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Singapore: Intercontinental Singapore80 Middle Road, Phone: 65.6338.7600
Reviewed by: Jeff H from NH, review #2117
When: Throughout the 90's
Quiet, classy and conveniently near the action in Singapore.
Located at the intersection of Victoria Street, Middle Road and North Bridge Road, Bugis Junction consists of a shopping mall, an office tower and the InterContinental Singapore.
Situated a few blocks east of the downtown area of the city and just on the edge of Little India, the Intercontinental is a top shelf place to stay. It is smaller (around 400 rooms & suites) than most hotels in Singapore, which boasts some very large (even imposing) choices with all the accoutrements, but it more than competes due to the conscious strategy of providing an alternative atmosphere with a lack of hustle bustle, or extraneous noise or mobs of people coming and going through the lobby, elevators, bar and restaurant. And the basic single room with queen or king sized bed on one of its 16 floors is very comfortable.
My rooms here (6 or 7 occasions, for weeks at a time) were always the same: sumptuous, soft and clean with a work area/desk, internet connection, pants press, seating area with coffee table and plenty of room for luggage, ample closet space and a very large and well stocked bathroom/WC/Shower, which was completely tiled - no need to worry about banging your elbows on the shower wall here: separate from the tub it's 4x4! The large, no, HUGE fluffy pillows, which can be purchased and shipped if you like, definitely add to the luxurious feel.
The lobby restaurant is toward the back at ground level - it's an Olive Tree and except for breakfast, I never ate there. The breakfast buffet was popular and attended by a wide variety of clientele and some locals, due to the wide selection of national foods from which to choose. Nothing special mind you, but plenty of variety. Oh, the fruit was special actually, being fresh and locally grown, just like most of SE Asian fare. All in all, a somewhat utilitarian room when compared to the rest of the hotel, but not bad for a quick bite and the only alternative on the premises for breakfast.
A more stylish restaurant is one level up, accessible by stairs or elevator and with a public entrance from the covered mall to which the Intercontinental is attached - this is Chinese and fancy. Westerners just don't think of Chinese food as haute cuisine, but chopsticks and all, the food, the service and the bill were special. The atmosphere included low lighting, lanterns and fans and the waitresses wore sleek, tight fitting black dresses with thigh high slits up the leg, just to complete the "You're not in Kansas anymore" impression, I guess.
After work, which in my case was a three block walk, a few patrons, (me included) would unwind in the central atrium (three floors high) surrounded by colonial white trimmed walkways made to look like porches (this is Peranakan-style, I understand). It was nice to relax to the easy listening of a piano in a small vestibule on the first level up from the sitting area. Lots of mahogany chairs and tables with glass tops, reading material from all over the world and an attentive wait staff to fetch wine from the Victoria Bar nearby off the atrium.
In keeping with the Intercontinental theme that seems to say that bigger is not necessarily better, the hotel pool is quite small by hotel standards. Once again, as with all other aspects of the hotel, it is very clean and very well appointed with wooden lounges, gorgeous tropical flowers all around and a couple of veranda style retreats to get out of the hot equatorial sun. Situated on the third floor outside, overlooking the front entrance and street, it is perfectly quiet in spite of its proximity to downtown. I stayed in this hotel so long, I was invited to a poolside drink and nosh as a token of the hotel's appreciation and this spot is nice for cocktails, sunning, swimming, finger food or dozing on a soft over-sized towel.
Directly out the ground level back door of the Intercontinental is a medium sized shopping mall, complete with an assortment of mall-type eating establishments, a couple of anchor stores (Seiyo was one) and lots of gift, clothing, electronic, leather, luggage, even grocery shops spread over two or three levels above ground and two levels below ground.
I found a barber shop, where the guy who cut my hair was thrilled to have an opportunity to work on "brown and curly," rather than "black and straight" - it turned out OK, considering I may have been a Guinea Pig.
The computer controlled fountain on the street level of the mall is a hoot, since many of the toddlers, encouraged by the mid-day heat in Singapore and allowed by their parents, love to play in, around and under the streams of water that jet in all directions in no particular order. The giggles and screams of the kids dashing about amid the squirts of water attracted a medium sized crowd every time I went by.
Little India, Raffles, Boat and Clarke Quay, the Funan Center and the Cricket grounds are all within walking distance in this compact downtown area, so you are by no means out of the city, even though it feels that way at the quiet, slow, easy living and thoroughly classy Intercontinental Hotel Bugis Junction.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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