Hello everyone! In this article, I’ll be documenting my recent staycation over at Rest Bugis Hotel.
After booking my stay over at Santa Grand Hotel East Coast, I realised that Santa Grand used to have another property in Bugis called Santa Grand Hotel Bugis, which has now been renamed to Rest Bugis Hotel. In its current form, the hotel seems to be in a bit of limbo – it doesn’t have a social media presence, or even a website for direct booking. In other words, it’s a bit of an enigma. Curiosity eventually got the better of me, and I decided to book a stay to check it out.
Rest Bugis Hotel – Video Review
If you’re more of a video person, you can watch my short Youtube review of Rest Bugis Hotel below:
Rest Bugis Hotel – the Brand
First built in 2007, Rest Bugis Hotel was initially called the Santa Grand Hotel Bugis (under the Santa Grand hotel chain). For some unbeknownst reason (but probably because the property had declining occupancy rates), Santa Grand let go of its Bugis hotel in 2019, which was thereby renamed Rest Bugis Hotel presumably by a new management.
As its name suggests, Rest Bugis Hotel is situated in the heart of Bugis, making it a convenient location for those wishing to explore the nearby cafes and shops in the Arab Street/Lavender area. With 74 rooms, it’s a small-sized hotel, one that is currently rated as a 3-4 star establishment on most booking platforms.
I ended up booking the Superior Queen Room, which currently fluctuates between $65-70. Given its location in the heart of the vibrant Bugis neighbourhood, as well as the rooftop pool, I was excited about my stay at Rest Bugis Hotel even despite its lack of online presence.
Rest Bugis Hotel – Check-In
The hotel is situated about a ten-minute walk from either Bugis or Lavender MRT. Just look for the twin stone lions at the front of the building – you can’t miss it.
First impressions were underwhelming. For one, the lobby looked sterile and small, with its sole furniture cordoned off with tape. The restaurant appeared to be closed too. I stayed during late June (when P2HA was already over) so I was a tad surprised by such drastic measures. As there weren’t many guests around, check-in was prompt. I did try my luck to enquire about a room upgrade to the slightly bigger Deluxe Double Room (it was a weekday, and occupancy rates seemed low) but was met with a curt “no” from the receptionist. Ah well, one can try.
Rest Bugis Hotel – the Room
I was allocated a room on the second floor. For those wondering, the hotel does have an elevator, so if you’re carrying heavy luggage that won’t be an issue.
The corridor of the hotel was dimly lit, and looked like it had seen better days. Despite it being a non-smoking floor, there was a distinct odour of cigarette smoke wafting around, as well as the overwhelming scent of air freshener that was probably an attempt to mask the smell of cigarettes. I also noticed that the walls were thin and not very soundproof, as I could clearly hear conversation other…bedroom noises as I made my way down the hallway. All in all, it reminded me of the corridors of Hotel 81s – not exactly a flattering comparison.
My first impressions of the room were good. The room was brightly lit with natural light, and looked relatively spacious for the price. And despite the earlier comparisons with Hotel 81, my Rest Bugis Hotel room appeared clean, with no dubious stains or streaks along the walls, bed or the mirror.
The queen size bed is comfortable enough for two people. However, the mattress itself feels well-worn, having clearly lost its original springiness. It’s the sort of mattress where you just sink into it. I personally prefer a firmer mattress for better support, but my companion actually indicated that it was kinda cosy, and likened it to sleeping on a beanbag. Individual preferences, I suppose. In addition, the bed is flanked by two bedside lamps, as well as a small bedside table.
Rest Bugis Hotel advertises that its rooms come with a modern “flat-screen TV”. The hotel is clearly liberal in its description here, as the Toshiba TV in my room looked like it came out of the early 2000s and was actually pretty bulky. While it does have a few cable channels such as CNN and National Geographic, the picture quality was grainy and lacked definition. One of my friends brought a Nintendo Switch over to connect to the TV, but the TV lacked an HDMI port so we weren’t able to connect it, which was a disappointment.
Basic complimentary refreshments are available, and laid out neatly on the table.
There’s also a mini-fridge that’s squeezed under the table. It’s still branded with the Santa Grand logo, which means that it’s probably been in use for several years, a suspicion reaffirmed by its yellowed exterior.
Complimentary room slippers are provided, stored in a piece of stool-like furniture that I assume functions as a bag rest. Once again, the chips on its paint underscore its age.
There’s also a mini-safe placed in the wardrobe. The wardrobe itself is decently sized, boasting a few wooden hangers, though like the rest of the room its exterior looks dated.
Another sign of the room’s age was the air-con, which wasn’t sufficiently cold probably due to its ageing compressor. I had to turn the aircon temperature down to the minimum of 16 degrees to feel some semblance of cold air – in actuality, the 16 degrees felt more like 24 degrees in the room. It’s still cold enough for me to sleep well, but those who like to sleep in colder temperatures might be frustrated here.
As the room was on the second floor, the view was simply of the adjacent building, as well as the pathway below. It’s nothing much to look at, but it does allow for ample natural light to brighten up the room.
