In February 2020, I checked into the Regent Club Executive Suite at Regent Singapore. Conveniently located in a quiet residential area at the fringe of Orchard Road, Singapore’s famous retail and entertainment strip, the 440-room hotel is forty minutes away from Changi Airport, fifteen minutes from the Central Business District and a short walk away from Singapore Botanic Gardens, Orchard MRT Station as well as famous shopping centres such as ION Orchard, Ngee Ann City and Isetan Scotts.
The UTW (“Under Ten Words”): Grand hotel glamour with exciting dining concepts in Tanglin.
Must Dos: Relax in your spacious room, try the weekend afternoon tea buffet at Tea Lounge, have a cocktail (or three) at Manhattan, enjoy a Manhattan-curated cocktail at Regent Club, have the Alaskan King Crab at Basilico.
Opened in 1982, the hotel (which previously served as the The Pavilion Inter-Continental Singapore before converting to a Regent Hotel in 1992) has since become known as one of the city’s most glamorous destinations, in part because of its confident and award-winning F&B programme. The property’s architectural design bears all the hallmarks of the distinctive style of its neo-futuristic architect John Portman, known for the dramatic skylights, glass elevators and soaring atria featured across his projects. (He also designed Mandarin Oriental, Singapore with which this hotel shares substantial design DNA). Past the property’s front doors, guests are greeted by a lushly-landscaped lobby with elegant swirling staircases, water features and four Art Deco-style bubble elevators in the middle of the atrium which ferry guests to the restaurants and guest rooms on the upper floors. The terraced guest floors are vertically stacked in manner of a pyramid, with open corridors oriented towards the towering, skylit atrium. A shimmering sculpture “Singapore Shower” by Japanese sculptor Michio Ihara suspends from the 9th level, adding a dash of glamour to the open, airy proceedings.
The hotel boasts eight F&B concepts: Italian pasticceria Dolcetto by Basilico and afternoon tea destination Tea Lounge on the ground level, the latter of which transforms into wine bar Park90 after hours; Italian restaurant Basilico and award-winning cocktail bar Manhattan on the 2nd level; and Michelin one-star Chinese restaurant Summer Palace, Japanese tempura restaurant Tenshin as well as Korean BBQ concept Seoul on the 3rd level.
The hotel was managed by Four Seasons for 26 years, being branded as “A Four Seasons Hotel” during such time before recently being taken over by InterContinental Hotels Group. In many ways, given the noteworthiness of its architecture and the star wattage of their dining programme, the property feels like the Four Seasons hotel that never was. (In contrast and with some irony, the actual Four Seasons Hotel Singapore in the vicinity curiously has a mere three dining concepts and no executive lounge.)
Facilities on the ground level include tailor Razee, cigar bar La Casa Cubana, barber The Perfect Cut and hair salon Salon Le Point. In terms of wellness, the hotel has on its 2nd level a fitness centre, an outdoor swimming pool (which goes as deep as 2.1km), spa facilities for those who seek therapeutic massage treatments as well as Ally McBeal-esque unisex steam and sauna facilities.
The hotel is pet-friendly, offering special room packages with accompanying pet amenities for those who want their furry, four-legged friends (who weigh less than 15kg) with them during their stay.
REGENT CLUB EXECUTIVE SUITE
Overlooking the peaceful Tanglin residential neighbourhood, the airy and spacious 88sqm Regent Club Executive Suite retains much of the classic hotel flourishes of its time with an earthy colour palette, antique furniture and oversized lampshades, whilst simultaneously being up-to-date with modern day technological essentials like LCD satellite television sets (the living room and bedroom each has its own) and an abundance of bedside and work station power points. The suite was recently uplifted and the improvements are easily appreciated, with modern artworks now adorning the walls and not a trace of carpet musk one might expect from such a long-standing property.
The living room has sizeable couch seating able to accommodate a small group of family members, friends or work associates should the need arise, a window-side work desk and a pantry equipped with both Nespresso and Monogram tea-making facilities as well as a minibar stocked with snacks, beers, wines and soft drinks. Both the living room and bedroom have outdoor balcony access (a rarity in Singapore hotels) for fresh air or, in the case of the living room balcony which has a dining table, atmospheric al fresco wining and dining moments. In the bedroom, the comparatively tall-standing bed made for comfortable moments under the sheets (might be the 300 thread count bed linen) and the window-side antique dresser has a strategically-located power socket for the use of the hairdryer. The suite also features a walk-in closet and powder room.
The cosy bathroom features a single vanity and a partitioned combined shower and bathtub area, with lemon verbena-scented L’Occitane bathroom amenities dispensed from large containers.
