Hello everyone – welcome back to another of my reviews. In today’s article, I’ll be reviewing my stay at Amara Singapore.
Amara is a well-regarded hospitality group that’s perhaps best known locally for its Amara Sanctuary Resort Sentosa property – definitely one on my bucket list to try out. When I saw its sister Amara Singapore property available for booking late last year, I decided to take the plunge to explore the Amara brand and see how its hotels fare. Let’s see how my stay went.
Amara Singapore – Video Review
For those who are interested in viewing some hands-on footage of the stay, do check out my Youtube review of Amara Singapore below:
Amara Singapore – the Brand
As its name suggests, Amara Singapore is under the Amara hospitality group, which also operates properties in Shanghai and Bangkok. A 4-star hotel in the heart of Tanjong Pagar, Amara Singapore first opened its doors in 1986, before undergoing renovations a decade ago in 2011.
Comprising 384 rooms, Amara Singapore can be said to be a full-fledged hotel that includes multiple dining options (including Jigger & Pony, widely considered one of the best bars in Singapore), a gym, a swimming pool, and even a spa.
I was searching for a decent hotel for a birthday celebration during the December holiday period, and prices were sky-high. I happened to chance upon Amara Singapore going for under $200 – apparently, the hotel has just reopened from being an SHN facility – and decided to book the Executive Room (a tier higher than the lead-in Deluxe Room), thinking it was a good deal. Spoiler alert: I was terribly wrong.
Amara Singapore – Check-in
Amara Singapore is situated in the heart of Tanjong Pagar, and shares its premises with 100AM mall.
There’s a large drop-off point outside the hotel, with the entrances being “guarded” by a pair of stone lions. A few Christmas decor were also hung for some festive cheer.
However, the festive cheer quickly disappeared when I saw the snaking queues of guests waiting to be checked in. I had anticipated a bit of a wait due to it being the year-end season (everybody seems to be clearing leave/SRV vouchers), but still, it took me more than 2 hours of waiting in line before I reached the front counter – by far the longest I had to wait.
To my utter dismay, I was told by the receptionist that my allocated room (even after waiting in line for more than 2 hours) was still not ready. The receptionist blamed it on the guests the previous day checking out late, and told me that she would call my mobile number when the room was ready. She assured me that I would get a late check-out (3pm) the next day as compensation, and directed me to enjoy complimentary drinks at the hotel cafe while waiting for the room to be ready.
Unfortunately, the complimentary drinks turned out to be instant coffee/Lipton tea and artificial tasting juices. I patiently waited till 6pm, at which point I decided to check in with the receptionist in question, who I found was being accosted by several other guests. She managed to escape other fuming guests (including an irate lady whom I saw storm out of the hotel, with a Happy Anniversary balloon in tow) to briefly inform me that my room still wasn’t ready, and once again said (rather unconvincingly) that she would call me when it was. When pressed on an estimated time, she simply said “I’m sorry, I’m not housekeeping, and I can’t contact housekeeping because they are all busy cleaning the rooms” before returning to pacifying the other guests.
Having already waited for 4 hours at this point, I had worked up an appetite, and decided to head out for an early dinner instead. After watching day turn to dusk, and with a belly full of ramen, I returned to the hotel at 8.30pm, where there were still lines of disgruntled guests waiting to check in. After losing all of my patience, I went straight to the nearest available receptionist, who once again informed me that my room wasn’t ready. At that point, I issued them an ultimatum – either assign me a room immediately or give me a full refund. The receptionist went to look for her manager, who magically had a room for me ready in the next 5 minutes, and offered me complimentary breakfast to apologise for the wait. However, I was told that the swimming pool – one of the highlights of the hotel – was already closed, and that slots for the next day were all fully booked. That was a big bummer, but at that point I was just happy to finally have a room to rest in.
Amara Singapore – Executive Room
So after a 7 hour wait, I finally managed to check into the Executive Room.
Unfortunately, first impressions weren’t great. The dull carpeted floor and light brown wooden furnishing resulted in a room that felt lifted straight from the previous century. The room was dark and dim too, though its saving grace was its relatively spacious size at 32 sqm.
A set of bath robes, in-room slippers, safe, bag rest, as well as an iron and ironing board can be found in the creaky cupboard.
The main bedroom was simply furnished, and once again felt like it was in need of a makeover. It reminded me of Village Hotel Bugis, just even less contemporary.
The Executive King room comes with either a twin bed or a double bed – I was assigned the twin bed configuration. I’m saddened to report that the beds were hard as rocks, while the duvet was paper thin. It was genuinely one of the worst beds I’ve slept in, and I’m shocked that a hotel can call itself 4 stars with such terrible beds. I woke up the next day with a terrible back ache, and regretted not asking for a refund the previous day.
The pillows weren’t any better – they were far too limp, and failed to provide any neck support. Once again, these are by far the worst pillows that I’ve experienced in a hotel. When I asked for more pillows, I was curtly told that there were none available as the hotel was running on full capacity.
If you prefer to sit, there’s an old armchair provided, though its hard wood backing was as hard as the beds.
The TV remote, a channel list, a notepad and pen (thoughtfully wrapped in plastic) and an analog phone were situated on the bedside table. As seen from the picture above, the table has clearly seen better days, with significant cosmetic defects. On this note, the phone was as good as useless – repeated calls to concierge, housekeeping, and reception all went unanswered when I tried to request for extra pillows. I eventually decided to head down to reception myself, and found the receptionists still battling angry guests who were waiting to check in (this was probably around 9.30pm). Needless to say, my requests were not fulfilled.
The room is fitted with a 32 inch Sharp Aquos TV that is way too small for any entertainment purposes – you can barely glimpse anything if you’re lying in bed.
