Originally part of a nutmeg plantation owned by William Montgomery, Duxton Road is one of Singapore’s most historic districts. The road was notorious for its opium and gambling dens located in the many shophouses that lined the street throughout the early 19th and 20th centuries.
Walking along the storied street today, you’ll notice that a few of the shophouses have been conserved — now having a new life, housing vintage bookstores, small-scale cafes and bars, and independent boutiques. A row of eight restored shophouses, however, stands out from the rest. The majestic facade of the three-storeyed building features a unique mix of Malay timber fret-work, French windows, Portuguese shutters and Corinthian pilasters.
Swing open the glass doors that mark the entrance to the property, and you’ll feel a sense of calm enveloping you.
“Welcome to Six Senses Duxton,” greets the staff the minute we stepped in. Known for stunning resorts in far-flung places all around the globe, the hospitality brand marks its Singapore debut (and first city property) with Six Senses Singapore — made up of two separate properties, Six Senses Duxton and Six Senses Maxwell.
Without a doubt, the location of Six Senses Duxton is the main draw for both modern jet-setters and the staycation crowd. The hotel’s address on Duxton Hill ensures that guests are within proximity to the Tanjong Pagar and Chinatown districts in the heart of Singapore — known for their many dining places, trendy bars, curated lifestyle shops, and various heritage sites.
For guests coming in from abroad, the hotel is a 20-minute drive away from the airport. Otherwise, the property is a mere 10-minutes walk from Tanjong Pagar MRT station, connected to the airport via the East-West Line.
Architecture and interiors
Design takes centre stage at Six Senses Duxton. The property was put together by acclaimed British designer Anouska Hempel — who dreamt up the Hempel and Blake’s hotels in London.
Hempel cleverly infuses a diverse mix of Chinese, Malay and European elements into the interiors with her use of large golden fans that flank the entrance. She also employs bold shades of black, gold and yellow layered with Chinese screens and calligraphy wallpaper from her personal collection.
Although the common areas are compact and intimate, the various sections (from the ground floor restaurant and bar to the lobby and reception areas) are visually demarcated by modern Chinese screens made of black lacquered wood and glass, making functional use of the small property.
In the rooms, the property’s lively and eclectic urban ambience is accentuated by a hand-picked selection of premium quality fabrics, furnishings, lighting and ornaments.
In fact, Six Senses Duxton is home to 49 rooms sorted by eight themed categories inspired by the area’s past history — namely the Opium, Nutmeg, Shophouse and Pearl. Each room and suite has been given a personal touch; so no two are exactly the same.
There’s no better way to spend the weekend staying in the ultra-spacious Duplex Suite, which oozes class. The suite is differentiated by its high ceilings, matte black shutters and furnishings, as well as a beautiful spiral staircase that connects the living area to the top loft — a sleeping area with a comfortable king-sized bed, sliding wardrobe, and ensuite with equally stunning designs. If you’re into almost all-black, sophisticated interiors, this is the suite for you.
Although the property pays homage to the Duxton’s past, it is in no way traditional. Our suite has all the modern features any urban traveller would probably need, such as built-in USB plugs for efficient charging right by the bed, individually controlled air-conditioning, two flat-panel televisions with satellite channels, and a Bose Bluetooth speaker.
The minibar is unlike anything we’ve seen before, featuring a curated lineup of spirits and snacks. Besides the beautiful glassware from William Yeoward (part of the American Bar crystal collection), other highlights include locally produced tonic water from East Imperial, homemade local snacks as well as salted egg yolk crisps and fish skin by The Gold Duck.
Another unique thing about Six Senses Duxton is the localised Wellness Bag placed in each room during turndown serviced. Guests are gifted with traditional Chinese herbal Po Chai Pills, unmistakable Tiger Balm, brain teaser toys and puzzles, adult colouring card and pencils, soothing nutmeg oil for muscle aches, and the Six Senses Little Book of Wellness.
Six Senses Duxton is home to two F&B establishments: a 50-seat Chinese restaurant, Yellow Pot, which will offer classic and innovative Chinese cuisine, and an adjacent antiquarian-themed Yellow Pot Bar — both of which are open to outside guests.
For dinner, indulge in a hearty course at Yellow Pot restaurant over a recommended bottle of Pazo San Mauro. Enjoy every sip with the chilled organic vine-ripened tomatoes, along with the beautifully seared pork cheek with cumin and chilli powder that set the tone for the rest of the evening. Highlights include the wok-seared organic grass-fed beef tenderloin, which is so delectably tender (leaving us speechless), as well as the braised sweet and sour eggplant.
After dinner, head on to the adjacent Yellow Pot Bar, which serves handcrafted cocktails prepared by the former head bartender of Black Swan, Potato Head and Tippling Club, Kamil Foltan. Foltan uses ingredients sourced locally and a list of premium pours to craft out cocktails such as the bar’s house drink, ‘Escape to Kaifeng’ — a mix of chrysanthemum cordial and Tanqueray gin. If you prefer something sweeter, try the Kaya, a concoction of ‘Rebel Yell’ small batch rye whiskey, pandan, gomme syrup, egg yolk and aromatic bitters.
Another winning cocktail is ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’, a tribute to designer Hempel, who was a former Bond Girl from the 1969 namesake film. The cocktail is a dry gin martini topped with yuzu and green tea bitters.
Although stunningly designed, Six Senses Duxton is still a luxury boutique hotel at its core. It pays meticulous attention to its unparalleled warm hospitality, sustainability, wellness activities, and its modest yet excellent dining offerings — but don’t expect amenities you’ll get from a full-fledged hotel.
However, when the 120-key Six Senses Maxwell opens later this year, guests at both properties will be able to use its expansive swimming pool, well-appointed gym, an acclaimed Six Senses-branded spa, and dine at their additional five F&B outlets.
Six Senses Experiences
The Six Senses Experiences program draws on the property’s heritage and historic setting, with community-based wellness activities including unique neighbourhood and nature discovery walking tours, fitness classes like outdoor yoga, and workshops on the art of crafting artisanal coffee and appreciating Chinese tea.
“Singapore has been my home for almost 20 years, specifically the colourful enclave of Tanjong Pagar,” shares Six Senses Chief Executive Officer Neil Jacobs, “Together with our team, I am delighted to bring our unique new urban Six Senses experience to life in Singapore, and for us to enrich and be enriched by the Duxton and Maxwell communities.”
During your stay, take part in a consultation with Professor Zhang Mao Ji of Long Zhong Tang, a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) physician with over 40 years of experience and a successful practice across the road. The unique collaboration between the property and his practice is a testament to the Six Senses’ Six Senses philosophy of uncompromised responsibility to the community.
Six Senses Duxton is far from a big establishment, but that is exactly the beauty of it. As the first of the hospitality brand’s city outposts, the property makes an unforgettable first impression and serves as a sneak preview of what is coming next.
A different experience in the heart of Singapore, this is a hotel we’d definitely recommend to design aficionados (especially fans of Hempel’s work) and those looking to immerse themselves in the rich heritage and culture of the Tanjong Pagar precinct.