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COO Bistro & Boutique Hostel Singapore

Edward Hendricks

First sociatel in Singapore connecting travellers and locals via digital media, Coo is a boutique hostel with a casual bistro with a unique communal experience. Conceived with millennials generation in mind, the Coo is specialised in creating a societal experience for guests by connecting like-minded visitors through a digital interest matching tool.

Millennials have changed the travel landscape in a massive way. Travelling is no longer about a passive vacation, but rather a meaningful getaway: where active experience trumps passive consumption. The Millennial recognizes value, craves authenticity, is digitally savvy, and constantly connected. COO is a digital and physical experience that captures this, and its brand DNA is built on 3 key touch points – Glocal, Social, Playful. These apply holistically across the entire COO experience from the design of the spaces, website, menu and graphics, down to the choice of neighbourhood.


The playful yet chic design concept of each COO property will be inspired by the spirit and memories of the neighbourhood its located in. For its first property in the culturally rich neighbourhood of Tiong Bahru, “it was imperative that the design of COO pays homage to the strong essence of local heritage of its location. We wanted every part of the experience to be able to tell a story of the neighbourhood we are in, but in a playful way that reflects COO’s DNA,” says Colin Seah, founder designer of Ministry of Design.


True to its design approach, the eye-catching entrance is framed by metal mesh, taking cues from the metal gates of the old housing estates around the area, while the pièce de résistance, located at the Coo Bistro is a suspended neon art piece shaped as an abstracted map of the neighbourhood. Hints of the neighbourhood continue to be seen across the ground floor, including a ceiling that is artfully covered with punchy graphic prints of ‘kopitiam’ (coffee shop) uncles, Bob the neighbourhood cat, modernist architecture and traditional ‘kueh’ (sweet cakes). The longitude and latitude coordinates of Coo’s location also appear behind the reception area in cursive graphic neon.


Accessible to hostel guests only, the upper levels in the four-storey shop house space features 11 newly furnished rooms with bunk beds, holding up to 68 guests at maximum capacity. Greeting guests across the hallways, house-rules in bold prints are plastered on the walls while witty icons are punctuated across the common areas like the bathrooms.


Designed as the main social space within the property, the 60-seater Coo Bistro also includes a private corner where hostel guests get to enjoy their complimentary breakfast in the mornings and set-up their workstations, or simply just gather around throughout the day. Using the same metal mesh seen on the exterior, the private and public areas in the bistro have been cleverly separated while retaining the flow of space. The design also allows for fluid arrangement, creating interaction between hostel and bistro guests by opening up the barrier between the two spaces.


True to its ‘Sociatel’ values, Coo also debuts a world’s first “Coo Connect”, an interest-matching tool available to hostel guests upon making a booking, allowing them to be linked up with a network of like-minded travellers staying with Coo, an invaluable tool to explore or learn about a foreign city with newfound companions. Guests are able to create a personalised profile based on key interests and log in to the Coo Connect platform. This allows them way ahead of their actual travel to chat with other guests who will be staying at the property during the same time period. Some may choose to make travel plans together or simply trade travel tips.

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all images © Edward Hendricks