Suite Life: Nerd out at the Shipping Container Hotel in Singapore's science and tech hub

Two cargo containers form the hotel, each rented to guests separately.
Two cargo containers form the hotel, each rented to guests separately.PHOTO: SHIPPING CONTAINER HOTEL
PHOTO: SHIPPING CONTAINER HOTEL

SINGAPORE - There are two kinds of people in this world: Those who get excited at the idea of living in recycled packaging and those who don't.

As I step into the blue box that will be my home for the next 20 hours, I think about the voyages it has taken around the planet and what it has carried. And if I might be able to smell it.

But even if my unit - wrenched from its oceanic travels and plonked here on a grassy patch in Ayer Rajah Crescent like a beached whale - had smelled of cooking oil and automotive parts, I would not have minded, because I find the idea of a shipping container hotel cool.

To me, it speaks of lunar habitats, Antarctic research pods and undersea bases. You know, tech chic.

Others, though, might not be able to get over - let's not mince words - the ugliness factor: They see in its corrugated metal shell reminders of construction site offices, refugee housing and temporary shelters built for survival, not comfort.

The hotel owners must have had people like me in mind because they have kept the outside looking as container-ey as possible.

Two cargo containers form the hotel, each rented to guests separately.

The original cargo doors work (functioning as an emergency exit) and the block of identification text has been left proudly on its exterior.

In a defiant act of doubling down, they named the business the Shipping Container Hotel - they will not be body-shamed.

Inside, though, it is a different deal. Nothing about it implies hardship.

At one end is the bathroom that is properly plumbed, with a full-size shower cube and sink.


PHOTO: SHIPPING CONTAINER HOTEL

The air is chilly from air-conditioning and the floor, walls and ceiling are in soothing shades of beige and off-white. With the doors shut, it is silent inside.

Still, you can't change the laws of physics and the shape of the inside reflects the geometry of the outside.

At about 26 sq m, it is larger than, say, a typical Hong Kong shoebox apartment (18.6 sq m), but that space is distributed as it would be in a submarine or the tubular part of the starship USS Enterprise.

As they say, it's not the space you are given, it's what you do with it. The owners have done a remarkable job making the most of the container's long, skinny dimensions.


PHOTO: SHIPPING CONTAINER HOTEL

The two queen-size beds, for example, are murphy beds - one folds away and becomes a table, the other turns into a sofa facing the television.

There is a tiny but completely functional kitchenette - with a cooker, a microwave oven, a refrigerator and a washing machine.


PHOTO: SHIPPING CONTAINER HOTEL

Throw open the shades of the two floor-to-ceiling windows if you are feeling claustrophobic, but remember that the structure is at ground level, facing a busy walkway.

Anyway, do come here for a staycation if, like me, you think compact and efficient living design is exciting and you want to experiencea night or two in a tiny home, like those featured on Netflix shows or YouTube.

Inside the container, I mainly work and sleep.

The two containers that make up the hotel are 50 per cent booked now, so act quickly, fellow nerds.

Breaking the illusion of living in a human habitat on Mars is the fact that my unit faces the carpark of an industrial building.

It is smack dab in busy techtopia - across the street from the one-north MRT station and research and development complex Fusionopolis - so forget about coming here to get away from it all, because this is where the "all" is.

A minute's walk away is the Timbre+ foodcourt, which makes up for the lack of room service. Here, and Fusionopolis, are where I spend most of my time outside the container.


ST PHOTO: JOHN LUI

Families with young children might want to look elsewhere unless the kids' idea of a good time is watching television all day. More importantly, there is nowhere for parents to escape.

The hotel is in such an odd place because it is a test bed, to show that the recycled structures can work as safe, livable spaces.

My temporary abode could one day be moved to another location, potentially creating new semi-permanent habitats anywhere - ones that can be pulled out, leaving little trace on the environment.

What self-respecting geek would not want a staycation in that?

Hot Tip:

The seafood bee hoon at the tze char stall at Timbre+ is worth ordering.


ST PHOTO: JOHN LUI

SHIPPING CONTAINER HOTEL

WHERE: Blocks 77 and 81, Ayer Rajah Crescent

INFO: shippingcontainerhotel.com

RATES: Basic rates before service tax and GST are $160 (Sundays to Thursdays) and $180 (Fridays and Saturdays)