The UTW (“Under Ten Words”): Classic luxury hotel with enjoyable club benefits feels like home.
The must-dos (if any): Breakfast and cocktail hour at the Club InterContinental Lounge (club member benefits).
Intro: Over the long weekend in early September 2017, after becoming a newly-minted InterContinental Ambassador (a wonderful investment that pays for itself by way of guaranteed rewards), I booked a two-night staycation at the InterContinental Singapore. I had booked a Heritage Suite, but was eventually given a Royal Suite as a result of a double upgrade combining both my complimentary upgrade from my previous stay as well as the guaranteed upgrade from my InterContinental Ambassador membership.
Being fairly new to the concept of club benefits during hotel stays, the agenda for this stay was clear – take advantage of as many hotel facilities and club benefits as humanly practicable to truly enjoy the InterContinental Singapore experience. This would include the breakfast, afternoon high tea and cocktail hour at the second-floor Club InterContinental Lounge, as well as the buffet breakfast at Ash & Elm (the European restaurant on the first floor) and use of the swimming pool.
The Room: The Royal Suite was massive – it was even bigger than my apartment in Canada when I was on student exchange. Upon entering the room, a mini corridor leads to a fork. The left path leads to the bedroom, passing a guest restroom and a spacious master restroom which includes separately partitioned poop and shower areas, a bathtub and a sizeable vanity, with enough room in the middle for an elephant and its trunk to spin around safely. Bedroom-wise, the king-sized bed for some reason felt somewhat queenly. The right path leads to the living room, which consisted of facilities and space for both working and lounging. I had to drag my feet travelling from the living room couch to the bedroom. It was so far.
The king-sized bed.
One of the bedside seats.
L-shaped couch facing the adjustable television screen.
Additional table for poker games and morning coffee, with a Nespresso-esque machine and mini bar.
The Club Benefits (Club InterContinental Lounge): Cocktails and canapes are available for club members from 6pm to 8pm every evening. There would always be a daily trio of hot canapes served a la minute and a selection of cold canapes, fruits, pastries, cheeses and bread. The canapes were certainly not capable of constituting a full and satisfying dinner substitute, but there were unexpected gems (I had at least four servings of a rather marvellous cold crab salad on my second night). On the degenerate drunk front, you get to choose from a fairly happy selection of basic cocktails, wine and beers. The wines were more reliable than the cocktails (sample: Singapore Sling, Screwdriver, Long Island Tea) although I remember having quite a few glasses of fairly lethal (technically off-menu) G&Ts on my second night. I took a happy nap immediately after.
The dainty treats available during the afternoon high tea vary from day to day, but I had the afternoon high tea on both afternoons and they were largely forgettable affairs. Mind you, one could simply enjoy the free flow of TWG tea and while away the entire afternoon, and it would still be an afternoon well spent.
Cocktail hour on my first night at the Club InterContinental Lounge.
Cocktail hour on my second night at the Club InterContinental Lounge.
Peranakan-inspired digs at the Club InterContinental Lounge.
Afternoon High Tea at the Club InterContinental Lounge.
Breakfast (Ash & Elm/Club InterContinental Lounge): A club member could enjoy breakfast at either Ash & Elm (buffet-style) or Club InterContinental Lounge (a la carte). The former was quite straightforward and what you would expect from most luxury hotel breakfasts – bread, cereal and pastries, cold cuts, Asian-style breakfast items, an omelette station etc. I recall the humble, bread-y waffles putting some of our ice cream cafes to dirty shame, whilst the freshly-prepared omelette with choice of ingredients such as mushroom and bell peppers provided fluffy, nicely non-greasy eggy satisfaction.
The experience is significantly different at the Club InterContinental Lounge, where dishes are made to order and served to your table. The selection is fairly limited as compared to Ash & Elm’s buffet spread, but you feel a lot more pampered having the dishes brought to you in a quiet and private setting. A Club InterContinental Lounge exclusive that is not available at Ash & Elm is the nasi lemak, which was the most memorable breakfast item from the stay – the chicken wings played it like sinfully good chicken tenders, while the understated-looking sambal packed a fiery, Hitmonchan-esque punch.
Morning pastries (Ash & Elm).
Omelette and noodle station (Ash & Elm).
Big breakfast (Ash & Elm).
Nasi lemak (Club InterContinental Lounge).
The Pool: Situated on the 4th floor, the swimming pool is not the biggest around, but there were a fair number of sun beds (both single and for couples), as well as a mini pool for kids and a spa pool. I appreciate that the pool staff would occasionally bring chilled bottles of water to the lounging book readers and squirming sun worshippers. The spa pool allows one to enjoy an invigorating butt cavern massage given the right sitting/lying position.
The swimming pool.
The spa pool. At this very moment, my butt cavern was receiving an invigorating message.
Today, he does not feel like doing anything.
Concluding Thoughts: On my second night at the Club InterContinental Lounge, I met an Aussie traveller, Ted, who was a ex-solicitor turned businessman, and we struck a conversation. Mind you, I’m more of a private and conservative Asian as opposed to a garrulous, SPG, low-plunged top vixen that gravitates to white strangers, but somehow it felt so easy to speak to a fellow guest that evening. The conversation spanned from the rigours of our jobs to good bars in Singapore. (He wanted to check out Atlas Bar but had no time this trip.) We then started talking about hotels in Singapore, and I asked if he had stayed at the other notable luxury hotels. He told me that he has been a loyal InterContinental guest for decades, and there is no reason to consider any other option whenever he comes to Singapore. To him, the InterContinental Singapore is familiar, and feels like home.
That sentiment struck a chord with me. On the same evening, I overheard an older British couple at the lounge chatting with the staff about changes in the design of the hotel uniform throughout the years, and from their conversation it soon became apparent that they too were loyal InterContinental guests as well. They were also really friendly. While we were at the cold canapes display, the wife was considering which to have, and I shared with her that I adored the above-mentioned cold crab salad. She then took multiple servings back to her table, and her husband told me from across the room that he would hold me to my recommendation. (I never did find out if they enjoyed the crab salad.)
The staff themselves were also warm, and operated with the guests on a first name basis. One of the staff, Fiona, engaged in extended conversations with several of us in the private area at the farthest end of the Club InterContinental Lounge I always choose to sit at, and throughout the various instances I was at the lounge, we exchanged stories of travel preferences and our experiences at InterContinental properties overseas. Somehow, the laid back vibes and familiarity of service made it so easy to be relaxed and sociable with others, both guests and staff alike.
Maybe it is the InterContinental brand of hospitality, or simply the way of the classic hotels (as opposed to the more “trendy” and modern ones which often focus on style over substance), but I too felt right at home.
80 Middle Road