In October 2019, I checked into the Heritage Suite at InterContinental Singapore. Situated in the heart of the bustling Bugis historic precinct, the 403-room hotel is conveniently connected to adjoining shopping mall Bugis Junction with its variety of shopping and retail options and steps away from Bugis MRT Station, popular dining streets in the neighbourhood as well as the vibrant and colourful Kampong Glam ethnic enclave. Changi Airport is about 20 minutes away by car, while Marina Bay Sands is just a few train stops away on the Downtown Line.
The hotel is the flagship hotel of InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) in Singapore, and should not be confused with InterContinental Singapore Robertson Quay, its younger sister property which opened its doors in 2017. Another notable hotel in the Bugis district is Andaz Singapore.
The UTW (“Under Ten Words”): Flagship IHG hotel with impressive service standards in Bugis.
Must Dos: Enjoy all the food presentations at the Club InterContinental, have afternoon tea at the Lobby Lounge.
The hotel comprises the 16-storey Main Tower which houses the more recently-renovated guest rooms as well as the Heritage Wing which preserves and incorporates some of the Bugis district’s former 1920s Straits Chinese shophouses into the hotel’s structure and design. The general aesthetic draws heavily from its Peranakan heritage, with shophouse imagery playing an integral part in the hotel’s lower levels, from the shophouse facade of the hotel’s circular driveway to the louvred windows, wooden shutters and timber flooring of the Heritage Wing. The social spaces often incorporate Straits Chinese-influenced flourishes such as the recurring brightly-coloured Peranakan ceramic tile design featured around the premises as well as the Peranakan ornaments such as antique basins and traditional food containers which can be found in the Club InterContinental. The central Lobby Lounge is the property’s most lively space with soaring light-filled ceilings, live musical performances and an evocative colonial spirit.
The hotel boasts six dining and entertainment concepts: all-day European restaurant Ash & Elm; Chinese restaurant Man Fu Yuan; afternoon tea destination Lobby Lounge; Japanese fine-dining restaurant Chikuyotei; cocktail bar Idlewild; and artisanal bakery and cafe Baker & Cook.
In terms of wellness, the swimming pool is situated on the 4th level, while the fitness centre can be found on the 3rd level. The pool is not the biggest around, but there were a fair number of sun beds as well as a mini pool for kids and a spa pool which allows one to enjoy an invigorating butt cavern massage given the right sitting/lying position.
Located within an open-air part of the Heritage Wing with idyllic colonial vibes, the 55sqm Heritage Suite delivers a decidedly unique experience in its channeling of traditional shophouse living, in stark contrast to the Peranakan-tinged modernity of the rooms in the Main Tower. The elegant suite plays it all timber flooring, ornate decorative artefacts as well as shophouse window shutters overlooking the Bugis Junction shopping arcade below. The suite features an entrance foyer where the wardrobe and pantry are situated, with the bathroom, bedroom, living room and foyer being connected in a closed loop. The living room is furnished with a large work desk as well as a sofa couch, while the pantry is equipped with Nespresso coffee and TWG tea-making facilities as well as a minibar stocked with an assortment of canned drinks, juices, bottled still and sparkling water, wines and mini bottles of spirits.
The bathroom features double vanities, a built-in bathtub as well as an enclosed rainfall shower. The lemon verbena-scented amenities are from American aromatherapy brand Agraria.
Heritage Suite guests have access to the Club InterContinental, also located in the Heritage Wing.
Breakfast is served at Ash & Elm, the all-day European restaurant located on the ground level. The restaurant boasts a light-filled ceiling which charges the space with much vitality, something appreciated in the morning. The relatively modest buffet spread comprises choices such as cold cuts and cheeses; fresh fruits and juices; Western breakfast sides; breads and pastries; and a combined noodle and egg station. Signatures in their a la carte menu include 350-day Grain-Fed Futari Wagyu Tomahawk, Chargrilled Octopus and Pumpkin and Bacon Pizza. The restaurant is also popular for its themed Weekend Champagne Brunch which pairs Taittinger Brut champagne with premium seafood on ice, a variety of different caviars, gourmet hot dishes as well as an indulgent range of pastries and sweets.
