It is not cheap to do a staycation in Singapore, especially with the increased prices after the pandemic. Imagine how lucky we were when we were able to snag two nights at the Hilton Singapore Orchard on Christmas weekend just a couple of weeks ago for a very attractive rate. I’ve never had the chance to spend Christmas in a hotel before (I’ve done so for New Year’s Eve a couple of times), and after this experience, I don’t think I can go back to not doing so again.
Staycation in Orchard Road during the festive period!
We chose to book the Hilton Singapore Orchard during the Christmas period particularly because for the first time ever, the section of Orchard Road from ION Orchard to Paragon would be closed on Christmas Eve for a Christmas Eve street party. Not to mention, Orchard Road is the place to be during Christmas time if you want to view the pretty Christmas lights adorning the streets.
We originally booked a normal room at the Hilton. Being a Hilton Honors Gold member, we were entitled to a complimentary upgrade should a higher category room be available. We had hoped that we might be upgraded to the Executive level so as to have access to the Executive Lounge. But this isn’t guaranteed for Gold member status.
Since it was the Christmas weekend, we couldn’t be sure if we would be able to obtain the upgrade so we eventually paid to upgrade our room. We figured that the upgrade “would pay for itself” since we would be able to treat the complimentary afternoon tea and evening cocktails as lunch and dinner, rather than to have to go to some restaurant in Orchard Road which might be more crowded and expensive given that it’s Christmas.
The Check-In experience at the Hilton Singapore Orchard
The main check-in area is on the 5th floor. Unfortunately as there was a long queue that didn’t seem to be moving, we decided to try our luck at the Executive Lounge. I was expecting a more welcoming, comfortable or cosy check in, however the check in area was right smack in front of the Executive Lounge entrance, and there weren’t any seats. At least there wasn’t a queue so we got the job done quickly and scooted out of there. We did appreciate the generous amount of candy canes adorning the check-in counter and helped to relieve them of some.
All the Executive Rooms are located on the Mandarin Wing, which is the block parallel to Orchard Road. The decor is nice, and the room also comes with a separate standing shower and bathtub. Do not be surprised to find that the room does not come equipped with a closed-door wardrobe. Instead, there are 2 recessed areas behind the TV screen where you may hang your clothes. I am told guests find it useful to be able to easily hang the new clothes from the shopping spree that naturally occurs when you are in Singapore’s premier shopping belt that is Orchard Road.
I am not entirely sure if I agree with this logic though. Because of the need to accommodate the recessed area, the TV screen seems to protrude out more than necessary. It’s just a little odd but it’s not a big deal.
The room isn’t large, but it feels new, modern and inviting. I like the soothing wall panel with some sort of a Chinese ink illustration on it. I happened to have the opportunity to view a Deluxe Room with a plain version of the wall panel, and I have to agree that the one without the artwork seems more spartan. But I only noticed because I had a chance to compare. The room was clean, the bed was comfortable and there was no weird smell or fragrance.
In addition to the bed, there was also a long sofa (4 cushions) which was large enough for my 7 yr old son to sleep on. As with most hotels, requesting for an additional bed means an additional charge so we will make do for now until he gets older. In addition to the sofa, there is also a round work table and 1 work chair. Interestingly, the Deluxe Room had 2 work chairs and an even longer sofa (6 cushions).
FYI all the rooms at the Hilton Singapore Orchard come with this Nordaq water in reusable glass bottles, and refillable shampoo/body wash for environmental purposes.
I should mention that there doesn’t seem to be any electrical sockets in the bathroom. If there is one, it must be so well hidden because we couldn’t find it. Might be an issue for those who shave. I had to forgo blow-drying my hair since it would be too noisy to do it outside of the bathroom with the children already asleep. Also, there is only 1 universal charging point, and that is located at the worktable.
Difference between the Deluxe Rooms vs the Executive Rooms
– Executive Rooms are located in the supposedly more exclusive Mandarin Block, with express lifts to the Executive floors. The Executive Lounge is also located in the Mandarin Block
Now, on the topic of the Executive Lounge. The service and quality varies amongst hotels. Some are so basic, they are basically just a room with some tables and chairs where you can order basic beverages, with some snack food such as nuts or cookies. The better Executive Lounges have very welcoming seating areas, with a wider variety of beverages and snacks. They will also offer afternoon tea and evening cocktails, which can be substantial enough to be treated as substitutes for lunch and dinner.
The Executive Lounge for Hilton Singapore Orchard lies somewhere in the middle. The space is lovely. I read Hilton Singapore Orchard boasts one of the largest, if not the largest executive lounge in Singapore. It’s not one massive space either, the layout is segmented and each segment is decored differently. The area nearest to the food has more no-frills restaurant type tables, whereas further back you can find long tables suitable for large groups, low sofa tables and even comfy cushioned seats.
I personally preferred to sit further away from the food so as to be able to enjoy some peace and quiet. Unfortunately despite the long Executive Lounge with windows flanking the length, there is no view to speak of due to a protruding parapet.
Afternoon Tea and Evening Cocktails at the Executive Lounge
Come to think of it, I spent quite a good amount of time at the Executive Lounge when we weren’t at the pool or in the room. It was afternoon tea time soon after checking in so we quickly dumped our bags in the room and headed down again. The afternoon tea is nothing to shout about frankly. Just a couple of cakes, scones, 2 types of simple finger sandwiches and some fruit. All tasty, but basic. I wish they would display more food at the same time. Every time I got up to get more food there was always something which had run out.
