Right towards the end of last year, I snuck in one last staycation for the year using the SingapoRediscover Vouchers. A government initiative to kick start the local hospitality industry as well as a little cooling mechanism for travel thirsty Singaporeans while international travels remains a bummer. Every Singaporeans above 18 get 100 SGD which they can use to offset any staycations, tours or attractions booked thru a couple of authorized platform. Staycations is definitely the only thing on Seeing The World In Steps mind, which brings me to today’s review, Grand Park City Hall! A 5 star hotel under the Park Hotel Group in the area of City Hall, within walking distance to Raffles City, Chijmes, Funan and Capitol. They also have a sister property in Orchard, which is rather famous nowadays, at least if you are a little active on social media recently!
As mentioned above, I was making a booking using the SingapoRediscover Vouchers and I book this room package via Klook. Grand Park City Hall was approved for local staycations not long ago. Riding on the staycation wave and the festives ahead, they launch these two packages. One night stay in a Deluxe Room with Breakfast for 2 at 50 Nett (150 Nett with usage of 100 SRV). One night stay in a Crystal Club Deluxe Room with Breakfast for 2 at 110 Nett (210 Nett with usage of 100 SRV). To put it simply, you are paying 60 SGD Nett extra to get club benefits for 2. You will also enjoy having breakfast in the club lounge as well as a choice between afternoon tea or evening cocktails. The room is exactly the same, be it on a higher level. Besides a more exclusive breakfast dining environment, everything else is the same since I was informed that the breakfast menu will be exactly the same. What really caught my attention was being able to book at the same rate during the December school holidays. I got the Crystal Club Deluxe Room for a one night stay, paying 110 nett out of pocket. Read on to see if it will be worthwhile paying that extra 60 bucks! Grand Park City Hall has a total of 343 rooms and suites spread throughout 11 categories.
|Rooms||Crystal Club Access||Bathtub||Size||No. of Rooms|
|Deluxe||No||No||28 – 30 Sqm||143|
|Premier||No||Yes||28 – 32 Sqm||70|
|Corner Studio||No||No||35 Sqm||4|
|Crystal Club Deluxe||Yes||No||28 – 30 Sqm||53|
|Crystal Club Premier||Yes||Yes||32 -34 Sqm||28|
|Junior Suite||Yes||No||35 Sqm||26|
|Family Suite||Yes||Yes||60 – 64 Sqm||12|
|Garden Junior Suite||Yes||No||55 Sqm||3|
|Oasis Junior Suite||Yes||Outdoor Jacuzzi||75 Sqm||2|
|Park Suite||Yes||Yes & Outdoor Jacuzzi||135 Sqm||1|
|Coleman Suite||Yes||Yes & Outdoor Jacuzzi||145 Sqm||1|
I arrive around 2pm where I have made an appointment for check in beforehand as well via the link provided a week before. While everything is never the same these days, Grand Park City Hall certainly have one of the weirdest check in procedure I have seen. It is a heck complicated and duplicate work. The first level is just a small reception area where a staff is onhand to collect your ID and perhaps verify your check in appointment. Then we waited for around 10 mins before another staff show up to escort us up to Level 3, the main lobby.
We are brought to a retrofitted waiting area that looks more like a hot desking area and factory looking like. Definitely doesn’t scream 5 star to me! We are ushered to some office desks while a staff came over to sort out some forms and registration. This is probably a temporary expansion to skirt current COVID space capacity regulations. They went thru everything again, including breakfast appointment, timing for club lounge despite of the pre arrival reservations. On the bright side, they had really comfy ergonomics office chairs that provides tons of back support.
Lastly, after 45 mins or so, we are told that our room is ready and we are brought over to the actual check in desk like a regular hotel stay, where the check in process was finalized. The actual check in area was actually rather lovely. Receptionist was rather cookie cutter and does the bare minimum though. They in fact forget to inform the core info like informing us on the wifi as well as the lift situation, which we were left to figure out ourselves. At least on the second try, we had realised that the guest rooms floor buttons were missing for a purpose, the scanner recognise our key cards and select automatically. So no change of lift is required! A nice touch would be, “Enjoy your stay Mr Wee, the elevators are on the right, just tap your key cards and the floor will be selected automatically”. Check out time was not mentioned as well until asked. I didn’t border seeking an extension given the high occupancy.
Retrospectively, at least I did not have to face such crowds and 6 to 7 hours of wait at their sister property, Grand Park Orchard recently.