As its name implies, guests staying in club rooms and suites have access to the Regent Club on the 11th level.
Breakfast is served at Basilico, the Italian all-day dining concept located on the 2nd floor which serves an extensive range of antipasti, mains and desserts across its different a la carte and buffet menus. The breakfast buffet serves cold cuts and cheeses; pastries; western breakfast sides such as Pork Bacon, Honey Glazed Ham, Baked Tomato, Sauteed Bell Pepper and Potato Wedges; a noodle station serving dishes such as Fish Ball Noodle Soup; and casual Chinese staples such as Siew Mai, Kaya Bun, Vegetarian Fried Rice, Hong Kong-style Noodles and Chicken Congee, the latter coming with such an impressive array of available toppings – think preserved olive, youtiao (fried dough fritters), braised peanuts, chicken floss and an addictive fried dace with salted black beans – that after I prepared my own bowl, I could barely see the congee beneath the smorgasbord of tasty toppings.
Basilico also hosts various themed dinners throughout the week such as their daily Formaggissimo Nights cheese dinner buffet, Truffle Fridays and Seafood Saturdays weekend buffet dinners as well as their Sunday Brunch which comprises a fresh seafood bar with a legendary Amalfi Lemon-poached Alaskan King Crab which might alone be worth the price of admission; a variety of cheeses from their famed Cheese Room with 40 different artisanal cheeses, including in-house infused specials such as Dark Chocolate and Chilli Gorgonzola as well as Barolo Wine-infused Pecorino; a carving station serving cuts such as Roasted Wagyu Beef Rump; grilled dishes such as Pan-Seared Foie Gras, Lamb Chop and Scallop Gratin; pasta options such as Egg Tagliolini Pasta with Burrata, Black Truffle, Occelli Butter and Sage Sauce and Seafood Squid Ink Linguine as well as a variety of meats, vegetables and sweets (including a gelato and sorbet bar).
Located on the ground level, the colonial garden-styled Tea Lounge serves afternoon tea on weekdays as well as supersized sessions upgraded with a full buffet with more premium offerings during the weekends. The English Garden afternoon tea buffet that I tried during my weekend stay was a startling revelation in just how beyond the usual tiered sweets and savouries template the experience transcended. Certainly, the afternoon tea sweet treats – from the fruit-tastic Eton Mess, Fragrant Yuzu Posset and Victoria Sponge Cake to indulgent Triple Chocolate Fudge and Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake for chocolate lovers – did their job and then some, with my favourites being the Rose Apple Profiterole with a tinglingly sweet secret in its core and the Banoffee which wore its ripe, rich banana-ness with swag. On the savoury bites front, the selection included finger sandwiches (think Black Peppercorn Yellow-Fin Tuna Confit and Saffron Cream with Capers in Puff Pastry and Goat’s Cheese and Vegetable Sandwich) and seasonal quiches along with indulgences such as Caviar and assorted Sushi and Maki Rolls with premium toppings such as scallop and eel. The premium Gryphon tea blends available – we had the Osmanthus Oolong and Lychee Rose – were excellent, gloriously floral wonders.
To my surprise, the buffet exceeded the usual afternoon tea expectations by providing so much more – a selection of salads with premium meats and seafood such as Cooked Ham with Cloves, Tiger Prawn and Smoked Turkey Breast; carving station choices such as Classic Roasted Wagyu Beef Rump with Truffle, Yorkshire Pudding and Forest Mushroom Jus and Salmon Confit with Sesame Dressing and Crispy Shallots; and a surprisingly extensive and satisfying selection of local and regional sweet and savoury dishes ranging from Chicken Satay, Kueh Pie Tee (Peranakan pastry tart with condiments and toppings), Fried Carrot Cake (fried steamed radish chunks with egg really, and not to be confused with the actual Carrot Cake in the sweets section), Laksa, Ondeh Ondeh (shredded coconut-coated glutinous rice balls filled with gula melaka), Kueh Lapis (multi-layered Indonesian cake), Ang Ku Kueh (soft sticky glutinous rice cake), Braised Pork Belly as well as Steamed Free Range Chinese Herbal Chicken, the latter being the source of a siren-enticing herbal aroma which likely sent hungry stomachs into a frenzy across the entirety of the ground floor. My favourite from the section was the bisque-thick King Prawn Congee, which comforted and calmed with rich oceanic vigour.
After afternoon tea service, the Tea Lounge transforms into Park90, a wine bar by night which offers up to 1000 labels of wine paired with sharing plates from both Basilico and Summer Palace.
