Singapore's InterContinental is a fixture of the international business hotel circuit, with the convenient Bugis location and decent facilities a real draw.
The city-state is blessed with numerous top-notch places to stay, but the InterConti refurbished its Peranakan (Malay-Chinese) shophouse rooms this year.
With a spare couple of days in Singapore, I decided to see how these rooms on the historical luxury end of the scale measured up to the modern business traveller's requirements.
Location & Impressions
The InterConti is found at 80 Middle Road, smack in the heart of the Bugis district and just under three hundred metres from the Bugis MRT stop.
If you're arriving by car or cab (as I did), you'll swing into the impressive courtyard and have your luggage whisked from you by the hotel porters.
Check-in was deeply impressive. A hotel staffer met me at the door and escorted me straight up to my room, where a relaxing cup of lavender-scented tea and cold towels awaited me, to sort out the check-in formalities.
The Shophouse room itself was a real treat -- a foyer with wardrobe and fridge, separate living room/office, a good-sized bedroom, and a large bathroom with separate shower and bath. And this is just the Shophouse room -- the Shophouse suites are even bigger.
You first enter the foyer: wood panels in a cool duck egg blue, with gorgeous dark wood floors and a large wardrobe, plus a smaller stone-topped credenza for tea, coffee and the minibar.
Oddly enough, while the minibar was very well-stocked, the only coffee available was instant. Since the executive lounge is just down the hall, that's not a total dealbreaker, but I'd have expected a Nespresso machine at this class of Singapore hotel.
From the foyer you turn right into the living room/office, or left into the bathroom.
The living room is sumptuous, with white wood panelling, a large sofa with silk cushions, Tiffany-style lamps and a thick-pile cream rug over the floor.
An enormous TV is recessed into a dark wooden entertainment unit, which also contains a Bose wave radio-CD player.
On the far side of the room are the louvred French doors and windows that open onto the small balcony that were once the shophouses that gave the rooms their names.
The rather earthy, racy history of Bugis has given way in quintessentially Singaporean fashion to a shopping mall.
While that's very convenient for a bit of browsing on the hotel doorstep, it does mean that there's a bit of light hubbub during the daytime, which you can hear muffled in the room. So if you're coming in jetlagged and want to sleep during the daytime, you might prefer one of the hotel's tower rooms.
Speaking of sleeping, the bedroom is equally sumptuous, with one of the thickest feather-topped mattress pads I've ever sunk into, fabulous high-threadcount sheets and an amazing pillow menu.
Your choice of various types of pillow, including some with either lavender or jasmine sewn in to waft you off to sleep.
A chair with a comfortable ottoman and another massive TV set into the wall round out the bedroom, which also has a door into the bathroom.
It's more of an art deco-inspired theme in the bathroom, with white marble tiles and black square insets contrasting with two round sinks and shiny sconce lights.
You'll find both a large soaking tub and a walk-in shower -- with both a monsoon head and a detachable wand for a more conventional shower -- separated from the loo by glass walls.
Toiletries are my personal favourite White Company, with some of the softest towels I've found in a hotel anywhere, plus fresh orchids for decoration.
In fact, fresh flowers are all over the room: blue hydrangeas in the bedroom and living room/office, with white roses on the foyer credenza.
The room's workspace is a decent-sized desk with a parquet wood top, a great angle lamp for task lighting and a very comfortable ergonomic, adjustable chair.
Top marks for connectivity too: universal power points, an iPhone dock built into the wall, USB, HDMI, VGA and audio-in jacks for the TV/stereo, and ethernet ports too.
Your other option for work is the luxurious Club InterContinental, which is a large library-style lounge with everything you could want on tap while you work away.
While wifi in the lounge is free, Internet access is a pocket-burning SG$42 (A$32) a day in the rooms. It's a good speed, though: I got 11Mbps down and 10Mbps up, so in the grand scheme of things it's less of a rort than many Australian hotel Internet offerings.
But let's face it: if you're forking out for the InterContinental's top rooms, the hotel could afford to stump up for Internet access.
Evening cocktails and hors d'oeuvres (which are actually enough to make a fairly substantial supper) are available in the Club InterContinental from 1730 to 1930.
As a Club InterContinental guest, you're also entitled to breakfast in the Club (which, in this case, is better than going downstairs to the main restaurant), with afternoon tea also on offer from 1430 to 1700.
Top marks for the lovely staff in the club, who were exceedingly helpful during my stay (extra points for remembering my drink order from the night before despite the club being quite busy) and organised the swift and painless return of a pair of sunglasses I'd left at the hotel.
But while you're staying at the InterContinental, you must try the Man Fu Yuan restaurant (also on the first floor, where the Shophouse rooms and the Club InterContinental are located).
The amazing fusion food includes dishes that are cleverly paired with accompanying teas, and absolutely everything is delicious.
Room service in the hotel is impressively wide-ranging, with the Western and Singaporean standards plus many of Man Fu Yuan's dishes.
If chilling out in front of one of your two massive flatscreen TVs isn't enough for you, head down to the Club InterContinental, up to the roof garden, or to the open-air swimming pool with its shaded jacuzzi pools and extensive range of sun loungers.
Or if you need to work off that amazing dinner at Man Fu Yuan, there's a well-equipped gym with everything you'll need for a decent workout.
The InterContinental's Shophouse rooms are up there at the top of Singaporean luxury, but they're also particularly well outfitted for business travel.
With the additional benefits of the fantastic Club InterContinental, Man Fu Yuan restaurant, a great gym and a smashing pool, I'd certainly return next time I'm in Singapore.
Our reporter was a guest of the hotel.