Hello everyone, and welcome to another Singaporean article! On this shiok Sunday, I’ll be chronicling and reviewing my recent staycation over at One Farrer Hotel.
I’ve been on quite a staycation spree lately – spending a day or two away from home every month is now my preferred choice of R&R. I previously stayed at and reviewed Orchard Hotel, and was curious to see how other affordable 5 star hotels stack up. After some research, I decided to book a stay over at One Farrer Hotel. Without further ado, let’s see how my experience went!
One Farrer Hotel – the Brand
One Farrer Hotel (previously called One Farrer Hotel and Spa, because there was a spa in the hotel – which has unfortunately since closed down) is located next to Farrer Park MRT, and a stone throw’s away from the Little India area. It’s also unique as it’s integrated with Farrer Park Hospital and Farrer Park Medical Centre, making it quite possibly the only hotel in Singapore that is connected to medical facilities.
One Farrer Hotel first opened its doors in 2014 (making it a relatively new establishment) and recently went under the knife (pun intended) in December last year to renovate its entry-level rooms, now called Mint Hotel. According to the Straits Times, around $2 million has been spent on redesigning guestrooms, facilities and processes, with input from medical experts. As a result, the Mint rooms now have anti-viral wall coverings, moveable furniture and anti-microbial blind fabrics so guest rooms can be sanitised more thoroughly. In addition, gapless vinyl flooring that are easier to disinfect replaced the carpets previously found in guestrooms and common areas.
I looked up some photos of the newly renovated Mint rooms, and was impressed by their bright and airy appearance that’s underscored with wooden furniture. As usual, I decided to book the category above the lead-in rooms. My personal experience is that the entry-level rooms are often not worth it, as spending a tad more often snags you a substantial upgrade. Case in point – although the Mint Den costs $18 over the Mint Room, it’s significantly more spacious at 38 square metres as compared to the 28 square metres of the Mint Room. In other words, for a mere $18 premium, you get 35% more space, making it the obvious choice if you’re thinking of booking a room at One Farrer Hotel.
One Farrer Hotel – Check-in
I booked the staycation on a Saturday, and was pleasantly surprised that the check-in process was fast and efficient.
Once again, I arrived slightly earlier at around 2pm, hoping to try my luck and be given a room early. My wish was granted, and I was assigned a room within 5-10 minutes. I asked for a late check-out, and was granted an extension of….30 minutes. Well, better than nothing I guess.
The lobby of One Farrer Hotel is relatively small, and feels sparse and sterile. Perhaps there was more furniture pre-COVID, but it certainly lacked the grandeur and old-world charm of Orchard Hotel and its clock tower. Interestingly, the ground floor holds Socieaty, which is a multi-restaurant concept by the Les Amis group that offers food from Pepperoni Pizzeria, NamNam, Sushi Jin, Lemak Boys, Tenjin, Tarte by Cheryl Koh, and Mui Kee porridge. I actually had dinner there and the food was pretty good, though a little on the expensive side.
One Farrer Hotel – Mint Den Room
I requested for a high floor when I booked the room online, and was pleased to be given a room on the 14th floor.
Dressed in white and earthy tones, the hallway has a minimalist aesthetic. It still reminds me of hospital corridors, albeit expensive, private ones.
As mentioned earlier, the hallways used to be carpeted, but that’s now gone in favour of vinyl flooring. It then dawned on me why the hallways of One Farrer Hotel evokes hospital corridors – hospitals use vinyl flooring too for easy disinfection.
The spaciousness of the Mint Den was immediately apparent when I opened the door and saw an elongated corridor leading into the room. In fact, it looked more like an apartment than a hotel room.
The Mint Den is advertised as a “family friendly” room, and thus includes an additional sofa bed near the entrance. It’s not much, but it’s more than enough for a young child and even comes with its own TV. It also makes the Mint Den a great option for staycations with multiple friends, where the notorious snorer (there’s always a snorer) can have his/her own space to rest and unwind.
The main bedroom is also very spacious, with a King size bed that’s large enough for probably four. The 55-inch widescreen TV is also one of the largest I’ve encountered in a hotel room, though the wires sticking out at the bottom were a bit unsightly.
