Pared-back Peranakan-style influences shine at this refined establishment.
In a metropolis studded with British colonial architecture and cutting-edge glass-and-steel structures, it's a breath of fresh air to walk into an establishment that's replete with local - rather than global - influences. Enter InterContinental Singapore. Fashioned after the shophouses of the merchants who used to live on this site in the 1920s, it is the only luxury hotel in the Little Red Dot that's inspired by the culture of Peranakan people (or Singaporeans with mixed Chinese and Malay/Indonesian heritage). While the hotel opened in 1995, it looks as good as new, with a spate of awards to boot, including Singapore's Leading City Hotel 2022 by World Travel Awards.
You don't have to book cabs, jump into the trains or walk across traffic-clogged boulevards to feel the beating heart of Singapore when you check into this hotel. Just follow the signs in the lobby to the shopping mall and arrive within seconds in the bustling Bugis precinct with more than 200 outlets, and streets lined with hawker stalls - the scent of sizzling satay sticks drifting down the narrow alleys. Walk a few minutes further and find yourself in the lantern-lit world of Arab Street, with chic boutiques and buzzing bars. And if you want to turn up the glam factor, dress up for the impossibly opulent Atlas Bar - with soaring ceilings, vivid murals and world-class cocktails - just a five-minute walk from the hotel.
While the shutter windows, the ornate balconies and the sinuous arches of the hotel's main tower hark back to the shophouses of yore, the palette - mostly white with an occasional splash of colour - is a study in restraint. There are more Peranakan influences inside the hotel - a vivid tapestry here, a shiny gilded mirror there - but nothing that competes with or compromises the simple elegance of the building's whitewashed walls and soaring columns.
The pared-back approach continues upstairs, too, making entry-level Classic rooms appear more spacious than they actually are (38 square metres). I'm staying in a Junior Suite with a separate living room and floor-to-ceiling windows with skyline views. But there's much to love about what's inside, too: from wall panels in soft pastels to handsome furniture in dark timber. Fresh flowers and a fruit platter further lighten the mood, while the oversized bathtub in the shiny ensuite is the perfect panacea for the exhaustions of a long-haul flight.
There are eight drinking and dining dens at the hotel - from Michelin-recommended Chinese restaurant Man Fu Yuan to Tenuta by Park90, where you can taste exquisite wines from around the world. But if you have just one night at the hotel, kick off the evening at the Lobby Lounge, where you can enjoy a classic cocktail. Then let chef Davide Giacomelli impress you with his Italian classics at the Luce restaurant. The slow-cooked pork belly, glazed with honey jus, is not to be missed.
There's a state-of-the-art gym and a 14-metre outdoor pool but if you're at the hotel on a Saturday, sign up for its free two-hour Heritage Guided Trail, which acquaints guest with various places of interest in old Singapore - from religious landmarks to Insta-worthy street art.
The cocktails at the resplendent Lobby Lounge, with high ceilings, velvet couches and shimmering chandeliers.
What: InterContinental Singapore, 80 Middle Road, Singapore
How much: From $SGD460 ($530) per night
Explore more: singapore.intercontinental.com
The writer was a guest of InterContinental Singapore.
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