LOH LIK PENG
LOH AND BEHOLD
By placing luxury hotels and restaurants in off-the-radar neighborhoods, master of the unexpected Loh Lik Peng has had a devilish good time transforming cities and putting a new spin on how to succeed.
“For guests to choose one of my hotels they need to have a sense of curiosity—a conservative traveler might not think of staying there.” So says Loh Lik Peng of his truly one-of-a-kind properties. But it’s not just “what” he opens that commands attention, it’s “where.” Loh opened his first venture, Hotel 1929, in a former ...
“I like to think of hotels as playgrounds for grown-ups. The biggest mistake a hotel owner can make is to take himself too seriously.”
... brothel in Singapore’s red-light district in 2003. With its swank design and instant buzz, 1929 became a popular destination for travelers and locals alike. Three years later he opened the New Majestic and upped the style quotient in Singaporean hospitality even further. Three new properties opened in 2010 (another in Singapore, and one each in Shanghai and London), swelling Loh’s portfolio to five hotels in three cities on two continents. And not one of them is located in what your average guidebook would have considered the “right” kind of neighborhood—that is, until his properties put their once-undesirable districts on the style map. From New Majestic's Chinatown to Town Hall's East London neighborhood, Loh's hotels are sure to leave a memorable mark. “I like to think of hotels as playgrounds for grown-ups. The biggest mistake a hotel owner can make is to take himself too seriously,” Loh says. “We need to lighten up and make sure guests are having fun, because it’s not only about luxury or thread count and butlers.” Perhaps Loh got enough of life’s formality early on. Born and raised in Ireland with the full boarding school experience and parental pressure to become a doctor, he studied law instead. Arriving in Singapore as a corporate lawyer in 1997, he was soon immersed in the financial meltdown of the Asian debt crisis. “I spent my days winding down businesses and seeing fortunes destroyed—it was very demoralizing,” he explains. And so after buying his first run-down building in Singapore that nobody wanted, "The Unlisted Collection" of hotels was born.