Wednesday newsletters always feature a hotel or flight review.
I recently enjoyed a phenomenal holiday in Singapore & Thailand. You can read my trip reports here:
- Review: Swiss Boeing 777 Business Class from Zürich to Singapore
- Review: Fullerton Bay Hotel, Singapore
- Review: Six Senses Duxton & Maxwell, Singapore (today)
- Review: Singapore Airlines Boeing 777 Business Class from Singapore to Phuket
- Review: Keemala Resort Phuket, Thailand
- Review: Rosewood Resort Phuket, Thailand
- Review: Thai Airways Boeing 747 First Class from Phuket to Bangkok
- Review: The Siam Hotel Bangkok, Thailand
- Review: Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle, Thailand
- Review: AMAZING Soneva Kiri, Thailand
- Review: Asia’s largest holiday villa at Soneva Kiri, Thailand
- Review: Eva Air Boeing 777 Business Class from Bangkok to London
Today (February 5, 2020): Review of Six Senses Singapore (Duxton & Maxwell).
- Hotel website: Six Senses Duxton & Six Senses Maxwell
- Tip: get complimentary VIP perks at Six Senses Duxton when booking via Virtuoso
- Tip: get complimentary VIP perks at Six Senses Maxwell when booking via Virtuoso
Six Senses’ Singapore property is split across two buildings that are an easy wander apart: Six Senses Duxton and Six Senses Maxwell. The Six Senses Duxton site features a row of trading houses that have been sustainably restored under the gifted hand of acclaimed British designer Anouska Hempel. In harmony with a rich Asian history, each of the 49 guestrooms and suites features a unique individuality so that no two are exactly the same. The Six Senses Maxwell site was originally a nutmeg plantation before 14 colonial-style buildings were constructed and later joined together as a single entity. This property features 120 guestrooms and suites, a spa, outdoor lap pool, Champagne bar and lounge, whiskey bar, boardroom and club lounge. Guests can make use of the facilities in both buildings, as well as the rich local community in between.
Six Senses Duxton & Maxwell feature in my top 10 lists of the best hotels in Singapore.
Have you ever stayed at Six Senses Duxton or Maxwell? If so, what was your experience? Leave a comment.
In this review (more info and photos below my Youtube clip):
- Pros & things I like
- Cons & things to know
- My verdict
- Tips for future guests & save money
- Best time to visit
- How to get there
PROS & THINGS I LIKE
- Both Six Senses properties are located in the Tanjong Pagar district of Singapore’s Chinatown. An ethnic enclave for Singapore’s early Chinese settlers, Chinatown is now the country’s largest heritage precinct, filled with an exciting meld of hip haunts, cultural treasures and architectural gems. Family-run stores and teahouses co-exist side by side with trendy boutique, chic restaurants, and lively bars, lending a modern touch to this fascinating part of town. Both hotels are a few minutes’ walk from local train stations, and a 10- to 15-minute taxi ride to Marina Bay, the Business Center district and Orchard Road, Singapore’s most famous shopping area.
- Situated in a prime location at the junction of Duxton, Tanjong Pagar and Maxwell Road, Six Senses Maxwell occupies a place replete with history. Originally the site of a nutmeg plantation, 14 three-story and four-story colonial-style buildings were subsequently constructed and later joined together as a single entity to create a colonial-style 19th-century heritage building that now houses the hotel. Built in 1929, the structure features an lovely Art Deco frontage with exposed brickwork, unique lion head rainspouts, and a flagpole hinting at a possible past as a government building. Its sister property Six Senses Duxton also has a historic feel as it comprises eight three-storey, pre-war conservation shophouses originally constructed in the early 19th century.
- Sustainably restored by acclaimed British designer Anouska Hempel, Six Senses Duxton features a diverse mix of Chinese, Malay and European elements. The hotel’s distinct, striking palette of black, gold and yellow is layered with oriental screens. Inside the lobby, alluring black and gold settees and communal black lacquer tables give way to a reception desk and semi-private sitting rooms to the right, and an intimate bar and restaurant space to the left. Large decorative golden fans and calligraphy wallpaper from Anouska’s personal collection embellish the walls, and horsehair calligraphy brushes, bamboo screens, and bold decorative pillows feature throughout the hotel, adding a special feeling and additional sensory element.
- Six Senses Maxwell showcases the refined European aesthetic of renowned French designer Jacques Garcia, and stands in contrast to the opulence-drenched interiors of its Anouska Hempel-designed sibling Six Senses Duxton. Six Senses Maxwell’s lobby features a warm chestnut wood framed reception desk, complemented by Garcia’s eponymous collection of flamboyant high-backed velvet chairs with tassels. These sit on intricately designed custom made handwoven silk rugs that took 14 months to complete. Ethically-sourced, solid inch-thick African wenge hardwood floors adorn much of the hotel, while other public areas feature stone floors that have been recycled from medieval churches and cathedrals in Italy.
