Hmlet started when its founders, Zenos and Yoan started to open their homes to others. After seeing how this shared living experience made their lives more enriching, the idea of Hmlet was born. Currently, the company offers co-living spaces in Singapore, Sydney, Tokyo, and Hong Kong.
Hmlet Cantonment is the company’s newest and biggest co-living space situated in Singapore’s CBD area. I was fortunate enough to be invited for a weekend staycation and got to have a first-hand look at the experience of a co-living home.
Hmlet Cantonment is made up of two blocks, with a total of 150 rooms in total. The building used to be Keppel Primary School in the 1950s. Later on, the building became the headquarters of the Corrupt Practices Investigative Bureau (CIPB)- making it a historical site. Because of this, the building exterior must be meticulously preserved. Everything else like the landscaping and interior design has been designed and customised by Hmlet.
Co-living spaces have seen a rise in popularity in the past few years. The pre-furnished rooms and communal amenities have made co-living spaces stand out against rental and short-term stay apartments. Co-living focuses on community shared housing. Its almost like staying in a college dorm, only better and with a lot more privacy.
Hmlet Cantonment was roughly a five-minute walk from Tanjong Pagar MRT station. I checked-in at the Cantonment Canteen, located at Block B and upon checking in, I received a welcome drink!
I appreciate how Hmlet’s check-in process is casual and fuss-free as opposed to hotel check-ins that seem more rigid and formal. I felt comfortable right from the start.
This low rise building is surrounded by so many trees and greenery that I forgot that I was smack in the middle of the CBD area. The landscaping really helped add some contrast against the high rise buildings that we are all too familiar with in Singapore.
My room was in Block A, which has a small lobby/waiting area for guests. Here, you can wait for your friends who are coming over, your GrabFood delivery driver, or simply just chill!
The building still has the same handrails from the 50s when it housed Keppel Primary School. Hmlet Cantonment’s choice to showcase the building’s past is something I think we all can truly appreciate.
I was then brought up to my room on level three. The modern wood interior design is beautiful and made me feel more at home as compared to when staying in a posh, fancy hotel room.
As opposed to other co-living spaces, Hmlet’s rooms come with both a personal kitchenette and bathroom. The kitchenette is equipped with basic household items including utensils, pots and pans, a fridge and a washing machine. The fridge and washing machine are stored in cabinets below the sink, which I absolutely loved because it kept the room extra tidy. There is also a Hmlet app, that guests can use to communicate with reception regarding maintenance issues.
Unlike the bigger rooms, the smaller rooms don’t have a washing machine or kitchenette but don’t worry, there is a communal kitchen and laundrette in the building. At the communal kitchen, guests can get some work done, make dinner, watch tv, or relax with a cup of coffee made from Nylon, a local roaster.
Guests’ dishes will be cleared from the sink, ensuring that the communal areas stay clean! At night, the front patio is lit up with fairy lights. Here, we had a super chill (and much needed) evening of pizza and cake.
I admire the fact that Hmlet facilitates the spirit of community. The communal areas are open to all guests for when they want to work or simply hang out. Hmlet encourages community bonding through hosting events like quiz night, cooking class, barbeques, and cocktail making classes. This sets them apart from a typical hotel experience.
No one is “expected” to socialise with others, so don’t worry if you are more of an introvert. At the end of the day, it’s your choice. Guests can mingle with each other at the communal areas and still have privacy in their own rooms—everyone adds value into each other’s lives in one way or the other.
Hmlet has fitness amenities that helps you stay fit such as the wellness studio, and an outdoor pool- both of which are open 24/7! There are also yoga classes for its guests, great for when you need a break from work (or life in general).
One of Hmlet’s target audience is empty nesters, which is something that took me by surprise. Imagine two parents staying in a five-room HDB flat, and all their children have moved out. These parents don’t need such a big home anymore and on top of that, they are somewhat secluded while meaningful social interaction is pretty rare. However, if they were to stay at Hmlet, they would be able to socialise with people in the communal areas, join in on community-based classes, and retreat back to their rooms when they need privacy.
The communal kitchens and the Cantonment canteen are open 24/7. If you’re having late-night cravings and feeling lazy to go out, there’s a little pantry in the Cantonment canteen selling drinks, snacks and instant noodles.
The rates are subject to your length of stay. The small rooms start at $870/week. I stayed in the extra large room, which costs $1,290/week. Click here to find out more about Hmlet’s rates.
All rooms, no matter the size, come with a queen-sized bed. Hmlet’s usual minimum stay period at other their other locations is three months. But what makes Hmlet Cantonment different is its much more flexible arrangement of a minimum six-night stay. Other than the main website, you can make a booking through Booking.com, and expedia.com.
I went in with zero expectations and I have to say, I was impressed. The other Hmlet locations in Singapore have a 92% occupancy and I can understand why. They thrive on community and everything is convenient, from the length of stay to the communal areas and amenities. Everything has been carefully thought through and planned out. Living in this small community, surrounded by skyscrapers was an interesting experience. One that I’ll never forget.
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