New hotels by big chains opening in Singapore

Three hotels - Andaz Singapore, Sofitel Singapore City Centre and Yotel - dish up stylish accommodation with fun amenities

It has been opening season here for hotels in the past month, in particular, for big chains.

Andaz Singapore, a luxury hotel by Hyatt which is housed in the new Duo complex in Bugis, threw open its doors for a sneak peek of its shophouse-inspired interiors earlier this week.

The interiors were the work of Mr Andre Fu, the Hong Kong architect and interior designer whose creations, such as the luxurious The Upper House hotel in Hong Kong, have been the cause of some serious travel envy.

On Oct 1, Yotel, a fast-growing company that largely operates airport hotels, welcomed the first guests to its Singapore property, its first one here.

Sandwiched between Shaw Centre and International Building, Yotel Singapore sports a futuristic look with rooms that take design notes from first-class aeroplane cabins.

Sofitel Singapore City Centre, whose parent company is AccorHotels, also started hosting guests at its fancy Tanjong Pagar dig since Oct 1. Botanicals from Singapore and France are the inspiration for the decor at this posh spot.

It has been a busy year for the hotel industry, which has seen long-term hotel projects - both new builds and revamps - being completed.

A marketview report on hotels for the second half of last year by global commercial real estate services company CBRE noted that about 3,400 rooms from luxury to mid-scale hotels were expected to enter the market this year.

The properties launched ranged from boutique offerings to big names.

New highlights from the last 10 months include the debut of The Warehouse Hotel in Havelock Road that has sexy, bold interiors in an old godown and the InterContinental Singapore Robertson Quay, which opened last week.

With the December holidays fast approaching, here are the latest stylish properties to consider for a staycation.


Andaz Singapore, 5 Fraser Street


Tepees at the Andaz Singapore's rooftop bar, Mr Stork; a luxurious bathroom (above); and Bar Square at Alley on 25. ST PHOTO: SHARON LUM 

Hong Kong-based architect and interior designer Andre Fu's track record in hospitality projects is nothing short of stellar - especially after he debuted The Upper House in Hong Kong, which has amassed fans who coo over its understated, yet sophisticated look.

He is also a familiar name in Singapore's hospitality scene, having designed The Clifford Pier restaurant at The Fullerton Bay Hotel and Cassia Restaurant at Capella Singapore.

These noteworthy projects have earned him praise, but the 42-year-old has outdone himself with his latest - and biggest - project here.

With the 342-room Andaz Singapore, a luxury hotel by Hyatt housed in Duo, a mixed-used development in Bugis, he draws on elements from shophouses and alleyways in the Kampong Glam neighbourhood.


Tepees at the Andaz Singapore's rooftop bar, Mr Stork; a luxurious bathroom; and Bar Square at Alley on 25 (above). ST PHOTO: SHARON LUM 

He says: "It was fascinating to walk through the alleys there. I never knew what I was going to discover. I tried to capture that spirit of the neighbourhood - not replicate it - with Andaz Singapore."

Head to Alley on 25, the "hub of the hotel" on the 25th floor, to check in. Staff await arrivals at the Square - an airy courtyard that has a lush garden at its centre. Guests can meander through the alleyway-inspired corridors to check out seven restaurants, each sporting shophouse features that have been contemporised.

Each of the Andaz dining spots showcases different cooking styles. For example, Icehaus is a cold deli dominated by cool monolithic Baltic grey marble. The Green Oven conjures up a rustic feel, with a cast-iron oven in racing green stealing the show with its vintage look.

This is the first Andaz hotel in South-east Asia and the 17th Andaz property worldwide. The hotel will welcome its first guests next Wednesday, but the restaurants are already open. Here are its other highlights.

1 BUNGALOW ROOMS

Besides taking inspiration from shophouses, the guestrooms were also designed with a contemporary bungalow look.

Some whimsical notes include a doorbell housed in a bespoke post box and the mango-yellow bathroom doorsreminiscent of folding shophouse doors.

