Heartbreak Hotel in the Lost World

March 19, 2008 at 11:27 pm | Posted in itchy backside | 2 Comments
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Finally it’s gonna be history. It has been ordered by the court, together with another iconic building, to be put up for sale.

I am talking about the Mitre Hotel, a dingy hotel just 500 metres off Orchard Road.

I first came across the Killiney Road hotel in 2004. Passed by the small road and saw this crudely painted sign and vaguely remembered reading somewhere on the paper about a hotel tucked at a quiet corner of Orchard Road. Wanted to go in to take a look, but the narrow lane leading to the hotel seemed very forbidding for a single girl to venture in alone. 

It was only until last year that I checked out the place along with Tisu Boy. Remember our plan to record old Singapore on camera before all is gone?

The hotel name sign was gone, so initially I wasn’t sure if this was
the correct entrance

It was close to four in the afternoon, but the shade provided by trees at the entrance made it feel like it was much later in the evening. Walking in, it certainly felt like a back alley. Already we could smell the air of isolation and loneliness despite the fact that just less than five minutes’ walk out and you would be in the heart of our famous shopping zone. The many graffiti on the wall and a lone guanyin statue sitting under a tree were the only traces of human existence.

Die! You evil gold digger! I am going to hold on to this hotel till the end of the day!

Meow meow meow…what is this?

Free advertising…

According to reports, the Mitre Hotel building was built in the 1870s. The hotel, which started in 1948, ceased operations when license renewal was unsuccessful. But it continued to operate its bars and was well known for its cheap beer. The building had been left untouched for years because after the first owner died, the surviving members of the Chiam family began fighting a lengthy legal battle over its sale. Being sitting on a prime location, most shareholders wanted to sell away the dilapidated building, but one of the cousin who owned 10 per cent of the property, resisted the attempt to sell the plot for the past 10 years.

The lane opened up into the courtyard after about 25 meters. Immediately I fell in love with the old building!

mitre hotel
A black and white colonial styled building!

But at the same time I was shocked at how run-down the place was. Old furnitures, luggages abandoned by travellers and all sorts of rubbish littered the compound. Just as we were wondering if the sole occupant of the hotel was around, a loud doggy’s bark broke the silence. There, we saw the owner and a lady popping out to check on his intruders from the other end of the building. He din bother to walk out to us but just observe from where he was sitting. Er, like that meant should we go up to him and ask for permission to take picture or was that a silent approval since he didn’t chase us out? Dunnu leh, we are not the unfriendly sort of people, but the dog was very fierce leh, and he didn’t bother to ask it to keep quiet since we obviously didn’t look like some bad guys. So awkwardly we waved hello to him and signalled to him that we would like to take some photos. No consents or objections. There must had been loads of people popping by to take pictures before so maybe he asked until sian liao. The dog still barked non-stop…so unfriendly…

We wanted to make it a fast one, since we were in a way intruding into people’s property. So went to the left of the building and found the gate closed. That must had been the bar. A pity we couldn’t take a closer look at the scribblings on the papers that were stucked onto the wall..

The mirror behind the bar had been plastered with stickers, supposedly
from oil companies from the older days

I wondered if this license to sell beer was ever valid…

Like the hotel and the lone occupant Mr Chiam, these were
left behind and forgotten by the rest of the world

It’s no wonder that the owner had been fined many times for
breeding mosquitoes on the premises. These cistern and basins should
had been discarded instead of creating breeding spots for the blood suckers!

We didn’t go upstairs since we didn’t really get the owner’s approval to roam freely around, and the staircase sure looked a bit challenging to climb, with all the rubbish around. We weren’t even sure if it would collapse or not! So we could only peek up the many opened windows and stared at the once beautiful wall and ceilings. It was reported that an old Aussie used to lived here for more than 30 years until lately when he passed away back home, leaving his stuff intact in the hotel. My goodness, I couldn’t imagine anyone staying in this kinda condition.

At the back of the building where what used to be the toilet was turned into another street artists’ canvas.

A cross between mermaid and the vampire…

cock fight
Cock fighting

Interesting work of art…

…full of controversy

Though our visit at the Mitre Hotel was such a short one, it was still heartbreaking looking at the sorry state it was in. Somehow I don’t understand why it was allowed to turn into such condition. Even if it was no longer operating as a hotel, surely it didn’t have to turn into a rubbish dump right? It is such a pity not to preserve a beautiful old building like Mitre. If only the new developer buying over the plot could refurbish Mitre Hotel and return it its grand old look, like what had been done for Raffles Hotel and Fullerton Hotel. I could almost imagine it back in the good old days, clean and well maintained.

Also see related post:
> Tang! Die-nasty



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  1. My goodness! The Mitre Hotel …. what memories! Your article about the venerable, the heart-breaking, the one and only Mitre Hotel – how it has whipped the carpet of time from under me! Deep in the treasure of my past I guard such happy memories of the many hours I spent in the lounge of that fading, atmospheric old hotel. I taught English in S’pore during the late 80s and early 90s, and would often go up to the Mitre with a colleague for a slow game of chess, and a quiet beer or two. As the evening wore on, rats would emerge and bound along the rafters above, while huge moths swirled about the lights. How it pains my old heart now to recall those evenings, with Anne-Marie, Simon ( mate, I concede! ), Godfrey, dear dear Colin ( in peace now ), and others, who were one by one to go separate ways. May my mind’s eye, like that fading hotel, gently let go of the Mitre with the years, as it must all things, but please, gently. Many thanks indeed for your post, and the images.

    • Wow, sounds like a real nice place in its heyday. Have not pass by the area for a long time, but I guess at the rate our little island is developing, it should have long been gone. Sad.

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