SIngapore Travel Guide
Ever wonder how environmentally friendly reusing those towels and switching off the lights in your hotel room makes you? The new Westin Singapore has the answer, in the form of that little red indicator you see on the left of the in-room TV screen: it compares your energy use to that of an average hotel guest, based on analysis of elements like electricity, water, and so on. Moving up or down, you can track just how ‘good’ you are being green.
Opened last November, The Westin sits on top of Asia Square, a two-tower vertical city of 12,000+ office workers in the financial district southwest of Marina Bay Sands. With Singapore’s highest hotel lobby (on level 32), and rooms up from there, there are some good views to be had, but the best way to enjoy them is from the gorgeous infinity-edge swimming pool. Check it out after the jump.
Remember when we talked about a new hotel group called Glh. (the rebirth of Guoman Hotels) and the launch of their luxury brand Clermont Hotels last October? Meant to change the face of the luxury market, the goal is to open 30 hotels in the next decade, starting with the Royal Horseguards in London.
It’s been fairly quiet since then, and we haven’t seen any more on what the new Clermont London will look like or when in 2014 it will reopen. We did spy a little more activity at the first brand new Clermont, which should open in 2016 in Singapore as part of the mega-project Tanjong Pagar Centre, built on top of the MRT (metro) station of the same name and set to be the highest building in the city. After the jump what it will look like when complete.
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While we still have to wait a little longer for a hotel in its entirety by the hand of Karl Lagerfeld, we can show you exactly how his touch comes to life at Sofitel So Singapore, having toured the hotel just a week after it first opened.
His Lion’s Seal can’t be missed, whether you enter the hotel through the So Heritage Wing (the historic half facing Robinson Road) or through the newly added So Hip Wing’s main driveway you see above. Read on for much more, including what pearl of wisdom Karl included on the “BooKube” in every room (and what it is, for that matter), a preview of the gold-tiled Hi-So rooftop pool opening in July, and a gallery bursting with photos of the quirky hotel.
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Just over a year after we first looked at the classic 1927 building on Robinson Road, Sofitel So Singapore has finally opened its doors this past weekend. We don’t think Choupette will be there to greet you in the lobby in the end, but the Lion’s Seal Karl Lagerfeld designed is around, down to an appearance on the hotel's bathrobes.
Those bathrobes are inside the 118 rooms and 6 suites, ranging from entry-level So Cosy Rooms (in the new So Hip Wing behind the original structure) to larger So Lofty Suites (above, with step-out balconies) and So VIP Suites. All are tricked out with Apple in-room technology, including iPad minis and iPhones.
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After November came March, and after March now comes May as the time when Sofitel So Singapore will start welcoming guests, albeit as a soft opening. Having heard this straight from the pre-opening team, we’ll take their word for it – and, we have some additional guestroom renderings to look at while we wait.
We had shown you what entry-level So Cosy Rooms look like, with 3-metre high ceilings, domed skylights, and a mix of modern design and classic wall paneling. Those skylights come courtesy of light boxes, featuring images of glass domes right above the bed. So Cosy rooms will be located in the “So Hip” wing, which is being added behind the "So Heritage" wing, the original 1927 structure on Robinson Road.
That’s where you’ll find the above So Suite, which has some of the same basic elements (ceiling height, wall panelling, skylight), but brings in herringbone floors and an unexpected princess canopy above the bed that we’re a little unsure of, with fabric draped down to the nightstands. The pink/purple-hued window treatments are pretty bold too.
The hotel in May
We don’t really mean that of course: who are we to suggest the Kaiser would ever be late? But we couldn’t resist the alliteration, and the delay is very real for Sofitel So Singapore, now not opening until March 2014.
When we had a proper look around in May, we tried to give the hotel the benefit of the doubt when it came to a planned November opening (given the breakneck speed of construction in Singapore). Unfortunately, our innate skepticism was justified; now we are looking at another five months before this emblem, by the hand of Lagerfeld, will greet guests upon arrival.
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It's no secret that we love drinking in hotels here at HotelChatter. In fact, hotels might be our favorite "local" bar. So all this week, we'll be pouring out some drinks for you during our first-ever Hotel Cocktail Week. All this week, we'll be posting specialty drinks, booze trends, mixology tips and most importantly, drinks recipes so you can recreate your favorite hotel drink at home. Everyone will be getting tipsy this week! But don't forget to tip your bartenders, in this case, us.
Raffles Singapore, the place where the famed Singapore Sling was created, has launched a cocktail menu designed to take you around the world while you still remain seated and sipping in their Long Bar, god bless ‘em.
Resident mixologist, Randolph Velasco, has come up with eight spiritus drinks inspired by a Raffles hotel destination, so come join us as we embark on our virtual journey through time and space. First stop? Seychelles.
The Seychelles conjures images of an island paradise with deep blue skies, sultry breezes and emerald seas. No surprise, then, that the Raffles Seychelles cocktail is an emerald green beauty created by combining Smirnoff Vodka with melon-flavored Midori and tangy Apple Sourz, then topped off with apple juice. Garnished with slices of star fruit and a lemon wedge, this is a sipper meant to be sipped in a rattan chair with one of those tropical ceiling fans swooshing slowly overhead.