- Located on the ground floor of Six Senses Maxwell and lined with lush tropical foliage right next to the lobby area is Cook & Tras, a social library, which also doubles as a restaurant and bar influenced by Straits heritage cuisine (more on that below). Featuring a mirrored ceiling and richly textured custom-designed furnishings, this elegant establishment is characterized by its specially curated book collection of more than 3,000 titles designed by the UK’s Ultimate Library. The latter is known for its dedication to building bespoke book collections for hotels and private residences around the world. Hotel guests are able to “borrow” books the old-fashioned way.
- There are 138 beautifully designed rooms and suites at Six Senses Maxwell distributed across seven categories, which is a much larger property when compared to Six Senses Duxton’s 49 guestrooms and suites. During my visit, I stayed at both properties:
- At Six Senses Duxton, I was given an upgrade to one of the properties most exclusive suite’s, the Pearl Suite, which featured a bedroom with a heavenly kingsize bed, separate lounge area and ensuite bathroom with a bathtub. The light-filled suite was sleekly designed with carefully selected fabrics, wood and marble, all in pearly tones.
- At Six Senses Maxwell, I was upgraded to a Maxwell Suite, which was fitted in a decor with a bright red color palette. Located on the top floor of the hotel, the small suite featured a king bedroom, a separate living room, and ensuite bathroom with a walk-in shower. The room also had a wellness book, baoding balls, and relaxation oh-ball.
- The minibars at the rooms of both Six Senses Maxwell & Duxton are the most visually impressive minibar setups I’ve ever seen in a hotel. The specially curated minibars include William Yeoward crystal glassware for the premium range of spirits available as well as locally produced East Imperial Tonic Water. The Golden Duck Co. salted egg yolk crisps for snacking, handmade organic Krakakoa chocolate bars from Indonesia and a bottle of champagne complete the exquisite minibar experience.
- Six Senses Maxwell is the only one of the two properties that features leisure facilities (although they are also open to guests who stay at Six Senses Duxton, a five minute walk away). Overlooking a picturesque alley, the property’s outdoor terrace features an 82 ft (25 m) long but narrow lap pool, custom-made by Sempre, a Belgian design firm known for their use of raw and recyclable materials. Next to the pool is a small courtyard with some sun loungers as well as a unique rooftop bar, where an edible garden is being grown that is used inhouse by the hotel’s food and beverage team. Six Senses Maxwell also features a small but well-equipped gym.
- Six Senses Maxwell has a spa facility (there’s no spa at the Duxton property). Located on the hotel’s top floor, the spa’s decor and furnishings reflect the authentic 19th century heritage building but with a stylish modern twist. The spa facilities comprise five spa pods and two relaxation rooms. Guests can look forward to both traditional and innovative wellness experiences from Six Senses’ signature massages to locally-inspired rituals, targeted therapies and functional fitness. Only organic and sustainable products f(rom The Organic Pharmacy) are used. A rebalancing session of yoga or meditation is also available under an old, large Angsana tree with Heritage Tree status.
- Six Senses Duxton and Maxwell feature a total of three excellent restaurants, which all serve delicious food created from healthful, organic and sustainably-sourced ingredients:
- The Yellow Pot, located at Six Senses Duxton, is a sophisticated dining venue, which focusses on delivering classic and innovative Chinese cuisine. Table arrangements and furnishings create a lively and eclectic urban ambience accentuated by Anouska’s hand-picked selections of china, glassware and cutlery.
- Murray Terrace Brasserie at Six Senses Maxwell is a European styled brasserie. It blends classic Parisian elements with marble tables, and an Asian influenced wine display with handcrafted Indonesian furniture. Showcasing Mediterranean cuisine, the menu features classics such as seafood platter, beef tartare, French onion soup and lobster bisque.
- The library at Six Senses Maxwell serves light breakfasts and is open throughout the day serving small-plates. By night, a 65-foot (20-meter) long bar counter takes center stage at the library with a display of hundreds of spirits from all over the world.
- Six Senses Duxton and Maxwell are also home to several stunning bars:
- Adjacent to Yellow Pot at Six Senses Duxton is an antiquarian themed bar serving up the hotel’s signature house cocktails and premium spirits. The bar features a heritage stained glass ceiling in circular motifs.
- Garcha’s is a beautifully appointed Jacques Garcia designed room at Six Senses Maxwell (adjacent to the library), boasting an impressive collection of spirits, artisanal whiskeys, tequilas, gins, rums and vodkas.
