Hello everyone! In this article, I’ll be documenting my recent staycation over at Santa Grand Hotel East Coast.
After reviewing Orchard Hotel and One Farrer Hotel previously, a few readers reached out and asked if I could cover even more affordable options. I did some research, and realised that there’s actually a burgeoning boutique hotel scene locally, where rooms go for a mere $70-80. I immediately booked a couple, the first of which is Santa Grand Hotel East Coast.
Santa Grand Hotel East Coast – Video Review
If you’re more of a video person, you can watch my short Youtube review of Santa Grand Hotel East Coast below:
Santa Grand Hotel East Coast – the Brand
Santa Grand Hotel East Coast, as its name suggests, is a boutique hotel located in East Coast, specifically the Katong/Joo Chiat area. Peranakan-inspired, the hotel has a “Chinese Baroque” architecture, and occupies a row of shophouses that used to house Peranakan families.
The hotel first opened in 2012, and underwent a renovation in 2018 that added a new wing. Currently, Santa Grand Hotel East Coast has 73 rooms, making it a relatively small-sized establishment. And unlike most properties at its price point, the hotel has a rooftop pool (that boasts a jacuzzi) as well as a Mexican restaurant/bar named Platypus Cantina.
A Deluxe Room at Santa Grand Hotel East Coast currently goes for $84, which makes it one of the most affordable boutique 4-star hotels out there. For context, Hotel 81 is running a $69 a night promotion for its rooms. There is a cheaper Superior Room available (~$65-70), but at 14sqm it felt a tad too small for my liking so I paid a little more for the Deluxe.
Santa Grand Hotel East Coast – Check-in
Located in the heart of Katong, the hotel was easy to find due to its all white exterior. Being a converted shophouse, the hotel exuded character, a sort of vintage colonial charm.
Even though it was a weekday, the hotel lobby was noticeably busy – a good sign of the hotel’s popularity, especially given its relatively inaccessible location (I took a Grab, as the hotel wasn’t near any MRT stations). I’ve been to quite a few of these budget hotels, and I must say that I was impressed by the hotel’s spacious and brightly lit lobby.
For one, the lobby is filled of Peranakan decor and artifacts, thus differentiating the lobby from the generic lobbies of most budget hotels.
There’s also a waiting area in the hotel, where guests (or visitors) can sit and charge their phone/use their laptop. I can imagine a guest using the space to do some work before checking in, or even after check out. Most lobbies of these budget hotels tend to be small and cramped, so I was pleasantly surprised by the presence of such an area.
I did a bit of research, and noted that some of the hotel’s Deluxe rooms (specifically, those in its renovated wing) featured bathtubs. As such, I decided to write to the hotel in advance, requesting a bathtub room for a birthday celebration. During check-in, the staff acknowledged my request, and assigned me a Deluxe room on the second floor. The entire check-in process was quick and fuss-free – I got my room within 10 minutes. However, do note that the staff are quite stringent on the room’s maximum capacity (2), and requested that I register all of my visitors at the front desk, and that all visitors (except the one spending the night) are to leave by 10.30 pm. In contrast, larger hotel chains are unlikely to enforce this, as long as it’s within the current safe distancing group size (which is currently 5 pax).
Santa Grand Hotel East Coast – the Room
The corridors of Santa Grand Hotel East Coast has a vintage feel to them with dim lighting. Some European-esque paintings also adorn the walls, making you feel like you’re truly overseas.
As I requested for a bathtub room (which are only available in the rooms in the new wing), my room was at the latter end of the corridor, where the corridor was noticeably more brightly lit. It’s almost like a tale of Jekyll and Hyde, a juxtaposition of old and new – one really gets two distinct feels.
I indicated in the booking comments that the room was meant for a birthday celebration, which was duly noted in the form of additional decor, though the flower petals felt more appropriate for an anniversary rather than a birthday celebration.
Still, it’s a nice touch, especially considering that Santa Grand Hotel East Coast is a budget boutique hotel. For comparison, I noted the same birthday celebration comment in my staycation of Orchard Hotel (purportedly a 5 star hotel), and wasn’t welcomed with any special decor despite the rooms being double the price. Kudos to Santa Grand on their service here!
Controls are available by the door, where I was plesantly surprised by the presence of touch-enabled buttons.