Next, we go to Raffles Cambodia –- specifically, Raffles Hotel Le Royal, Phnom Penh and Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor. Using the Kingdom’s national fruit, the five finger banana (who knew?), this golden concoction consists of rum, banana and pineapple juice, but it’s the finishing touch of zesty kaffir and fresh, green pandan leaves (a herbaceous tropical plant) that gives this drink its aromatic and mysterious character.
The Raffles Philippines takes you to the newly-opened Raffles Makati in the heart of Manila’s financial district. A mix of Bacardi rum, juicy mango and pineapple are enhanced by a mere suggestion of basil and the tart, citrus flavor of calamansi, a wee fruit that bears a resemblance to a lime but is about the size of a kumquat. Calamansi is supposed to have some health benefits, so drink up.
Raffles Istanbul anticipates the opening of Raffles Istanbul Zorlu Center in late 2013 (no date as of yet) with a cocktail that evokes the complex flavors of Turkish coffee. Rich Kahlua is layered with potent Pisco, fresh lime juice and anise to create a boozy drink not quite appropriate for the morning but it does kinda taste like coffee, so we’ll leave it up to you. (Recipe below!)
We promised you a closer look at W Sentosa Cove when we discussed those nifty moveable phone ‘booths’ in the lobby just over a month ago, so here we are today with a gallery full of shots from the 240-room resort on Sentosa Island, a short hop from Singapore’s CBD.
Particularly popular with Singaporeans for a weekend stay-cation, the hotel has everything you expect from one of the latest W properties: slick rooms, lots of facilities that incorporate a W in their name (WET pool, AWAY spa, W lounge, Wired Business Center), and an atmosphere that is, let’s say, party-friendly. We wouldn’t bring the kids, is all we’re saying (notwithstanding that we did see some).
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We've been wondering what Karl Lagerfeld has up his sleeve over at the Sofitel So in Singapore, which we looked at mid-construction a few months back. Due to open in November as the third So property by the French group (there’s Bangkok – which we loved – and Mauritius so far), details are coming out painfully slow, but one thing we now know is his design for the hotel’s emblem: “The Lion’s Seal”.
Linking back to the origin of the Asian city-state, it references the 14th century folklore of Sumatran Prince Sang Nila Utama spotting what he believed to be a lion on the island, and naming it Singa Pura, or the Lion City, as a result. While it’s most likely the creature was a tiger, as lions never lived in this area, the Lion City name stuck. Singapore’s mascot, the Merlion, a mythical creature with the head of a lion and the body of a fish, can be found about ten minutes’ walk from the hotel.
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If you had to pick your favorite hotel poolside cabana anywhere in the world, where would it be?
To be honest, it's not something we've ever given much thought to (seen one cabana, seen 'em all)—until, that is, we visited the fifth floor garden terrace of Singapore's Parkroyal on Pickering the other week.
We mentioned last year, before it opened, that the hotel would drip with tropical gardens, and indeed, it is certainly one of the lushest hotels we've seen in a while. Wild flora grow up and down the building's exterior, creating a sort of "secret garden" 120 feet above ground.
This effect is best seen from one of the poolside cabanas—large, sturdy structures that look like human-size birdcages—that are built right on the edge of the fifth floor terrace. Mini-worlds unto themselves, the cabanas are furnished with mountains of pillows and cushions so that once you've entered and plopped down on the floor (preferably with a cold Tiger beer in hand), you never want to leave. Ever.
The Marina Bay Sands is easily Singpore's most iconic hotel. And if you make it to the city, we recommend at the very least taking a peek inside the atrium-style lobby or even heading upstairs for lunch at the rooftop eatery KU DE TA.
However, if you're Singapore-bound this summer, and are planning to book a night at the 2,561-room hotel, here's some friendly advice you may want to keep in mind: every August 9, Singapore celebrates National Day to commemorate Singapore's independence from Malaysia in 1965. And just like how towns across the US explode with fireworks every July 4, so too does Marina Bay light up with an impressive pyrotechnics display on the big day.
From what we hear, sh*t gets real cray. Not only do the malls fill up with shoppers ready to cash in on the Great Singapore Sale (that's a whole other story), but all the Marina Bay-facing hotels get bought up by locals who want to have the best views possible of the fireworks.
This means that rooms at the MBS can go for as high as SGD $700/night, when usually they're about half that price—or less.
OK, we confess: we did not opt for the $58 per person buffet while having dinner recently at the Parkroyal On Pickering's restaurant, Lime, for the simple reason that, well, $58 is a lot of money.
So we figured we'd just stick with the regular a la carte menu and give our wallets a break. Big mistake.
Not that our $24 hand-tossed roasted duck pizza with spring onions wasn't the bomb dot com (because it was), but just out of curiosity, we also took a brief wander around the dining room to see what life on the other side was like, and we can safely say, the buffet is where it's at.
First off, the restaurant is massive, so it takes a good 5-7 minutes just to inspect all the different food stations. The first counter had us salivating over luscious platters of fresh prawns, mussels, oysters and sushi, artfully laid out on mountains of shaved ice. A dedicated sushi chef was on hand to make sure the display never runs out, and he graciously let us snap the above photo even though we weren't buffet customers.