- Next to Garcha’s is the beautifully appointed Rose Lounge & Bar, which features a lighter, lustrous decor and offers an impressive Champagne collection alongside white and rosé wines, spritzers and the signature Rose Bellini.
- Professor Zhang Mao Ji of Long Zhong Tang — a reputable Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) physician with over 40 years of experience and a successful practice across the road — offers consultations and a medicinal herbal dispensary for in-house guests at Six Senses Duxton (in a small cabinet room next to the reception area). Each day guests at Six Senses Duxton also receive two chilled 30 ml glass bottles of complimentary tinctures formulated by Professor Zhang and placed in the in-room mini-bar. One tincture is designed to be taken first thing in the morning, the other before going to bed at night, with several varieties on rotation.
- The resort is operated by Six Senses, one of my favorite hotel brands in the world. After its launch in 1995 by Soneva CEO Sonu Shivdasani, Six Senses quickly became recognized as the hospitality industry’s pioneer of sustainable practices, demonstrating that eco-responsibility can be successfully wedded to uncompromised luxury. Six Senses resorts & spas are always located in some of the world’s most unique and beautiful places. Whether it be a Six Senses resort on a remote private island or a Six Senses Spa in an exciting urban setting, the touch-points are always decidedly the same. I have previously reviewed the following Six Senses properties:
- Six Senses Zighy Bay (Oman)
- Six Senses Ninh Van Bay (Vietnam)
- Six Senses Con Dao (Vietnam)
- Six Senses Zil Pasyon (Seychelles)
- Six Senses Thimpu, Six Senses Punakha, and Six Senses Paro (Bhutan)
- Six Senses Douro Valley (Portugal)
- Sustainability is ingrained in strategy and culture of the Six Senses brand and all properties, including Six Senses Duxton and Maxwell, are committed to carbon neutrality, zero waste and re-investing in the local community. For example, Six Senses Maxwell and Duxton do not use cut flowers for decorative purposes, plastic linings for trash bins, plastic drinking straws, plastic water bottles, or paper cups. Also, both properties produce their own sparkling and still filtered drinking water in order to mitigate the negative environmental and social aspects associated with bottled water. And to support the local community, YiXing Yuan Teahouse – a family owned business – is the supplier of tea to Six Senses Singapore.
- Six Senses was recently bought by the InterContinental Hotel Group (IHG). The IHG story started in 1946, when Pan American World Airways opened its first InterContinental hotel in 1949 in Belem, Brazil. Since then, IHG has grown worldwide to become one of the largest hotel brands on the globe. Today, the company manages over 5000 hotels globally, which are grouped under 13 brands, including the top brands InterContinental and Six Senses. IHG has a loyalty program which I reviewed here and which allows you collect points and exchange them for complimentary stays at properties, such as Six Senses Maxwell & Duxton.
CONS & THINGS TO KNOW
While Six Senses Duxton and Maxwell try to differentiate themselves from other five star hotels in Singapore by offering an authentic guest experience in sensibly restored heritage buildings in one of the city’s most unique neighborhoods (Chinatown), they are not as good as other Six Senses properties. Here’s why I have mixed feelings about my stay at Six Senses Singapore:
- With the exception of some, the rooms at both properties are tiny with low ceilings, as the hotel designers and architects had to work within the constraint of existing structures in the heritage building. For example, my suite at Six Senses Maxwell did not have any window to speak of (except for some skylight), lacked proper storage space, and featured the smallest bathroom I’ve ever encountered at a hotel. That said, what the rooms lack in space is made up by the remarkable design details and high- end furnishings. And the idea at both hotels is that the small size of the rooms encourages guests to lounge in the stunning public spaces (e.g. library at Maxwell) instead of their accommodation. Nonetheless, a boutique hotel with less rooms and more space would have been a better fit for the Six Senses brand.
- Similar to the rooms, the leisure facilities at Six Senses Maxwell are also squeezed into tights spaces. For example, while visually stunning and great for early morning laps, the rooftop pool is only one lane wide and only suitable for a few guests at the same time. The sun deck is located in a tiny courtyard next to the pool, with the loungers being placed very close one to another in an akward U shape. Also, the spa rooms are tiny (hence why they are called pods), although Six Senses has plans to set up a full-fledged spa in the hotel’s vicinity within the next few years.
- Six Senses Duxton lacks leisure facilities (no pool, no spa, no gym) but guests have access to all the facilities of its sister hotel Six Senses Maxwell, which is only a five minute walk away. However, in terms of pure aesthetics and exclusivity, it stands that Six Senses Duxton is bolder and sexier compared to Six Senses Maxwell, its more conventional and older sibling.
