In March 2022, I checked into the Family Suite at voco Orchard Singapore. The rebranding of the iconic Orchard Road property – formerly the Hilton Singapore – marks the introduction of IHG’s playful lifestyle brand, voco, in Southeast Asia. Located in the heart of Orchard Road, Singapore’s famous retail and entertainment strip, the 423-room hotel is a 5-minute walk from Orchard MRT Station and a stroll away from major shopping destinations such as ION Orchard, Isetan and Ngee Ann City. Changi Airport is about 40 minutes away and the Central Business District 4 MRT stations away, while it takes less than 20 minutes to reach Marina Bay Sands.
The hotel is one of the notable luxury properties situated along the Orchard Road stretch, joining others such as Four Seasons Hotel Singapore, Regent Singapore, Grand Hyatt Singapore, Shangri-La Hotel Singapore, The St. Regis Singapore and Singapore Marriott Tang Plaza Hotel. In an interesting twist, the former Mandarin Orchard along the same street has since been rebranded as Hilton Singapore Orchard.
The UTW (“Under Ten Words”): Playful chic lifestyle hotel along Orchard Road.
Must Dos: Go for evening cocktails and canapes at the Club Lounge, take a long steamy bath in the Family Suite, enjoy a premium steak dinner at Opus Bar & Grill.
VOCO ORCHARD SINGAPORE
Opened in 1970 and the first major hotel to be built along the Orchard stretch, the building certainly looks its age from the outside. (A sign of its vintage is the fact that the hotel has two floors of luxury boutiques within its premises, a concept that has fallen out of vogue in recent decades.) Its iconic exterior is somewhat of an institution along the Orchard stretch and recognisable by most generations – two sculptures of Tang dynasty generals, Wei Chi Jing De & Qin Shu Bao by Aw Eng Kwang, seemingly stand guard in front of the premises, while the facade features the artwork Eulogy to Singapore by Gerard D’Alton Henderson comprising 15 unique panels occupying 5,000 square feet of space above the entrance.
Fortunately, during its time as Hilton Singapore, many of its guest rooms underwent various refurbishments in different tranches over the past few years, with the suites having completed their round of renovations in 2019. While no major renovations were done as part of the voco rebrand, there were various design changes effected throughout the premises which shift the property’s design narrative from business hotel functionality to playful lifestyle chic. Aside from the finch, owl and flamingo brand motifs which make appearances during your stay, various bird imagery adorn the dining and social spaces of the property, lending a certain playful personality to the proceedings. Classy plush cushions have been introduced across the property’s sofa seats for a more residential and stylish feel.
The hotel boasts four F&B concepts: steak and seafood restaurant Opus Bar & Grill; patisserie concept D9 Cakery; top-floor Italian restaurant il Cielo; and Michelin-starred European restaurant Iggy’s. In terms of wellness, the rooftop swimming pool plays it all Jumeirah-esque in its desert stylings and the fitness centre is possibly the most spacious and well-equipped gym along Orchard Road.
A little-known fact: the hotel is connected to Four Seasons Hotel Singapore via a sheltered link, as both properties are owned by the same owner.
Extending across the entire width of the building and thus boasting views of both the bustling Orchard Road shopping stretch as well as the verdant and quiet residential neighbourhood behind, the recently-renovated 69sqm Family Suite comprises a foyer with attached powder room, a spacious living room as well as a bedroom with attached bathroom. The bedroom features a king-sized bed, a wardrobe and a chest of drawers, while the living room is furnished with various sofa seats, a work desk with a Herman Miller ergonomic chair, a coffee table as well as a dining table near the pantry. Nespresso coffee and TWG tea-making facilities are available.
While the suite largely retains the design DNA of the property (the old-fashioned glass tabletop work desk with the charmingly retro office telephone as well as the heritage-style toilet have been passed down to the next generation), the fresh carpeting and residential stylings of the living room lend a much more contemporary feel to the space, and the suite is now competitive with other vintage hotels whose rooms have also undergone significant refurbishments (e.g. Swissotel The Stamford, Singapore Marriott Tang Plaza Hotel). Guests would be pleased to know the guest room comforters and sheets have been changed since the hotel’s Hilton Singapore days, and the plush bedding (now made from 100% recycled materials) now lend to a much more restful sleep.
The marble bathroom boasts double sinks with a lighted vanity mirror, a built-in bathtub as well as an enclosed rainfall shower stall. The suite’s strongest and most distinctive asset is its steam room facilities, which can be enjoyed to maximum effect if guests bring along the right essential oils for a rejuvenating, steamy good time. The perfumed bathroom amenities are courtesy of plant-based organic skincare brand Apotheke, and they exude the same luxury boutique sophistication as its Hermes and Bottega Veneta counterparts offered at other local hotels.
Located on the 22nd level, the spacious Club Lounge currently offers evening cocktails and canapes, delivered to your table while we await the return of self-serve buffets. The natural light-blessed, window-side leather sofa area is bright and happy, while the communal table in the middle area plays it all Apple Store minimalist marble. Elsewhere, the leftmost end of the club lounge offers a more private dining experience obscured from general view, while residential sofa seating are available for larger dining groups.
Fun fact: voco properties typically do not offer club lounges, so voco Orchard Singapore is an exception to the rule. A benefit of this is that the club lounge is not necessarily bound by existing brand standards and thus has more bandwidth to experiment with their alcohol selection as well as cocktail menu. Since their transition from their Hilton Singapore days, they have already switched their house pour labels, with a new cocktail menu in the pipeline.
Breakfast is served at Opus Bar & Grill, the premium steak and sustainable seafood restaurant located on the ground level. Guests can choose from a selection of breakfast mains – think Breakfast Sandwich Set and Nasi Lemak Set. After breakfast, the restaurant serves an a la carte menu showcasing a selection of premium steaks such as their 1kg Black Angus Porterhouse and 1.2kg Whiskey-Aged Rangers Valley Wagyu Tomahawk (quite the darling on Instagram given its blue flame-scorching presentation) as well as sustainable seafood such as Seared Atlantic Scallops, Locally Farmed Kühlbarra Barramundi and MSC Whole Live Lobster. The bar area near the entrance serves a variety of beers and classic cocktails.
Perched on the highest floor of the hotel and offering spectacular city views, poolside Italian restaurant il Cielo serves contemporary Italian cuisine, with the menu comprising a selection of starters (a highlight is the Fritto Misto, or traditional Amalfi fried seafood of calamari, prawn, soft shell crab and whitebait, which played like tempura crossed with French fries), pizzas (e.g. Proscuitto Parma, Ricotta & Spinaci, Salami, 6 Cheeses), pastas (e.g. Arrabiata, Manzo & Tarfuto), mains (e.g. Pollo al Tartufo, Salmon, Manzo & Cacao) and desserts (e.g. Panna Cotta alle Nocciole, Semifreddo al Pistacchio). My favourites were the luxuriously moist Granchio & Asparagi (Black Ink Angel Hair, Crab Meat Ragout, Green Asparagus, Cherry Tomato) and suitably scrumptious Al Nero (Black Ink Risotto, Australian MSC Octopus, Crispy Pumpkin Croquette, Spicy Harissa).
Despite only minor aesthetic refreshments since the voco rebrand, the hotel does feel much more perky and vibrant in terms of personality, with the guest room experience (most notably the suites) being quite the improvement from former days, and their F&B concepts remain confident as always. With the recent introduction of the IHG One Rewards programme with new status tiers and accompanying perks, there might be more reasons to return.
voco Orchard Singapore
581 Orchard Road