In October 2018, I checked into the Stamford Suite at The Capitol Kempinski Hotel Singapore, which is notable for being the first Kempinski-operated hotel in Singapore. Comprising 157 guest rooms and suites situated within the restored historic neoclassical buildings Capitol Building and Stamford House and minutes away from City Hall MRT Station, the ultra-luxury hotel is part of Capitol Singapore, a heritage and multi-use lifestyle integrated development in Singapore’s downtown civic and cultural district which houses upscale shopping and dining destination Capitol Piazza.
The property has had its fair share of woes. Initially intended to be launched as a six-star hotel known as The Patina, Capitol Singapore in 2015, the launch suffered numerous delays due to long-running shareholder disputes. With European luxury hotelier Kempinski Hotels now operating the hotel, both the hospitality industry and luxury hotel enthusiasts alike are watching the launch of the hotel with much interest (especially given the brow-raising room rates), and I definitely came with a certain degree of expectations.
The UTW (“Under Ten Words”): Luxurious colonial heritage charm meets sophisticated, minimalist classiness.
The must-dos (if any): Enjoy the spacious guest rooms and European architecture, soak in the saltwater relaxation pool, have a drink at The Bar.
THE CAPITOL KEMPINSKI HOTEL SINGAPORE
The Capitol Kempinski Hotel Singapore is divided into two sections – the Capitol wing and the Stamford wing, connected via a glass/marble linkway on each room level. Its aesthetic pairs decidedly Victorian sensibilities with a certain fondness of geometric shapes and tessellations. Colours are generally creamy, warm and muted, with generous splashes of marble, leather and plush amping up the luxury factor.
Visual features of the hotel remind me of Park Hyatt Bangkok, especially the sophisticated and minimalist stylings of the passageways. Despite the relatively small size of the property, the layout of the room floors is fairly The Shining-esque in its labyrinthine complexity, with a significant number of meandering passageways and turns, and more columns and partitions than there are sweaty busok kids at a National Day Parade rehearsal. The elevators on the ground floor hide shyly behind multiple fat blocky pillars, like a beauty spot in a hidden bit on your body that is obscured from view.
The dining areas feel decidedly less aloof. The assistance of warm lighting, plush and rich woods lend a warm cosiness to The Lobby Lounge, while elsewhere the dramatic archways, grand windows and European influences at the (soon-to-be-open) 15 Stamford add a touch of sophisticated grandeur and posh luxury to the proceedings. However, the former (along with The Bar) are currently only accessible by in-house guests, while the launch of 15 Stamford will be announced in time.
The 58 sqm Stamford Suite features a bedroom with a work desk, lounge area with a mini-bar and coffee and tea-making facilities as well as an open bathroom. Each of the separate rooms (even the bathroom) features its own television screen. The patterned design of the room’s cornices supposedly pays homage to the scales of the Merlion, Singapore’s ubiquitous mascot.
The bedroom’s most significant feature is the striking archway which frames the almost-ceiling high window. The cream-coloured blinds and drapes partially obscure the two windows on the sides even when they are fully drawn, which may hold back the natural lighting potential of the suite. A working desk with vanity and hairdryer compartment faces the busy traffic along Stamford Road, and the low floors of the property means one may wish to refrain from bouncing or swishing anything while au naturel near the window to avoid entertaining restless double-decker SMRT bus passengers.
While power points are available on both sides of the king-sized bed, only the right side of the bed gets its own USB point and Qi wireless charger for Apple devices (!). The wardrobe, tucked away unceremoniously in a far corner of the suite, has an interesting foldable door but may be bullied in hotel room school for its notably lanky frame, especially since its suite partner is such a full-figured dame.
The open bathroom features double vanities, a bathtub with its own television screen as well as a separate rainfall shower. While the bathtub lacks a head rest for a comfortable lay, it does come with a tray for your loofah, a glass of champagne and the latest bestseller/erotic Fifty Shades of Grey-esque read. The toilet boasts a (fairly confusing) Duravit automated flush system panel. Amenities are from the Tuscan Soul range from Salvatore Ferragamo which I first came across at Waldorf Astoria Bangkok, and once you use them, the lingering expensive fragrance is detected the moment you step into the door in manner of ION Orchard-esque atas perfume.
A notable feature is that you have the option of keeping the bath and vanity/toilet areas either open or enclosed with sliding doors. In addition, you can use a separate pair of sliding doors to partition the bathroom and lounge areas, although I generally kept all doors open to keep the room feeling significantly more spacious.
The hotel boasts Singapore’s first saltwater relaxation pool, as well as luxury spa (which primarily uses Gaylia Kristensen products) and 24hr gym facilities. The luxury spa rooms are presently unavailable to guests, although therapies can be still be booked and held in designated private guest rooms.
The Kempinski Boutique on the ground floor showcases a selection of chocolate products and spirits, with pairing and tasting sessions available.
Meeting rooms are available for business guests, including The Atelier, a 230 sqm event salon which can hold up to 220 guests, as well as a foyer meeting room with an open show kitchen.
The hotel currently serves breakfast at The Lobby Lounge, the hotel’s tea lounge. Cereals, cold cuts, juices, fruits, milk and pastries are available from the buffet line, while the a la carte menu includes Asian hot selections like Wanton Noodle Soup and Capitol Congee, egg creations like Eggs Benedict and Egg White Omelette, as well as Waffles and Pancakes.
Elements of the Wanton Noodle Soup came across more alkaline than fine, although the chicken broth was suitably comforting. The Egg White Omelette, served with confit tomatoes, spinach, mashed avocado and asparagus, was done to perfection. The Waffles and Pancakes, served with icing sugar, cinnamon powder, pure maple syrup and banana compote, were happily sized as desserts (as opposed to dessert mains).
Once international restaurant 15 Stamford is up and running, guests can enjoy a full continental breakfast experience. 15 Stamford is one to watch, as the Chinese-influenced restaurant will be helmed by a Michelin-starred chef.
The Bar, presently only accessible by in-house guests, plays it all whisky bar leathery meets Long Bar at Raffles Hotel (sans peanuts) in its classic bar stylings, with their confident send-ups of classic cocktails such as Negroni and Old Fashioned delivering on all fronts. Bar snacks include salted egg fish skin, which is fairly dangerous in its addictiveness.
The hotel’s brand of ultra luxury is not quite on the same scale as that of The Fullerton Hotel Singapore. However, the hotel leaves a distinct impression, combining the heritage colonial charm of Raffles Hotel with the minimalist, discreet classiness of a Park Hyatt property.
It is a shame that some of the key functions of the hotel, such as continental breakfast at 15 Stamford, are unavailable at the point of soft launch. As a consequence, it makes you think twice about splurging on the steep price tag like I did (which is considerably steep even after the 20% Opening Special discount with complimentary breakfast). Kempinski enthuiasts/GHA members should wait until the hotel’s grand opening in 2019 before booking their stay so as not to be shortchanged in terms of the complete Kempinski experience.
The Capitol Kempinski Hotel Singapore
15 Stamford Road