A look inside two of Singapore’s newest – and quirkiest – hotels.
Checking in at two new Singapore hotels
#1 You know you’re in for something different
It’s immediately clear as you pull up to the restored row of traditional shophouses that make up Six Senses Duxton, that this isn’t your average hotel. The entrance is an Art Deco-style porch of stained glass and rattan furniture, and parked on the curb is a retro London black cab – the only one in Singapore, apparently. Stunning ornate glass doors lead inside, where you find no expansive lobby but rather a series of elegant nooks with Chinese screens, antique furniture, and tables dotted with objets d’art and hardcover books about old-school photography and turnof-the-century travel. The hotel’s signature look – a moody, elegant combo of black and gold – comes from renowned UK interior designer Anouska Hempel. (For trivia buffs: she once starred in a Bond film!)
In all, there’s a deep sense of history here, but it isn’t just for show: a focus on conservation during the development stage saw the hotel bestowed with a prominent architectural heritage award.
#2 No two rooms are alike
Thanks to the differing layouts of the original shophouses, the hotel’s 49 rooms are unique. One of them, for example, is a two-storey suite with an old-fashioned spiral staircase. Another has a sitting room beneath a full glass skylight. The Montgomerie Suite, with an opulent fourposter bed, is named after the family who owned these buildings in the 18th century. And the Pearl Suite is bright and white to offset the dark tones elsewhere, with stunning cabinets embellished with mother-of-pearl.
I was in an Opium Room – this part of Singapore was notorious for opium dens a century ago – though I swear the brilliant quality of my sleep had nothing to do with illicit drugs and everything to do with the bed’s Naturalmat organic mattress!
A shout-out to the mini-bar: it’s a beautiful piece of bling, featuring mirrored walls, cocktail shakers, a cutting board with fresh fruit for garnishing drinks, and a great selection of boutique booze, tonic waters and more.
#3 There are some special little touches:
• The in-room phone is a proper “old-school” rotary
• Complimentary still and sparkling water in the rooms is produced by the hotel itself with a state-of-the-art mineralisation machine and a zero-carbon footprint. (Sustainability is a huge focus here – a percentage of revenues goes to a sustainability fund used to support local social and environmental projects.)
• At each turndown service, staff leave a different folded
origami creation on your pillow.
• Instead of a clunky plastic Do Not Disturb sign, you hang an antique Chinese calligraphy brush on your door for privacy.
• The lobby area is adorned with pretty lacquered boxes, and when I absentmindedly opened one I found a slip of paper inside – like a fortune cookie – with a wellness tip: “To improve the quality of your dreams, think about a happy place or happy moment before nodding off.” Other boxes contained different snippets of advice.
• Small glass vials are left in your fridge containing non-alcoholic tinctures to drink before bed and on waking. My morning tincture contained “snow chrysanthemum and marigold to lower cholesterol and improve digestion”.
#4 It’s next to some of the city’s best eats and drinks
This is a seriously good location for foodies. Love a taco at Lucha Loco? Duxton’s popular Mexican restaurant is 30 seconds away. More a fan of Italian? Alba 1836 and Latteria are both just as close. Maxwell Food Centre – perhaps my favourite hawker centre in Singapore – is an extra one-minute walk. Keep an eye out for the 3rd Culture Brewing stall at Maxwell, with superb imported pale ales and porters on tap!
If you’re a teetotaller – or just totally into tea – the Yixing Xuan Teahouse is 100 metres from the hotel, and Six Senses arranges visits there so guests can learn the Chinese art of preparing and appreciating tea.
I was busy with dinner events during my stay, so I wasn’t able to try in-house restaurant Yellow Pot in the evenings, but my two breakfasts there were sensational: a chilli crab omelette with mantou buns one morning, and a healthy grilled salmon bowl the next.
#5 It has its own TCM doctor
Yes, you read that right. Six Senses Duxton offers guests a complimentary wellness reading with an in-house Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner, and herbal medicines can be purchased from an authentic dispensary across the road for any ailments. I had a fascinating chat with the doc about everything from qi deficiency (ginseng is a good fix, I’m told) to the common Singapore problem of people having too much moisture in their bodies. You can also learn about acupuncture, diet, tui na massage and more. In keeping with the TCM theme, every guest is given a “wellness bag” as a welcome gift, containing everything from iconic Tiger Balm, Po Chai pills for indigestion and nutmeg oil for soothing aches, to a brain-teaser toy, and a health and fitness diary.
#6 Another Six Senses is opening in the neighbourhood soon
I was entirely charmed by Six Senses Duxton, so I’m happy to hear that sister hotel Six Senses Maxwell will soon open just a short walk away (probably around October). It will be bigger – 120 rooms – and will boast some facilities that don’t fit at Duxton: a spa and a pool, for example, which guests from both properties can use.
83 Duxton Road 6914 1428 | reservations-dux[email protected]