Few hotels better reflect Singapore’s rich Asian–colonial blend than the Six Senses Maxwell.
You don’t have to wait until check-in to get a flavour of it, however. We were picked up at Changi Airport by the hotel’s driver in a traditional London black cab nicknamed Sir Harold. It’s an optional extra but well worth it, especially if you want to plan a nice surprise for your partner.
The hotel inhabits a block of former 19th century, heritage-listed shop-houses in Chinatown. The site was so sustainably and responsibly renovated that it won Singapore’s Urban Redevelopment Authority Architectural Heritage Award.
Just a short walk away you can visit the wonderful temples on Telok Ayer Street and grab a quick, delicious lunch at the Maxwell Food Centre. Despite the urban setting, the hotel’s designers managed to add an airy, outdoor terrace called Max’s Rooftop, which has a lap pool, alfresco bar and a small garden where the hotel grows its own fruit and herbs.
Best room for two
The Asian–colonial feel runs right through the hotel, from the velvet armchairs and pleated silk lampshades in the lobby to the curated collection of 3,000 books in the Cook & Tras library bar. Corridor walls are adorned with original land transaction documents (or indentures) dating back to 1709, which offer a fascinating glimpse of the development of Singapore.
In our Terrace Room we had a stunning, red-embroidered bedhead, chiming baoding balls for relaxation, a daily specialist tea selection, a Chinese vase lamp and a clawfoot bath.
The star of the show, however, was the mini-bar—by far the most impressive I’ve seen. It was a multi-mirrored, 1920s-style alcove with pretty much everything you need to shake up your cocktail of choice, including a fragrant Singapore orchid gin. Not cheap but lots of fun.
Also, because the Six Senses brand is a world leader in sustainability, we found numerous green touches: toiletries from The Organic Pharmacy in the UK, daily free water in recyclable glass bottles (mineralised by the hotel itself) and biodegradable, corn-starch toothbrushes. Even the Do Not Disturb sign was a cute, eco-friendly tassel rather than a piece of plastic.
At dinner in the hotel’s European-style Brasserie we loved the tomato and watercress salad and the Hamachi crudo. There was also a little tricycle outside the front door, with complimentary ice cream for guests, made by the hotel with herbs and plants from the rooftop garden.
The real culinary treat, however, was Yellowpot restaurant at the hotel’s sister property, Six Senses Duxton, a couple of streets away. Its Modern Chinese cuisine was the best Asian food we had eaten in years. We started with cocktails: a Canton Sour and an Escape to Kaifeng. The latter is gin-based with a delicious chrysanthemum infusion. Among our favourite dishes were the tomatoes in Li Hing plum infusion, the braised short rib and the Ee-fu noodles. Each was a winner.
For another Asian–colonial experience, check out the Yixing Xuan Teahouse, around the corner on Tanjong Pagar Road, where the Six Senses Maxwell organises Tea Appreciation Sessions. We spent a fascinating hour with the owner’s daughter, Charlene Low, who has an encyclopaedic knowledge of her subject. We sampled a range of delicious teas—including a super-healthy white tea—and discovered all the things we had been doing wrong when preparing our cups of English Breakfast and Earl Grey over the years.
The amateur mojito I knocked up in our fabulous in-room mini-bar was not a patch on the ones we sipped later on in Cook & Tras.
After supper we slinked into Garcha’s whisky bar for an intimate nightcap. It’s one of two specialist bars, the other being the Rose Lounge champagne bar, which is great for pre-dinner drinks. Both are stunningly designed with vivid bar fronts and exquisite, Asian-inspired wallpaper. Whether you are celebrating an anniversary or your first trip away together, push the boat out and treat yourselves.