Located on the 2nd level, Man Fu Yuan serves modern Cantonese fine dining in an elegant setting. Signatures include their Roasted Suckling Pig with Five Grain Glutinous Rice, Crocodile Consommé with Oriental Herbs and X.O. Cognac and Stir-fried Chicken Wings Stuffed with Abalone, Prawn Paste and Thai Basil.
The ground level Lobby Lounge is known for their Classic Afternoon Tea programme by pastry chef Ben Goh which refreshes every few months. Previous menus in the series include their fruit-centric The Garden and Northern European-inspired Revelry menus, while their upcoming menu will be presented in collaboration with luxury beauty brand Chantecaille and inspired by the brand’s Rose de Mai collection.
The newest concept in the hotel is Idlewild, a cocktail bar inspired by the golden age of air travel. The sexy, intimate space plays it all retro-luxe sophistication in its interiors, boasting a stunning bar counter as well as plush private booth seats. Cocktails are inspired by cities along the popular Transatlantic Route – think New York’s The Big Apple (Lairds Apple Brandy, Rebel Yell Rye Whiskey, Mancino Bianco Vermouth, Becherovka, Apple Syrup, Black Walnut Bitters) and Rome’s Coretto Negroni (Citadelle Gin, Mancino Chinato Vermouth, Campari, Cascara). Those feeling particularly adventurous should request for a bespoke flight from the bar’s Cabinet of Curiosities, a hidden space stocked with unusual and exotic spirits and knick-knacks from around the world.
Rounding up the hotel’s dining concepts are Japanese fine-dining concept Chikuyotei, best known for their eel dishes, as well as artisanal bakery and cafe concept Baker & Cook.
IHG Rewards Club members staying at the property enjoy 20% savings when they dine at Ash & Elm, The Lobby Lounge and Man Fu Yuan.
Situated on the 2nd level within the Heritage Wing, the Club InterContinental offers private check-in and check-out services for club guests as well as breakfast, tiered afternoon tea and evening cocktails and canapes. Breakfast at the club lounge is a relatively private and calm affair, with guests being able to enjoy a limited buffet spread as well as choose from an a la carte hot food menu, of which the Nasi Lemak is easily my favourite option, with the understated-looking sambal packing a fiery, Hitmonchan-esque punch. The Club InterContinental’s signature tiered afternoon tea features scones with an assortment of spreads, light savoury bites such as finger sandwiches and mini quiches as well as dainty sweets, often with at least one local or Peranakan selection such as Kueh Lapis (Indonesian layer cake) and Ondeh Ondeh (coconut-covered glutinous balls).
The club lounge’s most elaborate presentation is their evening cocktails and canapes. Aside from a mini buffet of cold canapes, fruits, pastries, cheeses and bread, the kitchen serves trays of hot canapes (Chicken Teriyaki, Beef Goulash Soup, Char Siu Chicken Roulade, Spicy Mash Potato with Mini Cheese Cone, Braised Beef Croquette with Beetroot Tzatziki, Arancini with Tomato Coulis and Tandoori Chicken with Mini Naan Bread and Cucumber Yoghurt have made appearances), with the selection rotating daily. In terms of booze, guests can choose from a range of wines and beers, with Riondo Sesto Senso Prosecco being the bubbly of choice. A small cocktail menu is also available, with options such as Singapore Sling, Cosmopolitan, Margarita, Long Island Iced Tea and Dry Martini.
This hotel – and in particular, the Club InterContinental lounge – was one of my earliest luxury hotel experiences. In many ways, the stay kick-started my journey writing about luxury travel experiences as well as understanding and appreciating hotel loyalty programmes.
While it may not be the most luxurious or fashionable brand around, InterContinental’s dedication to delivering warm, personalised attention and high service standards remains an unassailable strength. From a Front Desk staff assisting me with placing a call overseas to rectify a wrong crediting of nights and firmly conquering various roadblocks to get the problem resolved, to the gracious offer of a room upgrade by a Club Manager over a mere dead battery in my room’s television remote control, I have nothing but pleasant memories of the hotel’s commendable service standards. I would unreservedly recommend this property.
80 Middle Road