Upon my arrival, I realised that the TV was showing a personalised message addressing me by name, which was a nice touch, and one that was missing with Orchard Hotel.
The TV is apparently capable of an array of functions too. You’re able to adjust the lighting, the temperature, order room service, draw the drapes, and even set a wake up alarm from the comfort of the bed.
There’s no Netflix included, but you’re able to stream your own content from your personal device.
If you didn’t bring your own device, don’t fret – there’s plenty of cable channels to choose from, including the usual CNN, BBC, and some Chinese channels.
The bed itself is really comfortable. Once I wrapped myself up under the duvet, I didn’t want to leave the bed, and promptly stayed in it and channel surfed for an hour. I also realised that the Mint Den room appeared to more spacious than Orchard Hotel’s Premier King room due to its high ceiling, which accentuated the roomy and airy ambience of the room.
Remember that pesky friend that snores? If you’re an extremely light sleeper, there’s even an inner door which you can close for better sound isolation. Alternatively, if you’re attempting to sneak in some…romantic action under the sheets, but don’t want to wake up the snorer (you snooze, you lose, literally) by the door, then the inner door comes in handy as well.
I really do like the wooden panelling of the room – it just brightens the space up. There’s also an oriental painting hanging above the coffee and bedside desk that adds a nice dose of culture to the otherwise minimalist space.
Unfortunately, the illy coffee machine in my room wasn’t working, which was a bummer. I spent 20 minutes trying to figure out how to use it but to no avail, and when I called housekeeping thereafter to rectify the issue, the housekeeper couldn’t fix it too. After a good hour of attempting to get the fickle machine to work, I eventually gave up on having a cup of coffee, which was a shame.
So instead, I made myself a cup of tea. I’m pleased to report that One Farrer Hotel provides complimentary TWG tea sachets, with more available upon request. And unlike illy coffee machines (apparently), TWG tea never disappoints with its quality and consistency.
A pair of wine glasses – proper glasses, not the cheap plastic ones from IKEA – are also provided, which is a nice surprise at this price point. I ended up buying a bottle of wine from Wine Connection (located at the opposite City Square Mall) and ended up having multiple glasses of wine before bed.
I was particularly impressed that the drawers even included a bottle opener, allowing me to open my wine bottle without much fuss. However, there wasn’t a wine stopper provided, so I was “forced” to finish the bottle of wine in one sitting (not that my inner alcoholic complained). In addition to the usual cups and spoons, there was also a pair of spirit glasses available, perfect for those that prefer having a dram of whisky instead.
As the room includes a mini fridge, I was able to chill my bottle of wine along with some dessert from Tarte by Cheryl Koh, which made for a tasty and indulgent supper. However, the fridge (and the cabinet) looked like it had seen better days.
The bedside controls are also some of the most comprehensive that I’ve interacted with. You can adjust the lighting in a variety of modes, switch on the bedside lamp, and operate the blinds and sheers (thus dictating how much natural light flows into the room) from the comfort of your bed. There’s even a “please wait” button, which I assume is there to keep out housekeeping while you are otherwise engaged in certain bedroom activities.
Those looking for a workcation (or are simply workaholics on a staycation) will be happy to know that there’s a dedicated workstation in the room, complete with a Herman Miller chair. As it faces the window, one can even work with a view. Furthermore, there’s also a variety of ports available for your electronic needs. Naturally, this is a much better arrangement than that of Orchard Hotel, whereby the working desk was positioned underneath the TV.
And the view is actually pretty good! From the desk, one can see lush greenery, and behind that Park Hotel. While I wouldn’t call it breathtaking, it’s one of the better hotel room views I’ve had – no complaints here.
Moving on to the bathroom, I’m pleased to share that it is also quite roomy. The toilet bowl comes with an integrated bidet (something Orchard Hotel could learn from), and there’s a cute terrarium nestled in an alcove above. However, the toilet bowl is angled awkwardly high, and I found myself almost on my tiptoes when taking a dump. The lighted mirror is a nice touch though, and I must admit that I took quite a few bathroom mirror selfies whilst there.
