A colonial front, lavish French interiors, stone floors hauled from demolished Italian medieval churches, 200-year-old local indentures – the narrative woven by Jacques Garcia for Six Senses Maxwell is eclectic but harmonic.
1 March, 2019
Colonel A. Murray was a colonial engineer and surveyor for the British government of the Straits Settlements. Murray Street in Singapore’s Tanjong Pagar district was named after this pioneer, as was the 1929-built Murray Terrace – a cluster of 14 shophouses – on the parallel Cook Street.
It recently housed offices but in December 2018 a series of delicate transformations revealed it as Six Senses Maxwell. This is the second urban property under the wellness luxury brand Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas, whose portfolio prior comprised resorts in far-flung lands deeply rooted in context and culture.
The first was Six Senses Duxton that opened in early 2018. Together, both form Six Senses Singapore – offering a unique model of two properties sharing amenities in an attempt to encourage exploration of the neighbourhood.
This philosophy syncs with that of the hotels’ owner Garcha Hotels, whose appreciation for tradition is reflected in the choice of shophouses his hotels are housed in.
Six Senses Maxwell’s art deco exterior has a quietly dignified presence. Walls of exposed brickwork and plaster, unique lion-head rain sprouts, octagonal-shaped columns and intricately latticed ventilation panels reflect a Western sensibility rooted in the tropics. The sensual and richly textured interiors with a strong baroque slant by French designer Jacques Garcia of New York’s NoMad fame pay tribute to this colonial past.
Guests enter a foyer edged with a cabinet of curiosities that house retail items ranging from ethically sourced Panama hats from Ecuador, Peranakan porcelain tea sets and baoding balls for meditation.
The reception counter beyond, framed in dark chestnut wood, is a masculine foil to Garcia’s flamboyant, high-backed velvet damask armchairs in the lobby. Altogether, this mise en scène offers the intimacy and familiar comforts of a domestic setting.
It’s no wonder, as French private houses provided the inspiration, says Laleh Amir Assefi, interior designer at Jacques Garcia’s studio. “The materials used must be natural so one feels at home. The spirit of luxury and wellbeing is [paramount].”
This design language perpetuates throughout the hotel – for example, in the sophisticated Garcha’s bar centred with a Cordoban leather counter with beech woodwork.
A corridor laid with stone recycled from Italian medieval churches sequences into the F&B offerings, capped by the Parisian brasserie-styled Murray Terrace at one end and the Cook & Tras Social Library at the other.
The latter is an actual library from which guests and members can borrow books from the old-fashioned way. 3,000 tomes line the solid timber shelves, curated by the UK’s Ultimate Library.
A hybrid of enveloping Hortense armchairs and smaller tables, and large organically shaped tables with Scandinavian-style timber seats, are reflected in the mirrored ceiling that lends the space depth and drama. As a thoughtful gesture, timber panels unfold from the walls to enable privacy between zones.
The 138 rooms and suites are equally luxe but never stuffy, with tasselled silk fabric lampshades, brocade bedheads in emerald green or ruby red, hardwood floors, minibars carved from brass, lacquer and marble, and classically shaped LeFroy Brooks bathroom fixtures well illumined by abundant light from the building’s heritage windows.
As a subtle reference to Colonel A. Murray, plenty of authentic indentures (or property deeds) of places in Singapore – some 200 years old – hang on walls alongside framed pictures, offering an experience that is as informative as it is tactile.
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