I just returned from another whirlwind around the world journey through Asia. This time the trip included stops in cities I had not been back to in years including Tokyo and Singapore.
For my one-night stop in Singapore, I chose to stay the the brand new Six Senses Duxton. Located on Duxton Road occupying a row of historic Shophouses in Tanjong Pagar area of Singapore (where you’ll find Maxwell Food Center and Hawker Chan, world’s cheapest Michelin Starred food). It is also the Six Senses brand’s first inner-city hotel as the brand has only operated a select few rustic-luxury properties around the world, like Six Senses Laamu in the Maldives. The design of the hotel from lobby, to restaurant/bar to rooms, is flawless and comes as no surprise given that it is designed by Anouska Hempel, who designed and opened the world’s first boutique hotel in London and also happened to be a Bond Girl once.
The design centers around yellow and black color scheme with traditional and colonial elements in the details. It is flashy and bold but somehow manages to feel understated and refined at the same time. I really like the details that pay homage to the heritage of the Shophouses. Both in the traditional Singaporean sense and the colonial sense, a true representation of what Singapore is and has become as a result of its history. There are only 49 rooms and suites in this property but 8 categories. Each category features a different layout and design scheme (Except the Nutmeg and Shophouse rooms which essentially are the same). Personally I think to get a full experience of the hotel you should book Opium Room or a higher category, or find a site that has an upgrade perk with your booking.
In a nutshell:
Would I recommend for Singapore? Absolutely. Especially in Singapore. The rooms are great and reasonably priced for a luxury hotel brand in Singapore. Location is convenient and historic and away from the usual crowded tourist hotel hubs of Singapore.
Everything about the property is excellent except certain areas of the service has room for improvement for a Six Senses property. But I have taken into consideration that the property is still very new so certain kinks are to be worked out. Further, this is Six Senses’ first city-hotel and so I am sure there are things to figure out in terms of bringing the Six Senses brand and service from resorts to a city-boutique hotel setting.
I stayed in the Opium Room after booking a Shophouse room with Mr. and Mrs. Smith’s member rate with guaranteed upgrade and complimentary cocktail per person per stay (I personally have loved using their site to book unique boutique hotels). The room was just the right size for a solo or couple traveler in a city, albeit with a tiny yet functional bathroom (very minimal counter space, but well stocked with amenities). The bedding and pillows were all just the right balance of firm and soft and really comfortable. The mini-bar is well stocked and reasonably priced for a property like this. Complimentary in-house snacks, bottled still and sparkling water, Nespresso and teas are available as well. You will also have a small Tibetan bowl in your room with complimentary welcome gifts of Chinese medicines, a tote bag, and a drawing kit to keep you “relaxed.” The desk area is definitely form over function but is also meant to evoke a bygone era of a traditional Chinese opium smoking environment in a shophouse, nonetheless was able to get some work done with the reliable wifi.
There is a small closet next to the TV, but it was stuffed with the daytime pillows and furnishings, so left little room for hanging clothes, another area for potential improvement. But there is a traditional coat rack by the luggage rack so I could hang my clothes there. The two night stands also come with fun amenities. A Tibetan bowl to calm your senses, a modern dial-phone and notepad. The TV was nice and large but was glitchy at times as the TV programming sometimes kept showing as “loading” and would stay stuck on the Six Senses page, which isnt exactly bad as the calming resort soundtrack is nice to listen to.
Services and Food and Beverage
I had a very late post-midnght arrival, but was nonetheless greeted and checked-in, and because I was probably the last guest to check-in that day, I was immediately greeted by name as they had been expecting me. I was offered a welcome drink and one of two welcome options: Tibetan bowl therapy or a Chinese medicine consultation (only certain hours). What I found interesting, and not quite odd as I assume this could be to do with staffing or by design, but there is no door-man or staff around the main entrance to greet, welcome or assist in way-finding. Instead most staff are by the reception desk and seemingly scrambled to come to a guest’s assistance when they opened the door to enter, or at the bar/restaurant when you enter the hotel. Occasionally I saw the GM (I think?) at the door welcoming guests. Another improvement would be for the staff escorting you to your room to show room functions in addition to pointing to them and explain the welcome amenities, specifically ingredients and uses of the Chinese medicines, as not everyone will be familiar with this, and even if they are Asian, as I am, do not assume they know. Once a few reception staff knew my name, they only addressed me as so. But those were the only 1-2 staff who did so. Breakfast staff did not do so after knowing my room number, which for a normal boutique hotel I think is fine, but this is Six Senses and there was a slightly different expectation.