There’s no bathtub, but there is a rain shower which was very shiok to be under – I think I spent over 30 minutes in the shower enjoying the sensation. There’s also a regular standing shower for those that prefer it, but trust me go for the rain shower. Interestingly, the shower area also appears to be disability friendly, so if your companion requires a wheelchair there should be no issues.
The complimentary toiletries are from Fresh Skin Lab, which is actually a local brand! Wah So Shiok is all about promoting homegrown brands, so to know that the products are Singaporean elevated the showering experience even more. And I must say that I really enjoyed the toiletries – they are definitely a step up from the generic branded ones from Orchard Hotel. In particular, I really liked the scented body balm, so much so that I’m probably going to order one from Fresh Skin Lab afterwards. Without doubt, these are some of the best toiletries I’ve used in a hotel to date.
One Farrer Hotel – Cleanliness
Given the amazing toiletries provided, as well as the aforementioned $2 million investment in renovating the rooms for easier disinfection, it is an ironic shame that the actual cleanliness of the room was sub-par.
I’m not a clean freak – I don’t carry a UV torch around to ensure that hotel rooms pass the backlight test. As long as it looks clean to my naked eye, it passes muster in my books. Unfortunately, there were stains so obvious that I’m left scratching my head as to how the housekeeping could have missed them. For one, there were noticeable white stains on the window grille, which I hope is paint left over from the renovation, not a particularly exhibitionistic couple.
Similarly, there were conspicuous white splatters on the Herman Miller chair. Once again, I hope it’s paint of some sort, and not the result of frisky action on the chair. It did gross me out enough that I avoided sitting on the Herman Miller chair altogether (I didn’t come to the hotel to do work anyway, so I didn’t have much use for the work desk) – but it is a shame given that the Herman Miller chair was supposed to be one of the highlights of the room.
What was inexcusable were the lipstick marks on the coffee mug – it’s more obvious in person than it is in the above photo. The coffee machine didn’t work so I didn’t need to use the coffee mug, but it made me wonder if housekeeping even cleaned/replaced them in between guests.
And despite only being renovated six months ago, some of the room’s fixtures already look worse for wear. One of those was the bedside light, which looked grimy and plain dirty. It’s operated by a physical button, but I just left the light on during my entire stay as I wasn’t keen on touching the light fixture.
For a 5-star hotel that spent a whopping $2 million dollars to renovate its rooms and to improve cleanliness, the overall housekeeping standard fell below expectations. It’s inexplicable how the various prominent stains and marks could be missed by housekeeping – those were all high-touch items, ones that in theory housekeeping should be sanitizing on a daily basis. One Farrer Hotel needs to tighten its cleanliness level here because this is simply unbecoming for a hotel of its stature and price.
One Farrer Hotel – Amenities
Where One Farrer Hotel really shines is in its amenities.
Firstly, the pool area of the hotel is simply stunning. If you’re looking for an Instagram worthy poolside shot, this will certainly fit the bill. I believe the pool is 50 m long, so you can actually swim full laps here. There are also multiple lounge chairs positioned at the side with umbrellas to provide shade. Furthermore, there’s actually a poolside bar, from which you can order drinks from. The drinks weren’t anything special, but they certainly enhanced the swimming experience. After all, who doesn’t like to chill on a lounge chair, sipping a cocktail, and admiring the skyline? It’s not quite the MBS Infinity Pool view, but it’s not too shabby. Overall, it’s definitely one of the more picturesque hotel swimming pools that I’ve been to.
