Hotel van Wijk
Hotel van Wijk, one of the early Dutch hotels in Singapore, was established in the late 19th century.1 At the time, hotels were set up to cater to the needs of the growing overseas mercantile communities.2 Hotel van Wijk was located at the hotel belt along Stamford Road – at the junction of Stamford Road and Victoria Street, facing the Stamford Canal – before it ceased operations in 1931 and was later demolished.3
The history of Hotel van Wijk can be gleaned from the list of hotels in the Singapore and Straits Directory published over the years. First listed in the Singapore and Straits Directory for 1905 with its address at Orchard Road, it appears that Hotel van Wijk was associated with several other hotels, namely Stamford Hotel, Hotel Der Nederlanden and Hotel der Indies.4
Hotel van Wijk probably had its origins in Hotel Der Nederlanden, which was located at 1a, 1b and 1c Orchard Road around 1903.5 When Hotel van Wijk was first listed in the Singapore and Straits Directory, Hotel Der Nederlanden was no longer listed. Both Hotel Der Nederlanden and Hotel van Wijk were owned by Hendrik van Wijk,6 who had established himself as a confectioner and caterer around 1902 and operated his business from 208 and 209 Orchard Road.7
Hotel van Wijk relocated from Orchard Road to Stamford Road in 1906. The former building then became the Singapore School of Music, established by a certain Madame Bassett.8 The Singapore and Straits Directory for 1906 listed Hotel van Wijk’s address as 2 and 3 Stamford Road, while Hotel der Indies was no longer listed.9 It was also in 1906 when Hotel van Wijk Co. Ltd. was formed.10
As its Dutch name suggests, Hotel van Wijk catered mainly to Dutch travellers who were travelling to and from the Dutch East Indies.11 A landmark along Stamford Road, the hotel was also popular with other European travellers who liked its old-world atmosphere.12 Compared to other hotels in the town area, Hotel van Wijk had the feel of a beer garden and resort. Many travellers were attracted to this air of homeliness compared to the lavish surroundings of nearby hotels.13
Among the hotel’s notable guests was renowned writer Somerset Maugham, who enjoyed staying at the hotel when he was travelling in Malaya.14
Hotel van Wijk was also famous for its tiffin curry and draught beer.15
Hotel van Wijk closed in 1931 due to declining profits and losses.16 Prior to its closure, the hotel’s address was listed as 4 and 6 Stamford Road.17 According to Ray Tyers' Singapore: Then & Now, the hotel was made up of four bungalows.18
Upon its closure, the four bungalows were acquired by the adjoining Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus (CHIJ) to house St Nicholas Girls’ School, which occupied the buildings from 1933.19 Following World War II, the buildings continued to house Chinese classes for the girls’ school until 1949. In 1950, the buildings were demolished, as they were deemed unsafe after the collapse of a room.20 A new three-storey building for CHIJ’s English secondary school was then built on the site.21
In 1983, CHIJ moved out of its Victoria Street premises. Some of its buildings, including those that stood on the former hotel grounds, were subsequently demolished.22 Stamford Canal was covered over to make a wide pedestrian walkway, while the land was occupied by the headquarters of the Mass Rapid Transit Corporation until 2019.23
Joshua Chia Yeong Jia
1. 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]); Ray K. Tyers, Ray Tyers' Singapore: Then & Now, revised and updated by Siow Jin Hua (Singapore: Landmark Books, 1993), 62. (Call no. RSING 959.57 TYE-[HIS])
2. Gretchen Liu, Raffles Hotel (Singapore: Editions Didier Millet, 2006), 14. (Call no. RSING q915.9570613 LIU-[TRA])
3. Tyers, Ray Tyers' Singapore, 62; “New Classrooms for Catholic Convent,” Singapore Free Press, 8 March 1951, 5. (From NewpaperSG)
4. Singapore and Straits Directory, 1904 (Singapore: Mission Press, 1904), 115; Singapore and Straits Directory, 1905 (Singapore: Mission Press), 115; Singapore and Straits Directory, 1906 (Singapore: Mission Press, 1906), 115.
5. Singapore and Straits Directory, 1904, 115.
6. Singapore and Straits Directory, 1905, 115; Singapore and Straits Directory, 1906, 115.
7. “Page 1 Advertisements Column 2: Notice,” Straits Times, 27 November 1902, 1; “Licensing Sessions,” Straits Times, 8 April 1903, 5. (From NewpaperSG)
8. “Untitled,” Straits Times, 16 February 1906, 5. (From NewpaperSG)
9. Singapore and Straits Directory, 1906, 115.
10. “Van Wijk Hotel Sold,” Straits Times, 9 September 1931, 12. (From NewspaperSG)
11. Liu, Singapore: A Pictorial History, 123.
12. “Singaporeana,” Straits Times, 9 September 1950, 6; “Van Wijk Hotel Sold.” 13. “Van Wijk Hotel,” Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser, 22 September 1931, 20. (From NewpaperSG)
14. George L. Peet, Rickshaw Reporter (Singapore: Eastern Universities Press, 1985), 125. (Call no. RSING 070.924 PEE); “Singaporeana.”
15. Liu, Raffles Hotel, 87; Peet, Rickshaw Reporter, 123.
16. “Van Wijk Hotel Sold.”
17. The Singapore and Malayan Directory, 1931 (Singapore: Fraser & Neave, 1931), 69.
18. Tyers, Ray Tyers' Singapore, 62.
19. Tyers, Ray Tyers' Singapore, 62; “Van Wijk Hotel Sold.”
20. “New Classrooms for Catholic Convent.”
21. Peet, Rickshaw Reporter, 125.
22. “Two More Landmarks Bite The Dust,” Straits Times, 29 June 1984, 22. (From NewpaperSG)
23. T Yeo, “Postcards That Tell S’pore History in a Thousand Words,” Straits Times, 5 January 1995, 4. (From NewpaperSG); Peter K. G. Dunlop, Street Names of Singapore (Singapore: Who’s Who Pub., 2000), 291. (Call no. RSING 959.57 DUN-[HIS]); Kalpana Rashiwala, “SMRT to Move HQ to Paya Lebar Quarter,” Business Times, 6 February 2018. (Factiva via NLB’s eResources website)
George Murray Reith, Handbook to Singapore (Singapore: Oxford University Press, 1985), 85. (Call no. RSING 959.57 REI-[HIS])
Hotel van Wijk, Singapore, photograph, 1910s, National Archives of Singapore (image no. 19980005576-0050).
Hotel van Wijk, Singapore, photograph, 1920s, National Archives of Singapore (image no. 19980005112-0075).
Robert Gilmore, “Set the Record Straight on Hotels and Their Past,” Straits Times, 21 August 1989, 26. (From NewpaperSG)
The information in this article is valid as at March 2021 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.
Business, finance and industry>>Industry>>Services>>Tourism and hospitality
Hotel van Wijk (Singapore)
Architecture and Landscape>>Building Types>>Commercial Buildings