Tried & Tested

Hotel check: Shangri-La Singapore

28 Nov 2013 by Tom Otley

BACKGROUND

One of Singapore’s oldest five-star hotels (opened in 1971 as the Westin, it became the Shangri-La in 1985), the property has gradually expanded from the original hotel – now known as the "Tower" – to include the Valley Wing, opened in 1985, and the Garden Wing.

The latter – reviewed here – was originally added in 1978 and was extensively refurbished and reopened in 2012 with a new restaurant and spa.

WHAT'S IT LIKE?

Although the three parts are all the same hotel and connected to the same lobby, they each have a very different feel, and suit what hoteliers like to call "different trip purposes". The Garden Wing has more of a residential vibe, which is made clear at its dedicated check-in.

In contrast to the slightly over-the-top lobby – which boasts 410 tonnes of marble, a Shangri-La-themed mural measuring 32 sqm, four huge chandeliers and a giant central flower arrangement – the Garden Wing check-in is to one side, where the ceilings return to normal height, and you sit in comfortable armchairs in front of low desks. Then you pass through some glass doors and arrive in quite a different environment, more intimate and less business-like.

The Garden Wing is built around a three-storey rock garden with ferns and plants normally found in climates cooler than Singapore's. You can take the lift directly down to the pool area, which features a cascading waterfall.

WHERE IS IT?

Just off the top of Orchard Road, 40 minutes from Changi International airport. The hotel runs free shuttle buses to the MTR stations and shopping districts.

ROOM FACILITIES

Rooms throughout the hotel have 24-hour service, free wired and wifi internet access, safes, minibars, tea and coffee facilities, good-sized work tables with a selection of power points (including UK ones), and large flatscreen TVs.

The design is traditional – think dark wood floors, neutral décor and tasteful throws on the comfortable and extremely large beds.

In this wing, entry-level Deluxe rooms are huge, at 50 sqm, and have either city views – which here means buildings and the tops of trees – or pool views, which are to be preferred.

One-bedroom suites are 81 sqm and come with access to the Horizon Club in the Tower Wing for free breakfast and evening drinks, while the three Premier Balcony Garden suites are 137 sqm. These have outdoor spa baths, sun loungers and private barbecue grills, though I don't know why you would want to cook your own food in a hotel with so many superb restaurants.

RESTAURANTS AND BARS

The Line, an all-day dining restaurant, is so popular that when I tried to eat in it on the Saturday night it was full. The Waterfall, which is new, serves sustainably caught fish and lots of organic food, and is also superb.

There is a Japanese restaurant, Nadaman, and fine-dining Chinese eatery Shang Palace, both of which I have eaten at during previous visits and can recommend.

BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES

The hotel's facilities are extensive, though what’s impressive is that you could spend days relaxing in the Garden Wing and never encounter anyone attending functions.

Meeting rooms range in capacity from 12 delegates to over 1,000 for a banquet in the Island ballroom. There is also a 24-hour business centre.

LEISURE FACILITIES

The hotel has a large gym, saunas and spa baths. There is also a new Chi spa on the ground floor of the Garden Wing next to the Waterfall café.

There are floodlit tennis courts and an artificial grass court, as well as a large swimming pool that also incorporates a children’s play pool and a spa bath, all of this set in six hectares of grounds.

VERDICT

There are a lot of very good hotels in Singapore, but the Shangri-La is something special, not only because of its enviable position and spacious grounds, but also its consistently excellent service.


FACT FILE

  • HOW MANY ROOMS? The Garden Wing has 158 – 63 Deluxe City View rooms, 83 Deluxe Pool View rooms, nine one-bedroom suites and three Premier Balcony Garden suites.
  • HIGHLIGHTS The free wifi, the views from the Deluxe Pool View rooms, the amount of space in the guestrooms and the pool area with its mature trees and well-tended gardens.
  • PRICE Internet rates for a flexible midweek stay in February started from £256 for a Garden Wing Deluxe City View room.
  • CONTACT Shangri-La Singapore, 22 Orange Grove Rd; tel +65 6737 3644; shangri-la.com


Tom Otley


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