The best and most memorable part of the entire stay has to be the private jacuzzi at the hotel’s Adeva Spa. Strangely, it’s not advertised on the hotel’s website or any of the booking websites, nor mentioned to me during check-in. Instead, I happened to chance across a Google review mentioning that hotel guests are granted access to the spa’s facilities (which comprises the private jacuzzies, a sauna and a steam bath) and decided to stop by the spa on my way back from the swimming pool to double-check. That was indeed the case, and the spa staff guided us to the private jacuzzi room, and my jaw simply dropped. Just look at it – it feels like I’m in a high-end spa in Bali. There were three jacuzzis, and all of them were heated. Soaking in a heated jacuzzi was, for the lack of a better phrase, damn shiok. It alleviated me of my worries for the hour I was there for, and I felt like I was transported to a private sanctuary, where the worries of my everyday life couldn’t reach me. Despite it being a Saturday evening, my companion and I were the only ones using the private jacuzzis. In fact, upon double-checking the spa’s check-in list, I found out that we were only the fourth to visit the spa that day. I’m puzzled as to why One Farrer Hotel doesn’t wish to publicize this perk, but I hope it continues being a hidden gem so that its privacy can be maintained.
There’s also a sauna and a steam bath, both of which are located in the bathroom. Unfortunately, I’m unable to show you guys how they looked like – I decided taking photos in a bathroom wasn’t the best course of action, especially considering all the voyeur cases in the news recently. In any case, the sauna and the steam bath were more standard and less impressive, akin to similar facilities that one might find in a condo. Still, I spent 15 minutes in the sauna and steam bath respectively and felt even more relaxed than I was before. As the icing on the cake, there were also shower facilities in the spa’s bathroom, equipped with a rain shower and complimentary toiletries. Needless to say, I made full use of it.
There’s also a gym located beside the spa that was closed due to the recent COVID restrictions, but it looked spacious and well-equipped.
One Farrer Hotel – Service
The service at One Farrer Hotel was pleasant, and I would say that it was definitely a step higher than what I had experienced at Orchard Hotel. The lady manning the reception was welcoming, and flexible enough to waive the standard $100 deposit when I relayed I didn’t have enough cash on hand, nor bring my cards. The poolside bartender was attentive too, offering to deliver the drinks to our lounge chairs so we didn’t have to wait around the bar area. And the spa staff were great as well, showing us where all the facilities were, and leaving us to ourselves instead of trying to upsell us some overpriced massage treatment, as is the norm with most spas that have “complimentary” amenities.
When I provided feedback about my room’s cleanliness lapses afterwards, the hotel actually got back to me and apologised, stating: “The lapses in housekeeping procedures you have identified are certainly not in line with the standard of hygiene and cleanliness we hope to provide our guests.” They invited me for a service recovery stay in the Mint Premier Room, which comes with club benefits for two, including access to the hotel’s Skyline lounge and Skyline pool. I’m excited to check out the Skyline facilities, and will update this review accordingly, or perhaps write a new one if the facilities and room are noteworthy.
Conclusion – so One Farrer Hotel “shiok” or not?
This is a tough one. On one hand, I really enjoyed the facilities of the hotel. I had a great time swimming in the lap pool, drinking a Cosmopolitan by the poolside while watching the sun go down, and absolutely loved the facilities of Aveda Spa – I stayed for almost two hours at the spa, and would have stayed longer if they didn’t have to close. If the point of a staycation is to rest and relax, then One Farrer Hotel certainly delivered that. The staff were all really service orientated too, and they definitely made me feel welcomed during my stay.
However, the cleanliness issues were a let-down, especially for a hotel that prides itself on its cleanliness standards. It seems to be a persistent issue as well – The Mile Lion also reported lapses in housekeeping in its review. One Farrer Hotel did relay to me that my feedback had been forwarded to the relevant parties for “corrective action”, so hopefully my upcoming stay in the Mint Premier Room would not be beset by similar cleanliness lapses.
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.
Update: I’ve been informed that the Aveda Spa in One Farrer Hotel has closed down (presumably business had been declining due to COVID, and Phase 2 Heightened Alert was the last straw that broke the camel’s back). It was a surreal moment when I realised that I was officially the last guest to use the spa’s facilities, as my stay was the day before P2HA came into effect. R.I.P Aveda Spa at One Farrer Hotel – your heated jacuzzies would be sorely missed. There’s still an outlet located in Paragon, but entry would almost certainly no longer be complimentary.
One Farrer Hotel’s Location:
1 Farrer Park Station Rd, Singapore 217562
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.