The Hilton Garden Inn Singapore Serangoon is Singapore's only focused service hotel that is under the Hilton Worldwide portfolio. Unlike the Conrad Singapore and the Hilton Singapore which are luxury and full service hotels respectively, the Hilton Garden Inn Singapore Serangoon offers affordable accommodation right in the heart of Little India. With a much lower average daily rate, the rooms here at Hilton Garden Inn Singapore Serangoon are extremely value for money (making it perfect for mattress runs with the Hilton Honors loyalty program) and it is definitely one of the better focused service hotels that I have experienced in Singapore.
I tend to go for luxury and business hotels as I do see a lot of value in them (e.g. free-flowing alcohol in the executive lounge is one good enough reason) - I can therefore justify the higher price tags that are commonly associated with these hotels. With all that being said, I have been too, been to a number of limited and focused service hotels throughout the years. The Hilton Garden Inn Singapore Serangoon is located behind the Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple and it is only a short stroll away from the Little India MRT Station (NE7/DT12). I decided to spend a night here at the Hilton Garden Inn Singapore Serangoon since the room rates were pretty low last weekend - the best room was only approximately S$200 after taxes.
I arrived at the Hilton Garden Inn Singapore Serangoon ahead of the official check-in time (approximately 12:30PM) and was advised that due to the hotel running at full occupancy the previous night, the room type that I was booked into was not ready yet. I wanted to head to a nearby cafe but I did not manage to find one in the vicinity and since it was sweltering hot that afternoon, I simply walked into the nearest Indian restaurant I could find (with air-conditioning) for an early lunch instead. When I got back at approximately 1:45PM, I was told that my room was ready and I could check-in ahead of the 3:00PM official check-in time. It is definitely worth noting the differences in elite benefits here in a Hilton Garden Inn property - Diamond Hilton Honors members will have the option of having either 750 Hilton Honors Points or enjoy a complimentary breakfast for two guests (yourself included) for each day of the stay. Obviously, the latter option is a much more lucrative choice but since I was intending to sleep-in, I went for the 750 Hilton Honors Points instead.
For this stay, my room was located on the highest level of the hotel - Level 16 and it was a King Deluxe Room with Balcony. Apparently, the Hilton Garden Inn Singapore Serangoon is the only internationally-branded property in the area and it is also the only hotel in the area to offer a private balcony for guests to take in the sights of the surrounding area. The room that I was in (which is also the best room the property offers) measures approximately 21sqm in size. Unlike some of the other focused service properties in Singapore (e.g. Holiday Inn Express Singapore Katong), the Hilton Garden Inn Singapore Serangoon offers a king-sized bed over a queen-sized one. If you are used to comparatively larger rooms in the Conrad Centennial Singapore or the Hilton Singapore, you will definitely notice the smaller room size here but bear in mind that this is a Hilton Garden Inn property which costs less than half of what the other aforementioned properties cost.
While the balcony of the Deluxe Room with Balcony was not particularly big (it does not have a chair or table either), it did offer some pretty impressive views of the surrounding area. In fact, if you look past the shophouses, you will recognise the familiar marina bay area in the background. As far as I know, all the rooms with a private balcony are located on the highest floor of the hotel and therefore if you like staying on a high floor, booking this room type will guarantee a good view from the bedroom. I am also not sure if it is actually allowed but I noticed that some of the guests were actually smoking from their balcony - you can't actually look into another guest room's balcony but I could smell the smoke when I was outside.
Adhering to brand standards, complimentary WiFi is provided here for all in-house guests at the Hilton Garden Inn Singapore Serangoon. Unlike most Conrad and Hilton hotels where WiFi is typically chargeable when you do not book direct, guests staying here in Hilton Garden Inn Singapore Serangoon will be able to enjoy free WiFi - the speeds were good enough for watching shows on Netflix without any lag at all. All guests rooms here in the property also come with a small working desk which is better than most limited service properties that I have been to in Singapore. The room also features a 43-inch HDTV with a selection of digital and satellite channels for your entertainment.
If you are an international traveller or simply one that travels with plenty of gadgets, you will be pleased to know that all rooms here at the Hilton Garden Inn Singapore Serangoon come with 4 USB Charging Ports as well as plenty of universal power outlets. While I generally do travel with a USB charging hub, I did not use it at all during this stay as there were more than enough outlets to charge my devices. The only thing that drove me slightly crazy was the ever-so-slightly misaligned power outlet but hey, it should not bother most people at all!
