Caledonian Hotel, which was established in 1904, was one of the principal hotels in Singapore in the early 20th century.1 It was also said to be “the only British hotel in Singapore” at the time.2
Located at 77 Bras Basah Road, Caledonian Hotel was opened in 1904. It was listed in that year’s Singapore and Straits Directory as a principal hotel. The proprietor and manager were Thomas Sargeant and Thomas Martin Connolly respectively.3
The hotel was housed at the site formerly occupied by Central Hotel, whose proprietor (Connolly) later became the manager of Caledonian Hotel.4 In 1908, the hotel came under a new management team, and was renovated and installed with electric lights, fans and gas. Uniformed staff were available to receive guests at Johnston’s Pier and Tanjong Pagar Wharves.5
Caledonian Hotel most probably ceased operations sometime in the 1910s.6 The building was subsequently occupied by a number of other hotels, including St George Hotel, Oriental Hotel, Metropole Hotel and Rex Hotel.7 After Rex Hotel, the premises was taken over in 1948 by the Mountbatten Club for British servicemen.8 Today, Carlton Hotel stands at the former site of the building.9
At the time of its opening in 1904, The Straits Times newspaper described the Caledonian Hotel as a “handsome building” with a “cool restful appearance”, and with the interior “fitted in a most generous style”. The hotel had a large hall on the ground floor that was used as a billiard room-cum-bar. The billiard room was decorated with mirrors and furnished with six billiard tables imported from London.10
An advertisement in the book Souvenir of Singapore, which was published in 1905, dubbed the hotel “the only British hotel in Singapore”. It was described as a recently renovated and beautifully decorated hotel with 40 well-ventilated bedrooms, each installed with an electric bell and an en-suite bathroom. The hotel reportedly served excellent cuisine as well as “the choicest brands of wines and spirits”.11
In advertisements published in the Eastern Daily Mail and Straits Morning Advertiser in 1905, the hotel was called “the lightest and brightest rendezvous in the colony, and it was claimed that “those who stay at the Caledonian wear [a] smile that won’t come off”.12
Joshua Chia Yeong Jia
1. “‘The Caledonian’,” Straits Times, 22 June 1904, 5 (From NewspaperSG); G. M. Reith, Handbook to Singapore (Singapore: Oxford University Press, 1985), 85. (Call no. RSING 959.57 REI-[HIS])
2. Souvenir of Singapore: A Descriptive and Illustrated Guide Book of Singapore
(Singapore: Straits Times Press, 1905), 105. (Call no. RRARE 915.957 SOU; microfilm NL16348)
3. “‘The Caledonian’”; Singapore and Straits Directory (Singapore: Mission Press, 1904), 114. (Call no. RRARE 382.09595 STR; microfilm NL1181)
4. Singapore and Straits Directory (Singapore: Mission Press, 1902), 109 (Call no. RRARE 382.09595 STR; microfilm NL1181); Singapore and Straits Directory, 114.
5. “Page 2 Advertisements Column 1,” Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884–1942), 21 September 1908, 2; “Page 1 Advertisements Column 2,” Straits Times, 15 October 1908, 1; “Page 1 Advertisements Column 2,” Straits Times, 15 December 1908, 1. (From NewspaperSG)
6. “The Caledonian Hotel,” National Heritage Board, accessed 3 May 2019.
7. “New Hotel,” Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884–1942), 21 September 1923, 6; “Local Hotel to Let,” Straits Times, 10 January 1937, 4; “Air-Conditioned Rooms for New Hotel,” Straits Times, 6 March 1938, 2. (From NewspaperSG)
8. “Services Club Moving to New Site,” Straits Times, 13 April 1948, 7. (From NewspaperSG)
9. National Heritage Board, “The Caledonian Hotel.”
10. “‘The Caledonian’.”
11. Souvenir of Singapore, 105.
12. “Page 4 Advertisements Column 3,” Eastern Daily Mail and Straits Morning Advertiser, 15 September 1905, 4; “Page 4 Advertisements Column 3,” Eastern Daily Mail and Straits Morning Advertiser, 9 October 1905, 4. (From NewspaperSG)
The information in this article is valid as at May 2019 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.