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It’s The Little Things: St. Regis Singapore

Published 01 June 2012   

Top hotels can all be much of a muchness on the whole and hard to tell apart, but if you take the time to seek out the finer details you will find in each a unique treasure of fine living and experience. At St. Regis Singapore Thomas Jones explores the ins and outs of eating, drinking, art appreciation and his eventual ride home.

Text by Thomas Jones

St.Regis Singapore prides itself on offering nothing but the very best food, wines, linens, cars, marble floors and manners in the city. But who doesn’t? Where the difference lies is in the details and if you take the time to look beneath the five-star promises you will find some fascinating interludes to set your stay alive.

It’s a place of high visual appeal and within its delicate Chinoiserie setting can be found a mightily impressive private art collection belonging to the hotel’s owner. I mean, if I owned a St. Regis hotel, where better to exhibit my artistic prides and joy knowing that I have a captive and discerning audience? There are over 70 pieces on display in both the public areas and the more swanky suites from contemporary art luminaries like Frank Gehry, Chen Wen His and Lim Joo Hong; works that represent both western and eastern influences of the design and the traditions that characterize the sophistication of the city state. Call me old fashioned but I’m a big fan of Señor Picasso, and in the downstairs Astor Bar there is a small fortune’s worth of his lithographs lining the walls. Known as the Toros Series they are pure genius depicting scenes from the bullfighting arena from his native Spain and provide a blood lust bravado guaranteed to prompt more than their fair share of discussion and awe to the already masculine drinking space.

I’m a big fan of Señor Picasso, and in the downstairs Astor Bar there is a small fortune’s worth of his lithographs lining the walls.

Making friends is never that easy in a big hotel but St. Regis makes sure that every night there is a chance to mix and mingle. At 7pm they host a wine tasting session in their bespoke tasting room, Decanter, next to the Astor Bar. Ten or so wines are on offer, with no maximum limit, and a sommelier is there to talk you through each glass as you work your way through from A to Z. These are accompanied by an equally good selection of cheeses, just to make it all that more civilized. Schmoozing the pinots and rieslings in the relaxed atmosphere of a cellar-like tasting room, surrounded by many hundreds of bottles of fine vintage in the temperature controlled room is a nice way to break the ice with fellow winos and the air quickly fills with relaxed laughter and the buzz of new conversation with new acquaintances and friends. When they eventually call ‘time’ many inevitably head to the Astor Bar for a few stiff drinks and new plans for the night. Impromptu, fun and finite; as it should be.

Bathrooms, bars, Bentleys, bent hallways and art by Pablo Picasso and Fernando Botero.

The next day I woke late thinking of food, having skipped breakfast in anticipation of a legendary Singapore Sunday brunch. Brunch is legendary, if not mandatory, in Singapore and all the top establishments pull out all the stops in offering a fine spread. St. Regis is no exception. Or maybe it is, for the quality and setting and bill of fare here is exceptional. Having had my flight delayed by a couple of hours I was able to really dedicate myself to getting the most out of the day. Champagne and foie gras sure beats sitting in a Starbucks at an airport waiting for a further plane delay. The platters of seafood, cold cuts, red meats, foie gras, exemplary cheeses and desserts are endless and there is no judgment on how many times you fill a plate. I lost count of the number of plates I filled plates but seem to recall a fuzzy figure in the region of 14 glasses spaced along the way. They just keep pouring.

After imbibing more food and wine than is prudent for a Sunday afternoon, it was time to catch my flight back to next day’s working week. But it was not to be a taxi that would be taking me, no sir. A bespoke two-tone chocolate brown Continental Flying Spur Bentley, complete with chauffeur was waiting out front to see me off. If you are going to do it at all, do it well I say, and filled with champagne and good cheer, I could think of no better way to leave the St. Regis than sinking back into the leather and cranking up the iPod.

But the lesson wasn’t yet over. An interesting fact imparted to me en-route by my driver, apart from the car had a top speed of 312km/hour, and that he had 100 cousins, was that it takes five hours to trim each steering wheel, and it requires 11 complete hides to make the upholstery. That’s a lot of cows and an interesting fact that made me feel just a wee bit smarter, something you should expect after a stay at the St. Regis. It is, after all, the little things that make the difference.