Crystal Club Deluxe Room
While the reception area are trash, at least for now, the rooms are pretty nice and chic! My room is located on the 9th floor, the Crystal Club floor. While not spacious, the room felt welcoming and with a flair of oriental peranakan feel, while being modern at the same time. I love the non-carpeted flooring. The retro looking tiles at the entrance also adds up a hint of nostalgia and contrast. The use of cool tones with usage of grey, dark brown finishes as well as warm lighting and the B&W painting. It is stylish! Immediately to the right of the entrance you can find the spacious wardrobes. An ironing kit as well as other amenities are provided inside. You can find the hairdryer, bath slippers along a luggage rack as well.
Measuring close to 30 Sqm, you can see the entire room in one look. Although the little touches here and there make it look more spacious that it is. I believe it’s basically the same base level room just that these are located on the club level. I’m not sure if the amenities inside are any different since I did not get to check out the other rooms. You can find a lush king size bed in the middle of the room facing a flat screen tv on the wall. Channels were rather limited here, with only the bare minimum. Screen mirroring works for those using an android platform phone.
The bed was lush and comfy, it wasn’t too soft for my liking. However the pillows were rather underwhelming, while it was fluffy they weren’t full size. Surrounding the bed were two night stands. You could find a JBL speaker on one side and on the other you can find a built in wireless phone charger onto the table. Besides the regular sockets, you can find USB chargers here too. Full marks on this area. A rather techy room. Rooms here are said to be smart, everything is controlled by this little smart interface remote on wall. You can also connect thru the hotel app to control using your phone. While easily understood and sensitive to touch. It will be even better if the remote is a removable one. Wifi connection was strong and simple to connect.
At the far end of the room you can find a built in seating area onto the window bay as well as an expandable table acting as a working desk or coffee table. I love how they does all these little touches to save space. Outlets can be easily found here on the side in a little depression on the wall.
While located on the highest level, there was nothing worth mentioning in regards to the. It faces the centenarian looking Peninsula Shopping Centre. Although at the very top, you do get a “partial” view of MBS.
At the side of the window you can find the mini bar area and it’s in a sharp purple box. It certainly stands out from the rest of the room! Two bottles of water are provided here along with a kettle with some tea bags and instant coffee. 1872 Clipper Tea Co. products are provided. You can also find a fridge below, left empty, perhaps due to current COVID consideration. A basic nespresso machine with a couple of pods couldn’t be too much to ask at a 5 star hotel club room? Given the price difference between it and a normal base level room!
Bathroom, located right by the entrance to the left remains the highlight here. With transparent glass panels it opens up to the room, making it look more spacious. Those who requires a little more privacy, there are shades that you can let down. This is rather crucial for family stays. The space is rather tight and in fact it even lack storages for the bath towels. I do love the mirror with integrated light which adds up some class. The deluxe rooms doesn’t come with a bathtub but only a standing rain shower. Showering area is spacious although the water pressure is very weak and that is one huge disappointment. Without saying, showering became such a burden.
Toiletries from Appelles Apothecary, an Australian brand are provided. I’m new to them but found them rather lovely with the spices based and essential oils scent. You can find unique products like Eucalyptus & Lemongrass Shampoo, Sandalwood & Kakadu Plum Conditioner. It rather reminds me of Aesop, also another Australian brand. Dental kit and other amenities are provided as well.
The gym was located by the pool, on the 4th floor. Reservations are required and in 2 hour slots. It is definitely worthwhile to book earlier than later, given how crowded hotels can be these days. From what it seems on their booking link, it can be book up to one month in advance. While I did not partake in any gymming, I had a brief look and it is not welcoming at all. The space is very tight and claustrophobic. It is also not manned, given current health considerations, it is doubtful that the equipments are sterilized after each use.
The pool is located on the 4th floor and sadly I did not have the opportunity to use it given the gloomy weather throughout my stay. While it is a pretty nice space, it is rather small and shallow. More suitable for some wadding or just lazing around. Due to the capacity cap and control it is better to reserve your slots in advance which are in 2 hours periods. I also had this little convo with the staff manning the access which was rather amusing. “So sorry, the pool is full now. But are you entering the pool? If you do not enter the pool it’s fine.” Understood that the capacity cap is depending on the area of the facility but how in the world are they going to monitor if I enter the pool or not? If I’m wet when leaving later? Hahah this gotta be one social distancing measures loophole!
