The newest outpost of the French hotel company SO brand (the other two are in Bangkok and Mauritius), the SO Sofitel Singapore opened at the end of May 2014, adding a bit of glam and poking a bit of fun at this staid part of the city. Set in the heart of the financial district, in a neoclassical limestone heritage building that once housed advertising giants Ogilvy & Mather, the 134-room property counts Karl Lagerfeld among its designers (responsible for the library, front-house staff uniform, and hotel emblem). The Sofitel So doesn't take itself too seriously, displaying a kind of Ian Schrager-meets-Philippe Starck postmodern whimsy and flair: chairs with antlers protruding from the top, curvy couches in bright shades, blingy, crystal-beaded light fixtures. Rooms meld France and Singapore, the former via high ceilings, crown moldings, and small statues of the Eiffel Tower; the latter using a country map on a mirrored table, or a coffee-table book of Lion City history. Controls—lighting, heating, curtains—are adjusted via the in-room iPad. The rooftop's pleasant, breezy bar borders the criminally underused, gold-tiled pool.
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Like many financial districts, Robinson Road thrums during the day but clears out at night and on weekends. It doesn't become completely desolate, though. In front of the hotel, the famous hawker center Lau Pa Sat, fresh from a nine-month, $3.2 million renovation, reopened in June 2014. Boon Tat Street continues to close to traffic at night to transform into Satay Street, with stalls selling grilled meats and peanut sauce. And the bars and restaurants of Amoy Street (like the fabulous Jigger & Pony and next-door sister steakhouse Sugarhall) and Club Street are within walking distance—and stumbling distance on the way back.
Need to Know
Rooms: 125 rooms, 9 suites. From $280. Check-in: 2 p.m.; check-out: noon. Dining options:Xperience restaurant, just off the lobby, resembles a modern furniture showroom. Its quirky menu looks like the doodle pages of a postgraduate chemistry student, and it categorizes items by tastes and textures—spicy and crunchy are a couple of genres—with dishes like laksa and scallop risotto that mix East and West. Breakfasts are a hoot, some foods presented in test tubes and vials. In addition to the DJ’d HI-SO rooftop bar, cocktails are mixed at the Xperience Bar, next to the entrance. Spa and gym details:The hotel’s on-site So FIT gym includes a short rock-climbing wall. The gold-tiled rooftop infinity pool is better suited for lounging than swimming. Sofitel’s spa is unfortunately on Sentosa Island, 15 minutes away by taxi.
Who’s it for: Hip business executives, French travelers. Our favorite rooms: Only six rooms—those in the So Lofty category—have the gorgeous balconies that look onto Robinson Road. Dine while you recline:Make reservations at Xperience Restaurant. You might eat on a couch shaped like a bed. Yes, diners can lie on it!