Hello everyone! In this article, I’ll be chronicling my recent staycation experience at Hilton Singapore.
For those who are unaware, Hilton Singapore will soon be rebranded to voco Orchard Singapore, which is under IHG’s stable of properties. The handover is notable, as Hilton has been managing the property since it opened its doors more than half a century ago in 1969 as one of the first international “big name” hotels. In other words, it’s a historical icon (The Mile Lion described it as a “grand old dame”), one that will soon disappear. As such, I decided to do a stay at Hilton Singapore before it reopens as voco Orchard Singapore in January of next year.
Hilton Singapore – Video Review
For those interested in seeing some hands-on footage of the hotel, do check out my Youtube review of Hilton Singapore below!
Hilton Singapore – the Brand
Boasting a whopping 423 rooms, Hilton Singapore first opened in 1969 but recently received a renovation to some of its rooms (the Premier category) in 2017.
Located in the heart of Orchard Road – right opposite the infamous Orchard Towers, in fact – Hilton Singapore has been a mainstay in the Orchard shopping distinct even before it became a consumerist flytrap. Its “Eulogy to Singapore” mural is instantly recognizable, as is the hotel’s Brutalist architecture.
Interestingly, there’s also a shopping gallery in the hotel, featuring household brands such as Rolex, Cartier and more. Those who fancy their chances of landing a stainless steel model can pop by the Rolex boutique, though the displays were (as expected) rather empty when I visited.
The entry-level Deluxe King Room generally starts at $190-200, making Hilton Singapore one of the more affordable 5-star hotels in Orchard, alongside (ironically) Mandarin Orchard. While I usually book the second-cheapest category, the Premium room (which The Mile Lion stayed at) starts at $240-250, which was unfortunately outside my budget.
Hilton Singapore – Check-in
I booked Hilton Singapore on a weekday, but was greeted by a sizeable queue.
Perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised, as Hilton Singapore does boast 423 rooms after all, unlike a small boutique hotel like Hotel Nuve Urbane that only has 62 rooms. More rooms equate to more guests checking in, simple maths I guess. At any rate, it wasn’t a long wait – I was checked in within 15 minutes of queuing.
The receptionist was polite and agreeable, allowing a slightly later checkout (1pm instead of 12 noon). I was passed a printed letter that stated the opening hours of the hotel’s facilities, as well as multiple QR codes for in-room dining and other needs. She also took pains to emphasize the Hilton CleanStay Program (she underlined it in front of me for good measure), assuring me that the room was thoroughly sanitized and that I should see an unbroken seal on the door of my room.
Hilton Singapore – Deluxe Room
I was assigned a room on the 11th floor.
The corridor, carpeted and decked out in white walls and wooden carpentry, looked straight out of the 1990s. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the hallways haven’t been renovated in the past decade. It gave off a “business” vibe, which makes sense as Hilton Singapore has traditionally been aimed at travelling businessmen.
As anticipated, there was a blue Hilton CleanStay seal stickered on the front of the door, which provides the assurance that no one has entered the room since it was sanitized.
Upon entering the room, the first impression was (like the corridor) that it looked dated. Bathed in the same shades of beige and wood, it’s as if the room came out of a 1990s time capsule. It took me some time to get used to the yellowish tinge of the room. I didn’t use any photo filters – the room genuinely looks like the photo above.
At 32 sqm, Hilton Singapore’s Deluxe King Room is actually pretty spacious, especially considering that it’s an entry-level room. I guess the old-fashioned nature of Hilton Singapore has its pros and cons, with the main benefit being the larger-than-average room size. The King size bed is a standard Hilton mattress. It’s not exceptional, but it’s more than sufficient for a good night’s rest.
The yellowish lighting continues with the bedside lamp. There’s also a bedside power port, though there wasn’t any USB ports or connectivity options available, which underscores the age of the hotel.
I was pleasantly surprised to see 4 bottles of complimentary water given. Most hotels only offer two, with some none at all under the pretext of “saving the earth”.
Stuck conspicuously to the room’s full-length mirror was a sticker detailing the 10 aspects that Hilton’s CleanStay program focuses on. It seems Hilton really wants to make its dedication to cleanliness known to its guests.