Despite being a focused service hotel, the Hilton Garden Inn Singapore Serangoon features a solid Suite Dreams by Serta Bed. If you are serious about your sleep and you enjoy a mattress with excellent back support, you will not be disappointed with the bedding here (even though I do not think there was a separate pillow top). There is also a small chair located by the side of the bed for you to read a book or simply enjoy watching some TV.
Bedside lamps as well as reading lights are located on both sides of the bed but more importantly, you will find a universal power outlet together with a USB charging port on each side of the bed so there's no more fighting over which side to be on. Light controls are also located by the bed so you do not need to get out from under the blanket to switch the lights off at night. Air-conditioning works without a hitch but do note that it automatically switches off once the balcony door is left open so make sure you close it properly if you want your room to be nice and cool. The air-conditioning in the room is also triggered by motion so if you leave the room for a couple of hours, be mentally prepared that your room might not be as cold as you have left it to be.
All guest rooms here in the Hilton Garden Inn Singapore Serangoon come with a mini fridge that is left empty for your own use. The mini fridge is in fact bigger than some of he 5-star properties that I have been to so feel free to stock up the fridge with goodies that you can purchase nearby. If you are seriously jet-lagged or you simply want the most convenient option, the Pavilion Pantry (located next to the check-in area) is open 24-hour and it provides a range of snacks, cold beverages, instant meals and travel essentials. While the prices are definitely higher than a supermarket, it is actually quite reasonable as far as hotels go. There is also a huge safe box (big enough to fit my 15" MacBook Pro) located in the room - the hairdryer is located in the drawer underneath it. What impressed me most however, was the existence of an iron - I have never seen this in a focused service hotel in Singapore and I have actually come to terms with that.
Complimentary bottled water is provided in the room (two bottles) and these are actually replenished on a daily basis. If you need more, they are available for purchase at the Pavilion Pantry for S$2 each downstairs - just buy them elsewhere! The water from the tap in Singapore is potable but if you would like to be cautious, you can simply boil the tap water with the electric kettle found in the room.
Teabags as well as freeze-fried instant coffee are both provided in the room in case you would like a drink. Alternatively, purchasing a coffee (made from a coffee machine) from the Pavilion Pantry downstairs would cost you S$5. Unfortunately, there are no cafes located nearby so if you are in dire need of caffeine, the one from the hotel might just be your best bet. On the other hand, if you are willing to walk a little bit more, there are a number of decent cafes located along Rangoon Road or in City Square Mall.
The bathroom is simple and it features a single sink, a toilet and a shower area. Needless to say, you will not be finding a bathtub here in the Hilton Garden Inn Singapore Serangoon but the shower head does have excellent water pressure. The only thing to take note is that the drainage of water in the shower area is actually quite slow and according to what I have seen on TripAdvisor, this appears to be an apparent problem that is affecting a number of rooms (or perhaps the whole property?). The knob on the right side controls the water pressure and if you are showering under full pressure, the water fills up fairly quickly and it would probably start to spill over to the toilet area in around 5-7 minutes. Even though this is not a big problem since there is little fuss over wet toilet floors, I thought it was strange that a hotel would have this sort of problem.
Another thing that took me by surprise here at the Hilton Garden Inn Singapore Serangoon are bath amenities. I was expecting an unbranded in-house bath amenity (possibly dispensed in a soap dispenser like in Holiday Inn Express properties in Singapore) but I was quite impressed to see the usual Peter Thomas Roth branded ones here. I am personally a fan of these - especially the Mega-Rich Body Cleanser which smells amazing - so this is a huge plus in my book. Disposable toothbrushes were also provided but I do not believe anything was there so be sure to bring your own mouthwash or razor if required.
Due to the Hilton Garden Inn Singapore Serangoon's proximity to Little India, the property naturally attracts a higher-than-average proportion of Indian guests. Looking through the room service menu (available from 2:00PM to 10:00PM daily) also revealed plenty of Indian food options. While I did not personally try the buffet breakfast down at the Garden Grille this time, I have been fairly impressed with the Hilton Garden Inn Singapore Serangoon thus far. Evidently, the property is not positioned to compete with luxury hotels (and it should not at this price point) - the location of the hotel is not somewhere that most international travellers would consider on their first visit but if you do not mind an alternative experience in a vibrant neighbourhood, the Hilton Garden Inn Singapore Serangoon is truly quite a place to behold. With fantastic Indian cuisine right at your doorstep, this property is seriously a hidden gem for the worldly traveller to enjoy. Now the only thing this place needs right now is a solid cafe for some decent coffee in the area.