Singapore for me? Well for many years, it was just a stop-over, whether I was travelling from Perth to Taipei or vice versa. Although I had heard how clean this Garden City was and had come across how well mannered Singaporeans were. Strangely enough, these virtues seemed to have curbed my desire to break my journey for being a traveller there. This place seemed likely to forever remain another airport terminal, a transfer zone. Like the chewing gum ban I didn’t get. I just didn’t get Singapore.
All that was about to change in 2001. My then significant other had received an airline deal which was ‘too good to miss out on’. Return airfares to Singapore, plus a luxury hotel stay for two. ‘Eight days without chewing gum? I think I can do that!’ So it came to pass, that 2001 became my time to discover Singapore.
First Impressions of Singapore – The InterContinental Hotel
The hit of humidity on leaving the airline terminal of the Lion City reminded me of my homeland Taiwan. That was all too familiar. But the familiarity stopped the minute our taxi pulled up on the circular driveway of the InterContinental hotel. The tall shutters on the iconic Singaporean ‘shophouses’ facade, ‘Well that’s different!’; and in his traditional kurta set the hotel’s Indian bellman… ‘How exotic!’ I thought. No comparison with Taiwan, this was unmistakably Singapore.
As I stepped from reception through into the hotel lobby lounge, the exotic nature of my journey continued… The tropical floral display, ornate patterned floor tiles and carpets; the high ceilings and colonial columns, those splendid chandeliers… It all invoked a bygone era and it took me there. I was wowed by the luxuriousness of it all! Sure I had witnessed some spectacular hotels before, but nothing with this colour-full manege of history. British, Peranakan and Chinese influences in a unique harmony and unifying theme!
I was so impressed that I re-booked the same hotel 16 years later in the hope of experiencing that wow moment once again. Of course first impressions only happen once! I could not be wowed twice, certainly not in the same way. That I could share my Singapore stories with Kent this time around; enjoy the hotel and this fabulous city again through his excitement was truly a new gift in itself.
16 Years Later, Favouring A Heritage Room
On the day Kent and I checked in… The hotel’s Guest Relations Manager nicely offered us a choice between a Heritage Room (which I had pre-booked) or to upgrade to a newer, more modern room recently renovated. Being a memory seeker and favouring everything (well almost everything) classic to new, my decision would be obvious. So I had Kent look at both rooms too. He gave it a little thought and agreed with me: ‘Yes, let’s take the heritage room, and we can open the windows too.’ So that settled it – ‘We’d like to stay in the Heritage Room, thank you.’
More about this lovely room in a near future post. Don’t forget to sign up to our newsletter to be the first to know.
Feeling Like I’m Right In A Traditional Peranakan House
Deciding to stay at the InterContinental Singapore again after all these years was largely about taking a trip down memory lane. The Lobby Lounge remains my most admired space in the entire hotel, together with this Peranakan-living-room-inspired corner which I love. The Peranakan/Chinese motifs are seen in wallpaper, vases and the silk covering of this padded antique-style opium bed framed by two elegant Chinese vase stands. Heritage and tradition are expressed in the essence of the hotel beautifully.
Eleven Eggs A Personal Breakfast Record
One last memory of an odd kind, which I have remembered too well, eggs… During my first stay, as an egg addict of-sorts, I took full advantage of the extensive and equal to it’s Singaporean heritage – multicultural breakfast buffet!! Chinese steamed eggs, scrambled eggs; fried eggs, Chinese century eggs; boiled eggs, omelettes… You name it, they had it. I tried them all – and in the one breakfast sitting! How I survived this egg overindulgence remains a mystery to this day!
Being a little older and hopefully wiser, though the options were still there, I had better self control over my egg obsession this time around. I’ll leave our breakfast experience, including Kent’s very own ‘egg drama’ for a future post. So stay tuned.
The InterContinental Singapore, not only was it the first hotel I stayed at in the Garden City; it played a huge part of how I recalled that first real trip. Is there an accommodation that sends you down memory lane? Is there a hotel strongly linked to a first impression of a city or a country for you?