I last tried this property as a day stay during my mattress run back in 2019, pre-COVID. Its reputation has since tumbled in COVID times: huge crowds and slow service during high occupancy times, plus cost-cutting measures especially for its what-use-to-be not bad Executive Lounge cocktail hours. Despite all these, I made a booking anyways just to check it off as part of my staycay craze.
Address – 581 Orchard Road Singapore 238883. Website.
Contact – Tel: +65 67372233. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Location – In a corner of the busy Orchard Road and a 8-min walk from Orchard MRT, the hotel is a old stalwart which has kind of withstood the time til now, thanks to it’s strategic location on the infamous shopping belt. But I’ve also always thought its quite an aged property, although some room have been recently refurbished. Location is nonetheless good for shopaholics though.
Price – $129.50++ = $152 under the Honors Member’s Big Dream, Big Savings promotion. This is a superb value even for the aged property so figured its time to do a proper stay before it becomes a Voco. Timed with the Amex offer, I would get another $148 worth of dining credits to use while topping up only $88!
Check In – There was no queue and I was the next in line at the Priority line at 1pm on a weekday, but I still had to wait 15mins to be attended to. Once I was, the process took 10mins including explanation of all COVID related policies and the various signing of forms. I had enquired prior to arrival about any space-available upgrades to a Suite as part of my Diamond benefits but no luck. I was “only” upgraded to a King Executive from King Deluxe (the Suite was still selling as of 6pm that evening so erm yes it was indeed space available but just no upgrade. Bah).
Room – King Hilton Executive Room 2121 (32SqM), upgraded from the base King Deluxe, was all bright and cheery due to the liberal use of yellow and light beige and felt bigger than it is due to the clutterless design which I liked. Exactly like how I remembered it. Though mostly spotless, the clear signs of aged furnishing and outdated design stripped away any signs of luxury. The phone is a dead giveaway of the room’s age – its been a long while I’ve seen this!
Bedroom – the main bedroom contains the huge and actually very comfy king bed with bedside tables and lamps on both sides, a proper work glass desk + chair, as well as a 1-seater loungey chair. However due to the non swivel design, you are not able to watch TV while you work which I thought was a slight oversight on the design.
Bathroom – this shows even more age due to the old marble furnishings and unfortunate black brown colors. Even worse is the presence of a shower curtain and standing bathtub shower. Yeesh. Thankfully, toiletries were the Hilton-usual Crabtree & Evelyn’s Verbena and Lavender series which I rather liked.
Executive Lounge – Occupying most of the 22nd floor, the space is exactly how I remembered it to be. For now, the space is only opened from 530pm-7:30pm and you need to reserve your preferred choice of hour to enjoy the session. Drinks and food are strictly limited to your hour so do come on time!
You are invited to view your beverage menu (here) while the canapes are served to you on a platter with the staff explaining the items in person. Refills of your desired items are possible and unlimited during the hours – my session saw char siew bao, mushroom puff, sugarcane prawns (fishcake), some sort of bean salad, and kueh lapis. All were rather tasty and 2nd+3rd rounds of selected items were sufficient as dinner for me! Drinks wise, I stuck to the Ruggeri prosecco which was very drinkable.
Service was mostly okay but I was taken aback when I was stopped while walking around to take photos of the space – I was told I was not supposed to do that except if I am heading to the bathroom. HUH? The rationale given to me was ‘social distancing’. Really?
Facilities – the pool (level 24) and fitness centre (level 23) are opened but subject to bookings of 60mins per session for the pool and 90mins for the fitness centre.
The fitness centre is bigger than I anticipated and actually very well equipped.
Pool is on the small side and super sunny.
Breakfast – Served at Opus Grill from 6:30am – 10:30am, (menu here) and reservation of your desired one-hour slot is required. You can take your pick of one western or asian main with the likes of pastries, yoghurt, bircher muesli, juices, and coffee/tea served upon request. My special request of only siew mai + har gow from the congee set with additional chicken wings (they gave me two!) from the nasi lemak dish were accommodated with no issue so yays. Quality was actually quite good but brewed coffee can be stronger.
Other Dining – my other dining experience includes:
A dine-in 2-course set lunch at Opus Bar & Grill (menu here). Super reasonably priced at $18++ per pax with a fair selection from each section. Sides we tried were Onion Soup + Power Salad and mains were Club Sandwich + Nasi Goreng kosong. Service was really slow and quality was disappointing. Would not eat here again for sure.
A tabao 2-course set lunch from iL Ceilo (set lunch menu here) – priced at $34++ per pax. Wanted to dine in but they were full house. I picked the mozzarella salad and grilled swordfish – the salad was refreshing but only contained one sad little piece of cheese, while the swordfish was fishy so I ended up just eating the accompanying vegetables.
As a farewell gift to myself, I burn the rest of my dining credits at Opus on three (!) glasses of Laurent Perrier, a serving of madagascar vanilla ice cream, and chocolate pralines. And all this because Diamonds get a 25% dining discount off everything. Yay.
Had wanted to try their in-room dining (menu here) but their prices are a little on the high side and I ended up not having any chance to try between all my meals. No loss here I think.
Service – While service was sporadic with some ups and downs, I have to admit I have issues with the following can be improved on:
- Breakfast booking – you are asked to scan a QR code to book your breakfast spot but turns out its the outlet’s public booking platform which means you have to re enter your mobile number, email address etc which did not make the experience as seamless as it should be.
- Executive Lounge “no walk-around” policy – yes I know it is COVID times and social distancing measures should be observed for everyone’s benefit but it should also make sense. Especially if the hotel adds on their own rules on top of what is required by the authority. During my stay, dine-in capacity is limited to 2pax per table and no inter mingling is allowed, so I fail to see how walking around the space solo with my mask on to take pictures will flout the rules. If the rule had indeed been communicated to me correctly, the least the property can do is to inform guests prior and perhaps offer the option to take the evening cocktails in-room so they wont have to deal with this issue.
- Diamond upgrades – this is no an uncommon issues but doesn’t mean I can’t be annoyed by it. Diamonds are supposed to get a ‘space-available’ upgrade including Suites but when I enquired 2 days prior to arrival via their app chat, I was simply told that their suites are in high demand and offered a cash top up of $100 to secure the Suite ahead of time. They didn’t (fake) offer to try. On the day of check in, the Suite was still selling so yes the “space-available” part was true, just not the “upgrade” part. Sigh.
Check Out – Seamlessly done within 5mins and check out folio emailed to me within the next 30mins.
I am actually glad to be able to check off this property at this rate because I would not want to pay more for the same experience. I feel that this property has depended so much on the Hilton branding and have sadly neglected what otherwise would have made it a great Hilton, both in terms of hardware and software.