Singapore is a place committed to convenience. Things here work, whether through technology or through service. Life’s little hiccups, like a dying phone battery or traffic jam or slow internet, aren’t a part of daily existence. All the better for getting work done in this, one of the world’s great business capitals. Nowhere encapsulates this mindset better than the Sofitel Singapore City Centre, a brand new 223-room hotel in which guests couldn’t be inconvenienced if they tried. I could hardly stand being treated so well.
This is not the first Sofitel in Singapore. It’s not even the first one within walking distance of the Central Business District. But it is the first one that makes the businessperson’s hectic travel schedule its principle priority. The newly constructed building is ideally located for work trips—underground walkways connect many nearby skyscrapers by foot, and if the subway is required, it’s in the basement of the building, no need to go outside and sweat through one’s suit.
Not that only people using their expense accounts check in here. My stay fell during the hotel’s third week of operation, so of course the situation could evolve, but guests seemed a good mix of business and leisure travelers.
Still, the rooms provide a soothing place to recover from a day of work more than they do a design-forward boutique kind of place meant to be an experience unto itself. The clean lines and luxurious textures make one feel ensconced, and pampered, and comfortable, without distracting from whatever deadline looms.
The floor-to-ceiling windows are wonderful, stealing the show from everything else in the room and negating the need for artwork. My Luxury Club room especially, with its extra windows as a corner room, had a pretty great Central Business District view. Aesthetically, the only misstep came with the thing you step on—the carpeting was new and lush, but I always prefer hardwood or tiles with an area rug.
In terms of layout, keeping the closet, suitcase rack and drawers up front in a vestibule—separated from the main room—was a great call. It allowed my suitcase to explode all over the place, as tends to happen, while the room itself remained tidy.
In terms of comfort and ease, the king bed is truly, gloriously comfortable. The hotel offers a range of pillows—a “pillow menu,” if you will, although the ones we got by default were among the better hotel pillows I’ve ever laid my head on. Electrical outlets accepted US plugs and voltage, and USB ports next to the bed made for easy overnight phone charging. A Bose speaker got a lot of use—a good music situation is more important to me in a hotel room than a good TV. The free smartphone didn’t, but only because I have an international plan that includes Singapore. For other travelers, I can imagine the phone being a godsend for local calling and navigation. The free wifi did its job well.
The Sofitel provides a seamless technology experience, yes, but it doesn’t overlook the value of analog distractions. My room had three visually interesting books of local interest—on hawker centers, the history of the French in Singapore (which makes sense coming from this proudly French company), and photos of the city. An adult coloring book featuring images of Singapore is there to calm the nerves of many an overworked project manager. There was a whole classy setup for afternoon tea, including elegant cups and teapot, plus a selection of teas from Singapore-based TWG Tea.
But back to work. The desk is great. In keeping with the assumption that guests will have things to get done, it’s given a lot of real estate in the room. The surface itself is large enough to really spread out on, and the setup even allows for an across-the-desk meeting. I was so appreciative of the general waste bin and recycling bin, something seldom found in hotel rooms.
And finally, in terms of service, the staff were almost too good to me, with every offhand wish of mine becoming their command. In a very few of my interactions, staff knew I was a travel writer, but in most cases they didn’t.
The bathroom has every bit of functionality one could need, with both a large soaking tub and a small but powerful rain shower. The toilet has its own little room. A virtual treasure chest supplies every toiletry you could think of. Like in most hotels, there is, tragically, only one wall hook in the bathroom, but for the most part the hotel gets everything right here.
Down on the fifth floor, which also houses the reception area, the restaurant Racines is gorgeous and the food impressive, with both a Chinese and French menu side by side, as conceived by Jean-Charles Dubois, the decorated chef the hotel lured away from Raffles. Breakfast is served here, as well—and it’s not to be missed, a Bacchanalian feast that functions as a world tour of the meal. Those with access to the Club Millesime will want to skip the human-scale breakfast served there in favor of this decadent spread. Throughout the hotel, coffee is from Nespresso. It’s good, but I miss getting a latte made by a human.
On an enormous terrace on the sixth floor, a 100-foot-long pool is made all the more dramatic by the lush landscaping and towering buildings around it—an ideal place to take a break for the afternoon. There’s a small gym next to it, but walk across the terrace to the neighboring building, and there’s a Virgin Active gym to which club room guests have access. Virgin Active also supplies the in-room workout kits that come in mighty handy for those on a tight schedule.
The sixth floor also houses the Club Millesime itself, with its own door out to the pool and dining area overlooking it. I loved this club, with its discreet nooks and attentive service. The cocktail hour was great—I had a glorious glass of champagne from it on one of the pool’s daybeds, a fitting indulgence in a place that works hard to give you many such experiences during your stay. In a city known for its great service, the Sofitel Singapore City Centre manages to stand out.
The author stayed as a guest of the Sofitel Singapore City Centre.