Elevator waiting spaces on floors are generally just not given enough attention by luxury hotels’ owners, managers and designers, says the gal. Hotel guests may have to wait some time, especially in high-rise hotels and during peak times, or when one elevator is out of order, which for some illogical reason puts all the others into slower mode. There is also a demographic challenge in that some nationalities, no names mentioned, take longer than others in getting in, and out, of elevators. Anyway, absolutely full marks to all concerned at Fairmont Singapore. HBA, which has redone its North Tower and lobby, has put a Chinese chair at each elevator bank.
This is a hotel that now has 769 rooms but you would not know it – it is broken up into two square towers joined by short walkways on each level, one corner of one tower to one corner of the other. In a previous existence it was even larger. Until 2002 it, and the adjacent Swissôtel, were, combined, Westin Singapore. Now both these hotels are overseen by Tom Meyer, who opened two other conjoined siblings last year, Manila’s Fairmont and Raffles. Here, the stylish new-look includes hundreds of clear glass bubbles, on wires, seemingly flying overhead. The closed-off ground floor bar is now opened up to become a see-through and walk-through all-day eatertainment area. Very stylish.
Style is the key word here. The top restaurant in the complex, JAAN, is Krug’s official restaurant in Singapore. Take an elevator up to the 70th floor (of the Swissôtel) and you are rising to the pinnacle of style. Krug 2003 vintage is poured at the moment but you can, like an average ten diners a week, opt for the special Krug menu, with a different Krug vintage with each course. Yes, it is S$680 per person, plus tax and service, but think of all that Krug…. whichever menu you choose, and 95 percent do go for one of the set menus, which start at S$198++, you will probably be offered a complimentary canapé selection that includes oh so yummy, a bite-sized beetroot macaroon.
If you are going à la carte, as we did, you simply MUST include the best-selling 55’ eggs. The ‘ stands for minutes. These are organic eggs from lovingly-tended hens chirping away somewhere in New Zealand. The whole egg is smoked over rosemary, at 63 degrees and for precisely 55 minutes. It then has its top taken off and it is put in the ‘cup’ in the top of a typical compressed paper egg box. Just before it is served dry ice is added so you get a concoction with white smoke billowing out in all directions. Sensational? Yes. Sensational taste? Yes, rosemary and egg go remarkably well.
The chef here, Julien Boyer, is an enthusiastic young Frenchman who eschews tattoos and earrings in favour of wearing what looks like a pair of fine tweezers long enough for an elephant’s eyebrows. This implement, tucked into an apron pocket, is the main tool of his art. This is what he uses to make sure every strand of, say, a risotto of spring barley with grilled avocado and pink garlic is exact. The diner here can choose a risotto knowing that quality rather than quantity that results, which meant I could go on to granite with Kyoto grapes and elderflower, and finish with truffled Brie de Meaux cheese with truffle icecream and slivers of toasted Poilâne bread.
But I must not get carried away on the height of fine dining. Down to earth, literally, is Prego, the Italian restaurant that has been here since Westin days. I loved it then, especially for its plain roast chicken, coincidentally with rosemary, and mash. I could have had breakfast in the luxury Fairmont hotel’s 23rd floor club lounge but I went first to see how Prego manages at breakfast. The answer is, superbly. Somehow seeing lightest croissants and an Indian cooking station set out below the Italian salamis hanging overhead reminds one yet again what an international world this is (and yes, they have Greek yoghurt). All Fairmonts are like one’s favourite pair of Ferragamo shoes, a good fit – in this case, polished and loved.