The evening cocktail session was quite disappointing on the first day. About 8 hot dishes to choose from, comprising several fried items and 4 different types of baos and dim sum dumplings. Every self-respecting foodie knows that dim sum at a buffet can never be of a good quality. Dumplings especially cannot be left sitting in steamers minutes longer than appropriate or the quality deteriorates quickly.
The second day’s evening cocktail was much better but I would still call it basic. Either we were lucky because it’s Christmas Eve, or the menu happened to be very uncreative the day before, but at least the variety of food was better and there was also a turkey carving station. The turkey was quite good too and I went back for multiple helpings.
Breakfast at Estate vs Breakfast at the Executive Lounge
Since the afternoon tea and evening cocktails felt rather basic, we decided to forgo breakfast at the Executive Lounge and instead head to the Estate restaurant for our 1st breakfast the next day, which happened to be Christmas Eve. We had tried the Estate Buffet lunch a couple of months back and had a good experience. I must say the buffet breakfast was quite good too. There was a huge variety of hot food both Western and local, huge selection of salads and fruits etc. I was most impressed by the Egg section where the eggs were presented in 6 different ways, in addition to the cooked to order egg station.
My omelette with the works and extra cheese was lovely and I enjoyed every morsel. Also a huge selection of freshly squeezed juice at the wellness section, and even a small station for kids with low tables and kid friendly food. What I didn’t like was the relentless crowd, as the restaurant was full to the gills. I understand that when the restaurant gets too crowded, they will also seat guests at Mozza next door. So seating isn’t that much of a problem but navigating the huge crowd might be a little overwhelming.
So for our breakfast on Christmas Day, we decided to escape back to the Executive Lounge where it was thankfully much quieter despite the hotel being full. We had to forgo the variety available at Estate of course, but most of the popular favourites are available as well as the made-to order egg station. I requested the same omelette with the works and extra cheese and it tasted just as good.
There were a couple of dishes I remember I liked at Estate, so we asked to see if they would bring it up to the Executive Lounge, but the answer was they don’t provide such a service. I believe years ago when I last stayed at the Conrad Centennial Singapore, they did offer such a service. Having said that, the Conrad is of a higher tier than the Hilton.
We managed to carve out some time to visit the pool. This being a building built 50 years ago when pools were meant to be just functional, the pool was puny in size and basically just a rectangle, with the tall grey walls of the hotel for a view. The pool was of the same depth throughout, so my son was quite upset there wasn’t a shallower end in which he could play at. We stayed for a bit but left prematurely after a hotel guest who came to look at the pool (but not swim in it) started sneezing non-stop.
There’s no doubt that the Hilton Singapore Orchard is conveniently located in the heart of Orchard Road. Visiting the nearby malls of Taka, Paragon, 313 Somerset and Orchard Central was such a breeze. There’s only 1 downside though. The Hilton is located on an “island”. It is not connected via an underpass to the nearby malls, so you’ll have to bring your umbrella on rainy days. But then again, with the exception of Singapore Marriott Tang Plaza Hotel, most other hotels along Orchard Road also “suffer” the same fate.
I had a very good time popping over to Taka to do some last minute Christmas shopping while the kids stayed with Papa and got their fill of cartoons on TV. Even managed to visit the Christmas carnivals outside of Ngee Ann City and Shaw Centre and won myself a couple of toys at the games.
On Christmas Eve, it was so easy for us to pop downstairs and join the partying crowd. When was the last time Orchard Road was closed off to traffic? And certainly the first time a Christmas Eve party was being held. For the first time, we didn’t have to worry about transportation home, or fight for parking space.
Despite snagging a hotel room that faces Orchard Road, there isn’t much of a view of it. We were only able to see the stretch of Orchard Road directly in front of this Mandarin Block, as it is parallel to Orchard Road. If it had been at an angle, we would have been able to view the street party from our room, which was what I was hoping to be able to do.
I inquired with the front desk about it (again) after we had put the kids to bed. All the staff we had spoken to earlier in the day had all said that the view from the Orchard Block (perpendicular to Orchard Road) would be that of Taka, and Taka would be blocking the view of the actual road.
But I wasn’t convinced, because I had deliberately stood near Marriott and I could sight the corner of the Orchard Block, so it must be possible! The kind staff suggested we go take a look at the view from the top floor corner most room in the Orchard Block, and we did, traipsing through the hotel at 1am! I was right, it is possible to see the long stretch of Orchard Road!
And so came the question “would you like to switch rooms?”. Oh o, it would mean having to give up our bathtub as the Deluxe Panoramic Room didn’t have one. And technically it’s considered a room downgrade, although in reality we would be gaining 4sqm! My father, who had joined me on the midnight jaunt, eventually helped me make the decision when he said “What’s the big deal about the view?” I was actually taken aback. Certainly it’s not a view of snow-capped mountains or the fjords, but do you mean to say nobody’s really bothered about a view of Orchard Road?
All in all, we still enjoyed our stay at the Hilton Singapore Orchard over the Christmas weekend. Being in the heart of Orchard Road during Christmas really put us in a festive mood. Aside from the view, the room was lovely and comfortable. If I didn’t have so much to do, I would have loved to spend more time lounging in bed and watching TV. I’m not sure if I would pay for an upgrade to the Executive Lounge again, unless I really need some space to do work or if I can drink a lot to make my money’s worth.
I guess as a Hilton Honours Gold Member, I’d take my chances on that free upgrade the next time round. Or maybe I would have attained the Diamond status by then.
Other posts you may be interested in
- Hilton Estate Buffet Lunch
- Conrad Centennial Singapore Staycation Review
- Pan Pacific Singapore Pacific Club Room Review
- The Westin Singapore Staycation Review
- Marina Bay Sands Staycation Review