Sofitel So Singapore – small but a stylish design by Karl Lagerfeld
General Info and Location
To ignore traditionality and instead focus on uniquely designed hotels seems to be a growing trend within the hotel industry. More and more chains seem to have realised that it is somewhat boring for frequent travellers to constantly visit hotels which all look relatively similar.
Next in line to follow the trend is Accor’s Sofitel, which has launched a new chain of boutique hotels called “Sofitel So”. The first hotel opened in Bangkok and the chain is now also present in Singapore and Mauritius.
‘Sofitel So Singapore’ opened in June 2014 and is located in the financial district of the southern part of the city center. The location is perhaps a little odd, but it is no more than a few minutes walk to Boat Quay, Singapore River, and Marina Bay. Next door to the hotel is a large food court and a small grocery store that stays open late. The hotel building was completed in 1927 and was originally a telegraph building, part of the Eastern Extension Telegraph Company, and is now a listed building.
The hotel’s design, which has been developed by the French design firm ‘Miaja Design Group’, is largely modern while retaining much of the old interior. For example, the corridors are made from old wood adorned with hand painted designs, and the lobby does very well to promote a stylish yet archaic atmosphere.
World-renowned designer, Karl Lagerfeld, has helped with many of the designer touches found throughout the hotel, and everything from door knockers to the stationery has received “The Lion’s Seal” emblem, designed by Lagerfeld. A number of the designer articles in the lobby have also been developed by Lagerfeld.
The hotel is relatively small, with a total of 134 rooms spread over six floors. A standard room is called a ‘So Cosy Room’, followed in a hierarchical order by the ‘So Comfy Room’ and the ‘So Urban Room’, then there are the nine suites named ‘So Studio Room’, and finally ‘So Lofty’ and ‘So VIP’. Booking one of the last two includes a VIP package offering a number of luxuries, for example, champagne breakfast and airport transfers.
We stayed in a So Cosy room on the 5th floor. It was typically large in size, with an attractive and thoughtful design; a blend of modernity, technology, and old-fashioned design. For example, all the lights in the room could be controlled via an iPad located on the bedside table, while both the wall behind the bed and the ceiling were adorned with illuminated decorations resembling a glass ceiling one might find in an old church.
Otherwise, the room contained a flat-screen TV, minibar, and a bathroom with shower (also with a rather unique design and an illuminated mirror). The bed was the comfortable ‘Sofitel My Bed’.
Eating and Drinking
In the lobby you find ‘Xperience Restaurant’ and ‘Xperience Bar’, both with an interestingly designed interior. We visited the restaurant for breakfast, which offered a rather peculiar and small buffet. It was not that the supply of food was excessively small, it was about standard for a good international hotel, it was more that all the food was structured in very small quantities. Instead of pots and platters being used, small bowls and dishes, as well as glass jars with metal lids, like one would find in an old-fashioned kitchen, were employed. All in all, it meant that the full breakfast buffet was spread over two normal-sized table.
The arrangement created a somewhat unique breakfast experience and also made great demands of the staff who had to constantly check the buffet and refill anything that ran out. Otherwise, the food was flavourful and fresh, but if you are looking for a more extensive breakfast buffet there are certainly better hotels in Singapore.
On the top floor you find the rooftop bar, ‘HI-SO’, located next to a pool. It provides a nice atmosphere in the evening with music and relaxing lighting.
The hotel has a fitness center, ‘So Fit’, which I did not frequent during my stay. On the top floor there is also an infinity pool and sun loungers, which are complimented with a nicely designed pool bar and a number of plants. The problem with the terrace is that the hotel is surrounded by several tall buildings that block the out sun during parts of the day, this is also probably the reason why the pool bar does not stay open during the day.
The internet connection was free and worked just fine.
Service and Status Benefits
The service at the hotel was friendly and efficient, even if some procedures had not yet been perfected as the hotel only opened a few months ago. A nice touch was the email we received a few days before our arrival asking when we would arrive. This was, in part, so the special welcome cocktail in the room could be arranged. As a Gold Card holder I was also given a drink voucher that equalled one beer, a glass of wine, a glass of champagne, or a non-alcoholic alternative at the pool bar. It was a pleasure, after checking in and unpacking, to go up to the roof terrace and cool down with a beer in the evening heat.
This was a somewhat different experience. For those getting tired of the usual chain hotels, this is certainly a breath of fresh air. The design is appealing and has managed to distance itself from some of the more traditional hotels with a fairly small and discreet reception, spacious public areas, and unique corridors. Additionally, the designer touches from Karl Lagerfeld add to the stylish vibe.
Sofitel So Singapore is perhaps not the first choice if you are looking for comprehensive facilities and plan to spend a lot of time at the hotel, for example, sunbathing or swimming, but for those looking for a pleasant, interesting and unique experience, the hotel can certainly be recommended.