Complimentary water bottles are available, as are tea and coffee sachets. Interestingly, the cups are those old-school Kopitiam cups, which complemented the traditional Peranakan vibe of the hotel nicely. It’s little details like these that makes a difference in the staying experience.
However, do note that the bottled water will not be replenished as part of tthe hotel’s green efforts, though water can still be refilled from either the tap or the lobby’s drink corner. I actually liked this initiative – everyone has a part to play towards saving the planet, especially big businesses.
In addition, the wardrobe is well-sized, with multiple hangers (wooden!) provided. There’s also an ironing board, safe and slippers.
While not particularly impressive – I doubt the mattress is “branded”, given a lack of detail in the room description – the bed is cozy enough with sufficient support. I got a comfortable night sleep here.
There’s a little wooden bedside table, with a telephone, lamp, as well as a notepad and pen (a nice analogue touch) as well as offers at a nearby spa. Honestly, I was surprised at the inclusions of such items, which elevated the experience.
There’s also a 32-inch flat screen TV, which had some cable channels included. I flicked through Fox Movies during the night, and while the resolution isn’t the highest definition, it was serviceable. However, the ports of the TV are located behind the wall mount, which means that you probably won’t be able to connect/mirror your personal devices and stream your own content.
The only knock I have about the room is the view, or more specifically the lack thereof. The room does come with a window, but it opens up to some construction. The windows are locked and can’t be opened as well, so if you’re the sort that like to let some fresh air into the room in the morning – tough luck.
As mentioned earlier, selected Deluxe rooms come with bathtubs. To avoid the wheel of chance, it’s best to write to them beforehand like I did, or indicate your preference in the booking comments. The bathtub itself isn’t that noteworthy – it’s pretty basic, and only reasonably big enough for one – but it was clean with no visible stains or hair in sight. I had a good time soaking in the bathtub (bath bombs can be purchased at The Body Shop nearby). It’s uncommon for such budget boutique hotels to have a bathtub, so if a bathtub is one of your priorities when booking a staycation, then Santa Grand Hotel East Coast certainly fits the bill.
“Ecogenesis” shampoo and body wash are provided. I did a quick Google search, but am unable to find any information about the brand. It’s definitely not a commercial brand – if I had to guess, it’s probably generic toiletries that are branded for a more atas impression.
The rest of the bathroom is pretty basic, though I did find it spacious enough for my needs. There’s even a handheld bidet hose beside the toilet bowl, which was something even Orchard Hotel didn’t have. However, the single ply toilet paper was woefully thin, which was a shame.
Due to the nature of the bathroom (whereby it’s a glass enclosure rather than solid walls and doors), the bathroom door can’t be locked. It’s a cost cutting measure that’s common in many boutique hotels at this price point. I should also add that as the glass walls are thin, it isn’t very soundproof – bathroom singing, the aftermath of eating a double mcspicy, or any frisky business in the bathroom can be heard clearly outside. In other words, this is a room where ideally, you should be sharing with someone you’re close to.
Santa Grand Hotel East Coast – Swimming Pool
As the icing on the cake, there’s even a rooftop swimming pool!
The rooftop pool is long enough to do laps in, and feels decently maintained. There are showers for one to rinse off too, as well as lounge chairs to rest and relax in. But the highlight has to be the view. Due to the hotel being surrounded by shophouses, the rooftop pool actually gives you a bird’s eye view of the neighbourhood.
There’s also a jacuzzi section, which was nice to chill in. From past photos, it seemed that the side of the pool used to be adorned with greenery, but the plants are now few and far between. That should be due to the pool’s imminent renovation (by the time this review is published, the renovation should be completed). The hotel staff informed me that the pool would be expanded, so I’m assuming the plants at the side will be making way for a slightly wider pool.
Conclusion – so Santa Grand Hotel East Coast “shiok” or not?
I really enjoyed my stay at Santa Grand Hotel East Coast – it exceeded my expectations. Despite its low price point, the hotel ticked a lot of boxes. The location is great (plenty of yummy food options around), the lobby was comfortable to wait in, the room was roomy enough and even had a bathtub, while the rooftop pool is an added bonus. The service was good too. Personally, Santa Grand Hotel East Coast is one of the best hotels, if not the best hotel, that I’ve stayed at under the $80 price point. If you’re looking for an affordable staycation option, this is a great choice.
Those interested in booking a stay at Santa Grand Hotel East Coast 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 this 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.