Stay­ca­tion Up­date:

A look in­side two of Sin­ga­pore’s new­est – and quirki­est – ho­tels.

Expat Living (Singapore) - - Contents - BY SHAMUS SILLAR

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

tele­phone.

• 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]

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