To quote Tom Hanks in Forrest Gump, boutique hotels are “like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” Even then, KēSa House is a breed of its own, like one of those peanut and ketchup chocolates Zotter made to commemorate Obama’s second run for president. Mingle with like-minded guests at the lounge, whip up a breakfast in the shared kitchen, and sip a sundowner on your own terrace.

Location & Space

Similar to its sister property Ann Siang House (near the iconic Maxwell Food Centre), this 60-room property occupies a row of restored shophouses in Chinatown. The foodie Keong Saik Road stretch, to be precise. There’s no grand entrance or much else to indicate that it’s a hotel, and we stumble through a glass door marked “The Affogato Lounge”, which turns out to be part of an integrated check-in space. It’s not special like any traditional hotel, but that’s exactly what makes it special.

The airy light-filled space, along with the rest of KēSa House is designed by Florian Sander and his team at iThink Consulting Group. While the lobby is decked in contemporary furnishing: acid cement finish, tinted mirrors, geometric wood panels, atmospheric lighting, and plenty of organic elements. It’s not a stark difference, but we find the rooms to be a lot warmer and cosier.

Rooms

KēSa House adopts a flexible-living concept, so while its suitable for short staycays, it’s just as attractive for those who want to stop over for a week or longer. ‘Urban’ and ‘Cozy’ make up the entry-tier keys, while ‘Entertain’ and our ‘Sky’ room are a step up. There’s also a larger open-plan ’Studio’ that boasts its own kitchenette and living area — a relaxed alternative to the typical serviced apartment.

Regardless, all rooms feature a cleverly designed bathroom with walk-in rain shower, Ashley & Co. amenities, a Smart TV, JVD bluetooth speaker-radio, universal plug points, and a plush Simmons mattress. Our loft-style room comes with a romantic skylight, but it gets hot during the mid-afternoon, so you might want to slide on the blinds.

Facilities & Services

The property’s communal facilities and shared spaces bring to mind the many backpackers hostels we saw as a poor university student, only these are a lot more luxurious. The second floor KēSaLounge is an extension of the ground floor space, with equally sleek decor and multiple charging stations that’s ideal for both work and mingling with fellow guests.

Around the corner is KēSa Kitchen, a sizeable kitchen so you can prepare a home-cooked meal with two state-of-the-art cooking stations. There are no coffee machines in the room, but you can get your caffeine fix here with complimentary coffee from local heroes Sarnies. When you’re done cooking, how about enjoying your meal on the alfresco terrace outside? It overlooks the peaceful Duxton Plain Park, and you might even spot one of the black roosters that call the park home.

There’s a fully-equipped laundrette on the third floor that’s free to use and open around the clock, but we doubt you’ll need to launder your clothes during a brief staycation.

F&B

The aforementioned Affogato Lounge serves decadent affogatos, gourmet coffee, and micro-batch ice cream, so you know each scoop is fresh and special as it gets. There are also focaccia sandwiches and healthy salads that are made to order, and you can get this for breakfast or a filling snack any time of the day. But that’s not all — chances are you already know about the roster of bars and restaurants housed under its roof.

Olivia Restaurant takes its inspiration from Barcelona, dishing out things like the avocado lobster roll from the now-defunct Catalunya and an incredible Basque burnt cheesecake. Pasta Bar is an unpretentious spot for pasta lovers and snobs, while Mag’s serves up modern French and over 150 labels of wine and sake. Your night’s not complete without the $17 experimental cocktails at The Old Man, which has quickly become one of our favourite bars this year. You can bet we we didn’t go back up to our room sober.

KēSa House is located at 55 Keong Saik Rd, Singapore 089158, p. +65 6958 1588. Soft opening rates start from $153 per night. Enjoy a special 20% discount when you use the discount code Nomads20 during checkout by the end of July.