By { Beth Weitzman

Comprising the 25th to 39th floors of the striking concave glass skyscrapers known as DUO Tower, Andaz Singapore is the first location of Hyatt’s out-of-the-box luxury lifestyle boutique hotel brand in Southeast Asia. With Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia to the north, Indonesia and Australia to the west, and the Philippines to the east, the Singapore outpost, which opened in 2017, is a short 20-minute drive from Changi Airport and only a five-minute drive to Singapore’s Central Business District. It’s an easy in-and-out, whether you are in town for a one-night stopover or a more leisurely extended stay. It’s also directly connected to Bugis MRT station via underground pedestrian walkways, which makes it a most convenient home base if getting around the city is a high priority.

With plentiful art, shophouses, independent fashion, and campy and vintage boutiques, Haji Lane in the Kampong Glam neighborhood is always buzzing. In this precinct, intimate alleys are peppered with hip cafés, patisseries and watering holes. Morning to night, the area is alive with vibrant colors and textures, and plenty of activity. In this Muslim center of Singapore, you’ll also find traditional mosques, carpet shops and Middle Eastern cuisine. With a desire for guests to engage with, and experience the authenticity of the destination within which it resides, it makes perfect sense that Andaz Singapore is situated in this happening area. Also nearby  is  Little India, with must-visit temples, including Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple, Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple and The Temple of a Thousand Lights; shopping at Mustafa Center; Marina Bay, home to a famous hotel, gardens and shopping center bearing its name; and Bras Basah Bugis, one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods, an arts and heritage district with museums, monuments and temples.  

Clad in a latticework of hexagonal windows, DUO is the largest integrated development in the Ophir-Rochor district. Conceived by multi-award-winning German architect Ole Scheeren, who is celebrated for his works with the China Central Television Headquarters in Beijing and Prada Epicenters in New York City and Los Angeles, the new landmark on the Singapore skyline contains residences, retail spaces, restaurants and offices, as well as Andaz Singapore.

Drawing inspiration and lively spirit from its surroundings, the hotel is designed to excite guests’ sense of discovery. In collaboration with prominent interior designer Andre Fu of AFSO, Andaz Singapore was imagined as a contemporary urban lifestyle destination. A Singapore-style alleyway sensory experience with locally inspired techniques, furniture, art, and fabric inform the design. Imagined as a contemporary bungalow, whimsical design details are found throughout the sizable guest rooms, beginning with a bold mango yellow shophouse-style door and an entrance doorbell housed in a bespoke post-box, and continuing inside with floor-to-ceiling ivory paneling and touches of aubergine that pay homage to the distinct palette of the shophouses. All told, 342 smartly designed contemporary guest rooms, including 26 suites, boast floor-to-ceiling windows revealing stunning views of the city skyline, Marina Bay Harbour, Bras Basah Bugis and Kampong Glam. Also a highlight is the light and airy, modern-designed bathroom, including stand-up shower and vanity areas which are large and inviting. The plush bed, dressed in luxuriously comfortable linens, beckons one to sleep well with ease. 

As with all Andaz hotels, plenty of perks are included with your stay, such as a complimentary minibar filled with locally sourced snacks and non-alcoholic drinks replenished daily, complimentary Wi-Fi, plus all-day complimentary refreshments (Pellegrino and Acqua Panna waters, coffee and tea) in the Sunroom—a modernized expression of a Peranakan house—a bright timber-lined lounge brimming with luxuriant hanging ferns, a favorite gathering spot among guests. Public areas, including the elevators and restaurants, feature playful displays of textured woven rattan, crafts in bold tropical colors and an array of tropical plants that bring a sense of the outdoors inside. A dazzling variety of  acclaimed artworks showcased throughout the hotel, such as the color-saturated pieces by Brazilian sculptor André Mendes, creative works from local Singaporean artist Ahmad Abu Bakar, New York-based Filipina artist Monica Delgado, and Malaysian artist Fauzulyusri Mohd Yusof, add even more eye-candy and inspiration.

Leaving no detail to chance, the hotel collaborated with local fashion label In Good Company, and the result is the Andaz Collection-custom-designed outfits for hotel associates to wear on the job that complements the décor perfectly. Additionally, the Andaz brand partnered with The Society of Scent, an olfactory collective that includes a proprietary fragrance creation laboratory led by Jean Claude Delville, to develop custom scents that connect guests to local experiences at Andaz properties across the globe—and that will continue to evoke pleasant feelings long after checkout time. After a full immersion into the sights, sounds, tastes, textures and smells of the Kampong Glam neighborhood, perfumer Christophe Laudamiel created Singapore Fusion #19, featuring ingredients that include dewy orchid (the national flower of Singapore), orange blossom, Indian sambac jasmine, clove, ginger lilies, guaiacwood and Chinese cedarwood. Infused in bathroom amenities and public areas, the scent will also be part of a lifestyle collection (lip balm, room scent diffusers and candles) that guests can take home to remind them of the experience. 

