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tengohambre Apr 26th, 2008 09:55 AM

Singapore hotels? Anyplace similar to the Penn in BKK?
With Bob blazing a trail - so to speak - my family is heading to SIN and Bali this summer. We have a few days in SIN at the end of our trip and need some hotel advice. Two adults, two pre-teens, hopefully looking for a large room/suite for all of us.

It seems hotel rates in SIN are way more expensive than BKK and, ironically, the 5 star properties aren't that much more than say 4 star spots. So, we are looking at:
the Four Seasons, Ritz, Regent or maybe the Grand Hyatt or Pan Pacific (this last one may have some very good rates).

I've seen good feedback on most of these hotels (I think Kim really liked the FS) and I know the FS will take the four of us in a room/suite. Also, their hotel rooms are now being completely renovated, set to be done by early summer - which would be a big plus. Yet, I'm not sure if the hotel has any views and not sure if the pool it has is very large. The kids will want some time relaxing poolside, as will we. The Shangri-La looks like a nice mix of a city/resort hotel but it seems it may not be well located and the large rooms we would want, in the Valley Wing, are way too expensive. Is there anyplace like the Penn BKK in SIN? Someplace similar? Does the Ritz fit that bill? And, is the Ritz in a good area? Has anyone been to the new St. Regis in SIN?

As noted, with various "deals" (I use the word loosely), that the hotels offer for summer and weekend travel, prices for most of these hotels are pretty close to one another. Thanks.

Cicerone Apr 26th, 2008 11:04 AM

First off, I cannot emphasizes enough how <i>small</i> Singapore is, esp. compared to a sprawling place like Bangkok, and so even a hotel which is not “well located” will be minutes from a shop, restaurant or site by taxi, or a bit longer by subway or bus.

Some people like the Orchard Road area and consider anything not on Orchard Road or within 2 blocks of it to be not “well located. I’m not of fan of the Orchard Road strip, and almost always stay elsewhere, but really, compared to negotiating Bangkok traffic, IMO you can stay anywhere that fits your budget, pool requirement, etc and you will be fine. There is virtually no traffic in Singapore, and public transportation is efficient, cheap and in English. (Alas, there is no river like the Chao Praya, which is in front of me as I write, and no real riverfront hotels, although a few, like the Ritz and the Fullerton, have water views.)

I like the Ritz-Carlton a lot, first thing I will say is that the pool is not huge, but is nicely planted. But compared to the Penn in Bangkok is much wider, just not as long. Very few pools in S’pore have any views to speak of, definitely the Fullerton which has a great city and river view (not Bangkok but interesting), perhaps the Swisshotel Stamford as well, which has a nice big pool, but no trees as I recall. The Ritz itself has some excellent views from its rooms. Again, you get few good view rooms at hotels in Singapore, although the Ritz and a high floor at the Swisshotel Stamford would have them. Probably the loveliest grande dame of all hotels in Singapore, the Raffles, has many rooms with no real windows and many rooms with courtyard views, so really I would not let the view issue be your guide in Singapore.

I like the Ritz because in addition to just being a very good hotel, you can walk to Little India and Arab Street in one direction, and the colonial area of the Padang and downtown in the other. The Singapore flyover just opened across the road from the hotel on the waterfront, see People who describe the area around the Ritz as “sterile” have never actually left the shopping mall area, I suspect, because there is a <i>lot</i> going on along the waterfront in front of the hotel, including the peforming arts centre and Glutton’s Bay, a collection of good hawker stalls. The Fullerton Hotel would be a good choice for the same reason, as would the Intercontinental, which probably has the best location for exploring Little India and Arab Street (have not seen their pools). Your kids (assuming girls) could buy bangle bracelets, saris, baskets, have perfume made, etc in both and may enjoy wandering this little streets of these ethnic areas more than the Benetton’s and Esprit shops they will find in Orchard Road. Singapore has several excellent museum as well, a number of which are located along the grassy Padang area, and would be walkable from any of these hotels, or from the Swisshotel Stamford or its sister hotel, or even the Raffles if you want to splurge.

I think you would also be happy with the Four Seasons or the Shangri-La, I like the little garden area around the pool of the Shangri-La, and it is in a very nice neighborhood of residential homes and apartments, yet a few moments walk (yes eminently walkable) to Orchard Road or a quick taxi ride to other places, or get to the subway at Orchard Road. The Four Seasons is just a block from the western end of Orchard Road and is quite close to the botanic gardens (as is the Shang). Neither is really a bad choice for location. If you are interested in colonial architecture, both are a short walk to Nassim Road and Nassim Hill Road, both of which have some fine specimens of “black and white” bungalows (with some other really lovely ones in Goodwood Hill Rd just up off Scotts Road).

