Peranakan Pearl: A Review of the Hotel Indigo Singapore Katong
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To The Point
The 131-room Hotel Indigo Singapore Katong is an upbeat, colorful hotel in one of the city’s up-and-coming neighborhoods. Pros: close to Changi International Airport, low room rates, interesting area. Cons: not close to city center (well, for Singapore), limited dining.
During a recent trip to Asia, I found out I’d have to stay in Singapore unexpectedly for a quick overnight. Looking around for reasonably priced hotels, I settled on the Hotel Indigo Singapore Katong. Room rates were under $200 for the night I needed, and the hotel was in an interesting neighborhood that would be a quick ride to the airport the following day for my early-morning flight.
I’ve been transiting through Singapore a lot lately, but this overnight came up at the last minute. By the time I was looking for a room, rates around the city were rather high. My main hotel programs are Marriott Rewards, World of Hyatt and IHG Rewards, so I concentrated my search within those brands in case I would need points to book my stay.
I have an unused free-night certificate from my IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card (I hadn’t transitioned to the new IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card) that I was considering using. However, I found rooms available at the Hotel Indigo Singapore Katong starting at just $158 for the night. I thought I could get more value than that out of my free night before it expired, so I decided to book a paid rate.
Outright award nights started at 30,000 points, though there were cash-and-points rates including an option to spend $99 and 15,000 points. I would have gotten a value of between 0.39 and 0.53 cents per point with those, though, which was well below our valuation of IHG points.
Instead, I booked the regular paid rate using my Chase Sapphire Reserve to earn 3x Ultimate Rewards points per dollar. I also earned 15 IHG Rewards points per dollar, thanks to the IHG Platinum status I got with my credit card plus various points bonuses through the program’s Double Points Plus More promotion running this fall.
The hotel was in the neighborhood of Katong, along the coast between the airport and the Central Business District. That made it a convenient choice for me, since my stay was going to be just a single night and I’d have to get back to the airport in the morning. My taxi ride to Singapore Changi Airport (SIN) took less than 15 minutes and cost around $18 Singapore dollars (roughly US $13).
The neighborhood itself was quite interesting and worth a visit. If you’re a first-time visitor to Singapore, you’ll likely want to stay closer to the central business district or near the megamalls of Orchard Road. However, if you’ve been to Singapore before but haven’t been to Katong, this could be an interesting option. Katong and the adjacent district of Joo Chiat were the center of Singapore’s distinctive Peranakan culture (the Straits-born descendants of Chinese immigrants), and the area has some of the best-preserved houses built in this colorful hybrid style.
I had time to explore the hotel’s surroundings and snapped a few photos of historical houses. There were tons of restaurants (everything from Middle Eastern, Filipino and Japanese to Australian and gourmet gelato) along East Coast Road facing the hotel, and I stopped at 328 Katong Laksa (one of Gordon Ramsay’s favorites) for a hearty bowl of laksa, a spicy fish noodle soup.
The hotel was also next to the 112 Katong Mall, which had a bunch of fun little shops as well as dumpling restaurants.
Basically, I thought it was a great place to spend a short afternoon and evening, and there were tons of places to eat and drink without venturing into the more touristy parts of the city.
I arrived at 1pm and noticed that the hotel shared a driveway, but not a lobby, with its sister property, the Holiday Inn Express. Though the hotel tower was contemporary, the old Joo Chiat Police Station, which was built in 1928, was incorporated into the property as its restaurant. But more on that later.
I walked directly into the reception area of the lobby, which was bright and contained tons of references to the Peranakan culture of the surrounding neighborhood.
There were bright fabric panels along the walls behind reception, red and black lacquered wooden chests and drawers, and ceramic installations made to resemble Chinese lanterns near the elevators.
The agent checking me in offered me an iced coffee as a welcome amenity. While taking down my information, she thanked me for my loyalty and offered me a welcome bonus of 600 points. The hotel had guests crank a gumball-style machine, which dispensed plastic bubbles with fortune-cookie-like scrolls inside. Mine said I’d won a pack of red Chinese New Year envelopes, which are traditionally used to gift money to friends and family, and the agent handed them over. She and her manager also offered suggestions of where to eat around the area and a few other points of interest.
I had been upgraded to a king-bed premier-view room with bath, which was two categories higher than the room I’d booked, slightly larger and about $40 more expensive.
I headed up in the elevator to check out my room, which was on the 14th floor at the end of the hall.
