The InterContinental Singapore officially opened in 1995 and has since then been a characteristic landmark of Singapore. Decorated in Peranakan and Colonial style, this iconic property has remained an exemplary example of impeccable hospitality over the years.
While many first time visitors to Singapore may choose to stay around Orchard Road and the Marina Bay area, seasoned travelers will know that the MRT network in Singapore is extensive and it's really easy to get around places pretty quickly. Surrounding this tastefully old-fashioned hotel is a treasure trove filled with rich cultural heritage, excellent food, affordable shopping and a side of the city that visitors don't usually associate with. It is also situated conveniently above the East West Line (Bugis MRT) and the newly opened Downtown Line.
The IHG mobile application allowed me to export my reservation confirmation into Passbook. This in reality serves minimal purpose since they can easily look up my reservation using my name on the credit card. Whilst the official check-in and check-out times are 3pm and 12pm respectively, rooms may be available earlier (or later) if you email in advance to ask. Correspondence between the InterContinental Singapore team was professional and timely - something you would expect from a leader in hospitality.
For this stay, I stayed in a non-smoking Club InterContinental Room with Club InterContinental Lounge access and benefits. I arrived at the main lobby area to check-in but was met with a large crowd. I then approached the concierge who showed me to the InterContinental Club for an expedited check-in. I was offered a drink while I waited for the staff to verify whether my room was ready. The friendly staff then ran through all club benefits (including but not limited to Afternoon Tea, Cocktail Hour, Breakfast) with me. As a Platinum IHG member I was also given two free drinks at the Victoria Bar downstairs, a 3pm late check-out and some dining benefits. It is worth noting that InterContinental Hotels have a separate (paid) loyalty program that complements the IHG program - InterContinental Ambassador.
I received a handwritten welcome letter alongside a Club InterContinental letter detailing all Club benefits at check-in. Although I have received welcome letters from General Managers of other luxury hotels, none of them were actually handwritten like this one which I thought provided a really nice personal touch.
Being almost two decades old and having a colonial theme meant that the rooms were not going to be swanky like the W Hotel. I was given a corner room in the main hotel building and was also told that it will be slightly bigger. Honestly, I was initially taken aback by the antiquated look of the room. Compared to the Crowne Plaza Changi Airport that I stayed a couple of weeks ago, this room was indeed on the other end of the spectrum when measuring the modernism of interior décor.
However, the room was indeed very spacious. Apart from the huge reception area as shown in the photo above, the bedroom and bathroom were large as compared to other luxury properties in Singapore. The Peranakan tiles inspired carpet was classy and although the room décor was slightly dated, it was well maintained. There was also a pillow menu boasting seven different kinds of pillow, ensuring that every guest gets the best sleeping experience.
Nonetheless, I did have one minor issue with the room. Whilst the curtains managed to block out most of the light to ensure darkness for sleeping, some light still managed to seep through the sides. This may pose as an issue for light sleepers wanting to sleep in. This was also prevalent in the bathroom so I highly suggest closing the bathroom doors to minimise the light coming through in the morning.
The bathroom was extremely roomy boasting a separate shower area and a deep bathtub that overlooked certain areas of Bugis, allowing for a glance over the Marina Bay and City Hall area. Bathroom amenities were provided by Agraria, a boutique brand from San Francisco that provides for InterContinental Hotel & Resorts worldwide. I was not a huge fan of the Lemon Verbena scent as it vaguely reminds me of detergent but some may find it uplifting to some extent.
I had a stroll around the property briefly before heading to the Club for Afternoon Tea (2.30pm to 5pm). The lobby lounge exhibited an air of elegance and was stunning from the second level. Natural light streamed in from the glass ceiling on the sides, illuminating the entire area in a luminous amber while refined and almost opulent chandeliers hung from above, completing the entire symphony of grandeur.
Being a huge lover of natural lighting (in the comfort of air-conditioning), I particularly liked the area outside of Man Fu Yuan - one of the finest Chinese restaurants in Singapore that serves authentic Cantonese cuisine and delicate Dim Sums.
Entering the main area of the InterContinental Club, it is evident that the interior décor of the Club has been heavily inspired by authentic Peranakan-style furniture. It was quiet as some executive level guests tucked themselves away in little corners on their laptops. Tea was served in beautiful teapots with real tea leaves and tea snacks included focaccias, wraps, cookies and some tradition Nyonya snacks. I liked how there was ample space between couches and tables.
