SE THE SOCIAL HOSTEL whose lives can be so different or similar in many respects to your own, and have that translate into the camaraderie of shared experiences.
- overlooking bright streetlights of the Arab Street district and being surrounded by towering buildings. This shows how the location of Shophouse works in its favour – being located in the heart of areas buzzing with activity at night lends to the electric feel of the place along streets that do not sleep. This could be both a perk and a drawback – guests can seamlessly delve into the bustling night scene Arab Street has to offer, yet those disturbed by faint traces of music filtering into the rooms can grab foam ear plugs readily available at the front desk.
Possibly the answer to the appeal of the place was right in its name. That the Shophouse markets itself as – and lives up to – being a “social hostel,” is an enticing draw. You meet a myriad of people and get glimpses into their lives – from the American man here for research purposes, to our Thai roommate in Singapore on her business trip, or the German boys that settled in after a day of sightseeing around the city. The appeal of such an open environment is that it fosters a comfortable and familial spirit in a place. Part of the thrill of travelling is meeting new people
For locals, the social experience is almost akin to going abroad – with creature comforts of home still at your disposal. Mustaffa told us of how some guests check in alone, and through engaging with other guests, they find like-minded travellers to explore Singapore with, and ultimately leave as friends. Friendly staff and owners that make it a point to learn the guests’ names add to this social experience. This is something that sets Shophouse apart from other forms of accommodation, being beyond just a cheap place to crash, and this contrast is most starkly felt as you have warm conversations on the Social Terrace looking out at looming hotels that seem almost impersonal in contrast. The place sees a diverse range of visitors from a myriad of places, as seen in the photos of past guests that adorn a ‘Wanderwall.’ While the targeted demographic of this place is young backpacking travellers, the place seems quite a lure for locals as well, with the Shophouse having seen bachelorette parties in the female-
only dorms. Calvin and Mustaffa have plans to further expand the social element of the Shophouse by hosting regular social activities – such as movie nights, festivals and the like. So why not have a go at being a tourist in your own country – Shophouse would be a wonderful place to consider doing so.
Shophouse the Social Hostel is located at 48 Arab Street Singapore, Singapore 199745 Prices begin at $28, with NUS students and friends enjoying $4 off published rates. Find out more on rooms and rates at www.shophousehostel.com.
March 2013 issue of THE RIDGE - the largest student-run magazine in the National University of Singapore