Far from the madding crowd (just outside), you drink your drink before gliding across the promise
of a new day. Because you're in an oasis in Asia. An Oasia!
The Singapore escape from KL.
A stone’s throw away lies the little red dot. For slightly jaded Malaysians, there’s nothing in Singapore they haven't seen. Just another chock-a-block little metropolis. But it has some fine hotels where lifestyles can be precisely recalibrated.
But the Swiss bank of Southeast Asia continues to invent and transform itself. My car speeds (on the limit!) past the many, beautifully conserved heritage buildings. Why does little red dot seem to have more historical architecture than KL? I think of how perverse, I mean, unappreciative, my beloved country's businessmen are of anything old and unprofitable, and feel silly for asking.
My hosts and de facto ambassadors for Singapore are Far East Hospitality Group, owners of Oasia Hotel Novena and Oasia Hotel Downtown. Their “Journey into Wellness” is a restorative respite in little red dot by which you will “Refresh, Refuel and Recharge”. It's quite a promise. Downtown is a complete contrast to its Novena sibling. It’s at the heart of the CBD, minutes from Tanjong Pagar station, its red façade and vertical garden a beacon amidst concrete; twenty-one different species of creeper on five shades of aluminium.
Photo @kethryn21. Oasia Hotel Downtown was Building of the Year at the SIA Architectural Design of the Year Awards 2017.
The mixed-use development flows with the open spaces of its locality and offers facilities for the urbane global traveller. Take this, for example: the architects have realised their fine appreciation of the meaning of a swim.
Interior design is by none other than Patricia Urquiola. Copper and wood mix and match with ubiquitous greenery inside and out. A liberal sprinkle of cabanas and bespoke lounge chairs invites you out of work mode. The lawn on the twelfth floor is conducive to yoga, or beat jet-lag in the 24-hour gym to sync that circadian rhythm. Or relax in the infinity pool on the club floor, with views of the city. This one's pretty nice, too.
A hip hotel must have 'grammable cupcakes. Tip: eight minutes away, on foot, sits the little corner restaurant, Man Man. A flag with its name on a square white cloth, Japanese-style, waves cheerfully from 6pm onwards: dinner is served. There's baby unagi from Mikawa Isshiki, Aichi Prefecture, Chef Nakagawa offers it in authentic style. Baby eel is said to possess the perfect balance of soft, tender skin, fat and fleshiness, like an anti-ageing model. Expect a minimum half-hour wait for one of the twenty tables, maybe two if you’re not early.
The Oasia Hotel Novena is designed by Super Potato. The Japanese i-d firm's imprint includes the high ceilings from the lobby onwards, spacious seating areas of solid wood and stone walls cut and reused from abandoned quarries from around the region. Takashi Sugimoto himself designed the 104 Club Rooms and Suites. The eighth floor is done in bamboo and stone, with a 24-hour gym, sauna and steam room, tropical roof terrace and sunken deck chairs. A surprising sanctuary, this little red dot, thanks to the Super Potatoed Oasia Novena and great architecture Downtown.