I was super excited to check out this property and booked as soon as I saw stays were available. I ended up choosing to check in on their day 2 – risky I know, but what better way to spend a public holiday? Admittedly, I know from my Vagabond and Duxton Reserve stays that the favorite theme of the Garcha Group were not my cup of tea but checking out this new property is something I could not pass up.
Address – 2 Cook Street, Singapore 078857. Website.
Contact – Tel: +65 69141400. Email: email@example.com.
Location – Located in the Maxwell neighbourhood, the quaint property is a big-ish shophouse near to a multitude of eats including Maxwell Food Centre. Tanjong Pagar Station (EW15) is a 10min unsheltered walk away if you need but the sweltering heat on bad days could deter that stroll.
Price – $349++ = $410nett booked for a Le Petite Club Room (19SqM) under the Earn Eat Enjoy promotion which includes I felt was decent even though some benefits overlap with elite’s – the 5,000 bonus point was especially enticing! This was also the first time I see a price difference for 1pax or 2pax, with the latter being $309++ – $40 difference for club lounge access seems reasonable I guess? Stacking this with the double elite nights made the ‘investment’ more erm reasonable.
- Breakfast for 1 or 2 guests daily
- 60 SGD hotel credit per night
- 5000 Bonus Points per stay
Pre-arrival – No pre-arrival email of sorts which I thought was a sorely missed opportunity to welcome their first few batches of guests as a lux property. I did see that my room has been upgraded to a Le Colonial Club King Room (a 1-tier upgrade) a few days prior. I later realized that this was because their Le Petite Club Rooms were not ready due to shipping delays hence the auto “upgrade”.
Check In – I arrived at 12:30pm to an empty lobby – understandably so as they opened one day prior. The area was actually quite quaint, with funky memorabilia peppering plus velvety shades of red and yellow. At least the space was interesting enough to occupy me which my paperwork were being prepared.
I was informed by the staff that as they have just opened, some rooms are still being set up and my room will only be available close to 3pm – a bummer to an exciting start. While he was apologetically polite about the delay, I found it lacking that he did not offer any other information about the stay and I had to ask about breakfast, lounge access, and the $60 dining credit (which can be stacked with Bonvoy’s 20% discount). No welcome letter was presented.
Room – At 3pm, my Le Colonial King Club Room, 313, was finally ready! The 24SqM room looked exactly like its pictures – a longgish layout neatly cutting up the space. A hallway greets you was you enter, and you get your cupboard sections to your immediate right featuring a surprisingly generous drawer space, a small wardrobe containing bathrooms + slippers, and a super bling mini bar (chargeable of course).
Walking a slight step down is a WFHotel spot equipped with a sturdy work desk though only equipped with 1x 3-pin powerpoint alongside USB ports+ a cushy velvety chair which is meant more for chilling than working. On this desk is a bottle of still Evian with compliments from the hotel.
A small coffee table top is located beside the desk, containing a Nespresso, 3x capsules, TWG teabags, a kettle, and coffee cups.
The next frame is the bedroom area
A cushy king bed against a red velvety headboard, 2 bedside tables with lighting controls + powerpoint + USB ports, all facing a TV (no casting functions though) on top of a console drawer. The bed also comes with reading lights on both sides, and I find the antique in-house phone quite a cute touch.
The last section of the room is the bathroom. A single sink with plenty of countertop space, a generous standing shower space, and a separate toilet area. I was not expecting to see a fancy bathtub but of course it’s appreciated! Toiletries are Philosykos branded which were not bad.
I also spotted an interesting gadget in the toilet – a wall-mounted speaker device with a ‘service centre’ and ‘speaker’ buttons. I wonder in what scenarios would you need that?
Issues with the room – unfortunately, after settling down, I found a few design elements which didn’t quite work for me, and also others:
- There were no attempt to hide or at least neaten the power cords of the standing lamps in the room which looked a little untidy – small thing but shows lack of attention to details.
- There is no wastebin in the toilet at all. In fact, there is only one wastebin in the entire room – at the bottom of the work desk. Super impractical element which wouldn’t take too much to fix.
- The chair by the work desk and the hairdryer did not look new and had signs of wear & tear which was really strange for a 1-day old property – are these things not brand new and borrowed from their other properties??
- The bottle of Evian is your only complimentary bottle of water per stay and if you want more, you are quoted $12++ per additional bottle and otherwise, advised to defer to your tap water as ‘tap water is safe to drink’ – I find this super stingy of a lux property selling for almost $500/night on some days. Thereafter, I learned that it is due to the hotel’s sustainability approach but I suppose the delivery of the explanation could have been better, or it would have been great for a note to be placed in the room to inform guests of this practice. Eventually, another kind staff passed me some Aqua Panna to bring to the room.
- My fancy looking bathtub leaked. I was merely rinsing it in preparation for a soak and a huge puddle appeared on the bathroom floor. Engineering came, took 30mins, and said they’ve sealed the leak but better to use it only the next day. Eventually I managed to use it later that night without issues.
Executive Lounge / Elite Treatment – without a proper Executive Lounge of sorts, elites and guests booked into rooms with club lounge access enjoy the according benefits at Cultivate, a plant-based, gmo-free, gluten-free vegan restaurant located at the lobby level. Cultivate has it own public-offering menu if anyone is interested.
The space is huge and is very exquisite setting draped in velvety blushes of purple, beige, yellow – there is plenty of seating for solo, couples, or bigger groups, with quite a handful of more private corners if need be. Some seats are super cold due to the aircon vents so watch out and bring a cardigan!