I have not been to the St Regis, the location is fine, quite close to the Four Seasons actually. My caveat is that brand new hotels can have lots of teething problems, there is a fair bit of construction going on in the neighborhood, and I am not sure that they have finished the residential tower which is part of the development, so do check all those things out before you make a booking.

I would check reviews at the Pan Pacific.

The Ritz has really no spa to speak of if that is a criteria of yours. Some good masseuses, but no spa such as the Penn, Oriental, etc.

Kathie Apr 26th, 2008 12:58 PM

For me, well-located means near an MRT station. I use the MRT all the time in SIngapore, so really like having an MRT station nearby.

My favorite Singapore hotel used to be the Grand Hyatt. I had stayed in the Regency Club many times over the years. They remodeled their Regency Club about 6 years ago, and it now has all the ambiance of a cafeteria. Unless they've remodeled again, I have to say I wouldn't stay there. (However, they do have a really lovely pool area.)

I really like Raffles the Plaza. It has some very large rooms (back when it was a Westin many years ago, the huge rooms were called executive rooms) and I expect they could accommodate the four of you. There is also a lovely spa there.

I thought that I might stay at the Fullerton next time I'm in Singapore, but the rooms there are rather small.

I think you'd be happy at the Ritz, the Four Seasons or the Shangri-La.

marmot Apr 26th, 2008 05:30 PM

tengo, I'm a Four Seasons regular. I like the service (friendly and competent), I like the decor (tasteful yet comfortable), I like the location (central and walkable). It's a pleasant stroll to the Botanical Gardens which is a favorite destination of mine, especially pre-dawn.

There are two pools but they are both rooftop and on the smallish side. They are usually under-utilized though so your kids could relax and not worry about splashing a cranky business traveler like me. :)

They have two size suites -- the big one is really two rooms and has a window in the bedroom. The smaller one does not, and this always bothered me.

I think all of the rooms have city views. Not particularly inspiring, but lots of light.

I'm also a fan of the Shangri-La and stayed there regularly when my son was young because of the pool and lawn area. Lots of room to run around. We always chose the Garden Wing, because it's low rise and the balconies are like having another room. As I recall there are suites in the Garden Wing. Just make sure to get a pool view, otherwise you're looking at the parking area.

The walk from the Shangri-La to Orchard Road is about 10-15 minutes but it's hot and tedious.

We stayed at the Shang once when the first George Bush was there. He was in the Tower and we were on our balcony in the Garden Wing watching the event through binocs. The secret service called us and made us go inside. We wondered if they got a special dispensation for their chewing gum.

tengohambre Apr 26th, 2008 06:39 PM

Thank you; this is the kind of information I was looking for. I didn't realize Singapore is so small, that rooms with a view are the exception mostly and that an outstanding city pool is also hard to find.

Based on the feedback I will check for the Garden Wing rates at the Shang. Also, Raffles the Plaza is now a Fairmont, and I will check rates there. Also, will check if they have or are renovating the property after the switch. The Ritz seems to have a &quot;family package&quot; with bkfst included but, of course, it doesn't seem to be available the dates I need. I will email or call them to check. And, the positive feedback on the FS is helpful. They may actually have some of the largest rooms which could be good. As for location, Bennetton shops and the like don't hold much interest for us. We can't wait to check out the Singapore Flyer.

I am assuming that staying over on Sentosa would defeat the purpose of visiting Singapore?
Thank again.

Kathie Apr 26th, 2008 06:48 PM

Yes, I think staying on Sentosa defeats the purpose of going to Singapore.

There certainly are lots of views in Singapore. The Ritz has many rooms with views. Raffles the Plaza which is now a Fairmont (sorry, I had forgotten that) has some nice views.

I forgot to mention that another reason I love the location of Raffles the Plaza now the Fairmont is that it is walking distance to Raffles Hotel and to Cjimes and all the wonderful restaurants there.

Kathie Apr 26th, 2008 06:52 PM

PS, While we are debating the merits of these hotels, let me say that any of them would give you a very good to wonderful experience. The hotels in Singapore hold to a very high standard.

