SINGAPORE - There is something unutterably sumptuous about black and gold. These shades give newly reopened boutique hotel Duxton Reserve a dash of old-world glamour.
The hotel, in a row of restored heritage shophouses, was formerly Six Senses Duxton, which opened in 2018 and closed during the circuit breaker period. Its owner, The Garcha Group, has since reopened it and its sister hotel, The Maxwell Reserve, under Marriott's Autograph Collection range.
The new hotel retains the stunning aesthetic by British hotelier and interior designer Anouska Hempel, who is feted for her 1970s work on London's Blakes Hotel, considered one of the world's first luxury boutique hotels.
Ms Hempel is also a former Bond girl - she appeared as one of the Angels of Death in On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969) - and the stylish interior of Duxton Reserve feels like it could pass off as the opulent backdrop to one of 007's evenings of derring-do.
Huge golden fans and black lacquer screens line the long hall that is restaurant Yellow Pot.
Helmed by chef Sebastian Goh, it delivers modern Chinese cooking - from delectable lion's mane mushrooms with avocado puree to the clean flavours of barramundi in housemade fish stock. A la carte breakfast is also served here in the mornings - the chilli crab omelette is especially recommended.
The luminous Anouska's Bar, named for its glamorous designer, serves classic cocktails with a Chinese twist - such as the Chen Pi Collins, a Tom Collins with mandarin-infused gin; or the Duxton Mary, a Bloody Mary laced with orange and hua diao wine.
Elsewhere in the hotel, eclectic elements pop up around each corner - from the old-school telephones in the corridors to the wallpaper, based on 18th-century English property indenture documents.
Historic shophouses give one little wiggle room, but the elegant screens and dark curves of Ms Hempel's design grant narrow spaces an intimate mystique.
My duplex suite is furnished with a small forest of standing lamps and a spiral staircase that leads up to the loft bed.
I am delighted because I love spiral staircases. If you are, however, the sort who hates tramping up and down steps to get your phone charger or switch off the said standing lamps before bed, opt for a basic Shophouse Room or the Montgomerie Executive Club Suite which, at 51 sq m, is the largest room.
I while away the afternoon wandering Duxton, a district once rife with KTV bars and ladies of the night that has regentrified in the past decade.
Today, upmarket boutiques and eateries sit cheek by jowl with the likes of the 124-year-old Say Tian Hng Buddha Shop, which makes Taoist effigies.
Duxton Reserve is within walking distance of two lovely independent bookstores - Littered With Books across the street and Chinese-language stalwart Grassroots Book Room in Bukit Pasoh Road.
A few doors down from the hotel is bespoke perfumery Maison 21G, which created the hotel's signature scent La Reserve - an enchanting potpourri of amber, oud, patchouli and a dash of ginger.
I pop in for a workshop with founder Johanna Monange, 45, who leads me through a dizzying spectrum of scents - from refreshing sage to the jaw-droppingly expensive orris, which is made from iris rhizomes that are dried over years and which can fetch more than €50,000 (S$80,750) a kilogram.
As I watch, she mixes up a bottle of La Reserve in Maison 21G's in-house machine La Source, something like an espresso machine, only with perfume cartridges.
The scent of it lingers long after I have unpacked back home. Duxton Reserve certainly knows how to leave an impression.
Three things to do
1. You can be ferried from your doorstep to the hotel in a London cab dubbed Sir Harold. The service is available to guests on request at $100++ for pick-up and return.
2. At Anouska's Bar, the cocktail you should absolutely not miss out on is Escape To Kaifeng ($24), a house-made chrysanthemum cordial with Tanqueray gin that achieves a startling clarity of flavour.
3. Design your own customised scent at the hotel's neighbour Maison 21G, which runs a bespoke perfume workshop ($150 a person with a 15 per cent discount for hotel guests).
The Duxton Reserve
WHERE: 83 Duxton Road
RATES: The Chope Exclusive Staycation + Dine Deal package is $277++ (Mondays to Thursdays) or $314++ (Fridays to Sundays) for an overnight Shophouse Room stay for two; $382++ (Mondays to Thursdays) or $433++ (Fridays to Sundays) for an overnight Duplex Room stay for two
This staycation was hosted by the hotel and is part of a weekly series. For more staycation reviews, go to str.sg/SuiteLife.