Furthermore, the picture quality was absolutely horrendous – even Mediacorp channels were heavily pixellated, with cable channels suffering further. The audio quality was muffled as well. If you’re looking to Netflix and chill, you will be sorely disappointed.
On the bright side, there’s a sizeable mini-fridge, and I was able to fit a bottle of wine with plenty of space to spare.
However, refreshments were bare bones, with simple Dilmah tea and Nescafe instant coffee sachets provided. That was a big disappointment, as Amara Singapore is known for its Tea Room, where walls of TWG tea cannister serve as decor. I expected TWG tea, but got Dilmah instead – on hindsight, that epitomises my staycation experience at Amara Singapore…
The workstation was also a simple affair, with a generic office chair, wooden desk, table lamp and phone provided. Nothing spectacular – the chair is certainly no Herman Miller – but nothing much to complain about either.
A single power port as well as an internet port can be found beside the workstation. I would have preferred more power ports, but something was better than nothing I suppose.
Interestingly, an ethernet cable was provided for “high speed internet access”.
Being situated in the heart of CBD, the view from my room was of the adjacent condominium, where I glimpsed residents engaging in a morning tennis session the following day.
Thankfully, the bathroom was also pretty spacious. With white walls and marbled floors, the bathroom looks much more modern than the bedroom.
The sink featured a nice marble top, and a variety of toiletries – shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, cotton buds, shower caps, as well as dental kits – were provided.
The toilet features a modern concealed cistern design, though a bidet was lacking.
Fans of bathtubs will be pleased to know that all Executive rooms at Amara Singapore have one. However, the bathtub was rather narrow and can only realistically fit one. Unfortunately, there wasn’t hot water on that day – reception said it was some engineering problem – so I didn’t get to use the bathtub.
There’s also a separate standing shower cubicle, which was a feature that I definitely appreciated. The shower cubicle was big enough for two, and has a rain shower. However, no handheld showerhead was present. As there wasn’t hot water present, the rain shower experience felt more like a Tekong shower – utterly unpleasant.
Amara Singapore – Wear and Tear
I wish I could say that the 7 hour wait was worth it. Unfortunately, the room severely underwhelmed, with many cleanliness lapses and wear and tear.
Firstly, I found black stains on my bedsheets – it looked like someone has stepped over them. However, calls to housekeeping to request for a bedsheet change went unanswered, so I eventually gave up and accepted my fate.
The bathroom wasn’t much better either, with multiple strands of hair on the floor, as well as conspicuous rust marks on the bathtub.
The bathtub was also in poor condition, with numerous stains and cracks. It’s one of the worst maintained bathtubs that I’ve come across.
Some of the electricals have also seen better days – I found a power port that was protruding dangerously. It looked like a danger hazard, and I would advise Amara Singapore to rectify such safety lapses immediately.
Amara Singapore – Amenties
I didn’t get to experience any of the hotel amenities, but decided to check them out to snap some photos anyway.
The hotel gym looks fairly spacious and decently equipped, but it is currently closed for maintenance.
As mentioned earlier, I didn’t manage to get a slot for the swimming pool. However, it does look rather picturesque, with a distinct resort vibe that reminded me of the Mayfair pool of Goodwood Park Hotel. That said, it is on the smaller side, and looked cramped even with the 8 pax restrictions – those looking to do serious laps will not find this ideal.
Conclusion – so Amara Singapore “shiok” or not?
My stay at Amara Singapore was severely disappointing, and I have to say that it was my worst staycation experience thus far. Having to wait a whopping 7 hours to check in is ridiculous – honestly, the hotel should offer all the affected guests a complimentary stay as service recovery. I had a friend who was also checking in on the same day, and he relayed that he only managed to be assigned a room at 11pm. I’ve never waited from day to night to check in before, and I hope I never have to again. In addition, the room itself was nothing noteworthy, and actually underwhelmed. Decor was outdated, wear and tear were clearly visible, bed and pillows were of terrible quality – and it should be noted that I booked the upgraded Executive room, not the entry level Deluxe one. Furthermore, the lack of hot water was immensely frustrating, as was the complete lack of communication and transparency from the Amara staff. During my 7 hour wait, at no point was I updated on the status of my room – it’s as if they expected guests to simply wait idly like sheep. Repeated calls to reception/conceige/housekeeping for simple requests were futile, with my calls either hung up on or sent straight to voicemail. Add to the fact that I was unable to access any of the hotel’s facilities (pool, gym, etc), and I have to say that paying almost $200 for Amara Singapore felt like a scam. Honestly, even Hotel Royal was better than this. Previously, I was very excited to try out their sister property at Sentosa – after this shitshow (pardon my French), I’m having serious second thoughts about that.
Those interested in booking a stay can do so on the Traveloka app. Traveloka constantly has some sort of ongoing promotions, with prices so ridiculously low that I’ve personally booked about 90% of my staycations on Traveloka. Just for my readers, you guys can use the promo code “WAHTVLKSRV” (if you’re using SRV) and “WAHTVLK” (non-SRV) for 10% off any hotels bookings (up to $30 off, with a minimum spending of $100) for new users and $5 off any hotels bookings (with a minimum spending of $50) for existing users. The codes are valid till the end of 2022. Here’s a pro tip: keep a lookout for Traveloka’s Weekend Flash Sales which occurs every Friday to Sunday for the lowest prices! However, this post is not sponsored – I paid my own dime to book and review my staycations.
Amara Singapore Location: 165 Tanjong Pagar Rd, Singapore 088539
P.S Do check out the new “Discounts!” page for exclusive discounts for Wah so Shiok readers! More brands will be added very soon – stay tuned!
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P.S.S.S Shiok is a common word Singaporeans use to express admiration or approval. As of 2016, you can find the definition of the word in the Oxford English Dictionary.