There’s an amply sized bag rest, which is topped with marble for a touch of old school luxe.
The vintage vibe extended to the TV, which was a Sharp Aquos (probably made in the early 2000s). Just look at the quality of the Hilton welcome video – I almost expected it to support Teletext!
I often get readers messaging/emailing me about the connectivity capabilities of the hotel television, so I’m pleased to report here that Hilton’s Sharp Aquos actually has an HDMI slot. I rigged up a Nintendo Switch to the television, and was shocked to see that (for some reason) the video quality has improved significantly. I’m not quite sure why that is the case – the video quality was poor when I surfed through the usual cable/Mediacorp channels beforehand, but was crystal clear when I played Mario Kart. Weird.
As the room is rather spacious, there’s room for an armrest and a coffee table – perfect for reading a book by the windows while sipping on a morning cuppa.
As aforementioned, Hilton Singapore has traditionally positioned itself as a business hotel. Therefore, it’s no surprise that there is a sizeable sized glass worktable, which came complete with numerous power ports to charge your devices. There’s also a Herman Miller Setu chair (which retails for US$695), which was very comfortable to do some work in. In fact, the Herman Miller was so impressive that it convinced me to switch from a gaming chair to an ergonomic chair back home. There’s also a table lamp, and a corded analogue phone that definitely came from the last century.
The view was not that great, though that might be because my room was on one of the lower levels. If you’re booking the higher level (and more expensive) Deluxe Plus or Premium rooms, the view should theoretically be better.
In terms of amenities, the Deluxe rooms feature a kettle and interestingly a teapot to make some tea. An actual teapot is an uncommon inclusion, and once again this is an aspect where the hotel’s old-school charm shines through. I also appreciated the lids on the cups, which prevents them from accumulating dust and other unwanted particles. However, there’s no Nespresso machine – those are reserved for the Deluxe Plus rooms and above categories.
Hilton didn’t skimp on the tea, with the sachets being from TWG. Coffee comes in an instant sachet format, courtesy of Nescafe. I loved how Hilton offers separate teacups and coffee mugs, unlike most hotels that simply have generic cups. This perhaps speaks to its heritage as a business hotel as well – it’s probably blasphemy in certain cultures (like in Japan, for example) to drink tea out of a regular coffee cup, or anything that has a handle on it.
There’s also an adequately sized minifridge, though its exterior appears to be marred by some water stains.
In the cupboard, there’s a generous amount of wooden hangers provided, bathrobes, an iron and ironing board, as well as two extra pillows that were encased in mesh protective bags. I loved that extra pillows are included in the room, unlike at other five-pearl establishments where you had to call reception/concierge to request more.
Last but not least, there’s a safe, and two pairs of room slippers that felt premium and comfortable – not those flimsy disposable ones that you often see at 3 or even 4-star hotels.
While the main bedroom was spacious, the bathroom felt squeezy in contrast. However, it is decked out in dark marble flooring and dark wooden hues, lending it a sense of opulence. That being said, the marble floor had a penchant for feeling ice cold, especially when coming out of a hot shower, though I guess that’s what the room slippers are for…
Plenty of toiletries were provided, including dental and grooming kits, shower cap, facial soap, body lotion and mouthwash. All amenities are from the luxury brand Crabtree and Evelyn, and were so pleasant to use that I actually “stole” the body lotion before checking out.
Like the hotel, the toilet of the bathroom is similarly old fashioned. There’s no concealed cistern here, nor a bidet.
Despite being the entry-level category, the Deluxe room still features a bathtub, albeit a cramped one. It felt small even for one – couples looking to soak together will be sorely disappointed. There’s also a standing shower head, though I found that the water pressure was frustratingly weak and the temperature control to be as fickle as the government’s lockdown measures.
Bath amenities are once again by Crabtree & Evelyn, and were gratifying to use.
