SIngapore Travel Guide
The sleek and gigantic South Beach development takes up a city block, featuring two angular towers with sky gardens and a wavy canopy covering a retail promenade. The hotel will share the tower in the foreground with residential apartments.
If you celebrated the New Year in downtown Singapore, you may have noticed a couple of striking high-rise buildings in the works. This is South Beach, a seriously “green” mixed-use development in the heart of the business district and yeah, there’s a hotel planned. The 654-room “luxury concept hotel” does not yet have a confirmed operator or a firm opening date but it’s got an interior designer we can get excited about – Philippe Starck.
Imagine this, with a Singapore map on the wall
But it turns out we’ve underestimated Premier Inn. They’re not just UK and Ireland anymore. They’ve gone global.
In Singapore the other week, we stumbled on this story about Premier Inn’s plans to open its first hotel in Singapore. How exciting! Except now we realize there are already Premier Inns in India and the Arabian Gulf. You guys!
Anyway, Premier Inn Singapore Beach Road will have 300 rooms with rates at the SGD $160-190 rate ($127-152), which is good-to-standard for the more budget end of the market (although Singapore has lots of beautiful budget hotels, which it’ll have to compete with). It’s currently being built on Beach Road, near Arab Street, and is gunning for an mid 2016 opening. There will be a pool, fitness center and meeting rooms, too.
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Pretty sure this is the Patina
The scene: the breakfast buffet at the Sofitel So Singapore. The date: last Wednesday. The characters: a group of smartly dressed men and women having a business meeting. And us at the table next door, listening in.
We hadn’t realized when we sat down, but these people were in the hotel industry – two of them seemed to be on a giant hotel of Asia (take us with you?), and they were discussing the scene. They talked about millennial hotels, they talked about HotelChatter (hi!) and then they started talking about Patina Hotels, a forthcoming brand for Singapore. So we googled. And Patina looks incredible.
Behind it all is the Kwee family from Singapore, who own Capella, the Conrad, the Regent and the Ritz-Carlton. The first, and flagship, property will be The Patina, Capitol Singapore, part of a $750 redevelopment project of the old Capitol movie theater (Singapore’s first) on Stamford Road, and designed by Richard Meier (yes, the Richard Meier) and Jaya International Design.
The Hotel Jen brand is inspired by the virtual persona Jen, a professional hotelier who loves life, travel and the adventure of discovering new places. Hotel Jen takes care of guests with efficiency and care, while also giving them informed access to the best a particular destination has to offer.
Stress-free ease and simplicity will be reflected in the overall Hotel Jen stay experience through the informal and friendly check-in, stay, check-out and on-going contact. A sense of belonging will be reflected through a brand persona concept that positions guests as "friends of Jen," with a caring and respectful service standard communicated by staff in an enthusiastic, helpful and engaging way.
The Hotel Jen "informed and friendly" service style will also guide guests to the best of where they are, through local restaurant recommendations, under-the-radar sights and unusual boutiques. The Hotel Jen team will be a guest’s own personal local lifestyle guide.
(Note: Jen is not to be confused with Marriott's imagined Millennial traveler, Jia.)
It's no secret that we love drinking in hotels here at HotelChatter. In fact, hotels might be our favorite "local." So all this week and next, we'll be pouring out some drinks for you during our second Hotel Cocktail Week(s) -- newly-expanded because there’s just so many drinks to share. We'll be posting quirky cocktails, boozy trends, unique menus and even recipes so you can recreate your favorite hotel drink at home. We expect everyone will be getting a bit tipsy over the next couple of weeks! But don't forget to tip your bartenders, in this case, us.
Looking for a little intellectual stimulation to go with your cocktail buzz? The mixology pros at Raffles Singapore’s iconic Long Bar have put together a Timeline Cocktail Menu that covers significant time periods and events in the hotel’s history. Here’s a sampling of just a few.
Tiffing – “Tiffing” comes from an old English word meaning “taking a little sip” and over time came to mean a light mid-day meal. Hence came Sunday tiffin curry, which was an essential aspect of colonial life. Tiffin curry has been served at Raffles since 1899 and now you can take a little sip of it as well; the cocktail consists of Tequila, Aperol, Angostura bitters, lemongrass, curry, Monin Gomme, and fresh grapefruit juice. Bite into that.
The Stray Tiger – This cocktail marks the rumor that a tiger was shot under the billiard table in the hotel’s Bar & Billiard Room in 1902. The truth (if you want to hear it) is that the tiger was shot under the actual Bar & Billiard building but—hey—close enough. The Stray Tiger is a layered cocktail with white rum, Cointreau, vermouth, fresh lime juice, absinthe (hallucination-causing wormwood was big in those days) and lemongrass foam.
More bevvies below!
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!)