2 TEPEE NIGHTS

Roam freely like a bird at Mr Stork, the rooftop bar on the 39th floor. Order a drink at the bar, a free-standing bronze pavilion with a roof that is reminiscent of a tilted windmill, then pick your chill-out spot.

For intimate conversations, kick off your shoes and hide away in one of 10 tepees dotting the area.

You could also get up close with nature and finish your drink among the lush greenery.

Mr Stork also gets full marks for its stunning views of the downtown area.

3 ART ABOUND

Many of Andaz's public spaces are decorated with commissioned art.

Brazilian artist Andre Mendes has done a few pieces for the hotel, including a 26m-tall metal sculpture that runs the length of the atrium in the guestroom lift lobby from Levels 26 through 37.

Based on the concept of a traveller's exploration of Singapore, he dreams of the island's attractions, including the Merlion and the Supertrees at Gardens by the Bay, which are worked into the piece.

•Visit Andaz Singapore and enjoy 20 per cent off all room rates and an additional 3,000 World of Hyatt bonus points a stay, with a minimum of two nights booked.


Sofitel Singapore City Centre, 9 Wallich Street


Sofitel Singapore City Centre: Small wood barrels containing barrel-aged cocktails are stacked in a honeycomb-style shelf at 1864. It has seating such as bar stools for a view of the bartenders at work. ST PHOTO: SHARON LUM 

Since the mammoth mixed-use Tanjong Pagar Centre opened earlier this year, the neighbourhood has been teeming with people.

But the new Sofitel Singapore City Centre, located within the development, is an oasis amid the rush and buzz with its strong botanic theme.

The sweet scent of fresh flowers permeates the 20-storey hotel, which has 223 rooms and suites. As guests check in on the fifth floor, they are greeted by orchids in tall, black vases in rose-gold-rimmed alcoves.


Sofitel Singapore City Centre: Each guestroom has a colouring set, including a Colouring The Lion City: A Sophisticated Activity Book For Adults, with whimsical illustrations of Singapore. ST PHOTO: SHARON LUM 

Artwork around the property and detailing on walls and in-room fixtures are also brushed with the floral touch. Even the staff's uniforms have colourful swathes of floral prints.

The business-luxury hotel has an elegantly muted palette. The rooms, for example, have calm shades and wood panelling. The marbled bathrooms have large soaking tubs with separate rain showers and come with Lanvin or Hermes amenities.

Guests should also make time to chill out by the pool on the sixth floor. Trees line the 30m-long pool and it is here that they can get the best view of the surrounding old shophouses and soaring skyscrapers.


Sofitel Singapore City Centre: Small wood barrels containing barrel-aged cocktails are stacked in a honeycomb-style shelf at 1864. It has seating such as bar stools for a view of the bartenders at work. ST PHOTO: SHARON LUM 

Here are three things to check out.

1 WELLNESS LOOKOUT

Fitness and health enthusiasts will appreciate the hotel's wellness programmes and exercise amenities. For a start, each room has a fitness kit that includes a yoga mat, foam roller and stretch band. Guests can use the items in the room or take them to the poolside.

The hotel is working with instructors from the Virgin Active Fitness Club nearby to create workout videos that guests can follow in their rooms.

2 THE TEA LOUNGE-BAR

Located between the check-in desks and the hotel's French-Chinese restaurant Racines, 1864 is the spot to hone your people-watching skills. The cocktail bar and tea lounge was named after the year the Tanjong Pagar Dock Company was founded.

Take your pick of the barrel-aged cocktails that have been made in-house. But if you want all eyes on you, get a bottle of champagne to experience the French tradition of sabrage - the bottle is opened with a sabre.

3 FLORA ART

Besides the lovely blooms all around the property, the floral theme is also a big influence on the artwork and installations at this Sofitel hotel.

For example, when guests enter the hotel from Peck Seah Street, they are welcomed by the shimmering Singapour Je T'aime, a stunning chandelier that seemingly floats down from the ceiling.

Made by Czech glass brand Lasvit, the installation comprises 700 hand-blown glass crystals that resemble the leaves of the majestic Rain Tree, a common sight in Singapore; and the Plane Tree, often planted along roads in France.

