Review: Eastern Promise

Pan Pacific Orchard House Singapore

Eastern Promise

With a new resort in Singapore, Pan Pacific Orchard is breathing new life into the city

Words by Penny Clements

With a new resort in Singapore, Pan Pacific Orchard is breathing new life into the city

Pan Pacific Orchard House Singapore WOHA’s contemporary design incorporates striking green, living columns and vast, open, terraced areas (Photograph by Darren Soh)

Though calm beauty might be more often associated with beach resorts, I’m conscious of not dismissing what a city centre hotel can offer – even if that city is the ever-bustling Singapore. Everyone thinks they know the deal here – the extraordinarily clean metropolis, home to Orchard Road mega mall, which rivals Paris’ Champs-Élysées, makes for the perfect midway stopover for those en route to Antipodean sunshine – but to see it as merely this is to underestimate what it truly offers. Singapore is a city emerging from its cocoon, maintaining its rich heritage and multicultural legacy.

The Pan Pacific Orchard stands just a few yards from Orchard Road, offering fine views of the city beyond, and at first sight, my partner and I are knocked out by this extraordinary building. Designed by renowned architects WOHA, the recently opened hotel is a contemporary ode to Singapore’s rich agricultural history, drawing inspiration from the long-lost fruit orchards, plantations, and farms that once dotted the landscape. Nestled within the heart of the city, it is crafted from a series of Jenga-like landscaped terraces that extend vertically. Acting as a green lung for Singapore, the hotel’s rooms and public spaces are hidden away behind the huge green living columns on every corner, complete with storied trees and cascading waterfalls. It really is a sight to behold.

Bringing nature and biodiversity back to the city, we’re told that the unique design replaces a whopping 300 per cent of the hotel’s footprint area with vibrant foliage, literally breathing new life into the urban landscape. And the selection of tropical greenery echoes the theme of each of the hotel’s terraces: whether chilling in the Forest, lounging on the Beach (yes, really), floating on the Cloud, or wandering through the Garden, we find ourselves surrounded by an abundance of tropical lushness, providing an unexpected oasis at every level, with fantastic views of neighbouring buildings.

Pan Pacific Orchard House Singapore Top: The accommodation is light, bright and airy, designed open plan with vast picture windows (Photograph by Darren Soh). Bottom: Hotel Interior (Photograph by Studio Periphery)

The interiors are designed to reinforce the character of the terraces. It’s all very minimalist, and that’s very much intentional; a refreshing take on urban restraint. Everything is light, bright and airy, heavily influenced by nature and its surroundings, and we find ourselves mesmerised by the mirrored ceilings that reveal the urban landscape and the comings and goings on the streets below. The signature creeper-clad columns make a powerful green statement.

A handful of marble-lined lifts connect the 373-bedroomed hotel, and riding in these, it feels every bit like you’re climbing into the clouds between the different terraces. Neutral, earthy tones are used throughout the interiors, from the wooden panelling on the walls to the upholstered fabrics, and much of the furniture and art is locally sourced – a charming touch. The craftsmanship involved in bringing to life this incredibly unique vision is unparalleled. Floor-to-ceiling openings in the walls have been designed in such a way to bring you closer to the outdoor environment, allowing the hotel’s open-concept living areas to flow effortlessly into the expansive outdoor themed spaces, creating naturally ventilated common areas that magically absorb the sounds, scents and warm breeze of the city – a treat for the senses.

Pan Pacific Orchard House Singapore

This extraordinary design has been woven into the guest experience, too, with everything about the hotel not just beautiful, but functional – we cannot wait to see what lies behind the door of our own suite. Designed open plan to reflect the rest of the property, our stylish and comfortable bedroom boasts an impressive double height ceiling as well as its own private balcony. Our chic slimline mini fridge is duly noted, too. We have glass drinking bottles to be reused and refilled. Plastic straws are banned here, as are other single use plastics, and little touches in the room like the automatic curtains that curtail the use of air-con, are a testament to the hotel’s stance on sustainability. In the evening, we dine at Mosella, Pan Pacific Orchard’s smart and imaginative restaurant, where Peruvian cuisine fuses with Mediterranean staples such as red tuna ceviche and creamy burrata paired with beautiful heirloom tomatoes – it is all mouth-wateringly delicious. More adventurous gourmands can try gambas al ajillo – king prawns infused with hot chilli, garlic oil and parsley with bread to mop up, perhaps, or perfectly cooked Wagyu striploin, cut into slender slices. Come breakfast, we feast on a delicious spread of local, regional and western classics as we take in the panoramas of the garden terrace and cascading waterfall beyond.

Once upon a time, a hotel was a place to simply rest your head after a long day of sightseeing. But today, the best hotels are a destination in themselves – which means expectations of their offerings continue to grow. It’s no longer about the homogenous thread counts and quality room service (they’re a given), but more about how the space represents the neighbourhood around it. And Pan Pacific Orchard is green, serene… perfect.