Historic Tanjong Pagar, in Singapore’s business district, is home to a blend of Chinese tradition and modern living – making it the perfect medicine for escaping the bustle of the city-state
Where to stay
A mallet bangs gently along the side of a Chinese singing bowl, sending soft tones billowing through the air and reverberations up the legs and spine of anyone standing inside the large inverted bell, eyes closed. It’s the welcoming ceremony greeting every guest at the quaint, romantic Six Senses Duxton, named for its previous incarnation as the historic Duxton Hotel.
The Duxton outlet is the first city location of the Six Senses family, and its home is in the last of Singapore’s heritage buildings approved for use. It features a blend of modern leisure and antiquated opulence. Wooden banisters guide guests along ornate switchback stairwells from the original Duxton Hotel. 1800s land titles serve as wallpaper, reminders of the distant past.
Each of the 49 suites has its own unique layout and design. From the lobby to the Opium Suite, every detail is carefully stitched together by the renowned British hotelier, interior designer and former Bond girl Anouska Hempel. Black and gold play a heavy role in the scheme of the hotel, and each detail plays into a larger theme of falling back into the past, such as the calligraphy pens that serve as “do not disturb” signs on guests’ doors.
The Duxton Duplex is the highlight of the guest quarters, the ideal spot to rest one’s head during a longer stay in the city-state. Opening the door to the suite, guests are ushered into a cosy sitting room. An elegant and snug all-black couch is curved to hug the body, and an expansive private bar is a step away from a view of the picturesque Chinatown shophouses across the road. Stepping up the spiral staircase, guests enjoy a private lofted bedroom, host to a mix of black-and-white decor and a luxurious en-suite bathroom.
Relaxing into one’s room, guests are offered an “intimate wellness bag” containing a spread of things to help ease them into the experience: a colouring book, a 3-D brain teaser, Tiger Balm, traditional Chinese Po Chai Pills that are said to remedy any physical discomfort, and nutmeg oil, a nod to the 1800s nutmeg plantation that covered the land the hotel now sits on. The mini-bar holds a non-alcoholic tincture meant to be sipped before bed and after waking. The concoction, which purports to bring a better rest and daytime invigoration, is made fresh with herbs and Chinese medicines by the Long Zhong Tang traditional medicine shop across the road.
For further relaxation, guests start the day with a complimentary yoga session in the “petite urban park” just behind the hotel twice a week, or enjoy a consultation with the hotel’s traditional Chinese medicine physician, where they can find the right treatment with a range of wellness recommendations, from acupuncture to herbal medicines.
The Six Senses Duxton’s Yellow Pot restaurant is a fine-dining experience not to be missed. The menu is an innovative exploration of Chinese cuisine, filled with divine dishes like Crispy Sichuan Chicken, served with chillies and peanuts for a crunch and a zing that will keep you dipping back in, and the more delicate flavour of Steamed Kuhlbarra Barramundi with scallion-ginger pesto and an avocado puree to top it off.
Where to go
For something a bit more low-key, step out into the streets of Tanjong Pagar and make your way through the sweet scenes of the city-state’s central Chinatown to the Potato Head dining complex, a coin toss away. One of the venue’s dining options is Three Buns, which cooks up some of Singapore’s best burgers along with a delightful selection of fine wines. The vintage children’s decor continues to reveal itself as visitors ascend a spiral staircase with doll-head chandelier lighting. After dinner, take a short stroll down the road for a nightcap at Jigger & Pony and enjoy an Asian classic like a Singapore Sling from a menu of 27 cocktails presented on a menu laid out like a magazine, complete with feature articles, columns and an “Editor’s Notes” from the bar manager.
In the morning, perk up with a cuppa joe and while away the hours to the gentle background music at MavRx Coffee Apothecary, a monochromatic hole-in-the wall that serves hard-to-refuse gourmet coffee. Next, make your way to Monument Lifestyle for some retail therapy that will help you relax into holiday mode and keep that feeling even after you’ve returned from your stay in the scintillating city. The boutique’s selections of teakwood- and tobacco-scented candles, Imperial brand grooming supplies and chic leisurewear – hand-picked by the husband-wife duo Dustin Ramos and Iris Sangalang – won’t disappoint.
This article was published in the November 2018 edition of Southeast Asia Globe magazine. To subscribe to our newsletter, click here.