Along with Karl Lagerfeld, interior designer Isabelle Miaja has fashioned a theme that successfully combines both contemporary style and historic elegance to create a funky hotel with oodles of French chic.
So Sofitel is one of Singapore’s newest luxury boutique hotels and offers a blend of French sophistication, fine dining, chic bars and Singaporean charm to its staying and walk-in guests.
Located at 35 Robinson Road, adjacent to the historical Telok Ayer Market, the 6-storey hotel is set in the heart of the city’s financial district amidst a forest of hi-rise banks and office blocks. The popular local attractions of Marina Bay, Raffles, the ArtScience Museum and Clarke Quay are all within a leisurely 10 minute stroll. For forays further afield, So Sofitel is only two minutes from Telok Ayer MRT station, whilst the Raffles Place and Downtown stations are just five minutes away, putting guests in easy touch with the rest of this vibrant city, whether visiting for business, shopping or pleasure.
The hotel is an early 20th century protected building and was once home to the Eastern Telegraph Company in Singapore. The extensive redevelopment and renovation tastefully respects and maintains the building’s heritage. Many of its original historic features are retained without compromising the luxury brand in any way. The stone façade, with its chunky pillars and uniform windows, is an imposing exterior and makes a terrific contrast to the towering office and apartments on its skyline. The interior design faced restrictions and so careful conceptual design and planning was a must.
Along with Karl Lagerfeld, interior designer Isabelle Miaja has fashioned a theme that successfully combines both contemporary style and historic elegance to create a funky hotel with oodles of French chic. From the signature Lion’s Seal emblem, the plush crimson chaise lounge, the papered and painted wood panels and high ceilings, to the hexagon representing France interspersed with an octagon representing the lucky figure 8 for Singapore that is prevalent throughout the design – the statement Maija makes is bold, bright and functional.
Lighting seems to be something of a passion for Isabelle Miaja, with glitzy hexagon features in the atrium, crazy hall lighting and gothic ceiling panelled backlights in the bedrooms, all of which help create a unique hotel-wide atmosphere and ambience.
Check in is swift and simple and, as you are shown to your room, the hi-tech features are introduced, including the bedside iPad used to control the room lighting, air-conditioning and even to open and close the curtains. My airy and spacious room was in the Heritage Wing, part of the original building, and featured a very high ceiling, long panels and light coloured décor with contrasting artwork. There is ample storage, a writing desk, TV, copious drinks and snacks in the well-stocked in-room bar featuring free and complimentary sections, and even a portrait of Napoleon Bonaparte to provide a shock of historical colour.
The beds are large, very comfortable and come with a huge choice of pillows. The pleasant in-room signature fragrance is also themed through the toiletries, which, as one would expect, are of a very high quality. My room, typical of the Heritage Wing, featured a large glass-enclosed bathroom with rain shower and a large bathtub. The huge and opulent suites also feature ice buckets as part of the extended bathtub, perfect for relaxation after a busy day.
The hotel has a hi-tech gymnasium and, on the roof, there is a good sized gold-tiled pool with city views and popular poolside bar, which also hosts a variety of events, such as Champagne Evenings, that add to its attractiveness.
Isabelle Miaja’s retention and development of the classic interior architecture throughout the hotel without compromising quality or luxury.
The Xperience Bar on the ground floor is small and very well stocked, offering a range of excellent cocktails, including the indulgent Sultan of Ghana – a favourite with chocolate lovers. The bar stools are against a large table and ideal for laptops, as well as cocktails or coffee. If you want a more relaxed space to enjoy your drink, then the lounge offers comfortable plush custom seating and some quirky artwork.
The restaurant is helmed by the delightful Anne-Cecile Degennes, Singapore’s first female French chef, who serves up an inspiring menu drawn not only from her French roots but from her globetrotting culinary adventures. In a break from the norm, the menu is sub-divided into smokey, spicy, crunchy, zesty, juicy and silky dishes, plus deserts.
Most are available in three sizes: taster, meal for one and meal for two. Chef Anne-Cecile explains: “It’s designed like this to promote sharing, a theme the Asian diners are comfortable with. So guests can order, share and try new and different foods.”
The idea works perfectly and also fits easily into the hotel’s concept of French-Singaporean fusion. Highly recommended comes the delicious seafood risotto, in which chef uses laksa to create a rich spicy flavour, while for meat lovers, do try the tender and rich tasting Wagyu Beef Rib.