Review: Sofitel So Singapore Hotel
Sofitel So Singapore Hotel
Slap-bang in the middle of the island state’s busy business district, Sofitel So Singapore’s location initially doesn’t seem so promising for the leisure traveller. But, as it soon eventuates, it’s brilliantly situated. A road which runs beside the hotel is, at 7pm each night, transformed, into the “Satay Street”, right next to a buzzy hawker market while Chinatown is just a short stroll down the street with the massive Marina Bay Sands casino and entertainment complex a quick taxi ride away.
This newly-opened hotel, one of Sofitel’s new and expanding brand of edgy, design-forward properties, is in the grand heritage-listed Eastern Extension Telegraph Company building from the late 1920s. Due to its vintage, many of the guest rooms are blessed with unusually and pleasingly high ceilings. The hotel’s designer, Singapore-based Frenchwoman Isabelle Miaja, has installed droll faux skylights inserted with images of the cupolas of certain European buildings. Karl Lagerfeld, the famed French designer, has also had a hand in the hotel’s design: he provided its Singapore lion seal logo as well as chic cream and black Chanel uniforms for front-of-house staff.
If design hotels aren’t entirely to your tastes than the floridly-decorated, design-heavy rooms here may be a shock to the senses. But the extraordinary attention to detail throughout has to be acknowledged. Our capacious, 85-square-metre “So Lofty Suite”, styled to reflect a Parisian apartment plonked in the middle of south-east Asia, is a little lacking in natural light due its CBD locale but it includes a large balcony, dominated by the huge columns of the heritage building’s facade. The room is equipped with the now requisite espresso machine and the “world’s first completely Apple-based guest technology”. It includes easy-to-use mini iPads controlling all room functions and iPhones for in-house calls. One of the most lavish features of our suite is a double-sized square Italian bathtub.
Sofitel So Singapore is a perfect base and place to hang out for a few nights or more, the rooms aided by its small though congenial bar in the compact lobby (don’t miss the potent in-house cocktail and the cute bed lounge in the restaurant). Upstairs is a rooftop bar, HI-SO, by the hotel’s golden-tiled pool with views of the Singapore skyline.
There’s an excellent in-house French-influenced restaurant (with a typically silly hotel name), Xperience, replete with signature Franco-Asian dish: foie gras shumai dumplings. Straight across the street is the Lau Pa Sat, the grand dame of Singaporean hawker markets housed in an ornate open-side colonial building that’s a landmark in its own right. Down the road are the pricier restaurants, bars and cafes of Chinatown. For something really flashy head to the exclusive dining spots at Marina Bay Sands.
Singapore, too often dismissed as a mere stopover destination, is increasingly worthy of an extended stay. Once you’ve exorcised your retail therapy demons there are many neighbourhoods to explore. Try emerging Kampong Glam, the city state’s old Arab quarter, now full of cool boutiques, bars and cafes. Don’t miss Gardens by the Bay, with its towering man-made trees and airport-terminal like conservatories where you can take lunch in airconditioned, sunlit comfort at the Flower Dome at Terrace.
Sofitel So Singapore’s parent company, Accor, has in recent years chosen to accentuate its French heritage, and this hotel is the embodiment of that policy. It’s a fun, lively and stylish place with something to inspire the design-lover around every corner. There’s a wow-factor to this well-located hotel that you won’t easily forget.
Doubles start from $S279 ($262)
35 Robinson Rd, Singapore. Phone +65 6701 6800;