Pong table, board games and hidden candy: This new hotel in Singapore pays tribute to a long-forgotten Chinatown

From its peculiar furniture to the art pieces on display, the newest hotel to launch in the CBD was designed as a modern interpretation of what bustling Chinatown was like in the past.
Business Insider / Rachel Tay

When an increasing number of modern and futuristic developments start to leave their mark in Singapore, it’s easy to forget how our sunny island looked like just 50 years ago.

A trip down memory lane was what I experienced firsthand through a three-day two-night stay at the brand new Capri by Fraser at China Square, which opened its doors on May 6.

Read also: There’s a new ‘flexible living’ space among Keong Saik’s shophouses – and it offers a room where you can sleep under the stars

From its peculiar furniture to the art pieces on display, the newest hotel to launch in the CBD was designed as a modern interpretation of what bustling Chinatown was like in the past.

During my short stay, I was impressed by the way the hotel incorporated Singapore’s rich heritage with comfort and socially up-to-date themes. For me, the best part was finding a vintage arcade game and childhood board games hidden in different corners of the hotel.

Here’s what it was like staycationing at the brand new Capri by Fraser at China Square:


The lobby

Guests are greeted by a wall covered in abacus pieces that spell out the Chinese characters for “peace and harmony” at the lobby on the second floor.

Business Insider / Rachel Tay

The ceiling and walls of the lobby featured illustrations of olden day Chinatown.

Business Insider / Rachel Tay

I was fascinated by the small drawers at the check-in counter, which resembled those of a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) clinic.

Business Insider / Rachel Tay

There were even childhood snacks in the drawers for guests to have a taste, including the White Rabbit candy, which many Singaporeans enjoyed as children.

Business Insider / Rachel Tay

These metal structures at the lobby look like hand-drawn doodles of Singapore women gathering at the five-foot-ways that run along the front of shophouses in Chinatown.

One of the structures was of a samsui woman using a smartphone. Samsui women are female immigrants who came from China in the 1920s to 1940s to work as labourers in Singapore. Most of these women lived in the shophouses in Chinatown.

It doubles up as a photo spot.
Business Insider / Rachel Tay

The rooms

Capri houses 304 rooms in five different configurations: the superior, deluxe and executive rooms measure 26 sqm, while the studio deluxe and studio executive rooms are slightly bigger at 29 sqm.

My comfortable studio executive room came with a king-sized bed.

Business Insider / Rachel Tay

The wall art was designed with the theme of a “modern day Chinatown” in mind.

Business Insider / Rachel Tay

The bedside table came in a shape of a tingkat – a stackable metal lunchbox that is traditionally used to store food.

Business Insider / Rachel Tay

The room also comes with a kitchen area that had a microwave, cooking stove and a Nespresso coffee machine with complimentary coffee capsules. There is also a special tap that dispenses Hyflux filtered water.

Business Insider / Rachel Tay

The toilet had a rain shower and a bath tub, which is available only in executive rooms.

Business Insider / Rachel Tay

There were dispensers for the shampoo, conditioner and body wash, unlike other hotels I’ve been to which use small plastic bottles.

Business Insider / Rachel Tay

The TV in the room came with 38 channels, including CNN news, FOX, HBO and even Cartoon Network for the kids.

Business Insider / Rachel Tay

In an effort to be eco-friendly, the bins in the room had two compartments for guests to separate their trash from recyclables.

Business Insider / Rachel Tay

The hallway leading up to the rooms looked pretty normal.

Business Insider / Rachel Tay

Except for one room on every floor which had a mysterious blue door. No matter how many times I pestered the staff, they refused to tell me what was special about these rooms.

Business Insider / Rachel Tay

Rooftop swimming pool

The pool on the hotel’s top floor is a treat for families.

Business Insider / Rachel Tay

The heat can get pretty unbearable in the afternoon, so you should have your swimsuit ready.

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From the pool deck, you get a clear view of Chinatown, where old HDB flats are juxtaposed with modern buildings such as The Pinnacle@Duxton. This scene is the perfect example of how Chinatown today is a mix of old and new.

Business Insider / Rachel Tay

Gym

For those who want to work up a sweat, there is a 24-hour gym facing the rooftop pool.

Business Insider / Rachel Tay

Spin & Play

A 24/7 launderette is accessible to all guests at Capri.

