My Honest Experience Booking A Co-Living Space: A Review Of Hmlet’s Booking Process
- May 28, 2023
- 9 min read
Note: this is not an advertorial for Hmlet as the stay was completely paid for by myself (not sponsored by Hmlet so you can rest assured that everything I write is wholly objective, based on my experience, and not a result of having been “bribed” to say nice things! Moreover, I did not inform the company when booking that I would be writing an article about the experience so that you can take my experience as a “generic” one. (And not a fake-pimped-up version in which they try to impress me because they have good publicity!)
So, at the end of last week’s article, I decided on Hmlet due to the ease of booking and their pet-friendly policy. Now it was time to book my stay!
Have you ever felt that your phone was spying on you? Well right after I had told my friends I was booking Hmlet, their post popped up on my Insta or TikTok (I forget which one) advertising their new place at Owen Street and it looked even better than the Cantonment building. Moreover, it was new and they were having a promotion so why not?
Just as I was about to book though, their Owen place ad popped up again, this time on my TikTok- but advertising it as a hotel. I was a little confused because I thought they were a co-living company, so I checked in with them, and they replied that the Owen site is a hotel so, sadly, I had to pass on it, as the focus of these series is co-living in Singapore and not hotel staycation in Singapore. (Although I’d like to drop a gentle hint to my editor here and inform him that I would be more than happy to write on hotel staycations in Singapore!)
Hmlet Cantonment was apparently a co-living residence, and I’m a fan of Chinatown so I went with Hmlet Cantonment instead!
Sidenote: I think that’s part of the problem with co-living. The lines between co-living, staycations, hostels and hotels are becoming blurred. You see various co-living companies, not specifically Hmlet- marketing themselves to families in Singapore (“Take your kids on a staycation after their exams!”), etc.
You may wonder why this matters but, as a single not-young person who’s looking to explore the co-living community, I’d really rather not be renting with university kids or a family with, for example, Primary School kids. I have nothing against the kids/ families, but I just don’t think they would be interested in the same things that I am. Also, having lots of young kids on-site is hardly conducive to work, if you work from home as I do!
I imagine there are other single, childless (or child-free, as was highlighted to me by a reader in the comments of one of my landed series articles!) Singaporeans or digital nomads with similar views/concerns!
Anyway, back to booking a co-living experience with Hmlet, which is what this article is meant to be about! The website was a lot easier to navigate than Figment, another co-living company I had checked out in my investigatory stage.
However, I must say there are a few bits which aren’t that clear. Firstly, the “early check-in” and “late check-out” offered. No prices were indicated so it appeared to be complimentary, something too good to be true in Singapore. So I double-checked the price before paying and it had escalated to a whopping $494ish – $520ish! (From about $148.) Not complimentary then!
Note: You may be wondering who wouldn’t check the total bill before paying so let me tell you about my friend who almost paid 400 pounds for a plate of scones in London because he didn’t check the bill before he signed. (Luckily I was there and I caught it! It was meant to be 40 pounds, not 400!) So, the moral of the story is, there are people who will be caught out by the stealthy increase!
Anyway, no way am I paying more than triple for more time on site, so I went back and amended my booking. (In case it’s not clear, I have no issues with the company charging more for early check-ins, or late check-outs, as I understand that time is money. However, I just wanted to bring the increased price to your attention so that no one ends up accidentally forking out more for something they don’t really need.)
Now I was wondering about the room rate (because the price changes depending on how early you book your stay) so I decided to give it a test.
Maybe I misunderstood something but I thought the stays commencing on the 4th of March and the 20th of March should be the same price. As both stays are more than 4 but fewer than 30 days from the date of booking, and for the same period of time. (The 3rd stay is less than 4 days from the date of booking and hence is more expensive.)
Anyway, perhaps this is all explained in the small terms and conditions on the site, but it just proves my point that booking your co-living stay in Singapore can be rather confusing. You can’t be too much of a stickler for the little details or you’ll end up frustrated by the experience. (I believe I already mentioned that Hmlet Cantonment is the least confusing of all the various co-living options I checked out right??)
Also, this is probably a good time to point out that bookings are non-refundable and non-amendable! You need to click on the “Terms and Conditions” text (in the image 4 photos ago) and the below pops up.
