Wandering through the streets of Sultan Gate, you may find your attention drawn to a chic shop front, coupled with an eclectic mix of items steeped in grey proudly displayed on the wall. A second quizzical glance draws you into what you discover to be a hotel, and behind the sleek black exterior lies bursts of vibrant colours that will inevitably capture your interest and along with your heart.
Intrigued? You should be, for this – XY Hotel – is a gem that breathes life into passions and art. It embodies the beautiful union between art and technology, while creating a home away from home, nestled within a district steeped in history and artistry.
Founded in August 2017, this contemporary hotel contains quirky and whimsical art pieces and tastefully colourful interior designs. Rattan chairs are given a new lease of life with a fresh pop of colour, a ladder is hung haphazardly from the ceiling, and the grey items outside? They are items of a time long past, from the original shop before this hotel was created, and an ode to history and heritage.
There are 15 rooms, each ‘quirkily designed and curated with commissioned wall art by young Singaporean artists’, says Hwee Cheng, the co-founder of the hotel, proudly.
Hwee Cheng and her husband Han Bin (who is the main founder of XY Hotel Bugis Hotel) are both colourful personalities who fit the unique culture of Sultan Gate.
‘Both my husband and I are old souls,’ Hwee Cheng confesses, ‘and we love the rustic feel of Sultan Gate filled with old conservation houses and heritage buildings.’
XY Hotel embodies an artistic vision full of passion, hard work and a desire to give back to society. Han Bin is a strong advocate of the local arts, and having grown up in humble surroundings himself, has always wished to give back to young aspiring artists.
And so, the commissioned art pieces come from young artists full of fiery passion and resilience. ‘I remember, when we were rushing to make our opening in August, there was an artist using her iPhone to paint in the dark,’ Hwee Cheng adds. The couple allows their artists to exhibit their art pieces for free and has plans to create opportunities for all artistes in the future, from music or performance, to display their talents.
They are vibrant, larger-than-life personalities themselves. Hwee Cheng draws closer and shares, ‘I believe that strange special things happen in life, something unique and magical. Everything is based on chance.’
She believes in serendipitous encounters and the strange but hidden inner workings of the universe. It is something akin to intermingling chains of melodies and sounds drifting lazily yet somehow harmoniously through the fabric of reality. There is a certain peace in her voice even as she describes her hectic lifestyle, where she only grabs snatches of sleep.
Indeed, as I prod her regarding her own personal life philosophy, she muses, ‘it is always the darkest before the dawn.’
I believe that it is through fortuitous chance that XY Hotel has joined our family at Sultan Gate. Their vision is a convergence of art, history and cultural heritage, as well as a desire to contribute meaningfully to society.
Certainly, a recurring message resonating throughout our chat was her idea of home: of making XY Hotel a comfortable and relaxing home away from home, of ensuring that the artists and staff members treat the place as their home.
It is safe to say that XY Hotel, and Sultan Gate is home to those who boldly celebrate the passionate and the unique; and XY Hotel fits perfectly alongside the dreamers in this special, precious abode.
Written by : Stephanie Heng