One Farrer Hotel & Spa, Singapore: Luxury outside the comfort zone
Accommodation-wise, regular visitors to Singapore are already familiar with hotels at Marina Bay, Orchard, as well as the central business district.
One might not consider Farrer Park as the place to stay, especially if one is looking for a classy joint, even when some visitors are perhaps somewhat familiar with Little India, where the iconic Mustafa Centre (open 24 hours) is located.
This is set to change with the arrival of the One Farrer Hotel & Spa, a five-star offering that is the newest hotel that sits right above the Farrer Park MRT station.
Billed as a luxury retreat in a less glamorous part of the city-state, One Farrer Hotel is part of Connexion, Singapore's first integrated healthcare and hospitality complex.
Connexion is a clever concept in itself, with its west wing housing the Farrer Park Medical Centre, while the east wing combines Farrer Park Hospital and the One Farrer Hotel. The equation is completed by Owen Link, a retail avenue located on the ground floor.
Located about 5km away from Marina Bay Sands, One Farrer Hotel sits in a very unique place. From this vantage point, one can see the modern Singapore skyline, characterised by swanky hotels, dashing condominiums, and dazzling office towers.
Yet on another side, one can also see the fringes of the Singapore "heartland" while being a stone's throw from Little India.
Moving about from the hotel, which held its soft opening in September 2014, to other parts of the island is not a problem, as I found myself at the MRT platform after exiting my room, in less than five minutes.
While One Farrer has 243 rooms, not all are equal. In fact, it has elevated itself by offering a hotel-within-a-hotel concept by having its signature Skyline floors, which offer guests their own dedicated check-in counters and lifts, dipping pool, small gym as well as casual dining options.
This includes a simplified version of the breakfast served at its 24-hour restaurant - Escape - as well as evening cocktails. Other-wise, there is a free flow of coffee, tea and other popular beverages the whole day through.
Stepping into my Signature Studio recently, I was captivated by the view of the city skyline which included parts of the sea.
The amount of light streaming into the room, and the attendant privacy, can be precisely determined with the cool motorised curtains and drapes that can turn the room completely dark if required.
When evening descends, the elegant floor lights that work based on sensing the room occupant's movement ensure there is enough visibility in the room, without the attendant glare or unwanted illumination in other areas.
The room has a complimentary minibar which is restocked daily! Coffee lovers will also not be disappointed as there is a coffee machine with gourmet coffee capsules supplied.
The work desk is correctly sized, and is supported by a Herman Miller chair. Connectivity is a joy as the high-speed complimentary WiFi makes working a pleasant undertaking.
To complete the in-room relaxation experience, there is also a bathtub, and the entire spacious bathroom is installed with non-slip tiles throughout this penthouse-like environment.
When it is time to hit the sack, there are seven types of pillows to choose from (a bit of an overkill though, I feel).
A member of Preferred Hotel & Resorts, One Farrer boasts an Olympic-sized open air pool - complete with a large sun deck - open until 10pm.
The 24-hour gym has a good selection of treadmills and other machines, in addition to free weights. Another plus is that it is so spacious, it doesn't feel like one is being hemmed in, during peak periods.
For the ultimate in relaxation, I headed for the Spa Retreat (open from 7am to 10pm), and opted for the Darphin Signature Massage (using Darphin products that are not available over the shelf), with a 60-minute session costing S$149++ (RM450++).
However, to me, the most interesting aspect of this hotel is its permanent art collection that features more than 700 pieces of classical and contemporary art by artists from all over Asia, including Malaysia.
This is a serious trove that is said to be the largest single curated collection of its kind, and art aficionados who stay here can request for an art tour at the concierge.
Escape is based on an open kitchen concept, and the chefs are happy to interact with guests who may need more information on what to pick from the buffet table.
Food-wise, the natural place to go is the Escape Restaurant & Lounge, which is open round-the-clock.
For dinner, I headed for the buffet table (dinner priced at SG$60++ or RM180++) that offered the famed Singapore chili crab, along with other Asian dishes, and came away pleasantly surprised at the freshness of ingredients used (I have not tasted crabs this fresh in a long, long time).
In short, this is a fine hotel characterised by calming architecture, elegant furnishings, and great views of Singapore, all making it a credible alternative for seasoned travellers.
One Farrer Hotel & Spa
1, Farrer Park Station Road
Tel: +65 63630101