In March 2019, I checked into the Andaz Large Suite King at Andaz Singapore, which occupies levels 25-39 of the gleaming mixed-use development DUO Tower in Bugis. The hotel is accessible via the Downtown line exit of Bugis MRT Station, and is situated close to the ethnic enclaves of Kampong Glam and Little India. The 342-room property has the distinction of being the first Andaz hotel in South-East Asia, and is presently one of Singapore’s newest hotels, having launched only in 2017 (along with Sofitel Singapore City Centre and InterContinental Singapore Robertson Quay).
The UTW (“Under Ten Words”): Accessible luxury vibes and forest lodge cosy feels in Bugis.
The must-dos (if any): Luxuriate in the thoughtfully-appointed room, take a dip in the infinity pool, enjoy the rooftop merriment and views from Mr Stork, have a cocktail at Bar Square.
Designed by prominent interior designer André Fu (who is also behind the luxurious Fullerton Bay Hotel Singapore and Waldorf Astoria Bangkok as well as the hotly-anticipated St. Regis Hong Kong), the hotel’s interiors are inspired by its heritage context, with various features meant to recreate the visual experience of shophouse alleyway exploration in the Bugis area. Besides the bold colour palette of terra cotta, aubergine, olive greens and cumin yellow which pay homage to the vibrant shades of the neighbourhood, other such features include the 360-degree circulation path on the lobby floor, the guest room doorbells which are set into bespoke post-boxes, as well as the mango-yellow foldable doors which serve as room dividers.
The reception area as well as the hotel’s key dining concept, Alley on 25, are situated on the lushly landscaped level 25. Instead of being dressed in conventional uniforms, the hotel staff are decked in colourful silky outfits (there are 15 different designs) with only the Andaz staff badge identifying them, which does lend to the possibility of guests having to move their eyes from one chest to another like a breast-impressed pervert when seeking assistance at the reception area. Since my last visit, the hotel has significantly revamped its Alley on 25 concept. Once comprising six individual concepts primarily based on preparation method – Auntie’s Wok & Steam (Chinese), Smoke & Pepper (open-fire barbecue grill), The Green Oven (yes), Icehaus (all things chilled), Bar Square (the equivalent of the hotel’s lobby lounge and bar) as well as newest kid on the block Teppan Chef’s Table (teppanyaki), the restaurant has decided to keep Auntie’s Wok & Steam and Teppan Chef’s Table as distinct concepts while consolidating all the other concepts into one main dining restaurant simply known as Alley on 25.
Andaz Singapore does not have a club lounge. In its place is the Sunroom, a lounge accessible by hotel guests which serves light refreshments all day. During my last visit, the Sunroom hosted in-house guests for evening wines and beers during sundown, and I remember having made choice remarks about the crowd level and children playing with toy cars on the floor. The crowd situation is no longer an issue…because the hotel has since done away with evening drinks, instead supplying guests their libations through the in-room complimentary mini-bar (think Bacardi Breezer, Tiger Beer and Andaz Pale Ale, which was specially created for the hotel by local microbrewery, RedDot Brewhouse). The red and white elixirs are sorely missed.
On the wellness front, the hotel comes with a well-equipped gym on level 38 and an outdoor infinity pool on level 25. The infinity pool is a magnet for families with floats, Instagram content creators and topless sunbathers alike (instead of just undoing her bikini top as many do, one particularly gung-ho lady dispensed with the bikini top altogether, with her papayas openly staring at different directions under the midday sun). The discreet changing room on level 26 houses both a nice, toasty sauna as well as what appears to be a high-tech sci-fi contraption with functions such as Cold Mist, Air Shower and the very mysterious and exotically-monikered “Siberian Night”.
ANDAZ LARGE SUITE KING
The 114sqm Andaz Large Suite King – a World of Hyatt premium suite – is enormous, with floor-to-ceiling windows bathing the various rooms in a warm and energetic glow. The massive living room comprises two separate couches with their respective dining and coffee tables, as well as a cosy cavernous entertainment den area with a television and sofa bed which can double up as an additional private room with the help of foldable doors. The Bose sound system, with speakers discreetly fitted along the air vents beneath the ceiling, delivers bass-heavy and (literally) surround sound results.