Manhattan Bar is one of the country’s most popular drinking destinations, having topped the Asia’s 50 Best Bars list and graced the upper echelons of the World’s 50 Best Bars list for many years. Paying tribute to one of the world’s greatest cities, the sexy and sophisticated space – headed by newly-appointed bar manager David Nguyen-Luu who takes over from where Philip Bischoff left off – plays it all old New York glamour with leather Chesterfield sofas, velvet armchairs, black marble and mahogany textures as well as gel-slick, impeccably coiffed hair and pearl necklaces against bartender vests and black cocktail dresses respectively.
The cocktail menu is divided into various eras, each celebrating classic libations from the respective times. The Prohibition era-inspired Queen’s Coffee (Old Duff Genever, Mr. Black Coffee Liqueur, Cognac, Pandan Condensed Milk, Angostura Bitters, Egg White) was a robust perk-me-up, while the Industrial Revolution-inspired Coal (Bowmore 12 Years whisky, Mozart dark chocolate liqueur and dry curaçao) tasted like a naughtily pleasurable valentine to McDonald’s hot fudge sundae. My favourite was the Millennium menu’s No Vacancy (Never Never Triple Juniper Gin, Mancino Secco Vermouth, Mathilde Peach Liqueur, Orange Bitters), a spirit-forward take on the martini which is served with not one but three garnishes, each of which dramatically coaxes out a different flavour experience.
Situated on the 3rd floor, Michelin–starred Chinese concept Summer Palace serves exquisite Cantonese cuisine and dim sum delicacies in an Oriental-inspired setting which overlooks the swimming pool. House specialties include Crispy Suckling Pig stuffed with Minced Shrimps and Almond Flakes, Oven-baked Cod Fish with Caviar and Egg White and Wok-fried Crocodile Meat and Asparagus with Spicy Sauce.
Ground level gourmet pasticceria Dolcetto by Basilico serves Italian pastries, cakes, gelati and paninis which can be paired with either coffee or tea (or, alternatively, an Italian craft beer or Aperol Spritz if you’re in that kind of mood). Takeaway arrangements or leisurely dining-in are both possible, with both indoor and outdoor seats available.
Rounding up the dining concepts are tenants Tenshin and Seoul, which specialise in Japanese tempura and Korean BBQ respectively.
Located on the 11th floor, the Regent Club offers daily buffet breakfast, afternoon tea as well as cocktails with hors d’oeuvres in the evening. The cosy space plays it classic elegance with colonial-style plantation doors, a box shelf display showcasing various objets d’art and one table with its own chess set comprising exquisite clear chess pieces.
The breakfast and afternoon tea food presentations were decidedly modest, with the former comprising selections such as pastries, dim sum, Western breakfast sides such as Beef Sausage and Crispy Bacon as well as fresh egg dishes from a dedicated egg station, and the latter offering bite-sized sweet and savoury treats such as Swiss Roll, Scottish Smoked Salmon and Dill Sour Cream on Squid Ink Macaron and Goat Cheese Tart paired with coffee and tea. However, the evening cocktails and canapes food presentation was much more impressive. Small bites included Curry Puff, Mushroom Quiche and slices of Margherita and Pepperoni Pizza, while the hot food station served dishes such as Soup Ayam Kunyit (tumeric chicken soup), Cream of Asparagus, Braised Chicken and Beef Stew. (The hot food selection had some switch-ups in the final hour, which made things quite exciting since you never know what might be served next.) The selection of sweets included Lemon Verbena Panna Cotta, Raspberry Tart, Blueberry Shortcake and Pecan Tart. The quality of the food offerings was above average, and I noted that several dishes also make appearances elsewhere at other restaurants in the hotel.
In terms of alcohol, the lounge serves the usual hotel lounge spirits – think Johnnie Walker Black Label, Jim Beam Bourbon and Bombay Sapphire gin – and a range of red and white wines, with the bubbly of choice being Astoria Lounge prosecco. However, something very special about the Regent Club is that the lounge serves a daily Manhattan-curated cocktail which rotates regularly and usually involves more premium spirits. The cocktail served during my visit was a Brass Lion Negroni, which uses local Brass Lion gin, Campari and Mancino Vermouth. The club staff were also able to accommodate bespoke requests for cocktails using Brass Lion gin such as a Brass Lion G&T, which was much appreciated.
While those seeking modern luxury experiences will likely better enjoy newer hotels such as Sofitel Singapore City Centre and Andaz Singapore, Regent Singapore does offer a markedly different classic grand hotel experience and a confident and exciting dining programme, such qualities placing the property in good company alongside esteemed contemporaries such as Mandarin Oriental Singapore and Ritz-Carlton Millenia Singapore.
1 Cuscaden Road