Cicerone Apr 26th, 2008 08:22 PM

As for Sentosa, I almost included it, but as you guys will have come from Bali, it seemed sort of pointless, as it is the &quot;resorty&quot; place for Singapore (as much as you can get in a city-state of course). Again, as Singapore is so small, it really does not matter as it is outside the CBD (central business district which includes Orchard Road and then the main business area of Shenton Way around the Fullerton), and you could stay there. If you want to go to the CBD, it is somewhat &quot;inconvenient&quot; ha ha, as you will have to spend 10-15 whole minutes or so in a taxi to get there ....there is no subway either so bus or taxi will be your option to go anyplace. (I used to live further west along Pasir Panjang Road and it really is not a long drive into the CBD, I did it every day for a few years by taxi.) There is kind of a beach that is pleasant. I would say you may find the largest pools of all there. The amusement park is not much to write home about, the little cable car is fun. The location, however, is convenient for going to the Holland Village area and the Dempsey Road area, two areas of shops, restaurants, etc which are quite fun and interesting. It's also close to the Jurong bird park and alligator park if that is on your list, as well as the Singapore Science Museum. All in all, I don't think Sentosa is really necessary for a hotel choice, but if a big pool and resort feel to a hotel is important, then it may be the best one.

The Four Seasons is not near Little India/Arab Street, it is near Orchard Road. However, you can get to those areas by taxi or the subway and then a little walk. I just am a walker, and that's why I like the Ritz location (or Fullerton) so you can walk to everything. Yes, it is hot and humid, but walk slowly. It's flat. Other than the area around the Shang, there is like a Starbucks, Coffee Bean, McDonalds or other place to stop for a drink every 10 feet or so, all air conditioned.

Ericka Apr 27th, 2008 05:39 AM

We're big fans of the Ritz Millenia. The service is great, as is the decor but you can find that at other hotels in Singapore. The thing that really stands out about the Ritz is the view! Awesome. Much prettier than the BKK Peninsula IMO. Make sure you book a Marina view room.

As for the surrounding area, it might be close to some nice shopping (and there's a great food stall setup on top of that mall) but its not close to major attractions like the Botanical Gardens. The gardens are a 15-20 minute drive...

Guenmai Apr 29th, 2008 07:55 AM

I vote for the Fullerton. I personally loved it. Happy Travels!

brusselschap Jul 13th, 2009 01:50 PM

curious as to why nobody (and have looked up many singapore hotel threads here) ever talks about the Mandarin Oriental... Is it because its out fo the way, because its not good, or because of some secret veto on the MO by fodorites :-)

Haven't been myself of course (or indeed Singapore) and am booked to stay at FS on the way to Bali and IC on the way back from Bali (to use a free voucher) but wondering why the MO is snobbed so... :-)

Kathie Jul 13th, 2009 02:45 PM

I don't know what is happening at the MO now, but they did an extensive remodel that disrupted everything in the hotel for about 2 years. It probably fell off people's radar because of that. I personally, don't find the location to be convenient, but Cicerone's point about how small Singapore is is certainly valid.

rodash17 Aug 11th, 2009 06:47 AM

I was just going to make the same comment as brusselschap about the lack of any comments about the Singapore Mandarin Oriental hotel. My DH and I have stayed in MOs in other cities and loved them and were thinking of doing the same on our upcoming trip to Singapore.

Does anyone else have any opinions on the MO Sing.? I have checked out the website and it looks really lovely, remodelled as Kathie said, but is the location really too far away from the action? Speaking of rooms with a view, the harbour rooms look nice, it's not quite 'Victoria Harbour' but still pretty.

Also, has anyone had a guide in SP ? I would love to find someone like Tong Tong (from BK) to spend a day or so with while DH is in his meetings.


Kathie Aug 11th, 2009 07:47 AM

For me, personally, teh MO is a bit out of the way. I like being somewhere the MRT is just a short walk away. But not everyone would feel that way. I know ther have been some reports on the MO, pretty old now, but the views were supposed to be nice. If you opt to stay there, do report back!

There is really no need for a guide in Singapore. It's remarkably easy to get around. It's a small city-state, and the pubic transport is clean, air-conditioned and easy. Taxis are moderatly priced. Just choose what you want to do/see and go! By the way, the Singapore Tourist Board has the best publications and they are free. You can ask for them to be mailed to you from their office in LA or pick them up in Singapore.

AskOksena Aug 11th, 2009 11:48 AM

>>>while DH is in his meetings.<<<

yo, 'rodash',

Should you be 'in SIN' on expense account, suggest you consider flying most proper, SIA R/F/J, in and out of charming Changi with those sensational Singapore Girls. (Rather 'adequate' SQ SilverKris Lounges, and do salute those lovable 'lounge dragons'; sweethearts, all.)

Can't help you with 'MO', but as for 'our' all-time cherished SIN 'Four', well, rock 'n' roll, at a rather special business (and occasional pleasure) property. (And deepest apologies for not revealing all-time favourite rooms/suites.)

