Singapore is a city where I have spent a lot of my life in, and it is no wonder that i am pretty familiar with the places, modes of transportation and the kind of food to go for in the city. But for travellers, which hotel would be the best for a stay in the city. I got the chance to sample 3 different hotels while returning to the city for a visit recently, and where else but to head to the Marina Bay Sands – the latest architectural icon of the city on top of being one of the newest tourist attraction in town. In addition to a stay at Marina Bay Sands or MBS abbreviated in short by the locals, I got a several nights in the St. Regis and the Fairmont in town, a mixture of one of the newest luxury hotel and an old dame. Arriving from Jakarta on an afternoon, I checked in first at the St. Regis. Unlike most hotels where guests check in at a standing counter, 2 marble-topped sit-down counters were available for check-in. Being comfortable, guests are relaxed in the quiet and bright surrounding. I have experienced such service even in the Sheraton Charles Square at Prague, and the Fairmont Gold Floor at Yangcheng Lake. These few stays have been memorable not least made by the comfortable check-in process. A true hallmark to a luxury hotel!
Initially having booked a non-smoking room but not having a double bed, the check-in agent mentioned the availability of a double bed smoking room, which would be the Lady Astor Room according to the St. Regis website. Since we were just staying for a short one night, we took the double bed which would have been able to accommodate up to 4 in one room. I declined an escort to the room, and the check-in agent requested for my luggage tags which will ensure delivery of our luggage to the room shortly. Lifts in the St. Regis is special, with an ottoman seating at the end of the elevator, which was decorated in lush carpeting and bohemian mirrors. Upon exiting the lift lobby, we entered another quiet haven in the city, and the lobby had very good noise insulation from the lifts and the rooms, ensuring the ultimate in privacy and comfort. Our double room was situated at the corner and a wooden floored foyer greets one upon entering. Large mirrors hang from the sides of the foyer and a discreet door leads to a sumptuous bathroom by the side. Turning into the bathroom, I saw a sumptuously large bathroom which was as good as the one in Kempinski Hotel Indonesia. There were 2 washbasins one opposite ends and a bathtub with a small LCD TV. A dressing table with a nice seat is provided opposite the bathtub. At an alcove lies the toilet and a rain shower cubicle. Amenities are by Laboratoire Remede.
Turning left, one is greeted by a large room with double beds and intricately decorated headboards. White wood panelling covers most of the room while the working desk is finished in deep wood veneer. Electronically operated curtains and day sheer provides guests with a view of the swimming pool and the condominiums in the area. Views aren’t a feature of this hotel, though I have to say I do like the classy decor a lot, as it is reminiscent of the decor in Fairmont Yangcheng Lake’s Gold Floor. Another star feature of the room was the corner sofa seating which is furnished with lots of pillows. Walking into the room feels truly like entering a small private haven in the middle of the city. Before we could explore much of the room, the famous Butler assigned to every floor comes to greet us and goes on to show the various functions of the room as well as ensuring that an ionizer is brought up to the room to clear the smell of smoke. There was a small box of chocolates by the bedside table and a wooden tray with all the laundry bags, hotel information as well as a pillow menu, allowing guests to choose from a variety of pillows including Tempur memory foam pillows. A large 42 inch LCD TV by Sharp is fitted on one end of the wall and it definitely offers high definition programs. There were a variety of channels which was easy to navigate, and settling down on the comfortable beds, one really could relax and just spend time in the room to live it up.
The St. Regis is famed for its butler service and I tried this service twice, once at night for a cup of hot chocolate, and a pot with a cup was brought into the room. The second time, I asked for a 2 cups of coffee, a Cafe Mocha and a Latte for breakfast and ordered an additional cup of Latte after I wanted another cup. Requesting for late check out was also of no problem as the hotel was not full or in peak season. Evening turndown was automatically done in the property and an additional box of chocolate was provided in the evening, another nice touch since many turndown services tend to just provide the basic room cleaning service. Bedroom slippers were prepared by the bed with towels at the bottom, and such service is the simple touches which can elevate a hotel to luxury status. In the drawers of the work desk, one can also find an eraser, pencil, stick-it notepads, stapler and staples, in addition to hotel-embossed envelopes and writing pads. Another nice touch not seen in many 5-star hotels. Bottled water by San Benedetto was provided at no charge at all for guests and they are always welcome to ask for more, and I have a preference for still water, though I think it should be no problem at all asking for sparkling ones.
The next morning, I checked out the hotel swimming pool which was albeit small, but had a nice design and feature to it, as it felt private even with the tall buildings around it. There was an Italian bistro by the pool and the Laboratoire Remede spa at the opposite end. I did not try the breakfast at the hotel but it would be served in the lobby restaurant which serves international cuisine. The restaurant is really nicely furnished and had large glass windows which would be great to start the morning. I was, however, on a rush to an appointment in the early morning and hailed a cab from the hotel. One amazing feature of the hotel is how the hotel doorman will pass me a business-card with the hotel’s name and address as well as the license plate of the taxi just in case I left something behind. Another kudos for the incredible attention provided to guests. Upon returning to the hotel in the afternoon, I had lunch at the Chinese Restaurant, Yan Ting, which serves excellent Cantonese food, and a venue for brunches on the weekends with champagne and dim sum available. Reservations on the weekend is recommended. For the dim sum, though, I very much prefer the variety and style in Hua Ting which is just a stone’s throw away at Orchard Hotel. The hotel is located in Tanglin Road, a small road adjoining to the quieter end of Orchard Road and is within walking distance to several small shopping malls, and the large embassies of China, UK, Australia and USA. It’s location is in fact closer to the residential district of Tanglin which had a lot of tree-coverage making the area generally cooler in the day and is also more discreet. Inadvertently, 2 towers of St. Regis-branded residences form part of the compound but residents have a separate entrance which makes the hotel really great for someone who wants serenity and yet access to shopping along Orchard Road. It is definitely not a hotel for those craving for views, the hustle and bustle of the city and easy accessibility to public transport. Though the bus no. 36 travels to a bus stop beside the hotel from the airport. The nearest MRT which is Orchard MRT, though is a good 15 minute walk away past several shopping malls and hotels or a 5 minute bus ride away.
Finally, we come to the question of what type of service transcends a hotel into a truly luxurious property? It is the human touch, the warmth of service emanating from the staff and providing something which one doesn’t expect but turns out to be useful. All these makes guests feel like they can settle in for the night without any disturbances. And for these, it truly makes the St. Regis one of the best luxury hotels in Singapore so far. The service I received at this hotel made me comfortable and allowed me to enjoy the city as well as get to do my business without a fuss. Amongst the numerous hotels I have stayed, I should say that this was also one of the most memorable stay ever, and would definitely rank as the all-time top 3 hotels in my favourite hotels list.