You know you are in Switzerland when trains run to the exact second (which actually they do now, in the gal’s recent experience, if they are high-speed in China or even Italy). But now we are in Singapore, and to get the best time head for Swissôtel Stamford, where there is a four-sided clock in the lobby. Every Swissôtel has a clock like this. When Swissôtel Seoul opened and was visited even before the opening, the clock was already there and working. Here the clock is really needed. Swissôtel Stamford is part of the gigantic Fairmont-Swissôtel complex – over two thousand rooms in all – and if you need to meet people it is helpful to know where to meet’em. By the clock.
That is what happened the other night when I came down from my 65th room, in the divine 29-suite hotel-within-a-hotel that is Stamford Crest (don’t we all love bijou, cocooned from the mass). My date was not there. I stood by the clock, for over 30 minutes. We became ‘good friends’. Finally he arrived. He had mistakenly put his car keys in a shopping bag which he had thrown down his rubbish chute and he had to get the janitor, on a Sunday night, to open up the chute. Actually I did walk around a bit, past Prego, one of the first, and still the most fun, Italian restaurants in town. A display of produce outside its door stressed fresh…
There is actually so much to do staying here. The shopping complex behind the two hotels has everything, even a Marks & Spencer that has a better selection than in my home town in England. And what about the art gallery? Every luxury travel purveyor worth its salt should have an art gallery, with really eye-catching modern art. At London Heathrow’s terminal five, the landside gallery is sensational – last time the gal passed by, there was an onsite sculptor there, working on a clay-covered wire horse that would take at least three months to finish.
Singapore Swissôtel The Stamford and its Siamese-twin Fairmont share a gallery, Ode To Art, and it is noticeable how many people walking Peacock Alley between the two properties pop in, and look and talk. Hopefully some also buy (there is another branch of Ode To Art in Kuala Lumpur). Certainly a lot of people here stop, to look. There are three white-men sculptures, by a Shanghainese woman, Xie Ai Ge, which remind me of Jin & Jin, in the club lounge of Four Seasons Chaoyang in Beijing – coincidentally they are by another female, Laurens Tan.
On one wall hangs an oil by L.V. Yanjun. The allure reminds me of anything by Tamara de Lempicka. The first time I saw one of that artist’s works was in the bar of Hôtel de Vigny in Paris (there is an exibition of her work at Pinacotheque in Paris, Tamara de Lempicka – Queen of Art Deco, through September 18th, 2013). See how important it is to have memorable art in hotels? But it is vital to have things to remember, in any hotel. Here, at Stamford Crest, I will always remember Nicole Yong’s smile, in the Crest lounge, which only caters for maximum-56, and the private 24/7 gym that is just for these Cresters. Work out there on the 65th floor, with the best aerial view of Singapore. I got the same view from suite 6556. Made a cup of tea from the 12-selection sachets in a striking red-topped 1837 TWG tea box, and savoured what I saw.
And I will remember this luxury hotel’s art gallery, simply because it is central, well lit and with an excellent variety of offerings. There is even a large tapestry of Robert Indiana’s LOVE design, of which I have a four-inch metal sculpture back home. But here I am interested in modern-China art, like the scarlet-painted bronze of three ladies – goddesses, or ladies of the night? – by Huang Gang, from Beijing. This reminds me of the (former) brothel tour I did there last month. Stop looking back girl, your very name requires you to LOOK AHEAD.