#TravelTuesday: Checking into The South Beach
Part of the massive new South Beach complex in the heart of Singapore, The South Beach is an incredibly design-savvy hotel. And once it's fully operational, it will stand as a compelling choice for visitors to the Lion City.
If location is everything, then you can't do better than The South Beach. Sited on the historic stretch of Beach Road, it's perfectly located for a staycation in the city, boasting easy access to the new National Gallery Singapore, entertainment district of Boat Quay, and shopping mecca of Orchard Road.
The South Beach complex comprises two massive glass-and-steel skyscrapers — the hotel and an office tower — and two small, colonial-era heritage buildings. Created by Norman Foster and architecture firm AEDAS, there is no doubt the hotel is the centerpiece here. Designed by Philippe Starck, the property has a distinctly Miami-forward vibe, and from the moment you step in, there's no mistaking Starck's stamp on the interiors.
Guests are greeted by a trippy 7x6m video installation by South Korean artist Lee Lee Nam, before entering the concrete-heavy lobby. The unique space boasts architectural quirks like 'Conversation Boxes' — glassed-off rooms with concrete tables and benches that double as informal meeting rooms — and pops of whimsy with the seven check-in desks inspired by cultures spanning Indian to European. While waiting to check in, I wander to the bar for a complimentary drink and snack.
The gargantuan hotel houses 654 chic, well-appointed guest rooms, each boasting just the lightest touch of Starckian flair. Walls are hung with oversized wallpaper-like prints; plenty of mirrors bring a contemporary feel; and plush, patterned carpets line the floors.
There are floor-to-ceiling windows — mine overlook the iconic Raffles hotel — flatscreen TVs, coffee machines, complimentary minibars, a sizeable desk, and an ergonomic armchair. Behind sliding mirrored doors, spacious bathrooms are fitted with rainforest showers, standalone tubs, and luxurious Heeley amenities. Suites get a more luxurious touch with Jo Malone amenities.
This is a smart hotel, and there's plenty of hi-tech functionality throughout the rooms. USB outlets on the nightstands means you can charge your phone within arm's reach; complimentary high-speed WiFi means you're always connected to the rest of the world; and room service can be ordered through the TV menu. At night, blackout drapes are drawn at the touch of a button. While checking in, guests are also given QR code cards that gives them full access to The New York Times and The Straits Times through their phone and tablet.
All rooms come with a 'Plus One' novelty item. These might come in the form of a pink speaker or fanciful lamp, for example, but in my Showcase You King room (as pictured above), it's a silver tray perfect for corralling any loose items like phones and wallets. Rooms also have 'butler cabinet' — discrete cupboards that allow housekeeping to deliver requested items without intruding on your privacy.
When the hunger pangs hit
With plenty of great food options in the area, it's understandable that dining is kept simple at the South Beach. That being said, I do feel there's room for improvement on the culinary front. Throughout the day, there's a full menu of international and local dishes at ADHD — an acronym for the All Day Hotel Dining restaurant — but breakfast is the main event. Guests stream in from the early hours to fortify themselves, and while the buffet is substantial — pastries, salads, charcuterie, local fare — it would benefit from closer attention, such as ensuring that the egg station is always staffed.
Laugh, the cheeky industrial-feel gastrobar, fared better with its solid menu of nibbles and a strong drinks list. The Passionito signature cocktail was deliciously refreshing; while Prefix, the intimate lobby lounge dressed in woods and neutral tones, is ideal for nightcaps.
The hotel will have two Skygardens, though at this stage, only one is open. Occupying the entire 18th floor, Flow 18 is a complete health and relaxation destination, perfectly equipped to melt your stress away. Flow 18 is mostly deserted throughout my stay, but my early-morning swims in the alfresco infinity pool were a particularly serene way to begin the day.
For fitness buffs, the surprisingly well-equipped gym boasts a full suite of cardio equipment and weights, a boxing area, and a yoga screen where guests can perfect their poses.
Guests can also relax in brightly dressed seating nooks offering gorgeous glimpses of the Singapore cityscape; and engage in competitive games of foosball and table tennis while looking over the Padang and the Singapore Cricket Club.
The South Beach is an undeniably stylish 21st century hotel with plenty to offer. At this stage, it's still quiet, but once the rest of its facilities open later this year, there's no doubt it will be a choice destination for travellers the world over.
About Gayatri Bhaumik
Always ready for her next adventure, Gayatri took her first flight at 10 days old and hasn't looked back since. After 12 years in Bangkok and seven in Melbourne, she's now based in Hong Kong when she isn't globetrotting. Besides serving as the Travel Columnist for Liv Magazine, she contributes travel and lifestyle stories to a range of publications, including Jetsetter, The Art of Business Travel, and The Loop. Most recently, she was the Deputy Editor at Hong Kong's Artemis Communications, working on titles such as Elite Traveler Asia, Explorer Magazine and Necessity.com. Follow her travels on her blog and Instagram.