Business Insider / Rachel Tay

While waiting for their laundry to be done, guests can pass time by playing with the vintage Atari pong table located in the launderette.

Business Insider / Rachel Tay

The Den

At Capri, the amenities were designed with a social living concept in mind, including spaces where guests are encouraged to interact with each other.

The Den, located at the lobby, is open to Executive guests and is one such room that encourages social living.

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Guests can feel free to work and socialise with others, or just chill in the room.

Business Insider / Rachel Tay

There are nostalgic board games like Snakes & Ladders for guests to play with.

Business Insider / Rachel Tay

Restaurant

The interior design at Capri’s JÙN restaurant doesn’t fall far from the “old Chinatown” theme of the hotel either.

The spacious dining area sits many guests comfortably.

Business Insider / Rachel Tay

A large red and blue mural depicting samsui women in the olden days shows a millennial artist’s take on things of the past.

Business Insider / Rachel Tay

There were also “bird cages” on the ceiling, resembling the gathering of bird lovers in Singapore’s housing estates – a sight that’s rare today.

Business Insider / Rachel Tay

Displayed on the shelves of the JÙN restaurant were replicas of familiar canned foods some may remember seeing in the kitchen when they were younger. 

Business Insider / Rachel Tay

The buffet breakfast lasts from 6.30am to 10.30am every day.

Business Insider / Rachel Tay

They served plain porridge with condiments like preserved vegetables, spring onions and youtiao, which are fried dough sticks.

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Different types of bread with an array of spreads were also available.

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There was pasta and fried rice for people who needed their carbo fix in the morning.

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This is what my breakfast looked like. 

Business Insider / Rachel Tay

Other foods (not pictured) such as yoghurt, smoked duck, Norwegian salmon, a salad bar, juices and coffee were also available at breakfast.

The restaurant also serves lunch and dinner, with a selection of drinks and cocktails.

These were some of my personal favourites:

JÙN’s Singapore Sling was a cocktail that was nicely sweet and served with a pineapple cut into the shape of a sunflower (bonus points for the paper straws).

Business Insider / Rachel Tay

The appetizers consisted of (left to right) a crispy shrimp paste mid-wing chicken with garlic chilli sauce, a homemade ngoh hiang prawn roll with plum sauce, and a chilli crab rillette kue pie tee.

Business Insider / Rachel Tay

The char-grilled pork jowl char siew was tender and flavourful, and was complimented by the garlic chilli sauce.

Business Insider / Rachel Tay

The crab bee hoon soup cooked in a collagen broth and cabbage with a pinch of preserved cabbage was refreshing.

Business Insider / Rachel Tay

The neighbourhood

I also got to enjoy activities outside of the hotel, and even though I’m a Singaporean, I haven’t explored the Chinatown area in full detail.

One of the best ways to get around the neighbourhood is via traditional trishaws.

Business Insider / Rachel Tay

It took me around Chinatown, Amoy Street and even the CBD.

Business Insider / Rachel Tay

The trishaw experience is not included in the stay, but guests who wish for a tour around Chinatown can consult the concierge at Capri, who can arrange it for you.

Capri by Fraser opened its doors to guests on May 6, and it is located at 181 South Bridge Road.

The nightly rates currently start at S$238, which is quite reasonable considering the facilities and location of the hotel.


Apart from Capri by Fraser, the group which operates the hotel – Frasers Hospitality – also recently launched a separate new property at Paterson Road.

The Fraser Residence is located five minutes away from Ion Orchard.

Room rates are currently S$250 per night as part of an opening promotion that will last till end of June – pretty reasonable for a high-end serviced unit near the Orchard Road shopping belt.

Business Insider / Rachel Tay

The rooms here are spacious definitely had a more “homely” feel to compared to Capri. All 115 rooms come with complimentary WiFi access and daily housekeeping services.

Business Insider / Rachel Tay

There was a gorgeous pool and jacuzzi area as well, kept private from the public eye by the greenery surrounding it.

Business Insider / Rachel Tay

They also had pavilions that can be booked by residents for parties or gatherings.

Business Insider / Rachel Tay

This is the sky terrace with a bar area that overlooks Orchard road. Unfortunately, facility bookings do not come with a personal bartender, and guests will have to hire their own.

Business Insider / Rachel Tay

There is also an option to have daily buffet breakfast at the dining room in the building.

Business Insider / Rachel Tay

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