The Great Southern Hotel
The Great Southern Hotel, 南天大酒楼 in Singapore Chinatown also known as Southern Hotel / Nam Tin Hotel was owned by Mr. Eu Tong Sen, (余东璇, Yu Dong Xuan)
The building was designed by architectural firm Swan and Maclaren and was opened in 1936. At that time, it was the tallest building in Chinatown and was the first Chinese hotel to have a lift, thereby making it a luxury class hotel.
Great Southern Hotel was also known as the Raffles Hotel of Singapore Chinatown. Next to the hotel is Majestic Theatre, 大华戏院.
Although not intended to be used for this purpose, people seeking to commit suicide threw themselves off the building as it was the tallest building in the area.
Great Southern Cabaret
The hotel’s Great Southern Cabaret and Southern Restaurant were legendary is still being talked about today. Many famous personality, writers, tycoons, actors and artistes, stayed and dined in the hotel or relaxed at the Southern Cabaret.
The Great Southern Cabaret was located on the 6th floor and was an open-air cabaret where guest enjoyed a bird’s eye view of the surrounding area. It was one of the most glamorous places for wealthy Chinese to gather.
Guest could buy tickets to dance with hostess. After a night at the Southern Cabaret, guests often invited hostess for supper at the neighboring Pearl Market.
Equally famous was the Great Southern Restaurant where operas were performed as entertainment for guests. The operas were later replaced with song performance by female artiste. While enjoying the performance, guests would sip tea and sample South Restaurant’s variety of snacks.
Although many restaurants had opera performances, a visit to Southern Restaurant was something special. The elevator ride was a novelty and going to a place where the rich and famous gathered added a magical touch to the experience.
Hosting Nanyang Volunteers
In 1939, the hotel sponsored food for all Nanyang Volunteers, 南侨机工, who congregated in Singapore before leaving for China. The last few batches of volunteers lived in the hotel before they left for China.
In 1993, the hotel was sold to Yue Hua Chinese Emporium group that transformed it into a their flagship shopping center in Singapore.
When you shop at Yue Hua, imagine yourself being transported back to the days when the rich and famous dined, party and dance in the very same building.
The Great Southern Hotel is located at the junction of Eu Tong Sen Street and Cross Street.
The Great Southern Hotel
70 Eu Tong Sen Street