Loke Thye Kee Residences, Penang: Quiet Charm

When I first stayed at Loke Thye Kee Residences in October last year, charming little boutique hotel had just opened for business. It is not until recently that I found that the hotel was designed by Singapore’s Ministry of Design.

Located off the busy Penang Road, it was an unassuming find. On the outside, it exudes a quiet Straits charm of decorative swing doors, clean old school signages in gold letterings decked with Peranakan tiles along the five-foot way.

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Lifou, New Caledonia

Coming out shivering, fresh from the saltwater of Lifou, I said to the Melanesian man and woman at their makeshift ticket booth of a folded table and colourful umbrella, “Merci. C’est magnifique!“.

For a second of what seems like an eternity, he stared with amusement at the face of an Asian girl with snorkel and fins, dripping wet from head to toe. The place was crawling with tourists, mostly Anglo-saxon, white, polynesians and a sprinkle of Asians. French words spilling out from an Asian tourist on a remote island must be rare.

Tu parle Français !??” He quizzed with a huge smile on his face. I love the Melanesian smile that I noticed throughout my short trip to New Caledonia and Vanuatu. Wide, genuine grin that flashes a set of white teeth. Never hesitant.

Un peu…. a little,” I replied with a smile.

Amused, he laughed and I followed suit. I received similar reaction at a pâtisserie the day before so I could only guess that locals are glad to hear a foreigner uttering more than a few twisted syllables of bonjour and merci.

Beyond, it was a breathtaking view with no barrier between me and the Pacific Ocean of Lifou. It was clearer than turquoise, aqua, sapphire or any ocean colour that words could describe. I was in paradise. This is how I fall in love with Nouvelle Calédonie.

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Hotel Fort Canning, Singapore

Sitting atop a hill bearing the colourful history of Singapore, Hotel Fort Canning is housed in an unassuming building to charmed one away from the sweltering humidity and maddening crowd of the city. Splashed with a collection of tame but tasteful decor, the five star hotel hides a world of luxury and comfort. In January this year, I checked myself into this little boutique gem as a belated new year and birthday present. Check-in was swift. I appreciate when the reception desk is not high and almighty. A little request long before I arrived could not be acceded so the hotel upgraded me to a Premium Luxe room. That’s the sign of a great service. Nothing was too difficult for the staff and concierge.

My sanctuary for the next three days screamed of luxury, from the bed to the living room and the bathroom. The bed was so huge for one that I could roll from morning and still haven’t reach the end by noon time. I took a particular liking to the automated blinds. It doesn’t take much to keep me amused. Any fault with the blinds in the room after my stay was not my fault. I repeat, not my fault. Nothing could go wrong with the Nespresso machine, a huge selection of music, automated switches and great room service. At the right moment when the sun hits the enclosed balcony that holds a lovely little sitting area, it was the perfect place to be. It hosted some of my visiting friends too.

It was a well-insulated sound-proof hotel, so quiet that I could hardly hear anyone outside the room or traffic from the outside. How did I know? On this trip, I happened to develop a nasty cough following a sore throat and the lost of my voice. I was quite certain someone was going to knock on my door in the middle of the night when I couldn’t stop coughing. Nothing. That, or there were some very polite guests that dwell in the hotel. I was also hugely impressed by the large and marvellous bathtub to calm the nerves at the ungodly hour of 3am in the morning after a night out with friends.

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It was a perfect birthday gift.

Hotel Fort Canning
11 Canning Walk Singapore 178881
tel +65 6559 6770

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