Thanks to the PlatStay voucher from the Amex Platinum charge card, we decided to stay at the St. Regis for the first time in our lives, over the Mothers’ Day weekend this year.
Our first decision – to bring the kids or not. We were offered a paid room upgrade (more on that later!), but that’d mean we would exceed the maximum occupancy. We decided to just bring both boys along, and perhaps we can stay here again (without them in tow) for the subsequent year.
About the hotel
The hotel is located along Tanglin/Orchard Road, nearer the Botanic Gardens side. 20 storeys high, It looks clean-cut and modern on the outside but exudes opulence and charm the moment you step in.
Booking was easy enough – I sent off an email to firstname.lastname@example.org letting them know I’m using the PlatStay voucher, and my desired date. According to others on the Telegram group though, booking can be a hit-or-miss – for some reason, sometimes they don’t reply for days.
Our experience was that they replied within 2 days and offered paid upgrades from $190-$330, depending on our choice of either the St. Regis Suite (which is a junior suite category) or the Caroline Astor Suite. Do note that the price varies according to dates, similar to the rooms. Alas, neither of these could fit all 4 of us so we chose a Lady Astor Double Room instead (top up of $90).
2 days before our stay, we checked the reservation on the Bonvoy app and wow – we were upgraded to a “Penthouse room, high floor, Botanic Gardens view” in advance. For reference, we are Gold members in the Marriott-Bonvoy program. You may notice that this room sleeps only 3. So … more on this later.
The Check-In experience
We drove to the St. Regis, as unlike some other properties, they actually offer complimentary parking even if you are staying using a complimentary night voucher! Parking is below ground and there were plenty of lots.
The check-in desks were at level 1, and we loved that each desk had chairs. Essentially, we remained seated throughout the check-in process. Also, this also meant that their check-in staff were also seated. More properties should do this, at least for the sake of their counter staff!
Hardware: The Room
So back to the situation .. we got upgraded to a room that takes only 3 people! I sat at the reception desk struggling whether to let them know (and possibly get “downgraded” back to the usual room), or just suck it up and see what happens. After much internal struggling, I decided to keep quiet about this and see what happens. We got around that by turning the sofa round so that it is joined to the bed, and B chose to sleep there. (He’s quite tall though, so he didn’t strictly fit in there!)
The room was beautiful. It exuded sheer luxury, with classy ceiling lights that not just complemented, but elevated the overall decor. There was a divan, and another standalone sofa with a tea table. (That tea table is made of marble/granite and moving it was a workout in itself.) The lighting was controlled by panels at either side of the bed. It also controlled 2 sets of electronic blinds – sheer, and blackout. On top those blinds, there were more curtains on the side, mainly for decor. But still, that is a lot of curtains.
On the other end of the room was a large L-shaped work table. It included some very classy writing material and postcards, though they certainly could have done better with the writing tools. Then again, not everyone is particular about writing instruments …
We stayed in Room #1816, which can be combined with the adjacent room. The view wasn’t exactly Botanic Gardens, but at least we were on a high floor! The windows were really large, which added to the airy feel of the room. It faces some apartments (St.Regis Residences I think), which is not much of a view. But hey, this still beats back-alley or rubbish-dump views that some hotels
punish guests with offer.
The bathroom is, simply put, ginormous. You could probably fit a decently-sized bedroom in there, and then some. There are his and hers basins, with a standalone bath tub in the middle. Needless to say, the bath tub promptly overflowed once the boys started playing in it.
For amenities, it came with only 2 sets of toothbrushes – again, someone overlooked the fact that there are 4 of us. This is a tad disappointing, given that even my past Holiday Inn stays were attentive enough to provide the correct number of toothbrushes! It is also a little odd – they actually provided us with 2 adult bath robes and 2 bath robes for children, so something must have been lost in translation somewhere.
The shower comprises of a removable shower head, an overhead shower and 3 massage jets. Water temperature was hot all the way, with good water pressure. Toiletries are an in-house brand, though they left me feeling underwhelmed. The conditioner works great, but all 3 (shampoo, conditioner, body gel) lack any sort of fragrance. Of course, some people prefer this, but I fancy those that leave a lingering scent. (Hello, Molton Brown!)
Sockets, Connectivity & Entertainment
Electric sockets are international/universal, and the bedside sockets also come with 2 USB outlets. The bedside sockets are not obvious though – they’re hidden under the bedside table. The TV comes with a moderate selection of cable TV channels including local channels, international news, sports, children’s channels and some movie channels. There is also a discretely-placed HDMI cable. I loved that the TV had this ambience option of either a crackling fireplace or a beach scene (way cheesier).
The TV sound system is by Bose, and requires a separate remote control to work. There is another speaker at the bedside, but I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how that works. A small laminated how-to would have been useful!
Pantry and Minibar
The minibar comes with a Nespresso Pixie machine, and 4 classic capsules. I very much prefer properties that use classic capsules, as opposed to the pods found in the commercial range. This way, I can simply bring my own or buy more if needed. The machine and kettle are clean, with no char marks or water spots.
I like that they seem to choose a local selection – TWG tea, and snack flavours such as salted egg and Singapore laksa. The mini bar items aren’t free of charge.
