Singapore is a very competitive landscape when it comes to five star hotels. So how do you stand out as a hotel? In 2016 The InterContinental Singapore completed its five year refurbishment done in collaboration with design firm Fbeye International. The redesign saw the enhancement and continuation of the hotel’s colonial and Peranakan heritage theme, with the hotel lobby, lobby lounge, all-day-dining restaurant Ash & Elm and the 316 tower rooms and suites overhauled. Fbeye also previously redesigned the hotel’s executive club lounge, 67 ‘shophouse’ heritage rooms and suites, as well as Cantonese restaurant Man Fu Yuan.

With this refurbishment the InterContinental Singapore now stands out above the rest. Perenakan Chinese are the descendants of Chinese immigrants and they came to Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore and parts of Indonesia. It is great to find the Intercontinental Singapore embrace the roots of its descendants with this Peranakan inspired design throughout the hotel.

The location of the InterContinetal Singapore is in the midst of the cultural districts of Bugis and Bras Basah, the hotel is also well-positioned in proximity to established historical enclaves including Arab Street and Kampong Glam. It is a not far away from Marina Bay and the Central Business District. Changi Airport is only a 20 minute drive away. Public transport wise the hotel is only steps away from the Bugis Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) train station, giving access to almost every area of Singapore through its network.

Reception & Lobby Area

I arrived by taxi and as soon as I entered the hotel I was overwhelmed by how beautiful everything was designed. The room on the left of the reception was great to enjoy historical artifacts whilst sitting in the beautiful designed interior.

The reception check-in area had great patterned flooring and had a bright spacious feel. Walking around the ground floor away from reception there were plenty of tiny beautiful designed areas to sit and relax or if you are like me take photos and be inspired by the interior design.

Lobby Lounge

Also on the ground floor was the lobby lounge area. This double height bright area embraces the heritage setting that defines the hotel. The Lobby Lounge is the perfect combination of the old-world and modernity. This is the centrepiece of the hotel, a luxurious space that radiates elegance and charm. This is a great place to enjoy the afternoon tea experience where the Royal Heritage Afternoon Tea is served on a classic three-tier stand. In the afternoons and evenings I could hear the live music and it certainly makes those afternoon teas or other drinks later in the evening even more enjoyable.

Ash & Elm Restaurant

The InterContinental Singapore has three restaurant options, The Lobby Lounge, Cantonese restaurant Man Fu Yuan, and European dining at Ash & Elm. I decided to try the buffet lunch (from S$28) at Ash & Elm. In the evening this restaurant has an a-la-carte offering. Chef Philippe Duc is in control of the Ash & Elm and he has had over a decade worth of experience working at restaurants like the 3-Michelin star Alain Ducasse and 2-Michelin star Les Ambassadeurs in Paris. Ash & Elm centres around three culinary theatres, a charcuterie and cheese room, a wood-fired oven, and an open charcoal-grill kitchen.

Ash & Elm prides itself on the use of fine produce sourced from around the world with a selection of sharing platters, house-cured and premium meats, as well as sustainably-sourced seafood. The wood-fired ovens and charcoal grill will enhance the flavours of this fine produce. To match the fine food there is comprehensive wine list with over 100 different labels of wines from around the globe.

Club Heritage Room

I stayed in the Club Heritage Room with a king size double bed. The InterContinental Singapore has two distinct areas, the tower with 316 rooms and suites and the “shophouse” heritage area which has 67 rooms. The Heritage rooms are located in the latter.

Shophouse style.

I loved the traditional aspects like the shophouse window shutters and the decked timber floorings of this room. The interior was further enhanced with furniture and design inspirations from the Peranakan culture. This 38 square metres room felt spacious and had a lovely patterned wood desk, a chinese cabinet with mini bar and double sofa to relax on. As this was a club room it also came with a free to use mobile phone which includes 4g internet access, free calls to 10 countries and a Singapore city guide.

Bathroom

The bathroom felt very posh with lots of marble, a large bath and separate shower. I liked the use of double sinks, something I want to see more in hotels. The bathroom amenities were by Agraria.

The Club InterContinental Lounge

My room came with access to the Club InterContinental Lounge which is a private area where the discerning business or leisure traveller can retreat. Also here the rich Peranakan culture was on display through the interior design featuring exquisite fabrics, elegant furniture and a collection of arts and artefacts. I loved the display of the colourful ceramics near the entrance of the lounge.

The Club International Lounge comes with a lots of privileges, too large to list here. But for me I wanted to try the a la carte breakfast (from 6.30am to 10.30am), the afternoon tea (from 2.30pm to 5.00pm) and the evening cocktails and hors d’oeuvres (from 6.00pm to 8.00pm).

Peranakan Inspired Ceramics

When in Singapore you have to try the Singapore Sling

Breakfast

For breakfast I had two options, a buffet style breakfast at the Ash & Elm restaurant or buffet and a-la-carte breakfast at the Club InterContinental. I decided to have it in the club. Although smaller in setup the options where plenty with a choice of fresh fruit and juices and Western and Asian buffet options. This was further supplemented by a-carte-breakfast options.

Pool Area

Tropical Singapore weather demands a great outdoor pool area and the InterContinental has one. This area is great to lounge around the pool in the many sun loungers around, and soak up the sun or hide away under the umbrella with a cocktail in your hand.

Feel tropical in the centre of Singapore.

Heritage Trail

My Club InterContinental lounge access gave me also the option to go on a free guide heritage trail on Saturdays. This two hour walking tour which started at 16:00 showed the cultural and heritage aspects of Singapore around the Bugis area. This trail allowed me to see some of the first public housing blocks including the ground floor restaurant area, and some religious landmarks. I recommend this trail to anyone wanting to learn more about the local history of the area around the hotel. It was definitely worth two hours of my time.

Conclusion

The refurbishment of the InterContinental Singapore is amazing. This hotel is now an ode to its cultural Peranakan past through its interior design. It feels elegant, classy and historic whilst embracing the new. Walking around the hotel I was continually overwhelmed by its interior, especially the grand Lobby Lounge. Combine this with an excellent service and the InterContinental scores top points. This is one of the must stay hotels when visiting Singapore.

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