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Crumbling warehouses to hip hotels: 8 worth booking

Hoteliers have breathed new life into once humble buildings

Warehouses were architecturally useful – for trade, for storage, for industry. In modern times they’ve also become architecturally significant: as affluent residents clamour for that bare brick, swinging lightbulb and floor-to-ceiling window aesthetic, the once-industrial districts of cities like London and New York have boomed.

It was only a matter of time before hoteliers repurposed old warehouses and turned them into hip hideouts, which is exactly what they’ve done – with everything from an old grain store to a cotton mill. Here’s a selection of new and old warehouse properties around the world.

The Warehouse Hotel, Singapore

The Warehouse Hotel, Singapore

Singapore’s Robertson Quay has enjoyed quite the uplift over the past year. Following last year’s Philippe Starck-designed 
M Social on the banks of the Singapore River is The Warehouse. Opened in January, this beautiful hotel is a converted godown (warehouse) that dates back to 1895. Relive Singapore’s days as a roaring trade hub in the Straits of Malacca in one of the 37 bespoke rooms, surrounded by bare concrete walls, brushed wooden floors and signature high ceilings. Chef Willin Low, founder of Wild Rocket (which ranked among Asia’s 50 best restaurants last year), presides over the in-house Singaporean restaurant Po.

Ovolo Woolloomooloo, Sydney

Ovolo Woolloomooloo, Sydney

Part of the Ovolo apartment/hotel hybrid brand, the Ovolo Woolloomooloo is another kind of hybrid: heritage and hip. Built on jutting Woolloomooloo Wharf in eastern Sydney, the century-old warehouse sits on the longest timber-piled quay in the world, used previously as an immigration point and a wool-processing centre. Ovolo Woolloomooloo retains the flavour of its Hong Kong heritage throughout, with fusion restaurant China Doll and the atrium-esque Lo Lounge (below) anchoring the 100 rooms. Ovolo 1888 in Sydney’s Darling Harbour also follows the warehouse restoration creed: set in an old wool store, the hotel mixes bare brick, loft-style rooms and local Australian art.

Boundary, London

The Boundary, London

East London’s Shoreditch district is awash with converted Victorian warehouses hosting bare brick restaurants with swinging Edison lamps – and the hipsters that patronise them. Boundary could just be another warehouse hotel, but it goes one better with one of London’s finest rooftop bars: a white linen-covered lounge, views over the terraces of Shoreditch and Hoxton and an industrial, fairy-lit vibe as the sun sets. Compact white loft rooms are inspired by a designer or movement – including Mies Van Der Rohe, the Young British Artists and David Tang.

The Silo, Cape Town

The Silo, Cape Town

One of 2017’s most exciting hotel openings is The Silo on Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront, which opens its doors this month. Built out of an old grain silo that lent the property its name, the hotel is positioned above what could be this year’s most anticipated gallery opening: the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa. Designed by London-based Heatherwick Studio, The Silo has stayed loyal to its original structure, with one important addition: pillowed geometric panels, which puff out of the building like angular glass bubbles. Towering views of the Mother City’s harbour don’t hurt, either.

71 Nyhavn, Copenhagen

71 Nyhavn, Copenhagen

In the 17th century, the birthday-cake-coloured townhouses and brick wharves of Copenhagen’s Nyhavn street presided over the city’s most important shipping channel. Two such buildings were warehouses – one red, one yellow – built by a merchant and a captain in the early 1800s to store the goods they sourced from afar. Now, Nyhavn is one of Copenhagen’s prime Instagram spots (and the best place to grab a sunset beer), while the warehouses have been turned into an industrial-chic boutique property: 71 Nyhavn, with a focus on avant-garde and Danish art.

The Waterhouse at South Bund, Shanghai, Chinese Mainland

In the 1930s, it was a Japanese army headquarters. Then it was a warehouse. Now, this historic building on the Huangpu riverfront is one of the city’s coolest hotels. While it’s undoubtedly luxurious, this four-storey, 19-room boutique retains plenty of its time-worn character, from cracked, distressed walls to weathered brick floor tiles.

The design team, Neri&Hu, one of Shanghai’s most talented architecture firms, intentionally blurred the line between public and private, interior and exterior. There’s a guest room visible directly above reception, for example, and several other private spaces allow a peek into the communal areas of the hotel.

For design lovers, there’s more: a considerable collection of museum-quality furniture including pieces by Arne Jacobsen, Finn Juhl, Hans Wegner, Antonio Citterio and Kana Ishikawa.

Hotel Cycle, Onomichi, Japan

Across the Seto Inland Sea, cycling is a way of life. Enter Hotel Cycle, Japan’s first hotel dedicated to all things cycling. Located in the Onomichi U2 complex, a former maritime warehouse that’s been transformed into a bike-friendly multi-purpose space, the hotel caters for everything a cyclist could need. Bike wall hooks in each of the 28 rooms? Check. Cycling gear for hire in the lobby? Check. Ride through coffee shop outside the complex? Indeed. It’s equipped with everything you need to take on the Shimanami Kaido, an amazing cycling network that traverses the region. 

Ovolo Southside, Hong Kong, China

Credit: Gaham Udon

Old warehouses abound in the southern industrial district of Wong Chuk Hang. The area has recently become a hub for art galleries, private kitchens and creative spaces – as well as Ovolo Southside, the city’s first warehouse hotel. This 162-room boutique hotel, a conversion of a former godown, has also embraced the area’s arty vibe. There’s street art in the corridors and the rooftop bar, adding to that sleek industrial feel of exposed pipes and brick. It’s just a 15-minute taxi ride from Central – or, of course, you could hop on the new MTR line, which will drop you at the hotel’s doorstep.

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