As this place serves non in-house guests too, there is a special menu for Executive Lounge offerings.
There is also a special section set aside of Executive Lounge guests which accords a heightened sense of privacy and elite treatment. But of course guests can sit anywhere and staff will simply take your room number to cross check against.
11:00am – 5:00pm: All day non alcoholic drinks and healthy nosh – and those nosh are really generous! I was stoked to be told that all the salads, juices, pastries, cakes in the glass cabinets were included and I can order as many as I liked. And on my second afternoon when things are not on display, the very talented Chef Elsa offered to customize a a sampling platter for me – how awesome is service like this?!
And everything I tasted were excellent – I don’t need meat with quality eats like this for sure!
5:00pm – 8:00pm: Evening Cocktails and Hors’Doeuvres saw food & drinks more than enough for dinner, including selections from Shikar, their flagship Indian restaurant which is not yet opened to public yet.
I appreciate that the food is served in bite size portions allowing guests to try different items – quality was a little hit & miss but re-orders of your favorite items is not an issue. It was also nice that the session is 3-hour long without a need to book timings which is kind of rare these days.
For alcohol, there is plenty to keep alcoholics happy – I tried the prosecco (not bad!), negroni (quite nice!), and espresso martini (bottled).
Service here was generally much better before the evening cocktail session – and it all fell apart. I later learned that the place is severely understaffed, plus the little nooks & corners can result in the staff missing your table, but the unfortunate end result for me was a 45-min wait for food and 30-min wait for coffee, with some multiple requests required.
Breakfast – Served from 7:00am – 10:30am at Cultivate, the confusing thing here is that the Executive Lounge menu’s breakfast section contains only a continental selection so I assumed that only that selection was available but I was asked to pick an egg main when I was seated – so maybe they are flexible about the policy too?
Either way, my choice of Lobster Crab Omelette was delicious with generous chunks of the crustaceans. A side of fruits and crabs are also served to the table – very decent spread!
Dining Credits – I burned my $60 dining credits on some takeaways from Cultivate’s main menu which made for a very healthy dinner. Stacked with the Bonvoy 20% elite discount, I only had to top up $5 which was great value! Sorry no pics of the food as I forgot – but it was the Soulful Sandwich @ $24 (Roasted eggplant with lemon oil, basil, rocket pesto, cashew milk smoked mozzarella, with smoked spanish oil and mango chutney ), Vegan Earth Bowl @ $28 (Goma cream dressing, shredded red cabbage, carrot, radish, edamame, broccolini, avocado, and soba noodles), and one serving of Vegan Cheese Platter @ $18 (artisanal cheese made from organic cashew milk) – all delicious!
Hotel & Grounds – The property is actually quite nice to wander around in as there are plenty of personal collection memorabilia showcasing his father, retired army officer Kuldeep Singh Garcha. There are also many old memos and letters on display which I understand to be the actual originals kept in mint condition – quite fascinating.
Even the restrooms are quite cool I must say:
Other Food & Beverage – during my stay only Cultivate and Isabel were opened but I wandered into the yet-to-open spaces (slated for June / July) and grabbed some pics nonetheless (descriptions below are lifted directly from the hotel’s website).
Isabel: The signature Bar at the Maxwell Reserve offers timeless elegance, luxury, glamour and intimacy. Indulge in a selection of the best hand-picked wines and champagnes, spirits and liquors from far and wide and specially curated cocktails.
Shikar: Inspired by the grand old feasts of Indian Royals where members of high society socialised, ate and drank. Chef Jolly reinterprets nostalgic Indian dishes with an openness towards global techniques and influences.
Officer’s Mess Polo Bar: A steak restaurant featuring some of the world’s finest prime grade cuts of meats and seafood. The bar has its own world class wine cellar with a collection curated by an expert team of sommeliers.
Rose Room: not so much a F&B but looks like a conference room of sorts.
Service – A notable service plus was when I woke up at 2am starving and ordered food via food delivery platform – the staff brought them up to the room and even brought along cutleries as he saw that it was not included in the packaging. I really appreciate not having to get dressed to go get my food from the lobby at such unearthly hours!
Lastly, being a property that is mostly an unsheltered walk to anywhere, it will be great if they have umbrellas available on loan to in-house guests – I asked for one at front desk and was told that they don’t provide.
Check Out – fuss free and completed in 10mins.
My experience over 2 days at this spanking new property was a flurry of mix feelings, which fortunately ended in positivity.
I knew there were risks staying in a 1-day old property and of course was expecting some teething issues. Even the Hotel’s General Manager admitted that this period for them is considered a soft opening and the first week is crucial in terms of getting as much feedback as possible.
Yes the issues were frustrating. Yes, I expected more because of the price point.
But after spending time talking to the GM and its team, I realized that they are a team really wanting to make things work but sadly impeded by system and processes, plus ironing out opening kinks. Although I wished they were more ready than this given the lux positioning, but maybe its also true that there are things that only surface after guests start staying. The entire team was super receptive with feedback and constantly asked after my stay which was an assuring gesture.
To be honest, the real disappointment for me was that as a Titanium, I did not get any pro-active upgrade (I only got the room that I did because my original room type was not ready) especially when better rooms were still selling at the point of my stay. I thought it would have been a sorely missed opportunity to wow your elite members.
I would not mind returning once they iron out the opening kinks and of course if they retained the superb benefit of having access to Cultivate’s nosh. But their prices have become somewhat crazy, let’s see how.
But I am now assured that I can like a Garcha property after all – and I now look forward to experiencing the Serangoon House which will open as a Tribute Porfolio sometime in 2022.