(Suspect you'll receive many more SIN MO/4Seasons opinions over on a certain precious 'hotel' board on flyertalk, as well as a most refined community, SQTalk. (And I do (slightly) apologize for the shameless SIA promos.)

Have fun in SIN. (And don't forget my all-time cherished masseuse.)

macintosh (robert)

... 'singapore stopover' ...

(thank you, 'sqt')

Paulchili Sep 5th, 2009 05:22 PM

I will be staying in Singapore twice in December and too have been wondering why MO is not more part of this discussion.
In fact that is where I plan to stay.
We are not shoppers and have stayed in the Orchard Rd area before when the Marina was just being developed.
I think I would like to stay in that area this time (either MO or Pan Pacific).
Will report back.

Desertrose1 Sep 6th, 2009 04:39 AM

We stayed twice at the RC on our journey this time, I booked the Peace of Mind package which lets you stay 7 nights and pay 4 nights only, breakfast included for 2 persons. I booked the junior suite, requested high floor. Upon arrival the front office could only give us a 7th floor suite but promised to move us the next day. We accepted but found the suite quite rundown and dirty, which we found unacceptable, especially because the suite smelled strange (not of smoking, I don't know what smell it was, really unpleasant), were upgraded to a 1 bedroom suite on the 28th floor, which was really spectacular, for the length of our stay, breakfast for 3 (our 26 year old son was with us for a couple of days)instead of for 2. We have
stayed at the Grand Hyatt but also RC on former trips before and prefer the RC because of the spectacular view of the Marina bay. The junior suites all have wonderful views of the Marina and the Kalang, from the bathroom with octagonal window you can see the Singapore flyer. If you get a suite on the other side of the building you get the Marina Bay view and the city view from the bathroom.
The swimming pool area looks very nice although I personally had no time to use it. We are very pleased with our stays at the RC, but it seems that the lower floors are not as good maintained as the higher floors. When we returned for the second part of our stay in Singapore we checked in at a junior suite on the 27th floor and it was just perfect.

I like the location very much too, much more than the Orchard Road area, there are a few shopping centers practically at the side entrance of the RC: Marina Walk, Suntec City mall and the Esplanade with lots of restaurants. I found the foodcourt at the ground floor of the Suntec City very interesting and pleasant too.

The Pan Pacific and the Mandarin Oriental are in the same area, you can reach them via the Mall, the RMT is a 10 minute walk through an airconditioned underground mall or above ground to the City Hall area. We use the MRT a lot but also taxis, they were quite cheap in comparison to taxis here in Germany.

I visited the Asian Civilisation Museum and the Peranakan Museum. Could have stayed longer in both, will visit them again next time. There was a special exhibition of Baba Bling (Peranakan jewelry). At this museum there are several guided tours by volunteers included with the ticket. We purchased a combi ticket for both museums for S$10 each (S$5 for students and seniors), valid for 10 days (1 visit per museum of course).

Went on a day trip to Mallacca(3 hours 1 way), was very surprised how clean and nice the Malaysian freeways were, much cleaner than most of the german Autobahns with good resting areas. Don't forget to bring your own paper tissues though, there is no toilet paper in the rest rooms.

Paulchili Sep 6th, 2009 09:49 AM

Desertrose 1,
Thanks for a great and informative reply.
Please tell me more about your day trip to Malacca.
Did you drive or did you go by train/bus/tour?
Thank you.

Desertrose1 Sep 6th, 2009 01:25 PM

Hi Paulchili,
I have relatives in Singapore, so we went on a daytrip. I have seen many busses on the way though.
I was sceptical about the buses before this trip but would take the bus anytime now.

2 years ago we took the train from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore and we are glad we have done that, but it wasn't very comfortable and it took much more time than taking the bus. All passengers had to disembark at the border with all their luggage and it took quite some time before they could continue their travel. The train station in KL is very modern and pleasant, the one in Singapore is an interesting old building, but because it seems to be extratorial, it was really hard to find a taxi there. At the end we took a "wild" taxi, a minivan, joined by another couple. The driver was a real good guide, very entertaining and informative and everything went well, but it was frustrating waiting in a long line for a taxi and not one showed up..

The taxis in Malaysia are very often very old and rather small vehicles, we were thinking of getting one from KL to Kota Bharu on the east coast after unsuccessfully trying to get a better bus that will take the east-west-highway. Luckily our friends let us use one of his cars (complete with his long time driver).

Paulchili Sep 7th, 2009 04:50 PM

Desertrose 1,
Thanks for your help.
I think I will go ahead and look into a day trip from Singapore to Malacca.

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