Adelphi Hotel

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A newspaper advertisement from 1896 depicting the facade of The Adelphi Hotel. Photo from NewspaperSG.

Established in the 1850s, the Adelphi Hotel was regarded as one of the largest and oldest hotels in Singapore.[1] A prominent landmark in the High Street and North Bridge Road shopping area, the heydays of the hotel was immortalised in the literary works of Somerset Maugham.[2] The Adelphi Hotel ceased to exist in 1973 after its proprietors decided to voluntarily liquidate the property.[3]

History

Origin

The Adelphi Hotel was first advertised in The Straits Times on 7 May 1850 by its proprietor, C. Goymour, promising “superior accommodation” and “hot and cold baths”.[4] Initially located at High Street, the hotel was once patronised by Her Majesty’s Navy and Army and earned a reputation for its cleanliness and comfortable services. To further support its growing clientele, Goymour made improvements to his establishment by building a Billiard Room and two bowling alleys for the guests' entertainment.[5] Additionally, the hotel offered economical boarding rates of between $35 to $40 per month for boarders between 1851 and 1858.[6][7]


In 1863, the hotel moved to Coleman Street due to the space constraints at High Street.[8] In a newspaper advertisement column from 1896, the hotel was promoted as the “most central and convenient position in Town”.[9]

A list of prices for the services at The Adelphi Hotel in 1851. Photo from NewspaperSG.

Popularity

In 1903, the Adelphi Hotel was purchased by Messers Sarkies, Johannes and Co. of Malacca Street for a large sum. In turn, the new Dutch proprietors converted the building into a first-class 100-bedroom European hotel. Under the new management, the establishment was completely re-fitted with electricity for lights and fans. Its dining room floors were marble which allowed it to be converted into a ballroom.[10] Promoted as “one of the finest and most comfortable hotels in the East”, the Adelphi Hotel cemented its reputation and credibility as one of the Big Three hotels in Singapore - alongside Raffles Hotel, Hotel de L’Europe and Hotel de La Paix.[11][12]

 

The Adelphi Hotel was renowned for its excellent and appetising menu.[13] For instance, the proprietors promoted extravagant dinner nights in celebration of the Queen of Holland’s birthday. A particular gala night also saw the establishment serving: Caviare on Toast, Mock Turtle Soup, Pate de Foie Gras en Aspie, Pigeon Fricasse, Filet of Beef a la Jardineire, Roast Capon and Swiss Cheese, to name a few.[14]


The popularity of the Adelphi Hotel as a first-class establishment did not wane throughout its existence. Notably, while it was renamed as the Nanto Hotel during the Japanese Occupation of Singapore (1942-1945), its reputation continued to be recognised by the Japanese military.[15]

Closure

The Adelphi shopping mall that presently occupies the site of the Adelphi Hotel at Coleman Street.

In 1973, the proprietors of the Adelphi Hotel, New Adelphi Hotel Private Limited - decided to liquidate the company voluntarily. In turn, the land on which Adelphi Hotel stood on was returned to the owners, Chartered Bank Trustees (Malaya) Ltd.[16] On 24 June 1973,  the 110-year-old hotel held its last dinner and dance with proceeds going to the Singapore Chesire Home. Some 200 guests and “old-time” customers were invited to the farewell party that lasted until midnight.[17]

The Adelphi

In 1977, Choon Bee enterprises finally announced their plans to construct a 600-room hotel at the site of the former Adelphi Hotel. According to the new owners, various convention facilities, retail and office space were to be incorporated within the hotel.[18] While demolition works began in 1979, the construction of the new hotel continued to face delays and financial problems as a result of the slack tourist industry.[19] Throughout the early 1980s, ownership of the site constantly changed hands. Finally, in 1985, the site was converted from a hotel to an office and shopping complex, establishing The Adelphi - a mall that specialises in high-end audio equipment.[20][21]

Police raid (2016)

In June 2016, a major police raid was conducted at The Adelphi to clean up sleazy massage parlours in the basement levels. The raid closed down at least thirteen of such illegal parlours. For the past seven years, sex workers from Vietnam, Malaysia and China had conducted their business in the building. Following the raid, the police conducted regular enforcement checks in the establishment. To rebuild the mall’s popularity, landlords voted at their annual general meeting in September to pass a by-law that stops illegal and unlicensed massage parlours from renting units in the Adelphi.[22]

References / Citations

  1. “Adelphi Hotel on Coleman Street”. Roots.sg. Accessed 19 July 2019. Retrieved from: https://roots.sg/learn/collections/listing/1137840
  2. "New hotel at Adelphi site plan”. New Nation. April 1, 1977. Accessed 19 July 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  3. “110-year-old Adelphi Hotel to close soon”. New Nation. April 3, 1973. Accessed 19 July 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  4. “Page 4 Advertisements Column 1". The Straits Times. May 7, 1850. Accessed 19 July 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  5. “Page 2 Advertisements Column 2". The Straits Times. January 11, 1853. Accessed 19 July 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  6. “Page 4 Advertisements Column 1”. The Straits Times. September 9, 1851. Accessed 19 July 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.  
  7. “Page 5 Advertisements Column 2". The Straits Times. October 23, 1858. Accessed 19 July 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  8. “110-year-old Adelphi Hotel to close soon”. New Nation. April 3, 1973. Accessed 19 July 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  9. “Page 4 Advertisements Column 1”. The Straits Times. May 15, 1896. Accessed 19 July 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  10. “Sale of Adelphi Hotel”. The Straits Times. March 30, 1903. Accessed 19 July 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  11. “Sale of Adelphi Hotel”. The Straits Times. March 30, 1903. Accessed 19 July 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  12. “Adelphi Hotel on Coleman Street”. Roots.sg. Accessed 19 July 2019. Retrieved from: https://roots.sg/learn/collections/listing/1137840
  13. “Our Heritage”. New Nation. June 15, 1973. Accessed 19 July 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  14. “Gala night at the Adelphi”. The Straits Times. August 10, 1904. Accessed 19 July 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  15. “Success will crown efforts of our armies”. Syonan Shimbun. November 13, 1942. Accessed 19 July 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  16. “110-year-old Adelphi Hotel to close soon”. New Nation. April 3, 1973. Accessed 19 July 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG
  17. “The last dinner and dance at the Adelphi”. The Straits Times. June 25, 1973. Accessed 19 July 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  18. “New hotel at Adelphi site plan”. New Nation. April 1, 1977. Accessed 19 July 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  19. “The Adelphi makes way for the ‘80s”. Business Times. April 7, 1979. Accessed 19 July 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
  20. The Adelphi. 2016. Accessed 19 July 2019. Retrieved from http://www.theadelphi.sg/
  21. “The Adelphi to be put on the market”. Business Times. September 19, 1987. Accessed 19 July 2019. Retrieved from NewspaperSG
  22. Melody Zaccheus. “Adelphi tenants laud sleaze cleanup”. The Straits Times. September 13, 2016. Accessed 19 July 2019. Retrieved from straitstimes.com