a table fashioned from a door) – that encourages casual mingling among guests. This space is a

big selling point for the hostel – and one can easily see why. The open space offers a great view of the Kampong Glam area, and relaxed seating space encourages interaction between guests during the day or night. The pantry offers all-day breakfast food, while more communal spaces can be found in the ‘Social Lounge’. The Lounge is equipped with books on travel, movies, a couple of iMacs and even a PS3 for guests’ use. Nightfall is arguably when Haji Lane is most alive. From the Social Terrace you can hear strains of distant conversation and thumping beats of music streaming out from bars, and the heady scent of flavored smoke that tinges the air. The view from the rooftop is quite a sight

The RIDGE - March 2013 Issue  

March 2013 issue of THE RIDGE - the largest student-run magazine in the National University of Singapore

The RIDGE - March 2013 Issue  

March 2013 issue of THE RIDGE - the largest student-run magazine in the National University of Singapore