- Some rooms may suffer from street noise, especially at the Six Senses Duxton property. During my stay, I was upgraded to one of the hotel’s highest category suites (the pearl suite) which is located directly above the hotel entrance and facing a lively bar (as is the case for all rooms on the street side of the hotel). Unfortunately, that bar played extremely loud music until far after midnight and made me so desperate that I called the reception again and again (who said this was a problem beyond their control).
- While staff members at both hotels are warm, friendly and hospitable, service is not flawless. For example, when I arrived at Six Senses Duxton by taxi, there was nobody there to greet me, so I had to carry my heavy luggage myself inside the hotel. Unfortunately, the exact same thing happened to me at Six Senses Maxwell. IMHO, it is necessary for both hotels to have bellmen at their entrances to welcome guests and assist them with check-in (as the obvious fix for a bad first impression is not to make one). Also, Six Senses Singapore advertises that all guests receive a welcome drink and mediation bowl cleansing upon arrival, but again, none was offered to me (obviously, the staff needs some further training to avoid service inconsistencies).
- Breakfast is a disappointing affair at Six Senses Singapore. Breakfast is served a la carte, but there are limitations to the amount that guests can order with inclusive breakfast packages. You only get one juice, a pastry basket, and a choice of one entree. No cereals, yoghurts, or fruits are offered if you choose an egg dish (or other hot dish). IMHO, it would be much better if the hotel offered a small continental buffet, with a menu for a hot dish on top of that. The poor breakfast is a huge contrast with the incredible breakfast offerings at all other Six Senses properties.
- Remarkably, loud and upbeat music is played in the public areas of both hotels (e.g. lobby, rooftop terrace, restaurants), which not only doesn’t fit the stylish and sensibly restored interiors but also seems at odds with Six Senses’ core values of serenity and tranquility.
- IMHO, the Six Senses Singapore properties are not a good match for the Six Senses brand. Six Senses is one of the world’s most exclusive hotel brands, and guests expect to be wowed by their properties. Unfortunately, both Six Senses Maxwell and Duxton have so many issues (e.g. very small rooms, service hiccups, disappointing leisure facilities, poor breakfast, etc …) that it is puzzling to me why they are branded as Six Senses hotels. If you are a seasoned Six Senses guest, you will end up disappointed (like me); and if it’s your first stay at a Six Senses property, you wouldn’t be triggered to try other Six Senses hotels. However, it has to be noted that the hotels were not designed by Six Senses from the bottom up; the two properties were meant to open as Starwood hotels and only switched operator after the group was bought by Marriott.
MY VERDICT OF SIX SENSES SINGAPORE
- Location: 8/10
- Design: 8/10
- Pool: 5/10
- Rooms: 6/10
- Food: 8/10
- Breakfast: 7/10
- Spa: 7/10
- Service: 10/10
- Value for money: 9/10
- Overall experience: good 7,5/10
TIPS FOR FUTURE GUESTS & SAVE MONEY
- Save money: get complimentary VIP perks at Six Senses Duxton when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. upgrade, daily breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, and $100 USD food & beverage credit).
- Save money: get complimentary VIP perks at Six Senses Maxwell when booking via Virtuoso (e.g. upgrade, daily breakfast, early check-in, late check-out, and $100 USD food & beverage credit).
- Save money: IHG – the mother company of Six Senses – has a loyalty program which I reviewed here and which allows you to collect points and exchange them stay for free stays at IHG properties, including Six Senses Singapore.
- Save money: read here my tips for getting the best deal at a luxury hotel like Six Senses Singapore (and/or receive many free perks).
- Room tip: at Six Senses Maxwell, I recommend to avoid the rooms on the top floor, since many of these rooms don’t have real windows (except for skylight), which can feel claustrophobic.
- Room tip: at Six Senses Duxton, I recommend to avoid the rooms on the street side, which is lined by lively bars (unless you want to end up sleepless in Singapore).
- Read my tips for preparing your trip in time.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
The best time to visit Singapore is anytime as the island nation experiences a hot and humid tropical climate year-round. And because of a continuous influx of business travelers and tourist, the city’s hotels always enjoy high occupancy and are able to maintain high room rates. To avoid exorbitant prices, steer clear of popular events like the F1 race or national holidays like Chinese New Year. December and January are usually the rainiest months, though it can be wet at any time of year.
HOW TO GET THERE
From Changi Airport, it’s a 20-minute taxi drive to Six Senses Singapore. For a list of airlines that offer direct flights to Singapore, click here.
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Thanks for your excellent review. I have been following your posts and clips.
There could be a small correction: the Six Senses Group was actually bought by InterContinental Hotels Group, not by Marriott.
The Six Senses left Singapore, it´s now Autograph Collection.