Tried & Tested

Hotel review: The Robertson House by The Crest Collection, Singapore

17 Feb 2024 by Hannah Brandler
The Robertson House by The Crest Collection, Facade

Background

The Robertson House is a ten-storey hotel, offering both rooms and suites with kitchenettes, and opened in October 2023 following a seven-month refurbishment project.

The property is a rebranding of The Riverside Hotel Robertson Quay and belongs to serviced apartment provider Ascott’s The Crest Collection, which launched in 2016 and comprises a portfolio of hotels and serviced apartments with heritage stories. Initially the brand was only represented in France, with three rebranded Citadines properties in Paris, and a chateau in Tours.

The brand is undergoing significant expansion, with three properties opening in Asia between August and October 2023. These include The Grand Mansion Menteng in Jakarta, The George Penang in Penang and The Robertson House in Singapore.

The brand is also set to debut in Hanoi, Jakarta, Bangkok, Tokyo, Osaka, Bucharest, Dublin and London over the coming years. The UK debut will be a rebranding of The Cavendish London, which will undergo a year-long phased renovation in the fourth quarter of 2024 before reopening under the new brand.

We have previously reviewed the brand’s La Clef Tour Eiffel, a property undergoing refurbishment in times for the Paris 2024 Summer Olympics.

The Robertson House by The Crest Collection, Lobby

Where is it?

The Robertson House is located along the Singapore River near Robertson Quay, a four-minute walk from Fort Canning MRT station and nine minutes from Clarke Quay MRT station, offering access to various areas of Singapore. The hotel is also a 25-minute drive from Changi airport, and a ten-minute drive from the Central Business District.

Local attractions include traditional shophouses on the banks of the Singapore River, and the beautiful Fort Canning Park which I spent the afternoon discovering during my stay.

Views from The Robertson House by The Crest Collection (Photo: Hannah Brandler)

What's it like?

The Robertson House harks back to Singapore’s colonial era and the city-state’s past as a busy entrepôt along the spice trade route in the 19th century. This theme kicks off with the property’s name itself, inspired by Dr J Murray Robertson, a British figure and prominent Municipal Councillor during the colonial rule of Singapore.

The interior design, too, nods to this era. Its white facade recalls of the famous Raffles Hotel, while the lobby transports you to the city’s yesteryears, adorned in old-fashioned suitcases, an old gramophone and chandeliers. Throughout the property are old maps of the East India trade route, tropical wallpaper which nods to Singapore’s moniker as the Garden City, a black-and-white colour scheme and rattan furnishings.

Given the association with the trade route, the hotel also incorporates various spice elements into the mix. There are different scents throughout the hotel, with the lobby cloaked in an inviting clove and nutmeg aroma.

Guests staying in the Club rooms can check-in at the Club Lounge on the tenth floor, and I was well-looked after by the friendly and informative staff member Darren.

Customers are encouraged to join Ascott Star Rewards, the group’s loyalty programme, when checking in – it provides faster wifi and there’s an invitation for business travel rates too.

The hotel has a large focus on sustainability and collaborates with local suppliers for in-room amenities and the F&B services. Highlights include wooden keycards, large refillable Atkinsons toiletries – the Official Perfumer to the Royal Court of England in the 19th century – and a filtered water dispenser to replace plastic bottles.

Further sustainability features include LED lighting, energy-efficient window awnings (which I’m told lowers solar heat gain by the building and reduce air con usage), and a food waste digester.

The Robertson House by The Crest Collection suite (Photo: Hannah Brandler)

Rooms

The property has 336 rooms and suites, ranging from 24 sqm to 48 sqm. All rooms echo the decor of the property, with soaring ceilings and interiors that feature large vintage photos of the area and framed botanical illustrations. There are a few areas which are a little tired, with chipped paint for instance, but overall the rooms are smart spaces, flooded with natural light.

There are also modern touches for the contemporary era. The lift chooses your floor when you scan your keycard, while in-room features include a large Chromecast-equipped TV, easy-to-operate aircon, and a desk with UK plug sockets, USB slots and HDMI ports – plus stationery such as a stapler, post-its, pencil and rubber, and a highlighter.

The Robertson House by The Crest Collection, Suite

All rooms also include complimentary wifi, complimentary minibar with East Imperial sodas in glass bottles, Atkinsons Collection amenities, bathrobe and slippers, and a laptop-sized safe.

On the sustainability side, the rooms also have a water filter dispenser, which is a nifty gadget. There are clear instructions on how to get water at 27 degrees or boiling at 100 degrees. My only suggestion is that it would be nice to have a glass bottle that you can refill, rather than glasses.

