In February 2020, I checked into the Caroline Astor Suite at The St. Regis Singapore, situated within the upscale Tanglin residential neighbourhood near the prime Orchard shopping district. The 299-room property is about 40 minutes from the airport and a short walk away from UNESCO World Heritage Site Singapore Botanic Gardens as well as major shopping destinations like ION Orchard, Isetan and Takashimaya. The property is one of the country’s most opulent addresses, and has in recent times hosted esteemed guests ranging from Prince Harry to Kim Jong Un.
Other notable hotels within the same vicinity include Hilton Singapore, Regent Singapore, Four Seasons Hotel Singapore and Shangri-La Hotel Singapore. This would be my first return to the property since my last visit back in October 2018.
The UTW (“Under Ten Words”): Grand, opulent luxury with fantastic spa in Tanglin.
The must-dos (if any): Take a long shower in your room and use the jet massage facilities, relax in the Wet Lounge and enjoy a spa treatment at Remède Spa, have a drink at Astor Bar, indulge in the champagne Sunday dim sum brunch at Yan Ting.
THE ST. REGIS SINGAPORE
Before you enter the property, the hotel already prepares you for the opulence that follows with various visually arresting artworks on display outside the premises, from the bold red Chinese ribbon dance-inspired art installation Sense Around along the outer perimeters of the driveway to the Riding Bodhisattva sculpture by Taiwanese sculptor Li Chen depicting a Buddha on a dragon which stands proudly in front of the hotel’s metal and glass-clad exterior. Past the luxury cars parked in the driveway and the grand chandelier in the foyer, upon arrival at the gold and yellow-accented double-storey lobby, you are greeted by a strong sense of old-world opulence and even more art pieces scattered throughout the first level, which include the grand Chinese art mural Gathering of the Immortals behind the reception counter and paintings by local artist Chen Ke Zhen. Further artworks from the likes of Picasso (?!) and Fernando Botero can be found throughout the premises. There are even 30-minute art tours conducted for guests daily, so you know the hotel is serious and fiercely proud of its collection of over 100 original artworks.
The hotel boasts various dining concepts: poolside Italian concept LaBrezza on the 2nd floor; Michelin-starred Cantonese restaurant Yan Ting on the mezzanine floor; and French restaurant Brasserie Les Saveurs, sophisticated live music lounge Astor Bar, lobby lounge The Drawing Room along with the highly revered Michelin-starred Japanese restaurant Shinji by Kanesaka on the ground floor.
In terms of wellness, the hotel’s Remède Spa has five treatment rooms and the Pedi:Mani:Cure Studio by Bastien Gonzalez. I had the Signature Black Soap and Rassoul Hammam Ritual during my last stay, and it was one of the best spa treatments I have ever had. All hotel guests can access the various facilities within the spa’s Wet Lounge such as the Finnish sauna, ice fountain, steam chambers – where notably eucalyptus is regularly spritzed onto the walls such that you feel your almost-naked body is luxuriating within a life-sized diffuser – as well as the outdoor Spa Garden with a piping hot jacuzzi for moments when you want to experience being (mightily relaxed) human stew.
A fitness centre, tennis court and tropical spa pool round up the list of hotel facilities.
CAROLINE ASTOR SUITE
Overlooking the leafy and affluent Tanglin neighbourhood through floor-to-ceiling windows, the 80sqm Caroline Astor Suite plays it all classic regal with soaring ceilings, chandeliers and fuchsia glass bubble table lamps, with shades of stately gold and deep red (the red couch and draperies are ripe with Dynasty-esque drama) leading the colour narrative. The leather-bound bedhead and Chinoiserie silk-panelled wall behind the king-size bed in the bedroom have graced many a simulated morning newspaper-reading social media visual. The living room features a leather-bound writing desk, sofa seating, a 42-inch LCD TV as well as corner windows which offer a panoramic view of the neighbourhood and a stunning sunset view. A smart teardrop remote controls both the light switches as well as the automatic blinds in the living room, with a Bose Lifestyle sound-system amping up the bass.
The pantry in the foyer is equipped with Nespresso and TWG tea-making facilities and a minibar stocked with Fossa chocolate and various The St. Regis Singapore-branded snacks as well as Ruinart champagne, French wines, beers, juices and carbonated beverages.
The French marble bathroom comes with self-defogging double vanities and an attached hairdryer, an enclosed rainfall shower – with powerful vertical massage jets which can give obscure, hard-to-reach spots on your back a good blasting – as well as a freestanding bathtub with a window view into the bedroom and its own television screen installed as part of the mirror panel on the wall behind the taps. The bathroom connects to both the adjacent walk-in wardrobe and dressing space next to the bedroom as well as a separate toilet chamber (which in turn connects to the foyer, completing a full loop). Cool, minty bathroom amenities are from the hotel’s own Remède Spa.
The hotel provides a bespoke butler service, with a personal butler assigned to each room who can assist with luggage packing, garment pressing, beverage service (a pot of hot chocolate is a signature St. Regis experience) and more.
