Located along the famous Orchard Road, the Hilton Singapore is one of the first few hotels that I have visited in Singapore when I relocated back in 2013 - I also revisited the property in 2014 as a Hilton HHonors Gold Member. During my latest visit this month in October 2016, I checked into the Hilton Singapore once again as a Hilton HHonors Diamond Member and even though I booked my stay via an OTA, I was given the benefits for being a Diamond Member (something that is no longer required by the program).
For those of you who do not know this already, the Hilton HHonors program explicitly excludes on-property benefits for reservations that are not made through a Hilton Worldwide direct booking channel. While this change happened in 2015, I actually did not know about it as I have always booked direct (to earn and retain my status) with the properties:
On-property benefits are not awarded in the following circumstances: Reservations booked through a non-Hilton Worldwide-direct booking channel or a non-designated GDS, third party website or any other channel, Rates available on “opaque” websites where the hotel brand and specific hotel are not known until the booking is made, or Third party hotel packages or travel packages not booked through one of the eligible channels.
When I proceed to the check-in counter, I was told to proceed to the Executive Lounge for a private check-in instead. During the check-in process, I was told that I have been upgraded into a Premium Room (one of the refurbished rooms) and have access to the lounge. However, since I really wanted to soak in a bathtub that weekend, I opted for a regular non-refurbished Executive Room instead as the Premium Rooms now have a rain-shower only.
Stepping back into one of the Executive Rooms at the Hilton Singapore felt like returning home for some reason - it has to do with the fact that this property was one of the first few hotels that got me hooked onto staycations (and chasing elite statuses) at the beginning. While I did not have any 'bad juju' experiences as Ben from One Mile at a Time has previously experienced, the room was definitely showing signs of age and from what I understand, the rooms will be going through some light refurbishments soon.
While I did get a room that technically faces the famous Orchard Road, it is definitely worth noting that the view of the streets is not immediately apparent - you will only be able to see it if you stand close enough to the window. If you really want a better view, perhaps the Executive Plus Room with a private balcony is what you need instead. I did like the massive work desk in the room though - the room is designed with the business traveller in mind and the newer Premium Rooms actually come with a better chair and other in-room facilities that making working out of a physical office that much easier - do note that internet may be chargeable (and it is pretty expensive!) if you do not book direct with Hilton Singapore.
The Executive Rooms here at the Hilton Singapore are located on higher floors (levels 20 and 21) and apart from the fact that these rooms come with Executive Lounge access, the main difference is really the Nespresso Coffee Machine that you will find in the room. There is also an Executive Plus room (one room type up from the regular Executive Room) which comes with a private balcony with a seating area and they are located on level 22 of the hotel - these rooms are pretty limited so don't expect to be upgraded into these all the time.
As you can probably tell from the photo above, the TV and DVD Player are from a while back (do people still use DVD Players now?!) and from what I understand, the newly-refreshed Premium Rooms have been given a newer smart TV. I do miss hotels like Naumi Hotel where AirPlay is readily available and you can stream your Netflix shows onto the TV effortless.
While I have heard quite a number of complains regarding the state of the hotel room from many travellers, I still think that the property offers great value when you think about the whole package - it is located right-smack in Orchard Road, it has an Executive Lounge (which Diamond members get guaranteed access to) and the weekend rates are actually pretty decent! I have also found the Executive Room to be quite conducive for working - I managed to catch up on some work before heading to the Executive Lounge for evening cocktails and canapes.
As mentioned earlier, the bathroom of the Premium Rooms have been refurbished and the tubs have been replaced with a rain-shower instead. The 'older' room types like the Executive Rooms still have the Shubs (Shower + Tub) inside. It definitely isn't the best looking bathroom around but certainly isn't the worst either. I did notice that the bath tablets from Peter Thomas Roth are no longer available in the room though - I used to look forward to them because they smell amazing! In any case, if you are looking for bath supplies, Lush is located in Somerset for all your bathtub needs (be prepared to pay a higher price here in Singapore though!).