The window can also partially be opened, thus allowing for some fresh air to enter the room if need be. As I had my dinner in the room, I actually found the open window useful for letting out the porky smell of my Michelin-starred Bar Chor Mee (Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle was just around the corner).
In contrast to the generally dated look of the room, the bathroom looked modern and fresh, reminiscent of those found in newer condo apartments. There’s even a rain shower installed, which was undoubtedly the highlight here.
Basic toiletries are provided, but they are unremarkable. They will do the trick, but you might want to bring your own toiletries for a more luxurious shower, especially under the rain shower.
While the bathroom was generally clean, there were several instances of wear-and-tear, such as this unsightly mess in the bottom corner of the door.
Furthermore, the bathroom door in my room wouldn’t close fully, as seen in the photo above. I went down to complain and ask for a room change, but the receptionist simply sent the hotel’s maintenance officer to come up and take a look. Upon closer inspection, he simply said that the door “was a gone case”, and that he would get it repaired after I had checked out. I’m not quite sure how that was supposed to reassure/compensate me as a guest, but I’ll elaborate more on the sub-par service later.
Lastly, the wi-fi internet was painfully slow. The download speed was a mere 2 Mbps – I think the old 3G connection on my Sony Ericsson phone was probably faster. It’s still adequate for sending Whatsapp messages, but anything that involves the loading of media content (Instagram, Youtube, Netflix, or God forbid Zoom meetings) will struggle.
Rest Bugis Hotel – Swimming Pool
Despite being a 3-star establishment, Rest Bugis Hotel actually boasts a rooftop swimming pool.
To access the swimming pool, guests have to make a booking at the receptionist for a one-hour time slot. The reception would then pass the guest a key, which the guest will have to use to unlock the door of the pool themselves. It did strike me as a tad odd, having to bend down and unlock/lock the swimming pool door like I’m an employee instead of a guest, but hey – having a pool is already a bonus.
I was actually surprised at how clean and well-maintained the pool was. I had a great dip in the pool, and the view of the neighbouring shophouses is actually pretty scenic as well. There’s something relaxing about watching cars whisk by on the streets below while soaking in the pool – it makes you feel like you’re on top of the world. I must admit to taking quite a number of pool selfies whilst there. There’s even a separate jacuzzi area! Pool towels are also provided, which is a nice touch.
There’s also poolside lounge chairs, where one can either attempt to get a suntan, or chill in comfort underneath a cabana that’s equipped with a ceiling fan. The view is pleasant, consisting of shophouses as well as iconic buildings like Parkview Square (also known as the Gotham building). All in all, I really enjoyed the rooftop pool of Rest Bugis Hotel – it was without a doubt the highlight of my stay.
Rest Bugis Hotel – Service
What wasn’t a highlight was the service, which simply missed the mark. From the get-go, the receptionist looked mildly annoyed to be working there. When I went to request a change of room due to the faulty bathroom door, she basically ignored my request and simply sent someone up to “check out the issue”. And when the issue was identified, there was no attempt at service recovery, with the maintenance officer simply stating that they will fix the door after I’ve checked out. It was clear that they approached the issue from the hotel’s perspective, rather than attempting to solve the pain point of the guest.
Furthermore, the staff was also appeared to be downright mercenary at times. Upon check-in, I was informed by the unfriendly receptionist that the pool was fully booked for the day. When I enquired about the next day, she stated that the only available slot was at noon, which coincidentally was the check-out time. I therefore asked if the check-out time could be extended slightly so that I could use the pool, to which the reply was that it’s possible, but I would have to pay extra. I eventually persuaded her to let me use the pool after I’ve checked out, but that’s obviously not ideal as it meant that I had to carry all my luggage with me to the pool and also shower/change at the common toilet. In addition, I had three friends over during my stay, and every chance they got the staff would remind me that I only paid for two guests to stay over, and that any additional visitors spending the night would incur an additional fee. The pestering was so annoying that all of my friends simply decided to pack up and leave rather than be confronted by the staff. I would honestly have too, if I hadn’t wanted to try/document the pool the next morning.
Conclusion – so Rest Bugis Hotel “shiok” or not?
My stay was a mixed bag. Let’s start with the positives. The room was spacious, airy, and generally clean, while the rooftop pool was great for a budget hotel – in fact, it’s probably the best pool that I’ve used in a 3-star hotel. However, the room decor is dated, some aspects of the room are in desperate need of repair, and the service is downright unsatisfactory. I don’t think I’ll return – there are definitely better hotels at this price point (such as the Santa Grand Hotel East Coast that I reviewed last week). Unless you’re specifically looking for a hotel in the Arab Street area, or place a rooftop swimming pool as your top staycation priority, I would suggest giving Rest Bugis Hotel a miss. The establishment doesn’t even bother to set up its own social media pages and website – that should be a red flag in itself.
Those interested in booking a stay at Rest Bugis Hotel 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) for new users and $5 off any hotels or attractions purchase (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 this hotel, and as you can see I’ve been brutally honest in my review.
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.