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PARKROYAL on Pickering, Singapore’s awe-inspiring new luxury hotel

Looking out from the fifth-floor pool

Looking out from the fifth-floor pool

There are pools that stand out – in the world of luxury hotels, that is.  The gal has already included in the memorable list One&Only Reethi Rah in the Maldives, Ritz-Carlton in Hong Kong and the Unique in São Paulo.  Here is another one.  The 80-foot infinity-edged pool of PARKROYAL on Pickering in Singapore is on a fifth floor terrace of the hotel, and one of its brightly-coloured cupolas is itself cantilevered out – over infinity.

Looking up, from the fourth floor garden walk

Looking up, from the fourth floor garden walk

From the pool, go down 16 stone steps, to the outside of the fourth floor of the hotel, and you enter a circumferential exterior garden walkway that curves in and out, right around the building’s periphery, with lots of lush greenery as you go (it is a ten-minute walk, and you look up, to the pool above you and even further up, to what looks like concrete printed with a three-D printer.)  Honestly, this is one of the most extraordinary buildings imaginable – look at it from afar, say high up from Swissôtel Stamford, and in among all the skyrises is this mere 16-floor building, almost black, and wavy edged.

Look out, of suite 1431

Look out, of suite 1431

Why is it wavy edged? Because outside some floors are jutting-out gardens, terraces, like shelves, that are a mass of greenery including full-sized trees.  Look out through the all-glass bathroom wall of corner suite 1431 and you think you are in south-east Asia, which of course you are, but in a resort rather than on the 14th floor of a city building.  It is extraordinary, and all very environmental, which is the over-riding sell of this place.  Inside, my room is all glass and ‘mushroom’ fabrics (apart from a bamboo-look fabric bedhead) and reconstituted laminated wood, for floors, some wall panels and all doors.

Look up, in the lobby..

Look up, in the lobby..

It definitely makes CEOs and other top people feel good, staying here, kind of doing their bit for the environment – but at the same time it is just jolly good fun.  This is my first time in a PARKROYAL and I love it, as does everyone else (the hotel was a hit from the day it opened, January 8th, 2013).  On January 25th, 2013, then-Queen Beatrix of The Netherlands, with the Crown Prince and Crown Princess, entertained the President of Singapore and 350 top local decision makers to a plated buffet here – waiters offered one-bite choices of six starters, eight main courses. The Calefax Reed Quintet, flown in by Her Majesty, played.

The lobby bar

The lobby bar

You enter the lobby, which is traditional.  But look up and, untraditionally, you think again that you are in a moulded shape from that same three-D printer.  The concept, outside and in, is by WOHA, which stands for WOng Mun Summ and Richard HAssell, who did the Crowne Plaza at Changi (the one with cut-outs in its exterior) and the Sanya InterConWalk from front door to the elevators and you think you are on a wood bridge, with decorative water one side and living walls on the other.  On your right, you pass a bar, where the server’s apple-green shirt matches the flowers. There are 12 open-mesh, high-back chairs on your left, ideal for having a drink and/or checking your messages (of course it is WiFi everywhere – they have thought of everything here) while you look out, at the decorative pool, and the greenery outside, the other side of the all-glass wall.

Cans, on display at Art Apart

Elena Molinari’s Cans, on display at Art Apart

The luxury hotel is positively buzzing tonight.  All 360 rooms are full. Some open off open-sided upper corridors, with living walls. Other rooms, like the elevator lobbies, are in air-conditioned, carpeted areas.  The whole of the sixth floor has been taken, for three nights, by Rosalind Lim, a bubbly entrepreneur who puts on Art Apart pop-up art fairs. Gallery owners from Spain through Korea via Lebanon, have bought bedrooms.  They stay in them at night but by day they stash personal gear in bathrooms and display art-for-sale in the main rooms.  The cultural glitterati of Singapore flock for glasses of wine and to tour the ‘galleries’.  One of my favourites is the discarded Coke cans by Elena Molinari, displayed by the Jorge and Fernando Alcolea Gallery in Madrid.