With 225 “home-inspired” luxurious studios and suites, the latest InterContinental Singapore hotel at Robertson Quay, the Quayside is, as its rooms convey, a literally a home away from home. From the cocktail bar which greets you at the check-in lounge area to the tastefully appointed lounge settees and armchairs, InterContinental Singapore’s latest hotel maintains a stylishly luxurious but laid back feel in nestled amidst upscale, waterfront residential real estate of Robertson Quay.
Having been directed by HR to clear my annual leave or risk forfeiture, I spent a weekend at InterContinental Singapore Robertson Quay exploring the fascinating historical aspects of one of Singapore’s oldest districts. Historically speaking, Boat Quay, developed in 1823, was the first to have offices, warehouses and godowns but subsequent developments continued up-river, along the banks of Clarke Quay and Robertson Quay.
Review: InterContinental Singapore Robertson Quay, The Quayside
On checking in, strolling down the hallways, wife in hand, I notice copper plaques bearing room numbers, an aesthetic allegory to the copper coins used by traders and merchants in payment for goods and shipping services in the 1800s. The InterContinental Singapore Robertson Quay is situated in the heart of early Singapore’s trading hub, coolies, samsui women and traders would congregate, work and mingle and in essence, impart the culture and work ethic that would guide Singapore into its modern era.
Rapid growth in trade, subsequent rising population and demand for goods initiates the first reclaiming of land and start of the development along the Singapore River, its sheltered waters lead the British founder of modern Singapore, Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, to choose Singapore to serve as the centre for India and China’s entrepot trade and the first entrepot trade buildings are established at Robertson Quay. Thus, to stay at The Quayside, is to embrace Singapore’s historical richness and with its proximity to the country’s city centre and access to other parts of the country via the Fort Canning metro station, the InterContinental Singapore Robertson Quay is no ordinary stay, it is to soak in one of Asia’s fastest evolving city-states. But I digress.
Designed by award-winning architect firm, SCDA, the residential-inspired InterContinental Singapore Robertson Quay combines elements from Robertson Quay’s industrial and intriguing past with sleek contemporary finishes using rich Italian marble, slate, brushed copper and bronzes, whilst seamlessly blending into the residential surrounds. While my wife runs errands, I sink into soft, plush, custom-made leather armchair and make myself a gin and tonic. A specially designed in-room cocktail kit by local bar guru’s Proof & Co. is available but nevertheless, I’m interested in the alchemic blends through the room’s complimentary cocktail hour at Club InterContinental.
Club InterContinental at The Quayside
The exclusive 24-hour Club InterContinental lounge is where guests get enjoy access to tailored and personalised services, including a dedicated team to personalise their stay. But more importantly, the club is a place for me to get away from the hustle and bustle; and enjoy repast in privacy. Club InterContinental at The Quayside offers daily breakfast from 6.30am to 10.30am (but guests are able to dine at Publico as well); Afternoon tea from 2pm to 4pm with a choice of Gryphon teas and classic Italian Cagliari coffee along with savoury and sweet deli meats and cakes. And finally, canapes & cocktails, my favourite, daily from 6pm to 8pm. Here, I enjoy a pre-dinner tipple and a platter of appetisers (a delightful selection of tomato bruschetta, salmon with apple, tofu in peanut sauce (basically Malay tauhu terluk) and fish with green curry canape); paired with a Quayside Gin (rich sweet cherry, brown sugar and herbal citrus gin – boy they are heavy on the gin) before dinner at Publico. Knocking back three cocktails – a Dry Gin Martini, a Gimlet – a highly recommended mix of gin and sweetened lime juice, and the Quayside Sling, I must confess, I favoured the Sling. High on gin, I arrived at Publico.
Publico, an InterContinental Singapore concept
Many hotels boasts a respectable range of restaurant and bar concepts but the InterContinental Group raises the bar. Flagship restaurant Publico, is an independently marketed in-house restaurant concept but it has none of the mediocrity which muddles many other hotel dining concepts. Publico’s quasi-independence from InterContinental Singapore means it gets to represent the central core of Italian culture without watering down elements for “commercial” acceptance. As a result, Publico is a multi- concept dining destination comprising a variety of Italian experiences under one roof – a neighbourhood deli and bar and a ristorante with adjoining terrazzo by the river. Though other dining highlights in the InterContinental Singapore Robertson Quay include New York institution Wolfgang’s Steakhouse by Wolfgang Zwiener, and a bar and dining concept from the team behind Izy Sushi, Publico where I dined as also ground zero to Singapore’s renowned playwright Ivan Heng’s dinner-party, when I dined.
Dinner was an array of Anti-pasti chicken ala diavola, a set of fiery wings, drenched in Italian style chilli, completely sauced, inside and out, and a completely palette dominating appetiser. Along with a side of mushroom soup (again, Publico outdid themselves here – a frothy broth of wild mushroom bits and cream), both dishes threatened to outclass the seafood salad my lovely companion had chosen – truth be told, while I was not impressed with the salad, it could very well have been overwhelmed by the two outstanding appetisers I had with it. However, it would be main course which coincidentally serve as prelude for a hot and heavy evening – The pork chops, a sublime cut of fat crystals in a solid cut of meat, is the primary dish on which I base my conclusion that Publico stands out singularly as a prime example of Italian cuisine. In fact, so sublime was Publico Executive chef Marco Turatti’s deft handling and precision grilling of the slab that I was forced to second guess my selection of the fabulous lobster spaghetti and ponder the road not taken – the steak.
With over a decade of experience working in renowned 5 star hotels globally, Chef Turatti began his career in Tuscany at renowned Michelin-starred Ristorante Il Siciliano, where he focused on authentic Mediterranean and Venetian cuisine, explaining in part, why Publico’s Italian cuisine approaches something beyond reproach. From Venice to Michelin-starred Italian Ristorante Brunello in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, Chef Turatti has spent stints in Paris and eventually Dubai, where he was recognised by the Italian Embassy in Rome for his culinary finesse and awarded a prestigious Italian Hospitality Certificate. Turatti is one’s conduit to fine Italian cuisine at the epicentre of Singapore’s economic heart.
The last course, dessert – a serving of pistachio gelato was enjoyable but the tiramisu, again, heavy on the rum, was truly unforgettable.
The Quayside Stay
Offering stylish cosmopolitan riverside living, an ensemble of thoughtful amenities including a Nespresso coffee machine and personal cocktail kit, combining modernity with functional practicality. The showers, chrome Grohe fixtures no less, offer a thoroughly powerful, high pressure bathing experience, combined with exquisitely decorated surroundings is either a soulful experience or a lustful one (with sliding doors left open for a lover’s pleasure). Blackout curtains, a common fixture in many high end hotels is available but The Quayside, InterContinental Singapore’s automated blinds offer a perfect seal thanks to the rolling top-down system, differently from the sliding version which on occasion, do not close to a complete seal. The beddings are soft and enveloped in the pillows like we were while watching World Cup games, it was difficult not to fall asleep before the games’ conclusion. Nevertheless, we persisted, courtesy of high speed wireless Internet connectivity allowing us to scan frivolous social media posts and the promise of a deeper emotional engagement later into the night.
Our days, spent at the STPI – Creative Workshop & Gallery, Singapore (formerly known as Singapore Tyler Print Institute), a creative workshop and contemporary art gallery based in Singapore that specialises in artistic experimentation in the medium of print and paper. Artist collaborations lie at the heart of STPI’s programmes and yet, as immersed as we were, the call to return to the embrace of InterContinental Singapore Robertson Quay was never further away from our minds.