Tried & Tested

Hotel review: Royal Plaza on Scotts, Singapore

8 Feb 2019 by Michael Allen

Background

Royal Plaza on Scotts Singapore, with its 511 rooms and suites, completed an extensive renovation in December 2018. We last reviewed this hotel more than a decade ago, praising its friendly staff and great location, so I decided to stay there for three nights over Chinese New Year to check out the hotel post-refurb.

Where is it?

A few minutes’ walk from Orchard MRT station. The Grand Hyatt is across the street, and The Tanglin Club and The American Club are both within walking distance.

Orchard Road, Singapore’s most famous shopping district, is also in walking distance, as is Newton Food Centre, the hawker centre that has recently been made famous by its appearance in the film Crazy Rich Asians.

The lobby looks fresh and welcoming following the refurbishment, with two carpeted staircases leading upstairs to the left and right and a chandelier hanging overhead.

The lobby is decorated with several interesting paintings and curiosities…

The lobby was busy in the evenings, with most of the seating occupied and a lot of children running around. I was staying there during the Chinese New Year period, though, so perhaps it is less busy during non-holiday periods. The lobby is spacious enough that the crowds of people aren’t too much of an annoyance, but the lobby certainly lacks the tranquility of some higher-end hotels.

By the guest room lifts is a small internet lounge in case you don’t have your computer with you…

The room

I stayed in a Royal Club Premier Room on the 14th floor with access to the Royal Club Lounge on Level 15…

Each room type has a different design: fiery red for Deluxe rooms, cobalt blue for Premier rooms and sunflower yellow for Royal Club Premier rooms.

The on-bed pillows, yellow armchair…

…and the paintings above and next to the bed…

…lend a freshness to the room. The carpet is also new and clean.

There are ample power sockets around the room, making it easy to charge your devices…

There is also a portable Wi-Fi device, giving you internet access outside of the hotel. Some hotels are opting for Handy-brand smartphones over pocket Wi-Fi, but the Royal Plaza on Scotts’ general manager Patrick Garcia Fiat told me they opted for the portable Wi-Fi as they think guests prefer to connect with their own devices.

The welcome gift was a Singapore-themed cup…

There is a desk and office chair for working…

There is a Nespresso machine with three types of coffee pods, including a decaf option. There are also two types of TWG Tea: Emperor Sencha and Earl Gray.

There is a free mini-bar. But don’t get too excited; it’s all non-alcoholic.

The room’s window overlooks another property managed by Royal Plaza on Scotts, 8 on Claymore Serviced Residences…

The highlight of the bathroom is the rainfall shower…

There is also a good sized bathtub, though the cold tap had a tendency to malfunction and start making a sound like an anti-aircraft gun in an old World War II movie…

The toilet is equipped with a hose-style bidet, which is better than no bidet at all, but not as luxurious as the integrated electronic bidets I discovered at recent stays in The Regent Taipei and The Sherwood Taipei.

Above the sink is a selection of amenities (replenished daily and at request) in keeping with the colourful theme of the room. Bear in mind there is no mouthwash provided.

Executive lounge

The 15th-floor Club Lounge is a fresh-feeling, well-lit space that, during my three-day stay, was rarely busy, evening during breakfast.

There is a very nice view over the local area, which I gazed out at intermittently to prevent eye strain while working on my laptop. On Monday morning, I was surprised by the sight of smoke rising up from a copse of trees opposite the hotel. The lounge staff told me it was the Tanglin Club’s weekly mosquito fumigation (Singapore suffers occasional outbreaks of dengue fever).

There is a good selection of newspapers, though the magazine selection is wanting. You can get The New York Times and Financial Times, along with the local papers The Straits Times and The Business Times. Chinese-language and Malay-language local newspapers are also available.

However, on Tuesday morning both The New York Times and the Financial Times were unavailable (the lounge staff said they had not been delivered), so I was stuck with the joyless pro-government Straits Times. Still, the Wi-Fi in the lounge is good, so I was able to access other international news online.

The staff in this lounge are very attentive and polite, always greeting me with a “Good morning, Mr Allen”, which morphed into “Good morning, Mr Michael” after I insisted on first name terms.

On my first morning at the lounge, I headed to the coffee machine to make myself a latte. One of the lounge staff approached me and asked if I would prefer a coffee from his machine behind the bar, as this machine used full-fat rather than skimmed milk. I obviously didn’t look like someone who needs skimmed milk, which I guess was flattering. He returned with a rather attractive (full fat) latte served in a clear glass, and I had a latte made in this way each morning thereafter.

Breakfast is a good spread, though it ends at 10am, even on Sunday, which may curtail your weekend lie-in. Many high-end hotels offer breakfast until 11am.

Around 8am on Monday morning, I asked to order an omelette and the lounge staff telephoned the chef to come up to the lounge to prepare this just for me. Great service, though I was disappointed that they didn’t have HP Sauce and had to settle for ketchup.

The afternoon tea, served between 3:00pm-5:00pm, provides a tasty selection of sandwiches and other local snack delicacies.

Food and beverage

Guests without Club Lounge access can try the hotel’s newly renovated buffet restaurant, Carousel, which has up to 17 food stations of international cuisine, including “seafood, Mediterranean, Asian and Japanese”. One of the latest additions to the Carousel buffet includes the Brazilian churrasco station, which offers smoky 24-hour marinaded meats. There is also a signature bread and butter pudding that the hotel has been offering for 45 years.

Carousel is open from 6:30am-10:00am for breakfast, 12:00pm-2:00pm for lunch, 3.30pm-5.30pm for high tea and 6.30pm-9.30pm for dinner.

(Caveat: I didn’t get a chance to try this restaurant as I spent much of my spare time holed up in the Club Lounge, so I can’t vouch for the quality of this restaurant).

Leisure facilities

The fifth-floor gym is small but was never busy. On Sunday morning there was only one other person in there.

One downside was that the headphone jack on the machines didn’t match with that of my headphones, so I couldn’t watch TV while exercising. I mentioned this to general manager Garcia Fiat and he said the hotel plans to distribute compatible headphones to gym-users in future.

There is a water station with paper cups, which seems more eco-friendly than giving out bottled water as some hotels do…

Directly outside from the gym is the pool, which is small but also not busy. The first time I went to look at the pool there was a family using it, but when I took a swim on Monday evening I only had to share it with one other person.

There is a Nescafe coffee machine by the pool, so you can have a coffee, tea or Milo before, after or in between your swim.

Verdict

A well-located hotel whose recent refurbishment has given the entire property a pleasantly fresh, clean and airy feel. The rooms have everything you need (bar mouthwash) and the Club Lounge is an excellent place to get some work done while enjoying the service of the attentive staff. The lounge would benefit from the addition of some international news magazines on top of the newspapers, the gym’s headphone jack issue needs to be sorted out, and a plumber needs to see to Room 1435’s cold tap – but, otherwise, it is difficult to find much else to fault with this property.

Quick facts...

  • Best for… its great location coupled with friendly and attentive staff
  • Don’t miss… making good use of the comfortable, quiet and well-catered Club Lounge
  • Price… SG$420.19 (US$310.93) for a midweek one-night stay in mid-March in a Royal Club Premier Room
  • Contact… royalplaza.com.sg
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