It is rare that in “new” countries like Singapore one gets to stay in a building with a rich heritage.
Yet, I find myself in a hotel that is housed in two conserved buildings, Stamford House and Capitol Building, at the junction of Stamford Road and North Bridge Road, where movie billboards once lured people to worlds they never imagined. The buildings, which are now linked, still pretty much does that — it takes you to a world never imagined in what is The Capitol Kempinski Hotel Singapore.
Having opened on Oct 1, 2018, the 155-room luxury hotel follows years of meticulous restoration and renovation by architect Richard Meier, to bring out the best of the neo-classical-style Capitol Building, built in 1930, and Venetian Renaissance-style Stamford House, built in 1904.
As soon as you enter, you are greeted by Kempinski’s brand ambassador, the Lady In Red, who’s intimate knowledge of the hotel and its surroundings are a huge plus. While the hotel is spread across two buildings, it should be mentioned that well before my stay I was emailed a questionnaire on room choice, beverage preference and other sundries. A-plus for service and I haven’t even checked-in!
The Capitol Kempinski is more of an integrated lifestyle complex. It has the legendary Capitol Theatre, Arcade@The Capitol Kempinski and a retail mall, Capitol Singapore.
Getting to the room may seem rather cramped compared to the luxury hotels in Bangkok, but do try and remember that these were once heritage buildings. There are five rooms and three suites to choose from and if you’re not spending much time in your hotel, I suggest choosing the Heritage room, overlooking a side street.
These are rooms with ample-sized bathrooms and enclosed balconies, but with views to watch the world go by while sipping on a beverage. The balcony with its old fashioned cupboard reminded me of my grandparents house back in the day. A homage to colonial times.
The bathroom has a huge free-standing bathtub for a generous soak and as with most uber luxurious hotels, a TV at the end of it. So you’re relaxing with a drink and your fav TV show. See a better way to end the day? I think not. However, the shower is what one should really be in awe of. (I know this sounds silly). But to have a rainshower, a hand shower and a projected shower all on you at the same thing is as luxurious as it is relaxing and there is nothing more to ask for. I should mention that the amenities are from Salvatore Ferragamo.
If you want to take unwinding to the next level, pamper yourself at the spa or the gym, which is also attached to the hotel’s outdoor saltwater relaxation pool. Though not big, it can, at times, feels private.
While having breakfast in your indoor balcony is tempting, it is best to head down to 15 Stamford by Alvin Leung, where an array of tempting delights will entice you. The Asian corner is the way to go with congee, laksa, dim sum and a few Indian dishes on offer. Though the Western spread is good, too and if you’re staying for more than two nights, it’s a spread that offers variety on all days. There are also freshly-baked pastries, artisanal coffees and teas and juices galore.
The hotel promises no shortage of gastronomic adventures with 15 Stamford by Alvin Leung, which is the all-day dining outlet; The Bar at 15 Stamford, a popular drinking hole that also holds Singapore’s largest collections of rums at 160 labels; and the Lobby Lounge for afternoon tea, tastefully hidden behind the check-in desks.
If you want to venture out of the hotel, try the adjoining Arcade@The Capitol Kempinski, home to Frieda Beer Garden & German Restaurant, a reinterpretation of traditional German cuisine with Austrian influences in its botanical-themed setting; Berthold Delikatessen, a cafe-style venue with an assortment of German breads, pastries and gourmet coffee; Broadway American Diner, which has everything a classic American diner would; and La Scala Ristorante, named after the famed La Scala Opera House (which seems fitting seeing as its next door to a theatre), offers wholesome Italian cuisine.
An underpass from the hotel connects to MRT City Hall, which is across the street, and is in close proximity to Singapore’s top attractions such as Marina Bay Sands, which was visible from my balcony, Chijmes, National Museum and Merlion Park. If you’re a shopper, Raffles City is across the road, too, as are a few other malls.
From the Arcade go underground for Daiso, the shop for everything you didn’t think you need but now want. There is also a nasi lemak stall offering teh, which is my hot beverage of choice in Singapore and Malaysia.
If you’re looking for something adventurous in Singapore, and I don’t mean Sentosa or Universal Studios, try the Singapore Sidecar Tours. The world’s first vintage Vespa sidecar tours is the brainchild of Simon Wong. Delivering goodwill on three wheels, Wong’s vintage Vespa tours runs as a social enterprise with profits being channelled towards good causes. Sideways.sg offers a variety of tours, full and half day, so choose carefully. The only flaw to the increase in adrenaline that whizzing around Singapore in a sidecar can bring, is that they can be rather uncomfortable for long tours, especially if you're a big or tall person.
You don’t have to venture far to get a glimpse at the Western zodiac. Take a tour of the 977-seat Capitol Theatre, with its vaulted ceiling centrepiece that details out the zodiac in gold.
Today, The Capitol Kempinski Hotel has pride of place in Singapore as it is the brand’s first hotel in the Lion City. Insider’s tips: The hotel is where the action is during the Singapore Grand Prix. The interiors are the hallmark of late Indonesian designer Jaya Ibrahim with the hotel being one of his last projects. Visit kempinski.com/en/the-capitol-singapore.