However, this was a problem when it came to Cocktail Hour (5.30pm to 7.30pm). After calling for a turndown service, I arrived at the InterContinental Club at 6.30pm, the entire area was taken up and I had to eventually share a table with a guest. That being said, it was not an unpleasant experience but you should definitely head down the Club early if you would like a table (or the comfy sofas) on your own. The beverage menu for Cocktail Hour was quite extensive as it covered a handful of popular cocktails, mocktails, wines, beers and other beverages. I thought the Singapore Sling was pretty delicious and I highly recommend you begin quenching your thirst with that. Canapés such as cheese, Dim Sum, pastries, salads, fruits and other nibbles were also served alongside alcohol.
Upon returning to my room, the turndown service has already been completed. Water and shampoo was replenished, extra bath towels were given, curtains have been drawn and slippers were placed on the side of the bed. Laundry bags were also placed on the bed for easy access should you require any laundering or pressing done. While the turndown service was completed in a timely manner, I thought the Pan Pacific Singapore did a much better job in comparison. The latter allowed for a guest to request for turndown services through the press of a button and the rooms were turned down to almost a brand new state.
Overlooking the busy streets of Bugis, I took a long and deep soak in the tub before calling it a night.
The next morning, I chose to have breakfast at the Olive Tree restaurant instead of the InterContinental Club as I was interested in a more extensive breakfast buffet (6.30am to 10.30am). Upon reaching the restaurant at approximately 9am, there was a line waiting to enter the restaurant. I waited approximately ten minutes which was not half as bad as I thought it would be.
Unlike other restaurants where you had to either wait in line for an omelette or to come back later to pick it up, the Olive Tree staff will send your order to your table as long as you have your table number handy. The restaurant was packed and the wait for a cooked to order item had an at least 5-7 minutes wait. Quality of food was average in my opinion and the variety was limited. The Pan Pacific Singapore still has the best breakfast that I've had in Singapore so I highly recommend them for a weekend staycation.
I then went to check out the hotel facilities after breakfast. The hotel pool (on level four) was pretty small and the tanning areas were rather limited. That being said, it was still a rather quiet area that one could enjoy a leisurely swim.
The hotel gym (on level three), like most hotel gyms, was dated and lacked a variety of gym machines. However, I have to say that the InterContinental Singapore gym did have a handful of threadmills available for her guests alongside some decent workout machines. Let's be honest though, who's going to use the gym when you're on a staycation? Then again, if you're here on business and don't already have a global gym membership, it's easy to burn off those Peranakan goodies from the previous day right here.
As I made my way back to the room, I realised an uncanny resemblance of these white washed walls to a particular scene in the movie Titanic. As mentioned before, albeit having an old fashioned colonial design, the interiors were extremely well taken care of and did not show signs of age through wear and tear at all.
As I spent some time in bed catching up on my weekly reads and some television, I realised that guests of the InterContinental Singapore were able to download an extensive range of newspaper/magazines for free via the PressReader Application. I already have a subscription to this service so it does not really apply to me but I'm sure international travelers will appreciate the flexibility of reading the newspaper from home on a tablet of your choice.
Whilst I know that some hotels and good libraries around the world do offer similar privileges, I was quite surprised that this was not mentioned at check-in or at the InterContinental Club. I really enjoy the PressReader subscription (for US$30 a month) and I think it's a really good investment but more on this another time.
I enjoyed one last glance of the grand lobby as patrons enjoyed their Sunday brunch. Although the InterContinental Singapore has lived up to its standards by ensuring a high level of service and attentiveness to details, I don't think I will be back soon. With the same price to pay, I think the Pan Pacific Singapore or the Crowne Plaza Changi Airport serve as better candidates for the perfect weekend staycation in Singapore.
However the Club room privileges do provide a nice touch of luxury and privacy for discerning guests or simply travelers who enjoy a more intimate setting. If you're a business traveler or simply a traveler who is searching for an alternative area to stay in (apart from Orchard or Marina Bay), I would definitely recommend the InterContinental Singapore for some good old fashioned luxury whilst you immerse yourself in the grandeur of the property and the rich heritage of the Bugis area.
Book your next InterContinental stay here.