Cover Room To Listen

Hotelier Ng Ping Ho has no qualms about letting creative ideas (or creatives) run free at his latest hospitality venture

“Whenever I get stuck (with ideas), I like to seek out a creative person,” says Ng Ping Ho, the television director turned hotelier.

The problem? Ng had five rooms double the size of a standard room in his new KLoé Hotel. At first he thought of converting them into family suites but it didn't sound special enough.

So he turned to Lisette Scheers of Nala Design who suggested converting them into branding tools for the hotel by working with a creative collaborator. “I thought that was a good idea,” he concurs.

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He ended up working with five collaborators, each given a chance to create his or her own loft. They are Room To Read, Room To Grow, Room To Listen, Room To Taste and Room To Draw, and they quickly became talking points among travellers as soon as the hotel received its first guests in February.

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A Space For All

Ng wanted a place where people gather – not just hotel guests but also those from around the neighbourhood. “When you step in as a guest, you’re not just going to see other guests but also the local community. I want this hotel to be a vibrant place for people to meet, work and play,” he says.

A Local Creative Hub

Every piece of furnishing in KLoé is either sourced or made locally. “I wanted everything to be handmade because that feels more authentic,” says Ng. “I couldn’t find what I was looking for anyway from the regular suppliers so I ended up working with people who can enhance the hotel.”

Indeed, the hotel is a veritable congregation of Malaysian creatives including Lisette Inc who designed the in-room KL guides, Miracle Watts who did the signages, LAIN Furniture (desks and daybeds), Metisse Maison (rattan furniture in Room To Grow) and Our ArtProjects (art in all the rooms), to name a few.

“With regards to who I chose to work with, the only criteria was that they have to be passionate about their ideas and what they do,” notes Ng.

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I like creating environments, putting something together and creating an atmosphere for someone.
Ng Ping Ho

Room To Read (Designer: Nazir Harith Fadzilah of Tintabudi)

You would imagine it to be a room with wall-to-wall bookshelves but the result is a comfortable space not unlike a contemporary study with – surprise, surprise – only one bookshelf. “The room should have enough light for the comfort of the reader and multiple spots were created for the person to enjoy reading,” says Nazir. “The book selection should be thoughtful yet cater to a variety of readers. I’m hoping the guest will take their time to relax with a book.”

Ng adds: "I didn’t want the book selection to be too elitist. I wanted a good mix of books. Nazir was the perfect choice as his taste in books is varied and wide.”

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Room To Listen (Designer: Rudy La Faber of Fono)

The room’s mid-century style complements the vinyl turntable and an impressive selection of records covering a multitude of genres from blues and funk to Thai pop.

La Faber hopes that the room will help guests to rediscover the good ol’ days of listening to an entire record in one sitting. “I feel we've lost what it means to truly enjoy a record as we mindlessly click on a playlist and assign it as background noise. Being in a room where one can commit to an amazing auditory experience might inspire people to once again simply stop and listen.”

“Rudy was very specific,” Ng notes. “He’s an audiophile and he even did a sketch to show us how to maximise the sound in the room."

Room To Draw (Designer: Joee Cheong)

Not unlike an artist’s studio filled with brushes, watercolours and sketchbooks, albeit much tidier, artist and creative entrepreneur Cheong wants guests to experience the freedom to create in this room. “Many people find art difficult to do yet so many resonate with art. I want guests to be able to find their creativity and feel empowered with the tools and materials provided in the room to create something.”

Room To Grow (Designer: Ronnie Khoo of Ohsum Mossum Terrariums)

Potted plants hang by the windows while succulents sit pretty on the desk. Beneath the same desk are an assortment of clay and aluminium pots. Guests can book a terrarium-making workshop when they check in.

“I decorated the space to give an insight into a plant person's world,” says Khoo.

Ng admits that the plants would pose a huge challenge to the housekeepers but he loves how it has turned out. “Most hotel rooms feel cold and dry; this one has that tropical feel,” he quips.

Room To Taste (Designer: Sarah Huang Benjamin)

Set up like a private dining space in a restaurant, the room has a bespoke kitchen counter, a toaster, a coffee machine and a 4-seater dining table. According to Ng, when a guest checks in, he or she can expect to find a cheese platter waiting.

“I’ve also stocked the room with some of my favourite cookbooks and food writing,” says Benjamin, who’s a Singapore-based chef, food writer and television host. “There are also some highlights like tea and cheese from Malaysia and Singapore for guests to discover local flavours.”

There is also a recipe book in the room. While no cooking is allowed, if a guest wants to try his hands at making rojak, Ng says that the hotel will be happy to provide the ingredients.

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