Overall, the Deluxe room at Hilton Singapore is as cookie-cutter as they come – think a 5-star hotel room, and something like this probably springs into your mind. In terms of room layout and amenities, there was really nothing spectacular that stood out, but also nothing to complain about. However, what impressed me the most was actually the cleanliness of the room. I’ve been to over a dozen hotels by now, and Hilton takes the cake in terms of room cleanliness. Try as I might, I couldn’t find any cleanliness lapses – the bedsheets, tables, chairs, cups and even the bathtub all passed muster, and I couldn’t find as much as a stray hair. That came as a slight surprise, as I’ve read The Mile Lion’s complaints about the abyssal room cleanliness in his Premium room. Hilton must have significantly tightened up its housekeeping protocols since then, because my room was pristine. Even the carpet was devoid of any conspicuous stains, and I was impressed by little details such as the lids on the cups and the protective mesh bags for the extra pillows. Initially, I thought the Hilton CleanStay program was nothing more than COVID marketing – I’m glad I was wrong!
Hilton Singapore – Amenities
One of the key attractions of Hilton Singapore has always been its rooftop pool, where glitzy parties attended by socialites used to be held.
However, the glitz and glamour of old are long gone. Instead, the pool looks decidedly modest and (like the rest of the hotel) dated, akin to the pools one might find in older condominiums. Surrounded by drab grey tiles, the pool isn’t very Instagrammable – definitely a far cry from something like MBS’ Infinity Pool.
However, the actual pool is spacious – those looking to put in serious laps should have no issues doing so. It’s well-maintained too, with crystal clear clean water and immaculate tiles (unlike some newer hotels).
The cleanliness extended to the surrounding lounge area, where everything was spic and span. The chairs and cushions were all clean without any unsightly stains, and there wasn’t even leaves or debris to be seen. I had a chill time lounging in one of the sofa chairs, looking down at the hubbub of Orchard Road below me, and feeling like I’m on top of the world. It would have been perfect if I had a cocktail in my hand, but unfortunately the poolside bar is currently closed due to COVID regulations.
Hilton Singapore also has a gym, but it was closed during my visit due to pandemic measures. From what I could tell peering in, the gym looks to be of a good size and well-equipped. If you’re a gym nut, you can read The Mile Lion’s review where the gym was open during his visit.
Hilton Singapore – Service
The service of Hilton Singapore was pleasant. The receptionist that checked me in was polite and amenable, allowing me to have a slightly later check-out and confirming that a complimentary slice of cake would be sent up to the room as I’ve indicated it to be a birthday celebration beforehand. When I had trouble connecting my Nintendo Switch to the Sharp Aquos TV, the front desk promptly sent up a technician to assist me. That being said, the service wasn’t overly remarkable, or personalisable – definitely more task orientated than people orientated. But like I mentioned, Hilton has always catered more towards business travellers, so perhaps that’s to be expected. I would say that Hilton’s service is slightly better than its neighbour Orchard Hotel, but nowhere as impressionable as some other 5-pearl establishments like One Farrer Hotel.
Conclusion – so Hilton Singapore “shiok” or not?
All in all, I enjoy my stay at the Hilton. The room was spacious, the service was swift and attentive, and most importantly of all, the hotel was as clean as a whistle. I had one of the most comfortable nights sleeping in the Deluxe Room, and woke up well-rested. Despite the age of the hotel, there was very little wear-and-tear, both in my room and in the common areas (swimming pool, lobby, etc). Everything was well-maintained, and I was impressed by the standards on show. Sure, the appearance of the hotel looks dated and is definitely in need of a cosmetic refresh, but what Hilton Singapore lacks in style it makes up for with substance. It may not be the most Instagrammable hotel, but it ticks all the necessary boxes of what a 5-star establishment should be. I’m now very curious on two fronts – if the new Hilton Singapore Orchard (currently Mandarin Orchard) will retain any aspects of the current Hilton Singapore, and how voco Orchard (which will be taking over the current Hilton Singapore premises) will facelift its aesthetic. I guess only time will tell, but I’ll definitely be booking stays at both hotels when they open next year.
Those interested in booking a stay at Hilton Singapore 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 or attractions purchase with a minimum spending of $100. My promo codes are stackable with any of Traveloka’s app or bank coupon codes, so be sure to stack them all for the best deal. 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 the hotel.
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!
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.