Two colonial landmarks were brought together in an $800 million development which stalled for three years as two of Singapore's real estate moguls battled in court over the site. Now the centrepiece of the project is open as The Capitol Kempinski, Singapore's first offering from this venerable European brand. The 157-room five-star hotel shares the block with the nearly 90-year-old, much loved Capitol Theatre, as well as the new Capitol Piazza shopping centre and a 10-storey apartment tower.
The Capitol Kempinski is in Singapore's old colonial centre, on Stamford Road in Civic District.
The star architect, Richard Meier (now fallen due to a harassment scandal), melded the Capitol building and Stamford House. The heritage exterior, an ornate wedding cake of an affair, remains but the hotel feels intimate and exclusive thanks to a completely private and shaded circular arrival plaza that's vintage Meier, accessed down a discreet drive, where blue-suited bellboys take your luggage and Kempinski's signature Lady in Red checks you in.
Interior design is the last project of the late, great Jaya Ibrahim and it manages to be bijou but grand, opulent but understated. The rooftop saltwater pool, for instance, is small but in a stunningly beautiful setting. The gym is compact but brilliantly equipped. The lobby is calm and neutral, but meticulously and divinely decorated.
Across eight types, all rooms and suites take advantage of the wonderful heritage features of two buildings that are now connected but of different styles. That means 50 different configurations, with the Capitol Building offering colonial art deco and the former department store, Stamford House, offering Victorian bones. Each and every room has a big bath tub, though, and serious tech, such as wireless phone chargers, automatic night lights and blinds, big HD TVs and some of the best (free) Wi-Fi you'll find anywhere. Shiny dark wood and crisp white linens offer welcome respite from the Singapore heat.
London-born Michelin-starred chef Alvin Leung heads up 15 Stamford, where a pan-Asian menu reflects his nomadic adventures in the region. Travertine columns, lacquer finishes, Singaporean tiles and elegant lighting create a theatrical backdrop for sumptuous wood-grilled meat and seafood dishes accompanied by innovative sides and desserts. The breakfast buffet – included in the tariff for suite guests but available at cost to all - is dizzying, with tantalising choices across Asian and western cuisines.
In a light-filled adjacent arcade, The Capitol Kempinski has three more casual eateries: the Capitol Milk Bar with an American diner theme, Bertholdt Delicatessen for coffee and baked goods, and Frieda, a German and Austrian-themed restaurant with botanical decor. There's also a lobby lounge, where a gorgeous afternoon tea is served.
Capitol Piazza links to the City Hall MRT station. The National Museum, St Andrew's Cathedral and the gothic splendour of CHIJMES are all very close, as is the brilliant Singapore Art Museum and another rather lovely hotel – Raffles. The Raffles City shopping mall is across the road. But Singapore being Singapore, everything is a short train or taxi ride away. The staff at the concierge desk at The Capitol Kempinski will enthusiastically help you find attractions in line with your interests.
An intimate, beautiful, club-like stay in a brilliant location – what's not to love? The Capitol Kempinski is hard to fault.
The Capitol Kempinski: 15 Stamford Rd, Singapore. Rooms from $S568 ($582) a night. See kempinski.com
The beautiful Bar at 15 Stamford is everything a good hotel watering hole should be: a little sexy and a lot comfy, while serving killer cocktails with generous complimentary nibbles.
Even in a shopping mecca such as Singapore, some bricks-and-mortar retail is struggling – and Capitol Piazza is, at present, pretty lacklustre.
Julietta Jameson travelled as a guest of Changi Airport Group and stayed as a guest of The Capitol Kempinski.