Just like other Six Senses, staff here are known as hosts and they have a dedicated team of Guest Experience Managers or GEMs, who essentially act as your personal concierge. Unfortunately my stay was too short and was primarily for work to take advantage of “test” out this service. The guest guide listed ample additional activities and services one can take advantage of during a longer stay. Such as outdoor yoga, historic walks and hikes.
The hotel itself has minimal to no additional physical amenities as it is already quite small and you can only do so much in a Shophouse space. But down the road and opening soon, is the Six Senses Maxwell which from what I understand will feature fuller amenities and larger standard rooms too. An odd thing, either that or I simply didnt locate it, was that the male public restrooms did not have toilet stalls in them and I was forced to use the handicap toilet. I probably should have asked the staff to check, but indeed would be an odd design choice.
Breakfast was included in my rate and was excellent, and is served at the restaurant, Yellow Pot. The restaurant strives for sustainable ingredient sourcing and modern iterations of traditional Chinese dishes. For breakfast, you choose anything from an a-la-carte menu, definitely get the Chili Crab Omelette, incredible. I coudnt eat Chili Crab this trip as it requires more than a couple people to share, and if I am being honest, I only eat chili crab to dip the bun in the sauce. As such, this Omelette was the perfect solution, a soft fluffy omelette topped with the chili crab sauce and peeled crab meat, and yes there was buns to dip in the extra sauce, what more can I ask for? I also ordered some Kaya Toast, because when in Singapore or Malaysia right? Some orange juice, coffee and tea. The wait staff here were friendly albeit not as attentive even with the minimal guests at breakfast. I wish they were more proactive in offering more food/ drinks or topping off beverages, or explaining the food and its sustainability. I also wanted to order grapefruit juice but was informed they ran out so went with Orange which was the only other listed juice, but I later heard another guest ask for options and there were plenty more; personally I think the staff should have offered these as alternative suggestions without being prompted to. The attentive, personalized, “know what you need before you do” level of service is one aspect of the Six Senses brand I experienced elsewhere that I did not get here at Duxton.
The bar is another beautiful design with excellent, albeit high but expected prices. Lots of martini and gin based drinks, just how I like it. Escape from Kaifeng: gin with house made chrysanthemum, and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service: Gin, vermouth, Yuzu and Green Tea bitter, were both delicious gin-based martinis. Staff here again could have been more proactive. I was given nuts and snacks but not water until I asked for it, personally I think at a property like this water should be a given. I was the only person at the bar at the time, and yet there was no interaction from the staff except for when I asked to order or for the menu and check. While its great to leave guests be, I think a personal touch or simply asking how the drink is and minimal courteous interactions can make a difference. I had a complimentary cocktail with my reservation that I was unable to use on my arrival as the bar closes at midnight, so I was informed I could simply use it anytime during my time in Singapore I just needed to let the bartender know I had a complimentary drink as there was no physical voucher to use. I did just that but was nonetheless accidentally charged for both my drinks instead of one free and one charge, and since I had checked out earlier, my name was no longer attached to the room number so the staff had to confirm with the front desk. Again, while normally I would think this is fine, at a Six Senses one expects a little better.
Again, over all everything about this property is incredible. Excellent design, beautiful design, comfortable rooms, delicious F&B program, convenient and historic location. I wanted to be more WOWed by the property though, and I think its because of the service. The only thing missing, that I hope is only because its still new, is the service level. Just not quite the anticipate your needs, personalized, attention to detail level at other Six Senses properties yet. Again, it could be because its new or it could be because Six Senses is still defining how it wants its brand to be in a business-city setting compared to their resort properties. Or perhaps there is to be a distinction between Six Senses Duxton and Six Senses Maxwell, one being more business boutique and the other full-service boutique? Then again, I feel if you are all under the same over all global brand that has set itself apart as a top luxury hotel chain, you should maintain a certain service standard, regardless of if you are in a city or at a beach in Fiji.