Conrad Centennial, Singapore
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What is Chrissy’s Collection?With her lengthy travel background, Chrissy has years of experience assessing accommodation with quality and customer satisfaction firmly in mind. She was also a hands-on Director of an upmarket Kensington apartment-hotel for five years.
As our own Silver Travel Advisor we are delighted that Chrissy brings her experience and eye for stylish detail when she reviews Boutique and Country house hotels. Chrissy’s Collection are her personal recommendations of hotels with something extra that makes them stand out from the rest: discreet and exceptional levels of personal service; stylish, contemporary and comfortable interiors where relaxation is key; smaller, quirky or character properties; luxury hotels with super spa facilities, exquisite dining or amazing locations. In short, very special places.
We had been pampered, dining liked Kings and thoroughly spoiled on our cruise ship Azamara Journey. Although excited to be in Singapore, a city neither of us had visited before docking the previous day, we felt slightly deflated as we disembarked. After all, the ship had been our luxurious home-from-home for almost three weeks. How could we top that?
In anticipation of possible end-of-cruise blues, we had extended our stay in Singapore by two days rather than go completely ‘cold turkey’ back to the UK. We chose one of the Azamara recommended hotels: the Conrad Centennial. As it turned out we needn’t have worried. The Centennial was the perfect, luxurious, stepping-stone from ship to home. Our magical trip was not over. We were in very safe hands.
Arriving at the hotel with its sweeping staircase centre-stage in the magnificent lobby, the Centennial oozed contemporary style and elegance. This was further enhanced by a diverse collection of artwork and sculpture throughout the public rooms as well as the guestrooms. A spa, 24 hour fitness centre, range of beauty treatments and outdoor swimming pool, the Centennial has excellent facilities. Sadly, with only a couple of days and lots to see, we weren’t going to have time to sample all of them.
Singapore is small - 26 miles east to west, 14 miles north to south, so it is possible to get a good feel for this city state in a few days. Our first foray was on the bus. Top deck, front seat, fabulous views. As we drove along the wide tree-lined roads we were struck by the abundance of tropical greenery, cleanliness, high-rise apartments and some stunning contemporary architecture. I had heard Singapore referred to as a concrete jungle and it’s true it is very built-up. However, with all the plants and trees, open manicured spaces and an area of natural tropical rain forest left untouched, it has a lot going for it.
With our EZ link card for Singapore’s excellent underground, rail and bus system, getting around is extremely easy and very cheap, particularly when compared to prices in London. For example, a six stop journey on the MRT (tube) cost less than 50p. The hotel is also perfectly located, only moments from the nearest MRT tube station.
A visit to Singapore would be incomplete without a visit to Raffles Hotel. We had our obligatory Singapore Sling cocktails in the famous Long Bar, which is open to non-residents, followed by dinner in the Tiffin Room where a curry buffet has been served since 1899. Needless to say, the food was delicious.
After dinner we hopped a taxi to Chinatown and walked through the narrow, brightly lit, bustling streets, in the warm evening. One of three distinct and vibrant migrant communities on the island, reflecting the country’s historical and cultural roots, Chinatown, Little India and Haji Lane - the Arab area - are a maze of streets. Original, two-storey, brightly coloured, buildings with an exotic array of shops, pagodas, temples and mosques, stand in stark contrast to the gleaming, architecturally stunning, tower blocks that are more typical throughout Singapore.
Back to the hotel and our lovely, spacious, room. After a soak in the luxuriously deep bath, we were asleep as soon as our heads hit the pillows. Possibly something to do with the Conrad pillow policy: an amazing choice of 16 different types of pillows from their pillow menu. Yes, that’s right, a pillow menu. Well it certainly worked for us!
After an excellent breakfast at the Centennial we went to the nearby Marina Bay area of the city. A new development, the Marina Bay Sands hotel consists of three towers with a Sky Deck that straddles the top of the buildings. At ear-popping speed the lift whisked us to the public viewing deck on the 55th floor for a breathtaking 360 degree view. Worth going for the views alone, but for lovers of contemporary design and architecture, this is a stunning building that shouldn’t be missed.
Lunch beckoned. One stop on the MRT and we were back at the Centennial. The hotel’s multi-award winning Chinese Restaurant, the Golden Peony, specialise in Cantonese dishes, particularly dim sung. We popped our heads round the door but it was very busy with locals – always a good sign. Shame we didn’t have a reservation! However, Oscar’s, the hotel’s 24 hour restaurant was a great alternative. With an excellent buffet selection the food was mouth-wateringly good. Just when I thought I couldn’t eat anything else my attention was drawn to their signature chocolate cake. Probably shouldn’t have had the cake – well at least not the second slice – but irresistible and truly delicious.
More sightseeing and window-shopping down Orchard Road, Singapore’s main shopping district, and our last hours in Asia were ticking by. Before leaving for the airport, though, we spent an hour or so relaxing in the stylish Lobby Lounge. The pianist, jazz singer and surroundings made the perfect, fitting, finale to our fabulous trip.
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