Signature checks in to… Six Senses Duxton, Singapore
Six Senses takes its mission of ‘reconnecting with yourself, others and the world around you’ to the heart of Singapore to create its first urban hotel, and nails the concept.
Traveller: Tina-Louise Jackson
Room: Opium Suite
Address: 83 Duxton Road, Singapore 089540
Date: May 2018
Best for: A boutique city stay with historic sensitivity that invites you to slow down and appreciate the detail.
The Signature factor
It’s undoubtedly the detail that sets Six Senses Duxton apart from many hotels in Singapore. While the traditional turndown service may include slippers by the side of the bed and a chocolate on your pillow, at Six Senses Duxton it includes a carefully laid-out wellness gift on the bed (a selection of herbal remedies, mindfulness colouring sheet with colouring pencils and a brainteaser to help you unplug and relax), along with some Alice in Wonderland-esque wellness tinctures in the fridge: one for sunset and one for sunrise.
Set in a thoughtfully renovated row of heritage trading houses, originally a nutmeg factory, with design by Brit Anouska Hempel, Six Senses Duxton retains an air of Singapore gone by. Black, gold and yellow interiors give a nod to the opium dens that apparently once occupied some of the shophouses in the area, with all the comforts of a modern city hotel.
Arriving after a long day flight from Sydney, in the heat of the Singapore afternoon, I step into the cool dark interior of the hotel, and immediately feel the Six Senses experience begin. Before being taken to my room to check in, I’m handed an iced glass of home-made chrysanthemum cordial, while Miguel offers me a welcome Singing Bowl experience, a Tibetan meditative therapy, promoting mindfulness. A strange sensation it may be, however, I’m feeling instantly relaxed as I head up to my room.
The Opium Suite is beautifully appointed. While not large, as one might expect from a hotel room in a heritage building, the room boasts a four-poster bed with an organic mattress and beautiful lacquerware detail, with a separate dining/lounge area plus bathroom with an oversized walk-in shower. As the name suggests, the suite is designed in the style of the opium dens once found in the area, and decorated in the hotel’s signature black and gold, with wallpaper denoting a property indenture dating from 1860s Britain, the decade in which these shophouses were apparently built. All the mod-cons of a modern hotel are here, of course, with Wi-Fi, Bose speakers and a Nespresso machine to ensure coffee cravings are satisfied.
With five specialty suite types to choose from, the Montgomerie Suite is the largest, named after the Montgomerie family who originally owned these shophouses. The Duxton Duplex Suite, set over two floors, has a spiral staircase leading up to the bedroom area. My personal favourite is the Pearl Suite, a departure from the black and gold of most of the hotel, almost pure white, with mother-of-pearl inlaid cabinets and a bathtub, the only room type in the hotel to have one.
On my plate
The Yellow Pot offers breakfast, lunch and dinner in a contemporary setting, utilising locally and sustainably sourced produce where possible to serve up an innovative yet authentic Chinese dining experience. Try the hotel’s signature cocktail, Escape to Kaifung, featuring Tanqueray gin and chrysanthemum cordial. I dine on slow-cooked beef rib and the juiciest prawns in a curry sauce. Breakfast is à la carte and I opt for breakfast with a local twist: a Singapore Chilli Crab omelette. Everything served is beautifully presented and the taste exquisite.
Highlights from the mini-bar
The bar area in my suite contains every soft drink and alcoholic beverage I could want, with a selection of local snacks in reusable glass jars and Six Senses drinking water.
I wish I could take home…
The Singing Bowl. While an art to execute well, I’m sure, it’s a reminder that we need to take more time in our busy lives to just ‘be’ and focus on the sensations and sounds around us.
While Six Senses Duxton doesn’t have a spa (the soon-to-open Six Senses Maxwell, Singapore will and guests will be able to share the facilities), it does offer traditional experiences, with every guest offered a complimentary consultation with a traditional Chinese medicine doctor. Although not speaking a word of English, Dr Zhang feels the acupressure points in my wrists (we have six apparently) and looks at my tongue, then makes an alarmingly accurate diagnosis of my current state of health. While the herbal medicines are extra, when I return to my room after dinner, there are 14 neatly packaged Chinese herb sachets waiting in my room.
Although there is free Wi-Fi in every room, take time to unplug and curl up with a book in one of the nooks in the hotel lobby. Try one of the traditional experiences in place of a spa treatment: Chinese Tea Appreciation, morning yoga at the petite park behind the hotel or, of course, the traditional Chinese medicine consultation to relax the mind and soul.
Set close to Chinatown in Tanjong Pagar, explore the heritage areas surrounding the hotel, wandering small lanes of shophouses and local food delights, including Maxwell Food Centre. A short taxi or MRT ride will take you into modern Singapore, with its high-end shopping, bars and clubs.
As a conservation project, Six Senses Duxton has received the Urban Redevelopment Authority Architectural Heritage Award.
Room for improvement
My room is beautiful, however, a little more light for applying makeup would be wonderful, just to be sure I’m not rocking the Alice Cooper look when I emerge.
I could live at a Six Senses…
Where to find it