The first thing I noticed was the size, followed by the colorful patterns and art everywhere.
Just to the left of the entrance was a tiled powder room with a toilet and a small sink.
Beyond that was a little sitting area with a contemporary take on a traditional cane-furniture sofa with brightly colored cushions.
There was also a table that doubled as a desk whose top was a carrom game table, and there was a box with carrom pieces and information explaining the game for newbies.
There were universal power outlets and USB ports in the wall here, too, which made it the most convenient spot to set up my computer and work.
The king bed came with a floral headboard and batik pillows.
I especially liked the sketch of a local street scene all over the wall behind it.
One nightstand held a lamp, clock and amenity box with earplugs. The other held a tissue box and a Handy travel phone that guests could use for data and local phone calls during their stay.
Across from the bed, the closet was just inside the door and was spacious, though it only had two drawers.
Next to that was the minibar, which was built like a display case in a traditional local home, complete with a cupboard for prized porcelain.
There were several snacks and drinks to choose from.
Plus, there was complimentary water, Twinings tea, a Nespresso machine and coffee capsules and a few local candies like White Rabbit chews.
A TV was mounted on the wall next to the minibar. Beyond the bedroom and toward the window, the bathroom was open to the room, though you could close the sliding, frosted-glass doors made to look like traditional screens.
The sink was an interesting accent piece. It had a small, blue, enamel basin but limited counter space, though I liked the backlit mirror and the Singer sewing-machine base.
Across from that was the centerpiece of the room, a circular deep-soaking bathtub with cloud-like patterns embossed on its surface.
Like the rest of the bathroom, the shower was colorfully tiled and had both overhead and handheld shower heads.
The bath products were by Biology and smelled clean and fresh without being overpowering.
Overall, I really liked the room. The décor was vibrant and rooted in the heritage of the surrounding area without being too precious. I also liked how big it was and the views from my window — though as a sign in the bathroom noted, if you could see people on the street, they could see you too!
The Wi-Fi was free but not fast.
Food and Beverage
As I mentioned, the hotel had just one restaurant, though it did offer an extensive room-service menu and the minibar was pretty well-stocked. The restaurant, Baba Chews, was in the landmark 1928 Joo Chiat Police Station.
To get to the restaurant, you had to pass back by reception and then through a pavilion-like sitting area complete with overhead lanterns and shelves with various ceramics and a hutch with art and tourism books.
You then had to walk through an outdoor patio and garden and then into the old police building.
To one side was an unaffiliated Taiwanese restaurant. Baba Chews was opposite.
The menu was a hodgepodge of Peranakan dishes, including kuih pie tee (prawn-and-vegetable tarts), roast-duck popiah (spring rolls), stir-fried prawns with bird’s eye chilis and curry leaves, and crab fried rice with XO sauce (a popular, seafood-based sauce from Hong Kong). There were also Western options like fish and chips, a cheeseburger and linguine with mushrooms. I didn’t get to eat there, but this was also where breakfast was served.
Room-service menus featured many of the same dishes, though with a more limited selection depending on the time of day.
One of the hotel’s main attractions was a top-floor roof deck with an infinity pool.
The views were lovely, including of one of the airport’s flight paths, and many of the chairs were shaded from the strongest afternoon sun.
The gym was also up here, and though small, it featured a selection of cardio and weight equipment, plus fresh towels, refrigerated water and disinfectant wipes.
I mentioned how diligent the check-in service was, but I also wanted to note how just how friendly and helpful everyone I interacted with during my stay was. Agents on duty at the front desk at any given time were always cheerful and greeted me when I was coming or going. The housekeeping staff was lovely, offering me extra bottles of water and coming back for turndown service because I was in my room when they passed by the first time. Even while I was working out super early before my morning flight, one of the staff preparing the pool area for the day came into the gym to change out my towel and offer me a fresh bottle of water. The service was truly exceptional — warm and personalized.
Before my stay, I thought the Hotel Indigo Singapore Katong would be an interesting enough choice for a quick overnight in the city, and it more than stepped up. The hotel itself felt lively and colorful, with large rooms, really reasonable rates and amenities a business traveler could appreciate. The neighborhood was an interesting change from some of Singapore’s more sanitized quarters, and the staff was wonderful.
Though it might not be a top choice for first-time visitors to Singapore given its location a bit outside the action, if you have a stopover here or want to see a part of the city that is both rooted in Singaporean history yet also up-and-coming, this is a great choice.
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