Sofitel Singapore City Centre is the newest jewel in Accor Hotels’ crown in Singapore – being its 13th hotel in the Lion City and the 800th Accor hotel in Asia Pacific. Looming over the historic shophouses of Tanjong Pagar, the property marks the further southern development of Singapore’s CBD. Tanjong Pagar has always been known as a commercial area but in recent years, high rises (including Singapore’s tallest), luxury hotels and some Grade A offices have been thrown into the mix.
I was fortunate to be invited for a media preview of the Sofitel Singapore City Centre two days before the hotel officially opened. An experiential media preview that includes a stay is practically unheard of in the hospitality industry as any new property is bound to have teething problems at the beginning. The fact that a preview was organized was a sign of the intense preparation the staff must have been through as well as the management’s confidence in both the hard and soft product – a conviction that turned out to be spot on.
A growing trend in newer Singapore hotels is to have the grand lobbies somewhere higher up the building and such is the case with the Sofitel Singapore City Centre. Guests essentially enter via a smaller lobby on the ground floor and are greeted with an impressive nine-meter chandelier designed by Lasvit. The actual lobby is on the 7th floor and upon reaching it, guests encounter the reception desk. My check-in procedure was smooth and I was offered a welcome drink upon arrival.
A separate set of elevators takes guests to the rooms and the short stroll to it gives one a short overview of the lobby bar, 1864. Named after the year Tanjong Pagar’s docking industry was founded, the venue offers quirks such as a champagne-sabering ritual. During my stay there, it was the general manager himself, Wouter De Graaf, who did the champagne sabering in front of guests.
My room for this stay was the Luxury Room – Sofitel Singapore City Centre’s interpretation of the base-level room. It’s of sufficient size – at 38 square meters – making it at par with newer 5-star hotels. Sofitel’s French flair is evident with the elegant trappings inside the modestly-sized room – such as with the flamboyantly colored throw pillows that somehow seem to match the abstract painting by the wall. Furnishings are plush. The ottoman in front of the bed is convenient. Alternatively, guests can choose between the comfy armchair (my favorite spot in the room), the desk chair or the leather stool to sit on. But why sit when the immaculately set bed is calling. It was unbelievably fluffy and I could not help but doze off within minutes of lying down.
Some elements of the room were specially crafted for the Sofitel Singapore City Centre such as the cute and handy stationary box (it has a twin inside the bathroom) and the special leather container for the Nespresso coffee capsules.
The room comes with a relatively modest minibar that can be customized depending on guests’ needs. By default, beverages offered include local drinks but a quick call can summon the hotel’s inhouse robot, Sophie, to deliver other beverages such as softdrinks and juices. It is also worth noting that rooms from the second category (i.e. Luxury Premium Room and above) get to have the non-alcoholic drinks and snacks inside the minibar on a complimentary basis.
Non-Apple users will find the Bose bluetooth speakers inside the room a welcome relief. Connection with my device was painless and the remote allowed for easy customizing of my music even in bed. Overseas guests will be delighted by the Handyphone found by the desk which allows for free calls (including overseas ones) and mobile internet connectivity while in Singapore.
Other in-room quirks include a coloring book which has an interesting concept. With pages lifted from scenes in Singapore, guests are invited to color on any page they wish. The condition though, is that one must not take home the coloring book in order for the next guest to continue on from where the previous guest left off. Guests who are not creatively inclined can also take a pick from a range of hardcopy books dealing with local topics – a crash course into Singapore life for foreign visitors.
The bathroom is equally delightful and luxurious. While the layout is standard with a bathtub on one side and separate toilet and shower areas on the other, it is the fixtures which add a special touch. All the toiletries for example, are neatly packed within three tiers in this cute box specially designed for the hotel.
The bathtub on the other hand comes with a stand which has nice little holders where you can secure a book as well as wine glasses (which are made in plastic for the purpose of safety in the bathtub!). It’s a thoughtful little feature for guests who just like to have a long soak while having a good read and enjoying a glass of champagne.
As with Sofitel properties elsewhere, the toiletries are from Lanvin, one of the most luxurious brands I’ve encountered in a hotel. It steps up to Hermes branded toiletries for higher category rooms.
Most of the facilities of the Sofitel Singapore City Centre are located in Level 6. This is where you will find the in-house gym, the Club Millesime or Sofitel’s version of the club lounge, the swimming pool as well as a walkway that leads to Virgin Active Gym next door. For guests staying in Luxury Premium rooms (2nd category) and above, it is worth noting that entry to the Virgin Active gym is free while guests staying in the base-level rooms need to pay a small fee.
For short stays, I think the inhouse gym is sufficient. It comes with a few treadmills, exercise machines and free weights.
Where you’ll probably spend more time is at the picturesque swimming pool of the Sofitel Singapore City Centre. I absolutely love the three-tiered pool setup that ranges from a kids-friendly wading pool to the jacuzzi in the middle (with pretty strong massage jets) and finally, the proper lap pool. The lush vegetation surrounding the pool and the numerous lounge chairs and daybeds create a semi-resort feel.
The Club Millesime of Sofitel Singapore City Centre was not yet functioning during my stay but I dropped by just to have a look. The setup seems to be highly oriented towards F&B, with an elaborate dining setup that includes a full set of cutlery, wine glasses and table napkins. I was told that the club lounge will have its own kitchen as well – a departure from lounges elsewhere where the food is just brought up from the restaurant. This will allow guests to savor genuine made-to-order breakfast items at the lounge.
Breakfast at Racines, Sofitel Singapore City Centre
My stay at the Sofitel Singapore City Centre came with breakfast which is served at the hotel’s flagship restaurant, Racines. Personally, it is probably my favorite spot in the hotel with its bright and airy design made possible with the floor-to-ceiling windows. I particularly loved the leading lines that accentuate the elegant look of the venue.
The breakfast spread at Racines is quite modest but the dishes offered are of a premium quality. Think sausages with Kurobuta pork, a honeycomb sitting alongside pastries as well as freshly-squeezed juices (there’s an orange squeezer in the beverage section).
It has been a while since the last luxury 5-star hotel opened in Singapore and the Sofitel Singapore City Centre is probably one of the most elegant in the city today. It does so without being ostentatious – the refined furnishings and interiors exude class in a more practical way. Service was fantastic and I thought the staff were highly responsive – from the front desk down to the bell hop at the ground floor lobby who were proactive in asking me if I needed a car. What I like most though is the excellent value this property offers. The rates I am seeing right now for a base level room are slightly below S$300 before taxes – making it one of the most competitively-priced luxury hotels in the city. In fact, I am already planning my next stay there – primarily to check out how the club lounge offerings pan out. I can’t wait to be back.
Sofitel Singapore City Centre
9 Wallich Street, (Enter via Peck Seah Street), 078885
+65 6428 5000