A special place to stay in Singapore
The small principality of Singapore has many gorgeous hotels to choose from. On a recent visit, Matilda Hickson found her favourite place to stay
A recent visit to Singapore was made all the more special by the fabulous hotel choice - the Intercontinental Hotel. Having spent many years travelling the Middle East and staying in 'interesting' places (where hot water and clean sheets were a luxury), I must admit to being partial to a lovely hotel (read five star luxury) and also very appreciative too.
The hotel is in a brilliant central location as it is only a ten minute walk to a number of museums including the Singapore Museum (where you can jump on a free shuttle bus to the other museums) and it is linked to the Parco Bugis shopping mall which also has an MRT (underground) station. Therefore you are only a train ride away from the financial district and minutes from the Orchard Road area.
But lovely hotels can all blur after awhile - surely one nice room is like another? This can be true - but this is why I loved the Intercontinental Hotel. It is a luxury hotel with a lovely understated elegance. No glitzy foyer for them, but rather a feeling of walking into somebodies home. Everywhere there is attention to detail - even down to the objects on the bookshelves in the 'living room' (the waiting area). They have been keen to embrace the Heritage of Singapore, and it shows.
The original building on the site was too old to preserve, but they have incorporated elements, such as shutters, which are a part of many old buildings of Singapore and the local Peranakan style. (The term ‘Peranakan’ means ‘locally born’ in Malay, and refers to the descendants of foreign traders who married local women in Southeast Asia centuries ago. Singapore’s Peranakan community is mostly Peranakan Chinese, descendants of Chinese traders who settled in the busy ports of Penang and Singapore in the 19th century).
There are two types of bedrooms - the normal deluxe rooms and their Shophouse rooms and suites which come with membership of the Club Intercontinental Lounge. These have all been recently renovated and again there has been much attention to detail including the incorporation of Peranakan designs into the wall paper and mirrors. Free wifi is available throughout the hotel.
The newly opened Ash and Elm restaurant provided one of the best meals of our stay in Singapore. Named after the beautiful woods used to decorate the restaurant, their European menu offered the best that fish and meat can offer - my lamb was some of the best I have ever eaten and every member of the group spoke enthusiastically about their choice. They offer an assortment of classic and re-invented dishes that are prepared 'live' at three different culinary 'theatres': a charcuterie & cheese Room, Wood-fired oven and an open-grill kitchen. The wonderful dishes are complemented by a list of over 100 different wines, which are handpicked from different regions around the world.
As a girl who likes her deserts, I was in heaven here. Chocolate pizza, salty chocolate rum & raisin ice-cream (both above), peach melba or fresh mango or just a fresh fruit salad - all were served with such exquisite attention to detail and more importantly, tasted divine. As would be expected in a hotel of this calibre, there are four other places to eat: The Man Fu Yuan restaurant, serving Cantonese culinary delights and which has been doing so since 1995, the Lobby (below) and the Victoria bar. The hotel even offers a special children's menu called the 'Planet trekkers' which is designed to provide a balanced nutritious meal, but presented in a fun and enjoyable way to dine.
With a hotel of this calibre you would expect a fully stocked gym and a wonderful roof top pool - which are on offer. I expected the pool to be quite small, but it is a great size for swimming lengths (in an effort to banish jet lag!). There is also something surreal about doing backstroke and looking up at the amazing city surrounding you. If you opt in to the Club Intercontinental Lounge whilst staying at the hotel then you have access to a lovely lounge that offers breakfast, afternoon tea and evening cocktails. There is nothing nicer than coming back after a hard day's site-seeing to the wonderful ambience of this lounge complemented by a Singapore Sling or a glass of wine! The Club facilities also include three pieces of complimentary ironing, and coffee and tea available all day. It also includes an hour's use of a private boardroom which could be very useful if you are visiting on business.
The hotel has recently been renovated and the final rooms are expected to be finished by January 2016. However, if you are visiting before this time, the building work is so unobtrusive, you won't even know that it is going on. The hotel offers a wonderful, calm, 1950s feel but with all modern luxuries - a fantastic balance of contemporary with heritage. I cannot recommend a stay here highly enough.
To visit their website, CLICK HERE