Another amazing olfactory experience can be found at Alley on 25—a culinary sky-high destination re-creating the spontaneous experience of Singapore street dining with seven shophouse-inspired venues, one bar, one lounge and five restaurants—all on one floor. With such an incredible array of cuisine to choose from, you really don’t have to leave the hotel. Perhaps even more delightful is that you can order from any of the menus, no matter in which venue you choose to grab a seat. Barbecued snacks from Smoke & Pepper are a great place to start, followed by an ode to Singapore’s zi char food culture (“zi char” means “cook and fry” in the Southern Chinese dialect) at Auntie’s Wok and Steam, where you’ll discover the most delicious variety of soups, rice, noodles, dumplings and other Chinese classics, as well as Singaporean favorites with a Szechuan influence—the double-boiled kampong chicken soup, Tiger prawns with red chili sauce, braised short rib with noodles in Szechuan broth, chicken Kung Pao with cashew nuts, mixed peppers and organic fried rice (white and brown rice, crab meat, egg, asparagus Sarawak pepper) are not to be missed.  For dessert, there’s pan dan chiffon cake, a modern reinvention of the unofficial national chiffon cake, and velvety mousse combo in flavors like black sesame, durian, yam and coconut; or you can opt for a refreshing shaved ice from Icehaus. Either way, an epic dining experience. Another special dining option is 665°F, helmed by Chef Josephine Loke, who hails from various Michelin restaurants in Singapore, named for the temperature of its Pira oven and grill, specializes in premium meat and sustainable seafood. Pre- or postdinner, Mr. Stork rooftop bar, known for mixing up delicious cocktails with garden herbs and fresh fruits, Andaz Pale Ale on tap from local microbrewery RedDot Brewhouse along with an observatory corner to enjoy a breathtaking 360-degree view of the city with lounge and teepee-hut seating.

Staying fit at Andaz Singapore is easy with two state-of-the-art gyms at your disposal-one located inside the hotel, the other at a neighboring Virgin Active gym (in addition to the best-of-the-best equipment, a large variety of classes, including spin, are on offer as well as workout wear provided gratis for use at the facility). The pool on the 25th floor is the perfect post workout retreat. With views of the city and a full-service bar and food menu, it’s a great place to perch. 

There are more malls in Singapore than in most cities, so retail therapy is a popular pastime. Smart shoppers use the underground walkways (lined with shops, cafés, bake shops and restaurants) to beat the unending heat. Nearby Orchard Road is home to all of the major labels, lending big-time glitz to the area. Don’t miss a stop at Design Orchid, where local designer goods, from beauty to fashion to home décor, are on offer. If you are lucky enough to be in town during the Boutique Fair, the twice-yearly shopping event featuring mainly Singaporean merchandise, it’s a great way to spend an afternoon shopping, eating and imbibing like the locals. 

As for seeing the sights, there’s so much to see and do in this relatively small city. For a unique overview of Singapore, book The Tale of 2 Quays Singapore River Experience through Singapore River Cruise. Highlights include Boat Quay, Clarke Quay and Marina Bay. The company also offers a Laser Show Cruise, which should definitely be on your itinerary. You may also want to head straight to the iconic 57th-floor rooftop of Marina Bay Sands for great views from the 490-foot infinity swimming pool, set on the world’s largest public cantilevered platform. It’s definitely worth a visit here for drinks or dinner at Spago, located on the same floor.  Marina Bay Sands opened in 2010, and has been billed as the world’s most expensive stand-alone casino property. The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands is a mall comprised of a museum, two large theaters, celebrity chef restaurants, two floating Crystal Pavilions, art-science exhibits and the world’s largest atrium casino, with 500 tables and 1,600 slot machines. The complex also features a 1,120-foot SkyPark observation deck with a capacity for 3,900 people. 

The Singapore Botanic Gardens, a UNESCO World Heritage site, was founded in 1859 and offers walking trails amid spectacular tropical flora, including Singapore’s oldest primary rainforests. 

Spend a few hours in Chinatown, where you’ll find colorful Peranakan shophouses and a handful of historical attractions, including the old Hokkien temple, Thian Hock Keng, as well as the Sri Mariamman Hindu Temple and James Mosque, and a plethora of hawker stations. Stop by Tiong Bahru, one of Singapore’s oldest neighborhoods now gentrified as a hipster area, which seamlessly blends traditional and contemporary with cool cafés and bakeries like the popular Plain Vanilla, indie boutiques and iconic wall murals. It’s the spot to come to see local musicians, artists and other creatives hanging out. Another hip spot is Dempsey Hill, boasting walking trails, a handful of cool shops and some awesome restaurants, including Chopsuey Cafe, an absolute must. The setting is chic and serene, set in a white-and-black colonial-style residential-like building with lush landscaping all around. Come hungry and get a taste of Singapore’s famous chile crab, along with a wide selection of steamed-to-order handmade dim sum plus favorites like Szechuan pepper chili chicken. 

Of course, stopping by at least one hawker center is a must. We opted for the Old Airport Road Food Centre, one of Singapore’s oldest and largest hawker centers. Opened in 1973, it was built to bring together street hawkers from all around the Kallang Estate in a single sheltered area. Today, it is home to more than 160 cooked food and drink stalls on the ground floor, including several famous hawker legends. Of note, outside the center are two one-Michelin-star hawker stalls worth visiting, Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle  (466 Crawford Lane, Tai Hwa Eating House #01-12 Singapore 190465 [Lavender MRT)]) and Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle (335 Smith St., #02-166, Chinatown Food Complex, Singapore 050335). 

With so much to see and do, next time I head to Singapore, I plan to stay a while longer. This, indeed was a good taste!