Luxury wine bar at St. Regis Singapore
Standing tall and proud like a supermodel on Singapore's Tanglin Road, the St Regis, a Starwood luxury hotel, claims to be the first of its kind in Southeast Asia - home to a private art collection that you won't find anywhere else. With the famous Orchard Road a stone's throw away, the hotel enjoys a prime location that is likely to lure both the business and the leisure traveller.
In town for Singapore's Boat Show at the new marina, I had booked two nights in an Executive Deluxe Suite and, given my late afternoon arrival, fully expected my room to be ready.
"We can't find your name, sir," said the receptionist, who looked very smart in a fine, black business jacket, but left me standing there for 20 minutes until discovering that my name had been misspelled in the booking.
I felt better once installed in my Suite, which was indeed "Deluxe", with a pleasant view of the Botanical Gardens. The marbled floor, white walls, round column and shining chandelier were very much "American classic colonial", with the kingsize bed dominating much of the space but still leaving room for a sleek table and big, flatscreen television on one side and a comfortable red couch on the other.
The desk was big enough to work at, and came with a luxury leather chair. But unfortunately, the designers had forgotten to put in a power point, forcing me to move with my laptop to the bed.
That's when I discovered the hiccups over the spelling of my name were also stalling my access to the Internet. No problem: a call to my private butler and the problem was quickly resolved.
A beer from the wellstocked mini bar was next on the agenda, but one look at the price list convinced me that the hotel's fullsize bar was the right option for a bettermixed and cheaper drink.
My favourite space in the suite was definitely the bathroom - especially the tub, which was perfect for two. Sadly, I was on my own on this occasion so opted for the shower and a neckmassage from its highspeed jet.
The St Regis is a favourite with diplomats, businessman and wellheeled leisure travellers. The embassies of America, Japan, Saudi Arabia and China are clustered in one square kilometre nearby and the Australia and British High Commissions are a short walk away. Chances are you'll bump into some of the embassy crowd in the Decanter wine bar.
On my first evening, I mingled with several Indian families who were at the St Regis for a wedding. I also met an English couple, who grumbled about breakfast at Les Saveurs restaurant. They were upset because the St Regis had charged them extra for sausages. Seems the standard buffet is coffee, bread, fresh fruit and cereal. Unlike hotels in Thailand, you don't get ham and sausage. For that you have to go for the a la carte breakfast, which costs Bt700.
We had dinner at Yan Ting and thoroughly enjoyed chef Chan Siu Kong's Cantonese creations, particularly his "Buddha Jump Over the Wall" soup.
For those seeking elegance, the St Regis is a great choice, with chandeliers and original art lending a modern and opulent atmosphere.
Shopping on Orchard Road couldn't be simpler and also nearby is the latest hotspot, Dempsey Hill, a revamped colonial neighbourhood now bustling with worldclass dining, clubs, bars, antique furniture shops and gourmet grocers.
Art buffs will get a kick out of St Regis too, since the National Museum, Singapore Art and Asian Civilisations Museum and the Esplanade are just 15 minutes by car.
AT A GLANCE
High point: It's an elegant, luxury hotel in the heart of Singapore.
Low point: The staff are not as friendly as at leading hotels in Thailand.
Find it: on the corner of Tanglin and Orchard Roads.
Pay for it: An Executive Deluxe room starts at S$420 per night, and Executive Deluxe Suite is $1,150 per night.
Phone it: (++ 65) 6506 6888
Browse it: www.starwoodhotels.com/stregis/index.html