Saying goodbye to the Sloane Court Hotel

Sloane Court Hotel, owned by late Hainanese businessman Chiam Heng Luan, will be closing at the end of November and redeveloped into a condominium. For Mary Chiam, the eldest of Mr Chiam’s 10 children, the property holds many fond memories.
Sloane Court Hotel has been operating since the early 1960s and is one of the last vestiges of the colonial era.
Sloane Court Hotel has been operating since the early 1960s and is one of the last vestiges of the colonial era.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - The charming Tudor-style Sloane Court Hotel in Balmoral Road will be closing its doors on Nov 28.

This vestige of Singapore's colonial past has been operating since the early 1960s. Inside the hotel, tapestries depicting the English countryside, a fireplace and old chesterfield sofas and arm chairs summon quaint imagery.

The hotel site and a small adjoining plot, owned by the children of the late Hainanese businessman Chiam Heng Luan, were sold to TSky Development for $80.5 million. The land will be redeveloped into a 12-storey, 80-unit condominium.

TSky Development, which announced the purchase on Aug 28, is a joint venture between Singapore-listed construction and engineering firm Tiong Seng Holdings and civil engineering company Ocean Sky International

For Madam Mary Chiam, 75, the eldest of Mr Chiam's 10 children, the property holds many fond memories.

These include skipping in the garden that used to be filled with wild flowers and fruit trees, to annual Chinese New Year and birthday celebrations.

Her father, who ran the then-popular but now-defunct Captain's Cabin, a British-style restaurant in Serangoon Gardens, had bought the land when she was in primary school.

He chanced upon the land in the late 1950s, while driving Madam Chiam to school in Emerald Hill.

"He was driving, and my mother saw a piece of land, which was a very flat and nice piece of land, for sale.

"My father had some savings. They were very excited - they wanted to buy the land to build apartments," said the retired teacher.

On the land, Mr Chiam ended up building four apartments, intending to rent them out to families.

He then turned the apartments into a guest house, and soon after, it was converted into a full-fledged 32-room hotel, with a restaurant and bar called The Berkeley.

The Berkeley, known for its colonial decor and hearty comfort fare which included oxtail stew, chicken Maryland and Hainanese pork chop, closed on Oct 29.

The hotel building will likely be torn down next year.

"Every time I think of this place, I really feel very sad that it has to go like this... but, well, what can I do? I cannot do much, but only hold on to the memories," Madam Chiam said.