Adelphi Hotel

Some of the earliest mentions of Adelphi Hotel can be found in newspaper advertisements published in 1850. The proprietor of the hotel, C. Goymour, announced in the 7 May 1850 issue of The Straits Times newspaper that the hotel had moved to High Street. Subsequently, Adelphi Hotel moved to Coleman Street.1 It became one of the principal hotels in Singapore in the late 19th century, together with Raffles Hotel, Hotel de l’Europe and Hotel de la Paix.2 The hotel officially closed on 25 June 1973 and was later demolished. Adelphi Complex (now known as The Adelphi) opened on its site in 1985 and the building is now known as The Adelphi.

Adelphi Hotel moved from High Street to No. 3 Coleman Street, the residence of Singapore’s pioneer colonial architect, George Dromgold Coleman. The hotel was still housed at this location in the 1870s. During the following decade, however, it moved to Nos. 1 and 2 Coleman Street, at the corner of North Bridge Road.3

Around 1903, Messrs Sarkies, Johannes & Co. purchased the property and improved the small hotel beyond recognition.4 It was entirely rebuilt with a dining hall that could seat 400. There were 100 bedrooms with bathrooms attached and even a tennis court. The Billiard Room and the Reading Room on the ground floor were paved with white marble.5 The three-storey Adelphi Hotel became one of the eight major hotels at the turn of the century, placing it in the same league as Raffles Hotel, which had opened in 1887.6 Adelphi Hotel was also where General Tomoyuki Yamashita of the Japanese army met with Singapore’s 400 community leaders, the first direct contact with Singaporeans after the fall of Singapore.7 During the Japanese Occupation (1942–45), Adelphi Hotel was renamed Nanto Hotel.8

With a history spanning more than a century, Adelphi Hotel was the oldest hotel in Singapore before its closure in 1973.9 On 24 June that year, the hotel held a dinner and dance to mark its last day and was officially closed at the stroke of midnight, on 25 June 1973.10 Proceeds from the dinner were donated to the Singapore Cheshire Home for the handicapped.11 Demolition began in 1979 and construction of a new building on its site started in 1980.12 Adelphi Complex, a 10-storey hotel, retail and office block completed in 1985, now stands on the site of the old Adelphi Hotel.13 The building is currently known as The Adelphi, which specialises in high-end audio equipment.14


Marsita Omar

1. “Adelphi Hotel,” Straits Times, 7 May 1850, 7 (From NewspaperSG); Ray Tyers and Siow Jin Hua, Ray Tyers’ Singapore: Then & Now (Singapore: Landmark Books, 1993), 48. (Call no. RSING 959.57 TYE-[HIS])
2. Gretchen Liu, Singapore: A Pictorial History 1819–2000 (Singapore: Archipelago Press in association with the National Heritage Board, 1999), 123. (Call no. RSING 959.57 LIU-[HIS])
3. “Our Lost Treasures,” Straits Times, 1 April 1990, 2 (From NewspaperSG); Tyers and Siow, Ray Tyers’ Singapore, 48; Jane Beamish and Jane Ferguson, A History of Singapore Architecture (Singapore: Graham Brash, 1985), 36. (Call no. RSING 722.4095957 BEA)
4. “Sale of the Adelphi Hotel,” Straits Times, 30 March 1903, 5. (From NewspaperSG)
5. “Our Lost Treasures.”
6. Liu, Pictorial History 1819–2000, 123.
7. C. M. Turnbull, A History of Singapore, 1819–1988 (Singapore: Oxford University Press, 1989), 197. (Call no. RSING 959.57 TUR-[HIS]) 
8. Saburo Lenaga, The Pacific War, 1931–1945: A Critical Perspective on Japan’s Role in World War II (New York: Pantheon Books, 1978), 173. (Call no. RCLOS 940.5352 IEN-[GH])
9. Tyers and Siow, Ray Tyers’ Singapore, 48.
10. “Chimes Sound Adelphi’s Death Knell,” New Nation, 25 June 1973, 2. (From NewspaperSG)
11. “The Last Dinner and Dance at the Adelphi,” Straits Times, 25 June 1973, 10. (From NewspaperSG)
12. Teo Teck Weng, “The Adelphi Makes Way for the ’80s,” Business Times, 7 April 1979, 14; “Rebuilding of Hotel Begins Today,” Straits Times, 11 March 1980, 10. (From NewspaperSG)
13. Tyers and Siow, Ray Tyers’ Singapore, 48.
14. Victor R. Savage and Brenda S. A. Yeoh, Singapore Street Names: A Study of Toponymics (Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, 2013), 11. (Call no. RSING 915.9570014 SAV-[TRA])

Further resources
Adelphi Hotel, Singapore, 1906, photograph, Arschak C. Galstaun Collection, National Archives of Singapore (media-image no. 19980007377 – 0021) 

The Bar Room at Adelphi Hotel, Singapore, 1906, Arschak C. Galstaun Collection, National Archives of Singapore (media-image no. 19980005503 - 0071)

The information in this article is valid as of 2016 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

Historic buildings