A relatively quiet ‘hood of expatriate families that’s bookended by the Singapore River and a buzzy quarter of bars, coffee joints and restaurants, Robertson Quay has long been overdue for its close-up. With the much anticipated Warehouse hotel still some months away from opening, the 293-room M Social Singapore has seized the moment to open right on the edge of the river.

The peak-roofed rooms are, to be frank, on the small side – 19sqm for the lowest category and just a smidge more for the bigger versions – but Philippe Starck, showing no signs of slowing down, has risen to the challenge with admirable panache. Wielding a familiar arsenal of mirrors, glass, shiny steel trims and low slung furniture, he has managed to create bijoux airy cocoons, or ‘love shacks by the river’ as he so memorably quipped at the hotel’s opening. 

The playfulness of the spaces is accented by huge looping graphics in the corridors, and customized chalk-like stencils of architectural cross-sections in the lift wells by the Spanish artist Luis Urculo.

The in-house restaurant Beast & Butterflies – a typically schizophrenic Starck-space of mismatched furniture, patchwork floortiles, little chandeliers in alcoves sprayed with video art, communal tables and a pool table – is rendered even more memorable by executive chef Bryce Li’s accomplished global menu of seafood soup infused with jasmine and osmanthus, tooth-tender lamb racks anointed with Sichuan peppercorn jus, and a warming congee bathed in a crab broth and topped with baby lobster and slivers of abalone.