In the typical course of things, it makes sense to start with first impressions. In the case of the Hotel Indigo Singapore Katong, however, you’re better off starting with the second and third (and fourth) ones. The rooms here–the second thing you’ll take in–are nothing short of marvelous, suitable surrogates for home, and the restaurant and rooftop infinity pool successfully imbue the place with a wow factor.
The lobby, on the other hand, is just a lobby. It isn’t terrible, by any means. But neither does it suggest to you that you’re in something other than a chain hotel. Hotel Indigo falls under the Intercontinental Hotels Group umbrella, a boutique brand launched in 2004 with an expressed goal of incorporating local character into its hotels’ design and experience. In the lobby, the effort was made, with a big round table like the ones the Chinese like to eat at and columns shaped like the giant jars the locals used to make, but the result feels less boutique and more 131-room-hotel, which this place is. As i checked in, I didn’t see the signs of the treat awaiting me during my stay.
Everything changed upon entering my room, where I met the comfort of home, the delight of luxury, and a sense of place all at once—a boutique experience embodied. The layout of my 325 square-foot “Deluxe” room reflected those of the traditional local homes of Singapore, known as shophouses—narrow and deep, with the front area set up for socializing and the back half reserved for the residents’ sleeping and bathing. As a result, the room boasts two bathroom areas, the first up front with a toilet and sink, the one in back with another sink and shower. Both pop with locally inspired tile work.
The bathroom area in back feels especially spa-like, with a large colorful chair to lounge in and take advantage of the foot-soaking bowl, another locally inspired touch. The shower is great, too, although I wished it had a door. Like in every hotel I ever stay in, I also wished there were more than two wall hooks. The toiletries smelled and worked great.
The room overall had the feel of a well-conceived apartment, with hardwood floors, an area rug, and standalone cabinets, among other design elements. The coffee situation can’t be beat–French press, cute rooster coffee cups, and (bless them!) real milk in the fridge. The lighting throughout the room was great, thanks in part to the floor-to-ceiling windows, but also to the varied and flattering and functional fixtures. I especially loved the bedside lamps and the one hanging from the ceiling by the sofa.
Speaking of the sofa, the sitting area in my room should serve as a template for hotels everywhere. As a writer, I’m almost always hunkering down to get stuff done on the road. During most hotel stays, I end up working on the bed, three or four feet from the desk. It has something to do with the desk in any given hotel room failing to inspire in me that dumb quixotic writerly feeling that I seem to require in order to get down to the far more mundane activity of actually writing.
In other words, most hotel-room desks feel too much like a cubicle. But in my room at the Hotel Indigo Katong, despite a gloriously comfy king bed, I luxuriated in setting my laptop up on the table, in spreading all my disorganized notes out around it, in getting down to it. With its sofa, table and pouf, this wasn’t even technically a desk, but rather a multipurpose space that worked great as one when the moment demanded it.
The hotel’s restaurant is housed in an adjacent historic building—it was once a police station—and it feels like a missed opportunity that the main entrance and public area of the hotel weren’t placed here. Still, it’s a fabulous setting for the restaurant, Baba Chew. The fantastic breakfast is served here, with fruits, cheese, charcuterie, fresh juices, muesli, and freshly baked croissants. I strongly recommend trying the classic Singapore breakfast dish of kaya toast and soft-boiled eggs. I didn’t get a chance to eat other meals at Baba Chew, but I did order a glass of wine from it to my room, which came reasonably priced—$10 SG (about $7.50 US), plus tax and a 10% service charge.
It would be hard for me to recommend staying in a hotel in Singapore without a pool. The rooftop infinity pool here does the trick, providing a cool dip and an expansive view. The gym sits next to it, with all of the requisite equipment.
The neighborhood of Katong is worth a mention in itself. I didn’t know much of anything about it before I arrived, but there are small shops, great restaurants and interesting things to see at every turn. I spent a day strolling around, and wish I’d had more time. The Hotel Indigo keeps its rates reasonable largely thanks to a location outside the core tourist area, but if you ask me, this is a more interesting place to hang one’s hat for a few days.
I stayed in the Hotel Indigo Singapore Katong coming off a week in much rougher accommodation in nearby Sumatra. I craved comfort and amenities in spades, and I got it here. With rates that are eminently fair for what guests receive in return, I swiftly moved past that first impression and to the final one: The Hotel Indigo Singapore Katong is a great hotel.
HOTEL INDIGO SINGAPORE KATONG | 86 East Coast Road | Singapore