WHAT’S IT LIKE? With the S$5.5 million (US$3.8 million) refurbishment nearly complete (work on the swimming pool and function rooms continues in January), Hilton joins the trend of renovated deluxe hotels along Orchard Road, in anticipation of the Formula One night race this September. All 422 rooms and suites were given a facelift and updated with LCD televisions, DVD players, work desks and LAN and Wi-Fi connection.
WHERE IS IT? About 25 minutes’ drive from Changi Airport, the hotel is situated in the heart of Orchard Road, ideal for shopping and entertainment. The Orchard MRT station is an easy stroll from the hotel and the financial district of Raffles Place is four MRT stops away. Borders bookstore at Wheelock Place nearby is a favourite with the locals, who like to hang out at its restaurant/café that boasts the best baked, thin-crusted pizzas in town. Borders’ wide range of books, magazines, CDs and DVDs are truly inviting, and the long operating hours allow customers the pleasure of browsing and reading at their own pace or dropping by after work.
HOW MANY ROOMS? 422 guestrooms, all equipped with individual thermostat controls and wired and wireless broadband internet. Of these, there are 260 Deluxe Rooms measuring 32sqm, 146 Executive Rooms (32sqm) on the Executive floor offering VIP check in and access to the Executive lounge (pictured above right) for complimentary breakfast, evening hors d’oeuvre and cocktails, 15 suites (70sqm) and a Presidential Suite (130sqm).
ROOM FACILITIES: Our Club Suite on the 20th floor is a spacious, private corner unit comprising a bedroom, living room and kitchenette. The latter is small but adequately equipped with a microwave oven, mini fridge and tea and coffee-making facilities.
The bedroom faces Orchard Boulevard, sister property Four Seasons Hotel (both Hilton and Four Seasons are owned by tycoon Ong Beng Seng) and upmarket apartments, while the living room overlooks Palais Renaissance shopping arcade and the Thai embassy along Orchard Road. There’s also a bar counter, minibar, a four-seater round dining table with a wall-mounted full-length mirror by the side, 42-inch LCD television, work desk and a lounge and coffee table arrangement.
The cosy bedroom comes with a king-size bed, another LCD television (42-inch), DVD player, work desk, wired and wireless internet connection, data ports, IDD phones with voicemail, lounge seats and bathroom with separate rain shower/steam bath and WC areas. We particularly liked the convenience of a hairdryer mounted on the bathroom wall.
Those who prefer fancy high-pressure showers like I do, will find the Hilton’s version not to our standards. However, the bath kit from La Source by Crabtree & Evelyn is a nice touch. An added room feature from the refurbishment is a custom-made alarm clock/radio/MP3 player with pre-programmed news and local radio music channels.
RESTAURANTS: The Harbour Grill & Oyster Bar offers intimate French dining set in a muted earth-tone interior, enhanced by clean, white tablecloths, beige seats and illuminated mural wall paintings, plus a sommelier as well. Regular clientele of this old-timer – launched in 1970, the same year the hotel opened – will be familiar with the Amuse Bouche or “Pleasures of the Mouth”, which is poached egg with truffle sauce and baby spinach. We had lunch there on a Friday and although the restaurant was full (mostly office executives and ladies), service was efficient.
Located on the lobby level, Checkers Brasserie serves breakfast, daily themed buffets and Sunday champagne brunches, while Checkers Deli has homemade patisserie and cakes. The cheesecake, which has the right texture and sweetness – oh, never mind those few calories – is to die for!
BARS: Kaspia Bar has a selection of cocktails and live jazz. Glow Juice Bar & Café, the brainchild of Mrs Christina Ong (of COMO Hotels & Resorts and designer fashion retailer Club 21), opened recently.
BUSINESS FACILITIES: A 587-square-metre Grand Ballroom with a computerised lighting system, audio-visual equipment and LAN and wireless internet capabilities, can host 600 theatre style and 500 for banquet. The Panorama is a new function space for up to 240 and has unobstructed city views from the 24th floor and access to the rooftop swimming pool. Eleven versatile function rooms and a business centre also meet the work requirements.
LEISURE FACILITIES: A rooftop swimming pool, spa, fitness room, tour desk and shopping arcade (Louis Vuitton, Bvlgari and Cartier are among the tenants).
PRICE: Internet rates start from US$242 nightly for a weekday stay in early April.
VERDICT: The location, especially being at the start of Orchard Road which is less crowded and less noisy, already makes the hotel a winner.
CONTACT: 581 Orchard Road, Singapore 238883, tel 65 6737 2233, www.singapore.hilton.com