There is also an Artist-In-Residence programme. Italian artist Arianna Caroli, who is now in session, has created artworks for lift landings and painted on partition screens. An impressive piece, located behind the concierge desk, is her Bouquet Magnifique of a vase overflowing with flowers in shades of pink and orange.

•The hotel is offering a special opening rate of $800++ a room for two nights. The offer ends on Nov 30.


Yotel Singapore, 366 Orchard Road


Yotel Singapore: The hotel's restaurant, Grains & Hops (above), and a Premium Queen room with a bunk. PHOTO: SHARON LUM, YOTEL SINGAPORE 

Say "hey yo" to the newest kid on the Orchard Road block.

Unlike the stalwart hotels in the shopping belt, Yotel Singapore has a futuristic vibe. Designed with the tech-savvy traveller in mind, the 610-room hotel is packed with easy-to-use features.

The hotel's reception, called Mission Control, looks like a spaceship. It features strobe lighting running up the walls and ceiling. The pulsating vibe continues down the hallways and on guestroom floors.

Guests check in using touch-screen computers and make their own key cards.


Yotel Singapore uses housekeeping robots to make deliveries. PHOTO: SHARON LUM, YOTEL SINGAPORE 

The rooms, called Cabins, take inspiration from the first-class experience on planes. While compact - the smallest room, the Premium Queen, is 151 sq ft - there are nifty touches such as open-concept cabinets and hidden storage to keep the space from feeling claustrophobic.

As with other new-age hotels, Yotel encourages its guests to mingle instead of being cooped up in their rooms.

At the mod space on the 10th floor named Ten are Grains & Hops, the hotel's restaurant; a co-working space; a pool; and a gym.

Yotel Singapore is the third city hotel under the brand. The other two are in New York and Boston.


Yotel Singapore: The hotel's restaurant, Grains & Hops, and a Premium Queen room with a bunk (above). PHOTO: SHARON LUM, YOTEL SINGAPORE 

The chain, which is part of the Yo! Company and was founded by English entrepreneur Simon Woodroffe in 2007, has four airport hotels called Yotelair: two in London and one each in Amsterdam and Paris. A hotel in Changi Airport will open in 2019.

Other things to look out for:

1 GOOD CONNECTIVITY

At Yotel Singapore, you never have to worry about your gadgets' batteries going flat or being disconnected.

There are multiple power sockets in the room so you do not have to fight your roommate to juice up your mobile phone. Look for the secret socket hidden in a closed cabinet beneath the television.

There is also free super-strength Wi-Fi.

Take along your HDMI cable so you can screen movies on the hotel's television from your laptop.

2 RECLINE OR GO FLAT

The adjustable recliner beds in the rooms are great for their multiple functions. Keep the bed upright to watch television or work in bed. For a good night's rest, hit the button to lower it.

There is extra floor space beneath the bed for guests to stow their luggage.

3 HOUSEKEEPING ROBOTS

Do not get a shock if two members of Yotel Singapore's housekeeping crew greet you with this cheeky line: "Is it me you are looking for?" After all, they have been programmed that way.

In addition to human crew, the hotel has two robots to help deliver amenities, such as towels, to rooms. The robots' bodies have three compartments where the needed item can be stored.

The robots are so intuitive that they do not need help finding their way to the floors - they can take the lifts on their own - and can detect any obstacles in the way.

Once they arrive at the designated room, they call the in-room phone to alert the guest. Then, the door to their right compartment will slide open for the guest to take his item.

Each robot costs $100,000 and is programmed to have its own unique voice and personality along with facial graphics.

Adopting these machines helps the hotel cut down on manpower hours.

Yotel Singapore's general manager Brendan Daly says: "We're not trying to do away with people. But for jobs that are laborious or mundane, it makes sense to use technology or get the robots to do them. We want to focus on the guest."

•Room rates start at $164++ for a night's stay in a Premium Queen Cabin till Nov 30.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 28, 2017, with the headline 'On the tepee of luxury'. Print Edition | Subscribe