My stay was booked under the “Distinctive Luxury” rate, which came with SGD$100 spa and dining credit (excluding use at Yan Ting and Shinji by Kanesaka). I had intended to visit LaBrezza for dinner, but they only offered a Barbecue Night buffet menu that evening, so I spent my credit on in-room dining and ordered a Hainanese Chicken Rice and Penang Char Kway Teow.
Breakfast is served at Brasserie Les Saveurs, the hotel’s all-day dining French concept located on the ground level. The elegantly-appointed restaurant is blessed with a soaring ceiling and floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the tropical gardens outside which welcome gorgeous streams of natural lighting into the space. Since my last visit, the buffet spread has been reduced to a modest selection of salads, fresh pastries, cheeses, fruits and juices, with the bulk of the dining experience now delivered by way of an a la carte selection (which inevitably translates to a longer waiting time before your order arrives).
The a la carte menu features breakfast specialties such as Eggs Benedict (with your choice of parma ham or smoked salmon) and Brioche French Toast (cinnamon sugar, roasted banana compote) as well as local breakfast dishes such as Chicken Noodle Soup (yellow noodles with sliced chicken, fish balls and chicken balls), Assorted Steamed Dim Sum Basket (mine comprised glutinous chicken rice, prawn dumpling, siew mai and a red bean bun) and the curiously-monikered Char Kway Teow (fried noodles, pork, braised mushrooms, oyster sauce) which played it more Ipoh hor fun in its gravy-laden proceedings than the smoky dish its name suggests. The sole essential order would be their Epicurean Omelette (poached Boston lobster, tiger prawn, cognac-scented lobster bisque, Avruga pearls), which delivers a scrumptiously decadent and Crazy Rich Asians-level treat. (On a side note, the tasty Chicken Wings from the deleted Nasi Lemak buffet station are much missed.)
Beyond breakfast hours, Brasserie Les Saveurs is the venue for afternoon tea buffets and champagne brunch on Sundays. Its a la carte menu was recently refreshed after the appointment of new executive chef, Thibault Chiumenti, and showcases French and European classics such as Salad de Crabe (crab meat, celeriac remoulade, dill, yoghurt dressing, paprika mayonnaise), Coq au Vin en Cocotte (French chicken ragoût, red wine sauce, baby onions, carrot, mushrooms, roasted baby potatoes), Steak Frites (grilled Wagyu ribeye, homemade French fries, béarnaise sauce) and Tatin de Pommes (apple tarte tartin, honey fig ice cream).
Located on the mezzanine level, Michelin-starred modern Cantonese fine dining restaurant Yan Ting offers a range of dim sum, meat signatures and innovative seafood specialities in a setting which incorporates both traditional and contemporary Chinese flourishes. I went for their Sunday Champagne Dim Sum Brunch during my last stay, and the experience – exquisite dim sum fare paired with Ruinart champagne – was nothing short of spectacular.
On the tipples side of things, the elegant Astor Bar on the ground level plays it all American swanky sophistication with rich timbers, plush red and brown leather as well as twinkling live music which provide the soundtrack for both blazered summit discussions and romantic skirmishes alike. While the bar has a substantial whisky selection, the St. Regis brand’s signature cocktail is the Bloody Mary cocktail, and the hotel’s exclusive offering is the Chilli Padi Mary (vodka, chilli padi, Chinese old ginger and lemongrass with fresh organic cherry tomato juice). During my visit, I had the French Fashioned (Remy Martin VSOP, Southern Comfort, St-Germain Elder Flower, Lillet & Bitters) and the Aged Rusty Nail (Auchentoshan Three Wood, drambuie) from the aged cocktail selection. Both were served with solid St. Regis logo-branded ice cubes and suitably potent – two sips of either would already kickstart the feel-good tummy warming process.
Throughout my various visits to Astor Bar over the years, I would always unwittingly observe tables away, without fail, certain naughtiness and frolic between esteemed older gentlemen and their nubile, long-tressed companions. People-watching has never been so simultaneously high-society and raunchy.
Lobby lounge concept The Drawing Room serves light bites and beverages in an intimate setting. It is also the venue which showcases special afternoon tea experiences such as recent menus specially created in partnership with footwear designer Manolo Blahnik and perfume house Dior Parfums, while the adjacent La Pâtisserie offers pastries, cakes, chocolates, savouries for dining-in as well as hampers and takeaway treats. Elsewhere, poolside Italian concept LaBrezza on the 2nd level offers various seafood and pasta specialties, while famed Michelin-starred Japanese restaurant Shinji by Kanesaka on the ground level offers both course meal and omakase experiences.
While my former stay frustrated me to a large extent, I did not experience the same issues as I did this time round, with the hospitable Guest Experience Manager taking special care to ensure my check-in process was pleasant and seamless. Save for the rooms being rather due for an uplift, in particular the technological aspects such as Bluetooth connectivity and charging capabilities which are fairly out-of-date in comparison to most other hotels of comparable status, the suite was spacious and comfortable, and there is a lot to recommend about the property, from the guest rooms’ bathroom jet massage capabilities and the Wet Lounge’s facilities to Yan Ting’s Sunday Champagne Dim Sum Brunch and the brilliant Remède Spa treatments.
With the various dining concepts undergoing menu updates and revamps, there are plenty of reasons which justify another return later in the year.
The St. Regis Singapore
29 Tanglin Road