In an attempt to complete the Double Points and More promotion (also known as the Acceleration promotion), I decided to spend the weekend at Hotel Indigo Katong.
Given it’s off city centre location, this hotel is definitely not my usual choice. Having read some pretty good reviews and also to meet the ‘Stay in two or more brands’ requirement, I decided to check the hotel out.
Back to the hotel. Hotel Indigo Katong is nested in the heart of Singapore’s peranakan enclave, Joo Chiat.
For those who are unfamiliar with the term, Peranakans are essentially what Southeast Asians refer to as Straits-born Chinese. They are descendants of Chinese immigrants who moved to the Malay archipalego a few centuries ago and developed their own mix of heritage and culture. One thing for sure, their food is incredibly elaborate and delightful.
The hotel is fairly new: built in 2016, the hotel is part of a rejuvenation plan which saw several new hotels pop up in the vicinity. The hotel is adjoined with Katong Square and Holiday Inn Express, all of which shares the same car park and driveway.
The first Hotel Indigo in Asia was launched in Bangkok back in 2015, with many others quickly sprouting out over the next couple of years, with a total of 14 properties across Asia right now.
Personally, the Hotel Indigo brand is an intriguing one – it seem a little odd-placed among IHG’s suite of hotels.According to IHG’s website:
Each hotel is as individual as its surroundings and is also a reflection of them. You can taste the local flavor on our menus and see it in the art and photography displayed on our walls. You’ll catch guests and neighbors hanging out in our bars, get great advice from our team members on what to see and do in the neighborhood, and be refreshed by just how relaxed and inviting it all feels.
While not expectedly high end, the brand seem to be placed differently in different cities. A quick google search will tell you that some Hotel Indigo properties are five-star hotels in Europe, but most of them will stay at a four-star standard and a handful lower than that.
Hotel Indigo Katong has 131 rooms, all of which are similarly sized. There are only two main room types: the premier room and the deluxe room, each with either king or twin beds. Key difference between both rooms is that the premier rooms comes with a good view of the city (be sure to choose these rooms to avoid looking into the adjacent Holiday Inn Express Katong courtyard) and a nespresso machines, with some rooms having a bathtub (this is an add-on) for those who like a little in-room soak.
I booked myself into the Deluxe Room, and was lucky enough to be given a room with a view facing the neighbourhood, rather than the Holiday Inn Express courtyard.
At 30 square metres, the premier view room I stayed in was fairly spacious for a new hotel. The room comfortably contained the king bed, a two seater sofa adjacent to a carrom board (when was the last time you saw one?) used as a coffee table, as well as a classic cupboard which opens up to contain the minibar and contained all the in-room refreshment amenities.
Flanked by the side of the entrance was the wardrobe, while the toilet is contained on the other side of the toilet.
What’s different is that the bathroom is on the other end of the room against the window, with a sliding door that closes up the bathroom from the bedroom. You could opt to take a shower with full view of the street, although that’s incredibly unwise as the rooms are rather visible especially at night, given the relatively low height of the hotel and the distance from the main road.
Nonetheless, if you are one of those who are on the higher floor and have a bathtub, this makes for a very good and relaxing bath in the privacy of your room.
For rooms like mine without a bathtub, there will be a cosy armchair, along with a little pan and a very handy feet soaking kit, comprising bath salts, foot scrub and a Good Morning towel. Very thoughtful!
Hotel Indigo Katong uses Biology Skin amenities, an Australian brand that I have come across before while staying in Next Brisbane. I loved the smell of the amenities and it doesn’t leave me feeling too dry after a shower, so it’s one of those hotel amenities that I didn’t mind using.
The hotel is fairly compact, given that it was redesigned from a former police station. Adjoined to Katong Square, a shopping mall, as well as the Holiday Inn Express Katong, do not expect full-service hotel facilities. After all, you are encouraged to go out and check out the neighbourhood (and there’s really a lot to see and do!).
The hotel has a rooftop infinity pool, overlooking the Joo Chiat neighbourhood which is essentially an array of low-rise terrace houses and shophouses. On the same floor there’s a compact but very functional 24-hour gym.
While there isn’t a bar, the hotel is incredibly thoughtful: there is a counter with a menu, and a phone which links directly to the restaurant. You could place an order for a cocktail or some light bites, and they will be sent up to the pool to you not too long after. Now you can enjoy sunset by the pool with a glass of wine in hand.
There is also a little pavilion by the lobby with some books and you could browse, or simply hang around if you need a space to work or to relax. While not exactly a lounge, it’s a very handy space to have, which is pretty lacking in hotels today. For a longer stay, I will imagine myself getting a coffee from the shopping mall next door and hanging out here to read for an hour or two.
The hotel has a restaurant Baba Chews, which you might have guessed by now, serves Peranakan food. The Peranakans are (in)famous for their very elaborate cuisine, often requiring very extensive preparation and long cooking times for a very intense flavour and texture.
Baba Chews offers a modern take on the cuisine through its various menus, on top of the classics. On weekends, it offers a different brunch on Saturday and Sunday (see their website for the latest menus), with items such as Bibik-Bap rice bowl and ayam buah keluak burger on the menu. If you prefer to stay safe, go for dinner: you will find familiar items such as otah, beef rendang, chap chye on the menu.
While I didn’t try the food for dinner, Baba Chews was also the breakfast venue. The breakfast offering was primarily made-to-order items that you can order off a menu. Every day of the week, the menu also feature a couple of local dishes.
I was pretty happy that one of the special dish of the day was masi lemak, so I happily ordered a portion of that. Apart from nasi lemak, there was also Nissin noodles (instant noodles), as well as boiled dumplings on the menu for the day.
Beyond the menu, there was also a small continental buffet section, where you could grab pastries, fruits, cold cuts, cereals and yoghurts. The quality of the pastries is worth a mention, I found myself going back for seconds.
Hotel Indigo Katong was a pleasant surprise. The rooms are thoughtfully designed, and I never felt claustrophobic in the room. While the hotel offers few amenities, I found it sufficient. For instance, while I usually prefer a hotel with a club lounge whenever I do a staycation in Singapore, I was perfectly okay that the hotel didn’t have one as there was plenty of bars nearby (you could get a S$40 bottle of wine and tapas at Wine Connection Bistro in the adjacent i12 mall) and even more dinner options.
Overall, Hotel Indigo Katong offers very good value for money: for most parts of 2018, entry level rates go for less than S$200 per night. Even without breakfast, Singapore is a place you won’t go hungry in: there’s plenty of food around you any time of the day and night.
While not in the heart of the city, the location was a good balance, with direct bus connection to both the city and the airport. I personally prefer this so that I can be away from the craziness of the city centre while being able to zip in and out of town quickly.