Using the same branded bath amenities from Peter Thomas Roth here at the Hilton Singapore reminded me a lot of the Relaxation Suite at the Hilton Melbourne South Wharf where I've spent a week in. I guess that's what familiar scents do to you - they remind you of places and bring you back to where you were.
The cocktail hour at the Executive Lounge was slightly quieter than the last few times I have been. There is a pretty small selection of hot food, salads, cold cuts and desserts here during evening cocktail hours (530PM to 730PM daily) so if you are feeling hungry after this, check out the Opus Bar & Grill downstairs for some steak and free-flowing wine instead. The wine that was served that night in the Executive Lounge was pretty terrible and I ended up throwing most of it away - I stuck with the good old G&T (unfortunately Gordon's Gin too) for the rest of the night.
The Executive Lounge of the Hilton Singapore is pretty decent but obviously it pales in comparison to the more luxurious Conrad Centennial Singapore (check out my stay in the Centennial Suite here!) which travellers like to draw references to - while the prices can be quite similar on some weekends, it is definitely worth noting that the Conrad brand is obviously a more premium brand and therefore any comparisons drawn between the two properties may be slightly unfair.
As many other travellers have pointed out, the Hilton Singapore is located really close-by to the infamous Orchard Towers which is known for the night life for adults. While it is located on the other side of the road and you can totally bypass it, it is worth noting if you are travelling with kids (unless you are willing to talk about the birds and the bees already!). That being said, Orchard Towers is filled with hidden Thai food gems (literally - this isn't an innuendo for something else) that the locals love!
Evening Cocktails and Canapes at the Executive Lounge of the Hilton Singapore is pretty decent but definitely not as good as I remembered it to be. While the lounge itself is beautiful, the quality of food seemed to have dwindled down a bit - perhaps it just was not a good night but I will let you all know when I visit it again. There are also no premium spirits or Champagne here during the evening cocktails - the Pan Pacific Orchard located on the other side of the road has free-flowing Laurent-Perrier Brut during cocktail hour (which starts and ends later). Besides, I personally think that 530PM to 73PM is a little too early for cocktail hour - while it is never too early to start drinking, most business travellers will only get back to the hotel around 630PM on a weekday, leaving only an hour (or less if you decide to wash up before heading to the lounge) left for the much-needed beverages.
I headed back my room after cocktail hour and dinner at the Opus Bar & Grill where I checked out the latest prime cuts from the Greater Omaha region - they do have a free-flowing wine and steak dinner option on most days from just S$58++ so really great value there! My room at the Hilton Singapore overlooks Orchard Road and it looks directly at Palais Renaissance and the Royal Thai Embassy. If you do not wish to eat in the hotel, there are plenty of other options to choose from (most of the stores do close around 9PM though! If you are looking for a food court, I would highly recommended the Food Republic at Wisma Atria (approximately 10 minutes walk away from the hotel) as the food selection there is really quite impressive - there is also the famous Ding Tai Fung that everyone seems to love.
I went back to the Opus Bar & Grill again the next morning for breakfast and as a Diamond Hilton HHonors Member, I was given a late check-out (I have only requested up to 4PM) without any hesitation. While I have not had much trouble getting late check-outs in Hilton properties around the Asia-Pacific region (with the exception of the Conrad Centennial Singapore once), I have had a lot better successes with the Global Hotel Alliance's DISCOVERY Loyalty program where I get a 6PM late checkout in 95% of my stays. Like all other hotel chains, you will have the option of having a full buffet breakfast at Opus Bar & Grill or the Executive Lounge if you are an executive-level guest - of course you can always choose to eat at both locations if you would like the best of both worlds (double the calories though, mind you!).
The Hilton Singapore remains to be a great hotel that is located in the heart of Orchard - while many travellers are beginning to look beyond the famous shopping strip, this property while in need of a refurbishment, still offers great value (especially for Diamond Hilton HHonors members!) if you are here on a low-occupancy weekend. If the room rates are almost the same, the Conrad Centennial Singapore will be the obvious choice as it comes with a much better view, greater service levels and of course a more impressive lounge (in terms of food and beverage spread).