A Closer Look at Six Senses Duxton’s Orientalist Charms

The Six Senses group has made its long-awaited debut in Singapore with an intimate heritage property that’s big on character.

The hotel’s newly restored facade at dusk.

Set in a row of eight mid-19th-century shophouses along Chinatown’s leafy Duxton Road, the 49-room Six Senses Duxton marks both the luxury hospitality brand’s first foray into an urban destination, and London-based designer Anouska Hempel’s first hotel project in Singapore.

The remarkable conservation project led by architect Faye Moey has preserved the facade’s eclectic mix of Malay timber fretwork, slender French windows, Portuguese shutters, and elaborately carved Corinthian pilasters so typical of buildings of that era. The interiors, meanwhile, are a fantastical concoction straight out of Hempel’s playbook. Here, the preeminent designer has imagined a lost Chinese girl who believes she is an empress and comes into her royal destiny at the hotel. Which explains the vivid pan-Asian flourishes so familiar to fans of Hempel’s work on Blakes in Amsterdam—namely, red and gold trim, lacquered pots, glossy ebony wall panels, and imperial yellow sofas that are layered with stylized black room screens, four-poster Chinese platform beds, wallpaper embossed with 18th-century indentures from Hempel’s private collection, and elaborate golden fans.

Inside a living room of the skylight suite at Six Senses Duxton.

Due to the peculiarities of the buildings’ original footprint, each room has a unique configuration, though Naturalmat organic mattresses, bathroom amenities by The Organic Pharmacy, and minibars stocked with craft spirits are standard offerings. The suites, in particular, feature unexpected ceiling height restrictions that may prove challenging for tall guests. The entry-level rooms are calm cocoons of white and dark hues, but Hempel’s love for theatrical set pieces are shown off to best effect in the moodily lit Montgomerie Suite and the dazzling silvery white shimmer of the Pearl Suite.

The Orientalist vibe is amped up by the hotel’s menu of diversions, among them Chinese tea classes, morning yoga in the adjoining park, and a wellness kit at turn-down that includes nutmeg oil for jet lag and muscle aches, herbal pills for gastric woes, and Tiger Balm for everything else. All this, alongside an in-house TCM practitioner who prescribes from his medicinal herbal dispensary sweet tinctures of snow chrysanthemum and marigold to stave off travel-induced insomnia.

And after an evening trawling through the neighborhood’s atmospheric haul of karaoke bars, Korean barbecue joints, and hawker fare, a nightcap of hot whisky, brandy, and absinthe in the hotel’s antiquarian-themed Yellow Pot bar is just what the doctor ordered.

In July, a slightly larger sophomore Six Senses property—this time designed by Jacques Garcia, the creative genius behind La Mamounia in Marrakesh and Paris’s Hotel Costes—will open a few blocks away.

More information here.

This article originally appeared in the June/July 2018 print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“Chinatown Charmer”).


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