The Intercontinental Hotels Group continues to expand in Singapore – opening its sixth Singapore hotel through the new Holiday Inn Express Singapore Clarke Quay. This is the second “no frills” property of the group, after the successful Holiday Inn Express Singapore Orchard Road which opened around a year ago.
The hotel hosted me for a staycation less than two weeks after it opened its doors. Holiday Inn Express Singapore Clarke Quay is located around a block or two from the Singapore River, a stone’s throw away from the clubs and dining options at Clarke Quay. This makes the hotel a great location for those planning a late night out on the town.
While I expected a traditional and spartan look, the hotel’s interiors threw me off the first time I entered. The architecture, I must say, is quite bold and makes wonderful use of natural lighting. The lobby’s ceiling is actually decked in glass with the communal area being much bigger than the sister hotel. Nevertheless, the “Stay Smart” concept is still very evident. Pushcarts for guest use were in great supply by the entrance and in trademark Holiday Inn Express style, the staff were not wearing suits. I was promptly attended to during check-in and given keys to my room.
The rooms here are advertised at 19 square meters, meaning to say that size-wise, it lies at the “cozy” end in the spectrum of IHG hotels in Singapore. An unusual feature of the layout is that the room itself is not in a square or rectangular shaped. The window actually angled diagonally, allowing for natural light to enter even though my window faced south. The furnishings inside stay true to Holiday Inn Express’ efficient and functional proposition. A difference I noted was the usage of more wood and earthly tones in the Holiday Inn Express Singapore Clarke Quay compared to the slightly tropical and glass vibe in the Holiday Inn Express in Orchard Road.
The pillows here are also labeled as “soft” or “firm.” Again, it certainly is a nice touch to find this consistency here.
A sliding wooden door led to the cozy bathroom. As part of the hotel’s “Stay Smart” program, liquid soap and shampoo were provided in order to avoid wastage. No complaints from me here.
This being said, Holiday Inn Express Singapore Clarke Quay offered a wide array of amenities, from cotton buds to razors, and additional ones were provided upon request from the reception.
A unique feature of this no-frills hotel is the presence of a swimming pool and a gym, two things that are otherwise unheard of for a hotel of this category. So imagine my surprise when I ventured to the roof deck and saw some lounge chairs surrounded by a modest landscaped garden. This was definitely taking the no frills concept to the next level!
While there were no ironing boards inside the room, there is a laundry room in the second floor where guests could use the washing machine, for a small fee, and iron their clothes free of charge.
Breakfast (hours: 6:30am to 10:30am) was provided with every room stay at Holiday Inn Express Singapore Clarke Quay. These were available in the Great Room, which was designed very nicely for this particular hotel. Cozy chairs and couches were laid aplenty and there was even an outdoor area. During my stay, I preferred lounging around the latter where I could just watch life go by – the road outside was very much visible from the outdoor patio.
In trademark Holiday Inn Express style, guests could choose from two types of breakfast. For those with more time, the actual breakfast buffet consisted of a reasonable spread with 3 hot dishes, cereals, pastries, juices and fruits. Those with less time could opt for the “Grab and Go” option with some fruits, muffins and a cup of coffee. I was impressed to see how the staff managed to provide variety by changing the dishes served on a daily basi. On my first day, I had scrambled eggs, noodles and sausages. This made way for omelet, fried rice and a different kind of sausage during my second day.
All in all, Holiday Inn Express Singapore Clarke Quay continues to propagate IHG’s interpretation of the no-frills concept. And in this regard, I could see how this interpretation continues to evolve. With this hotel in Clarke Quay, this has meant having a swimming pool, roof deck and fitness center; in which case I am starting to wonder whether I could still truly classify this as a mere no-frills hotel, or maybe something in between. Then again, it is still pricing nicely – roughly equivalent to its sister hotel in Orchard Road and other hotels of similar class with fewer facilities. For a no nonsense hotel with a bit of leisure facilities, Holiday Inn Express Clarke Quay does offer a bit more, making it easy to appeal to both business and leisure travelers.
Holiday Inn Express Singapore Orchard Road
2 Magazine Road