The outdoors pool is located on level 2, alongside the gym and spa. Access doesn’t seem to be gated, which is odd given that level 2 is open to the public. The pool is small, but enough to do some short laps should you wish to. There are plenty of sun chairs located in the shallows. Pool towels are provided, and there are also shower facilities – though it makes more sense to just bring down the provided bath robes and go back to the room for a proper shower / bath. There is poolside F&B service via QR code ordering, but we didn’t try that out.
Gym and Spa
We didn’t go into either, but the wet lounge at the spa was highly recommended. It is no longer free, and in-house guests can enjoy the facilities at $30 a person (for 2 hours). No reservations are required for the wet lounge – we were told to just walk in.
The Soft Product
In a place like the St. Regis, they focus on their service as much as (if not more than) their rooms and facilities. I was therefore looking forward to experiencing this for myself.
As my birthday was just a couple of days around the stay, the Missus informed the hotel via the app beforehand. During check-in, the desk staff actually wished me a happy birthday, which is nice. In the room, we found 2 plates of cake pops waiting for us. Apparently, B found out that even the pots were edible!
The St. Regis Butler
One of the brand’s signature services is the 24-hour Butler service. Apparently, they can help you to unpack your luggage (but why?! I find the thought of someone else handling my underwear mortifying..) and also cater to most of your whims, such as reading you bedtime stories.
I was expecting the Butler to introduce himself; and from what I’ve read, they used to bring guests on a tour of the room the moment they check in. However, we did not experience any of this. Also, they have gone from 24-hour requests of hot drinks to just a limited time slot from 6-11am. We were offered a drink (coffee or tea) upon check-in, which was brought to our room by the Butler. Unfortunately, they got our drinks wrong (we were served a flat white rather than cappuccinos) and quite a bit of the coffee split out into the saucer, resulting in soggy biscuits. But hey – it’s a free stay, and we didn’t feel it was good form to inconvenience them over a small detail like this.
They did live up to the hot drinks expectations the next morning though. We asked for hot chocolate, and it came with accompanying chocolate biscuits.
Turn-down service was on point, and in fact a tad early. A staff member came in at 6.30pm just as we were about to head out for dinner. We came back to an impeccable room (the boys whooped loudly, “Ooooh!! New beds!!“), spent plates kept away, and extra bottles of drinking water provided. The sheer curtain shades were also rolled down, and 4 pairs of fluffy bedroom slippers were also laid out on the floor.
F & B: A Very French Affair
I’ve been wanting to try their famous Sunday Champagne Brunch at Brasserie le Saveurs (BLV), so that was a no brainer for us. We still had to sort dinner out first though. BLV is under the Amex Love Dining program, but unfortunately the program isn’t family friendly – for us, we’d have to order 4 different mains in order to qualify, and the discount rate would only be at 25%. We decided to visit SO France at Claymore – just a 5-10 minute walk away.
Breakfast was included, and the kids dine free. Breakfast is served from 6am onwards at BLS. It features a semi-buffet style, where there is a good selection of deli items, rice porridge, bak kut teh and breads. Impressively, they also have a live noodle station. For breakfast! We also got to order, collectively as a table, egg items from the menu. We went for soft boiled eggs (they came in lovely egg cups), avocado toast with poached egg, and egg benedict.
It so happens that the Champagne Brunch was a special Mothers’ Day version, so I’m not sure what the regular is like. Also, due to the special occasion, they requested a pre-payment of $300 prior to confirmation of the booking.
This was a full buffet spread, with seafood on ice (oysters that are freshly-shucked in front of you, prawns, Boston lobster and assorted shellfish), sushi and sashimi, roasts (ribeye, chicken, lamb rack) and pastries. We opted for free-flow of Champagne Barons de Rothchild Brut NV ($198++ pp), while the kids chose from juices. The wait staff were wonderful – attentive yet unobtrusive, and generally kept our flutes topped up during the meal. There was also a 3-man band playing wonderful golden-era classics from the likes of Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong, and they even took requests for more modern songs, albeit with a jazzy twist.
The Astor Bar
The Astor Bar, located on level 1, evokes a sense of old noir films. They advertise a couple of “rituals” – namely the Violet Hour (6pm onwards), and their Bloody Mary rituals. Now, you’d expect these rituals to be elaborate, discombobulating flourishes while making cocktails at your tableside (I did, at least), but no; in this case, they simply mean that these are the encouraged drinks and recommended activities from the hotel.
Between 3pm to 6pm, the Bar is open for afternoon canapes if you’re staying at one of the Suites or if you’re Bonvoy Platinum and above. We called the hotel reception beforehand to ask if children were allowed in the Bar, and were told they had to be 18 and above. So we dumped the boys in the room (with a phone to call, just in case, of course!) and sneaked down to the Astor bar. However, when we arrived, there were actually other kids there, most even younger than the boys.
The bartender lady was nothing short of amazing. She made us feel welcome, like we were actually valued guests (which we were, but you get what I mean). And she mixes up a mean glass of martini – one of the most well-balanced martinis I’ve had.
Service-wise it seems that some corners have been cut probably as a response to COVID restrictions, but I’m hoping they can recover to their previous famed glory. Overall, it’s been a wonderful stay, and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, especially the food. With any luck, we will be back next year and this time we would likely try out the suites.