Club rooms and suites guests get access to the executive lounge known as Crystal Club, which is located on the 9th floor. The lounge is located towards the far end of a side. There wasn’t any signage and you will definitely have miss it if you don’t explore around. With a rather modest entrance, the Crystal Club was actually rather lovely. I love how bright the place is and those marble tables. The place wasn’t big and it will certainly fill up easily. There is also an outdoor patio area which is certainly awesome for breakfast when the weather is good.
The lounge could only sit a max of 22 people when the outdoor patio is closed due to weather, like on the day of my visit. I can see why they have to make people choose between the 2 service and limit at 1.5 hours. It is unpleasant that you can only choose between the 2 service while paying for club access. Reservations can be made on the link given together with the pre arrival email. Although somehow, it did not work for me. A simple email to the reservations team solved it. Not like reservations matter anyway, more on that later.
Kids are allowed here and it can get pretty chaotic at times. Not to offend others but I adhere that executive lounge / first class should not have kids around. Or at least those that could not keep to themselves or scream at the height of their voice. A good 12 years old and above requirement would suffice. I was down for evening cocktails at 6pm and was greeted by a nonchalant and unpolished staff. Probably exacerbated by the fact that he is the only one working the entire area. Service is lacking, and I blame it more on the management rather than the individual staff. Given that you are not allowed to help yourself, this is a key issue. Half of the food arrive while my companion had to wait and I did not get my drinks until 15 mins later. Refills were another good wait. So near, yet so far.
The evening cocktails offerings were miserable but edible. There were no menu. On the evening of my visit, each person get one chicken satay, one siew mai, one spring roll, one mini burrata with tomatoes. Lastly you are also given a small bowl of fried rice. The food was actually pretty good and I wanted some extra satay and spring rolls but were told no refills. That is stingy. I could have gotten more food from a buffet catering at 10 SGD / pax.
Drinks wise, besides soft drinks, juices, coffee and tea you can also find some liqueurs, a red, a white and a sparkling wine. Mixers are provided and Tiger Beer is available as well. Standard quality selections of drinks but unlimited. Although with such sparse service, you have to beg for refills. It doesn’t feel worthwhile paying 60 bucks at all! It felt like a scam that I hadn’t encounter for quite some time. Remember my coconuts scam from the good old days?
Breakfast was served in either Tablescape Restaurant at level 3 or at Crystal Club, with the Crystal Club reserved exclusively for club guests. Given the amount of people we have seen elsewhere, we decided to stick to the lounge for a much quieter affair. Furthermore, the menu and serving was exactly the same. I went for breakfast at 8am and the place was empty. It does fill up a little later on. With clear skies in the morning, I also get to check out the patio area of the lounge. You are able to sit outdoors as well, it is a lovely place and helps with the capacity of the Crystal Club as well. I wasn’t expecting much after my insight last evening but breakfast turn out to be better. Service was better than last evening, given the lack of people at this hour but still sparse. With one lounge attendant working the entire place, there was a wait for almost everything and drinks orders are often miss out by them. Here is the menu for breakfast. Breakfast cost 38 SGD.
You are allowed one item from each section. No refills allowed. At least they are a pretty substantial portion when you add up everything. I am satisfied with it. There is both eggs and a main option which fills you up.
We tried most of the items and they were rather good and nice. I would say that it is delicious even! While there was a wait, the eggs were cook to order and served while hot. It will be disastrous if you are made to wait and still being served lukewarm items. The pork sausages, bacon and omelettes are the stars here. Congee was rather good as well.
To sum up, one of the most unmemorable staycation I ever had. Although the minimal out of pocket payment soften the blow. I will definitely not recommend this place. There are better places out there to use your SRV. While Grand Park City Hall have lovely rooms and breakfast, the Crystal Club felt like a scam at best. Thinking about it, I am still regretting forking out 60 SGD extra for that miserable Crystal Club. The base level room with breakfast at 150 SGD would be a better bet. Given how you will get the same room. Crystal Club check in was advertised but in fact non existent, which could have been helpful these days. However, at the point of writing, prices have already increase to 190 SGD for the deluxe room and 270 SGD for the club room. Without the ability to earn “useful” nights or points and vouchers to use. It might be a tough decision to come back. Despite how comfortable the rooms are, it wasn’t a 5 star hotel experience, at least during these days!