In March 2019, I checked into the Crest Suite at Swissotel the Stamford, one of the tallest hotels in Southeast Asia looming 73 storeys tall in the civic district in downtown Singapore. One part of the Raffles City integrated development which also comprises Raffles City Shopping Centre and Fairmont Singapore, the massive 1,252-room business hotel is served by three MRT lines (including City Hall MRT Station), 20 minutes from Changi Airport and located close to destinations such as Raffles Hotel Singapore, Esplanade Theatres, Marina Square and Suntec City.
The UTW (“Under Ten Words”): Sky-high comfort with unparalleled views in downtown Singapore.
The must-dos (if any): Appreciate the impressive views from your private balcony, have breakfast at Clove, enjoy the Executive Lounge.
SWISSOTEL THE STAMFORD SINGAPORE
With its towering structure and distinctive facade courtesy of late architect I.M. Pei, the recently-renovated business hotel pairs cool tones and contemporary sophistication with Swiss flourishes in its interior design. Upon arrival at the bustling hotel lobby, instead of a conventional reception counter, guests are escorted to an automated iMac-based station to complete their check-in, which probably expedites the check-in proceedings given the hotel’s vast capacity but at the same time lends a certain transactional and anonymous feel to the guest arrival process, removing the opportunity for any personalised stay customisation (e.g. room upgrades for special occasions such as anniversaries or birthdays etc).
The hotel has the distinction of being one of the few remaining properties in Singapore whereby every guest room has its own private balcony. Given the building’s soaring height, guests enjoy impressive unobstructed harbour and sea views, making it one of the country’s most sought-after properties during occasions such as New Year’s Eve or the annual Singapore Grand Prix Formula 1 Night Race weekend when a killer view is priority.
An interesting fact about the hotel is its frequent inclusion in various supernatural urban legends and “Haunted Hotels” listicles, in part due to it being supposedly built on grounds where violent atrocities took place during World War II (Grand Hyatt Taipei shares a similar reputation) but also because of the various fatalities over the past few years involving guests who fell off the balconies. While I did not get to acquaint myself with any mercy-begging Japanese war soldiers along the winding corridors during my stays at the property (they supposedly have accommodation on specific levels), I must say that on higher floors I do hesitate to stay too long out on the balcony given the occasionally formidable strength of the outside breeze.
The property’s seamless connection to the adjacent Fairmont Singapore means the hotel is able to provide shared wellness and fitness facilities on a larger scale – the hotel has two circular swimming pools, six tennis courts, two fitness centres (one reserved exclusively for Crest Suite guests) and the Willow Stream Spa which offers a range variety of luxurious spa treatments.
Boasting spectacular city views from the hotel’s highest floors, the 86sqm Crest Suite offers unusually soaring ceilings which provide a luxurious spaciousness. The suite combines leather surfaces with dark, cool shades and shocks of lipstick red accents, playing it all sophisticated Asian urbanite penthouse in its stylings. The living room is furnished with a sofa, a work station with an ergonomic chair, while the pantry has Nespresso and TWG tea-making facilities as well as one of those dreaded refrigerators with sensors that automatically charge for removed items and cannot be used for your personal items. Both the living room and bedroom have their own private balcony.
A glass partition separates the bedroom from the bathroom, an ideal setting for couples without physical boundaries who enjoy voyeuristic shower watching. The bathroom comes with a deep-set freestanding bathtub as well as double vanities, with bathroom amenities from Swiss spa brand Pürovel.
Aside from Executive Lounge access, Crest Suite guests enjoy exclusive access to the private Fitness Centre as well as the Living Room on the 65th level.
Breakfast is served at Clove, the international buffet restaurant on the 2nd level which plays it all relaxed Australian market-place with its copious amounts of natural sunlight, earthy woods and lush greenery. Clove’s buffet spread showcases Asian flavours – the breakfast spread covers morning staples such as Nasi Lemak, Fried Vermicelli and Dim Sum while the daytime buffet offers local fare such as Duck Kway Chap, Cereal Crayfish and Assam Snapper.
Exploring a similar thread next door, Kopi Tiam serves Singapore fare in a nostalgia-influenced setting, with local favourites such as Chilli Crab, Fried Carrot Cake, Hainanese Chicken Rice and Char Kway Teow all present and accounted for. The restaurant also offers various seasonal menus throughout the year such as their Peranakan menu, which incorporates dishes like Sambal Petai Prawn with Minced Pork and Nyonya Lam Mee.
The hotel’s highest floors pair various exciting experiences with spectacular views. Michelin-starred British fine-dining concept JAAN by Kirk Westaway, contemporary grill restaurant SKAI and its accompanying SKAI Bar are all located on the 70th level, while Shanghai club concept Bar Rouge keeps things pounding and sweaty on the 71th level.
The ground level houses two dining concepts – TWG Tea Salon & Boutique, which showcases its famous teas across various beverage and infusion experiences in an elegant setting, while all-day casual dining concept The Stamford Brasserie comprises a bistro restaurant, beer bar and Grab & Go. Elsewhere, the poolside Alligator Pear on the 8th level serves light meals, cocktails and other beverages in a relaxed, tropical setting.
Given the hotel’s seamless connection to Fairmont Singapore, guests can also enjoy meals at the adjacent hotel’s various dining concepts such as Italian restaurant Prego, Japanese restaurant Mikuni, Halal buffet concept Asian Market Café, Chinese restaurants Szechuan Court and Szechuan Kitchen as well as ground level cocktail bar Anti:dote.
EXECUTIVE LOUNGE AND THE LIVING ROOM
Spanning across the entirety of the 65th level and boasting unrivalled 360-degree views of the city, the Executive Lounge is probably one of the best club lounges in town in terms of both views and food offerings. The expansive space combines warm woods, earthy tones and residential furnishings to create a vibe that is simultaneously modern cafe and cosy staff canteen, with the spread during each food presentation being fairly extensive and substantial. As is the case with several of the hotel’s dining concepts, the Executive Lounge frequently showcases local dishes in its food presentations such as Sayur Lodeh, Mee Siam and Rojak. The spirit selection is respectable, with Moët & Chandon being the champagne of choice.
A notable aspect of the Executive Lounge is The Living Room, an exclusive area specially reserved for Crest Suite guests which amps up the residential comfort level – think ping pong table, television set, coffee table, cushy furnishings, throw pillows and even private workstations. During food presentations, a separate table featuring selected dishes from the main spread would be set up within The Living Room so that Crest Suite guests need not walk all the way to the buffet line for their helpings (although they most certainly can).
While the massive scale of the business hotel’s operations may not be suitable for guests seeking a more personalised luxury experience, there are many reasons to recommend this property. The hotel’s unobstructed high-floor views are unparalleled, and its Executive Lounge is arguably one of the best lounges in the country. The beautifully appointed Crest Suite and its accompanying privileges made for a surprisingly luxurious and memorable stay, and I would strongly recommend it for celebrating a special occasion.
Swissotel The Stamford
2 Stamford Road