The Robertson House by The Crest Collection, Suite

There is no kettle, but you can use the machine to enjoy Taverns Tea, packaged in beautifully illustrated botanical wrappers – don’t miss the exclusive Dr Robertson’s Chai. The nightcap tea was left on show during the turndown service, which was a nice touch.

There’s also an espresso machine for the recyclable coffee capsules from local roaster PYROAST, which focuses on Nanyang roasting methods.

The Robertson House by The Crest Collection suite (Photo: Hannah Brandler)

Suites are located on floors 9-10 and measure 48 sqm, with a separate lounge area complete with a kitchenette, two bathrooms (one with a bathtub and the other with a shower), and a bedroom with a king-sized bed and desk. The kitchenette has crockery and a microwave, but little else for cooking and is primarily a hotel room rather than an apartment.

Guests here are gifted snacks and a make-your-own G&T kit, complete with a stirrer, a mini bottle of gin produced exclusively for the hotel in collaboration with Tanglin Gin and tonic water from the closer-to-home Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew.

The Robertson House by The Crest Collection, dining at Entrepôt

Food and drink

Entrepôt is the hotel’s ground-floor, all-day restaurant offering excellent Asian-meets-European cuisine. Much like the rest of the hotel, the dining room has rattan features in black and white, and features booths, smaller tables dotted around a large, light-filled room and terrace seating.

Highlights include the moreish grilled tiger prawns served with mafaldine pasta in a wok-roasted shellfish bisque (£20). Unfortunately the restaurant lacks atmosphere as it is very quiet, which is a real shame considering the high quality of the food.

This contrasts hugely with the buffet breakfast, which is at its most crowded from 9.30-10.30am and is quite limited, with various cold cuts, fruit and Western cooked breakfast – plus an alfresco egg cooking station. Make sure to order a coffee from the barista inside, as these are expertly created and made with local coffee.

The Robertson House by The Crest Collection breakfast omelette station (Photo: Hannah Brandler)

Hidden from the rest of the property is Chandu, a speakeasy bar inspired by opium dens and secrecy. The location is a little strange, requiring guests to walk around the perimeter to reach it, and there’s no signage as the hotel wants it to retain a clandestine feel, open to those who are curious enough to find it.

I’m not sure how well this concept works, as I would have been clueless if it weren’t for a hotel tour, but the bar is a wonderful find nonetheless. The intimate, moody venue is a buzzy space hidden behind a nondescript black door with a golden moon handle and peephole (Chandu means opium in Malay and moon in Hindi). Mixologists here concoct signature cocktails or create tailor-made tipples based on your tastebuds and seasonal market produce – opt for the market-to-glass menu and spread the word!

The Robertson House by The Crest Collection, Chandu

Meetings

The hotel has a club lounge located on the tenth floor and titled the 1823 Reading Room, named after the year of the first library in Singapore.

The lounge is open to Club Room guests and offers Taverns Tea, PYROAST coffee and cookies with large glass vitrines overlooking Robertson Quay. Alternatively, you can bury your nose in one of the vintage tomes on each table, sourced from charity shop Thryft.

These books change every six months – during my visit there was a focus on travel guides and cooking – and guests are also allowed to bring these home with them, which is a lovely touch. Guests can also leave their books here, adding to the collection. Several vintage collectibles are on show behind glass, which you can peruse during your stay.

The Robertson House by The Crest Collection, The Reading Room

The Reading Room offers complimentary drinks and snacks from 6.30-8.30pm, which was a delicious treat but I seemed to be the only guest availing of the Club room benefits.

The lounge also has a private meeting room (exclusive to Club guests), while the second floor houses an additional four function rooms, ranging from 39 sqm to 101 sqm – the largest of which opens up onto the pool area.

The Robertson House by The Crest Collection meeting room (Photo: Hannah Brandler)

Leisure

The hotel has a 25-metre-long outdoor swimming pool (open 7am-10pm), and a small 24-hour indoor-outdoor gym – both on the second floor.

Verdict

The Robertson House is full of character, with thoughtful design, bespoke amenities and welcoming staff. Locals and guests are missing out by not flocking to the restaurants and bars.

FACT BOX

  • Best for Storytelling design and well-equipped rooms for business
  • Don’t miss Inventive nightcaps at Chandu
  • Price Internet rates for a flexible midweek stay in April start from £383 for a Suite or Club Room (£200 for entry-level)
  • Contact 1 Unity St, Singapore 237983; +65 6593 8888; discoverasr.com
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