With the exception of bottled spirits such as The Botanist gin and Johnnie Walker Black Label whisky, beverages from the minibar – think Milo, San Pellegrino sparkling water, Tiger Beer, Andaz Pale Ale and Bacardi Breezer – are complimentary. On the hot beverage front, guests can help themselves to TWG tea and Nespresso coffee. A powder room near the suite entrance provides opportunities for simultaneous guest bowel activities.
The bedroom comprises a king bed with bedside controls and USB charging ports, as well as a chaise and table which can double up as a work station. As I noted during my first stay, the bedroom’s orange-warm woodiness conjures very comfortable warm and familiar forest lodge vibes, and my sleep was deep and restful. Elsewhere, the connected double closet, which one would pass en-route to the bathroom, is not so much walk-in as it is a room in itself.
The beautifully appointed bathroom is ostensibly designed for lovers. Besides the backlit double vanities and double shower (!!), a window-side bench is thoughtfully located near the freestanding bathtub, with the art gallery-esque set-up no doubt facilitating deep and meaningful bubble-laden conversations. Bathroom amenities are from French perfumer, Christophe Laudamiel, with the Singapore Fusion #19 scent being exclusive to the property.
We had originally booked the 76sqm Andaz Suite King to celebrate a friend’s birthday, and were chuffed to have been upgraded to the Andaz Large Suite King. Also, shortly after we checked into the room, the assistant manager for guest relations, Delia, dropped by to surprise the birthday boy with the hotel’s signature pandan chiffon cake and a customised birthday card. Truly outstanding service all around.
Buffet breakfast is served at Alley on 25, comprising the usual cold cuts, healthy choices like fresh fruits and Acai Berry Puree, Western breakfast sides and brunch staples such as French Toast and Waffles, Asian dishes such as Dim Sum and Stir-Fried Noodles as well as local dishes like Carrot Cake and Laksa. The restaurant’s all-day a la carte menu taps into various regional flavours, with the bewitchingly addictive Grilled Squid with Vietnamese Spice possessing the amorous smokiness of a mysterious gentleman’s club cigar lounge dalliance and the Korean Style Boneless Wagyu Short Rib releasing an otherworldly smokiness in manner of genie out of bottle as you bite into the juicy, sesame toasty, Korean sweet and invitingly pink core.
Elsewhere on the same level, Teppan Chef’s Table currently serves lunchtime donburi sets while Auntie’s Wok & Steam serves Chinese cuisine with touches of local flavours. I had the opportunity to check out their highly value-for-money seasonal dinner mala claypot and beer set, which featured your choice of one large claypot to share (options included Kurobuta Pork Collar, Sustainable Barramundi Fillet and Australian Wagyu Beef) as well as a Firecracker Fried Chicken, steamed rice and four bottles of Andaz Pale Ale. The Kurobuta Pork Collar claypot played it surprisingly persuasive in its mala xiang guo-esque bathroom-coaxing coquettishness while the Firecracker Fried Chicken was, while addictive, decidedly more conservative in its sultry invitations.
Located on the highest floors of the hotel, 665°F is a grillhouse concept specialising in halal-certified prime cuts and sustainable seafood, while Mr Stork is the hotel’s rooftop bar, best known for its open-air teepee hut seating.
On the cocktail front, the drinks at Bar Square are often brutally efficient and they do not pussyfoot around. This is not something I can say about the drinks at Mr Stork, which are decidedly Hello Kitty-esque in their mild persuasions. However, the spacious Mr Stork does possess a magnificent view, and its signature teepee hut seats come in clusters for larger groups as well as isolated single huts for a bit of night-time naughtiness.
Beyond the hotel grounds, DUO Galleria itself houses various restaurants such as Peruvian concept Tono Cevicheria, French concept So France as well as Japanese concepts Man Man Japanese Unagi Restaurant and Nana’s Green Tea. (Let’s Eat, a food court serving local fare, is available for the impoverished who have expensive enough taste to have booked an Andaz stay.) The popular Great Gatsby-esque Atlas Bar, housed within the Gotham City-ish Parkview Square, is just steps away.
The hotel appears to have ironed out most of the kinks that were present during my initial visit. Aside from displaying a marked confidence in both their service and F&B offerings, the guest rooms are also some of the most chic, comfortable and well-designed in Singapore. I would definitely return.
5 Fraser Street