So now that, in my mind, the Hmlet pricing system has, shall we say, a lot of grey areas, which made me wonder about bookings made even further ahead. Based on the tiered pricing, a booking made for a later date should be cheaper since booking more than 30 days ahead gets you 10% off and booking more than 60 days ahead gets you 15%! So let’s put that to the test.
Note: I haven’t gone as far as actually multiplying out the rates and the promised discounts to check if they’re accurate as I figure this is a “take-it-or-leave-it” kind of situation.
I amended the last set of dates to a stay in July and what did I get?
I was so baffled I counted the number of days per stay repeatedly but couldn’t figure out the difference. (Unless the rate changes depending on the season, as it does with hotels? However, that wasn’t mentioned on the website. Maybe it’s explained in some fine print, somewhere on the Hmlet site but I couldn’t find it.)
Lesson to learn: when booking a co-living stay in Singapore, don’t make your decisions based just on the advertised price! (Yes the difference is less than $100 per stay, but as other impecunious creatives in Singapore know, every dollar counts when you are as financially challenged as we are! And it all adds up!)
After dithering about the website for hours, I decided to put an end to my time-wastage and just go ahead and book the stay. This is what you see when you want to pay.
Moreover, after pressing “Confirm & pay now,” I don’t get any more information/directions. I was left feeling a bit uncertain about the whole check-in process.
- would the reception be manned 24/7? What happens if I can’t arrive on the dot at 3?
- Is there anything I would need to bring that the residence wouldn’t provide such as bedlinen? (The site mentions towels but doesn’t say anything about linens. A hotel would provide this but since this is co-living, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.)
- Is the parking free or do we have to pay? Am I guaranteed a space or is it going to be a mad rush to get a car park lot?
- Under facilities, communal washers and dryers are listed but is the laundry detergent provided? How about ironing?
- Towels are provided: is this on a daily basis? Weekly?
- What are the policies for having guests over? If you’re Singaporean and venturing into co-living, I imagine 1 of the reasons could be the desire to entertain friends in your own space, instead of at your parent’s place. Are guests allowed over at all hours in co-living quarters?
- If your neighbours prove to be party animals, is there a concierge/ manager on-site that you can feedback to, if you’re unable to resolve the issue amicably with your neighbour?
- Since Hmlet allows pets, are the pets kept on specific floors? Are they allowed to roam the halls? What happens if I have a pet phobia or allergy?
- How big is the communal kitchen and lounge? Do we need to book to use it (or the wellness studio) if we are throwing bigger events?
- How many workspaces are there? (Very important question for digital nomads and people who WFH since the small bedroom doesn’t appear to have any sort of desk which I must say, in my opinion, is a huge lack!)
- Co-living spaces always boast about their communal events to create community. How often are these held and are they held regularly?
- And so on, and so forth!
Note: these questions will be answered next week!
Message to Hmlet if you read this: it would have been nice to get a confirmation message after payment with more details along the lines of “We look forward to seeing you on xx dates at 3 pm at “insert Hmlet Cantonment address.” The most convenient way to get to us would be by yy. Etc etc”
After that, I received a confirmation email, that I’ve screenshot and shared below.
Co-living is a fairly new experience still so most people will be like myself and unsure of what the stay entails. A little hand-holding would have made life easier. (Am I being too Singaporean here?) If you were wondering, there is a WhatsApp button on the site, so it’s not difficult to get in touch with the company regarding one’s queries, but having the answers on-hand would have made life easier when one is having a busy workweek!
Moreover, I did WhatsApp them to get more details but didn’t get a reply. Oh well, the money had been paid and was non-refundable so not much I could do now but wait and see! (In case you were wondering, Hmlet said they never received my WhatsApp and showed me the chat to prove that they didn’t get my message. I then showed them my copy of the WhatsApp chat to confirm that I did send the message. Seems like the message got lost somewhere!)
Here’s all the information that is provided about the room. I must say the shampoo, conditioner and shower gel are a nice touch as it reduces the amount one needs to pack/prepare!
You may think that these are very juvenile, University-student kind of queries, but the thing is that the way Hmlet Cantonment (and some other bigger co-living places) is set up, it seems to be a cross between a hotel and a dorm, so there are lots of things that aren’t clear!
Anyway, this situation is actually a boon for me, as it’s resulted in a gap in the property market for articles such as mine! And now it’s time for me to leave you with the following hook: “Join me again next week for the answers to the above, as well as the rest of your co-living questions!”