While the Four Seasons is associated today with refined luxury, the brand’s roots are rather more humble. Back in 1961, the first-ever Four Seasons opened: a motor hotel in downtown Toronto. It was a modest building, focused mainly on business travellers.
But through the years the hotel’s footprint and reputation grew. It became the first in North America to introduce items like bath amenities, robes and hair dryers, things long since taken for granted. It pioneered twice-daily housekeeping, one-hour pressing and round-the-clock dry cleaning, providing busy road warriors with the flexibility they needed. Today, Four Seasons has more than 100 hotels worldwide, plus a jet and private island too for good measure.
The chain entered Singapore in 1994, a joint venture with Ong Beng Seng’s Hotel Properties Limited. Roots were laid down in a quiet plot of land just off Orchard Road, and while the building wasn’t particularly visually-striking, behind that unassuming façade was a world of opulence. In addition to the luxurious and larger-than-average rooms, guests could enjoy amenities like new-age flotation tanks in the health club (membership fee: S$30,000) and the country’s first air-conditioned tennis courts.
I’d never stayed in a Four Seasons before, but figured there was no time like the present to take the plunge.
|Note: The following staycation was provided by HoteLux, a luxury hotel booking platform. The property itself has no editorial control nor right of review prior to publication.|
|📋 In This Review|
|🏨 Other Staycation Reviews|
|Andaz Singapore | Crowne Plaza Changi Airport | Conrad Singapore | Dusit Thani Laguna | Duxton Reserve | Hilton Singapore | Hotel 81 Tristar | Hotel G | Hotel Soloha | InterContinental Bugis | Mandarin Orchard | Mandarin Oriental Singapore | Marina Bay Sands | M Social | Outpost Hotel | Pan Pacific Singapore | PARKROYAL Pickering | Raffles Hotel | Shangri-La Singapore | The Capitol Kempinski | The Barracks Hotel | The Fullerton Hotel | W Hotel Sentosa Cove | YOTELAIR Changi Airport|
Booking a Four Seasons Staycation
I booked this staycation through HoteLux, which gave me access to Four Seasons Preferred Partner rates.
This is Four Season’s luxury agent program, and bookings receive additional benefits such as:
- Breakfast for two, either in restaurant or in-room dining
- One category upgrade upon availability (excluding signature suites & villas)
- US$100 hotel credit
- Early-check in, upon availability
I managed to find a rate of S$340++ (S$400 nett) for a Sunday to Monday stay. While luxury agent bookings are normally fully flexible, Four Seasons Singapore is doing something a bit unusual in offering Four Season Preferred Partner benefits on advance purchase rates (i.e no refunds). Had I booked the vanilla Preferred Partner rate with 24-hour cancellation, it’d have cost S$400++ (S$471 nett).
In any case, it’s certainly much better to book through the Preferred Partner program than the official website. For the dates I was looking at, a breakfast-included room would have cost S$328++ (S$386 nett). The extra S$14 gets you a US$100 hotel credit plus a room upgrade- really a no-brainer.
|🩺 Four Seasons Healthcare Hero rates|
|If you happen to be a healthcare worker, do note you can book a Healthcare Heroes rate directly with the hotel for just S$250++ (S$294 nett), a flat price that applies regardless of weekday or weekend. This comes with breakfast for two and two cocktails.|
Four Seasons: Arrival & Check-in
The Four Seasons is located at 190 Orchard Blvd, within walking distance of the Orchard Road shopping district. The closest MRT is at Orchard, but you’ll need to walk about five minutes to the hotel along an unsheltered road. While there’s a bus stop just outside the hotel, it’s on the opposite side of the road, and you’ll have to carry your baggage up the overhead bridge, or backtrack to the traffic junction at Wheelock and double back.
Do note that the sidewalk leading to the Four Seasons is cracked and uneven (tree roots have forced their way under the concrete), so it’s not particularly easy to drag a bag. Unless you’re packing light, I’d save the trouble and just take a cab (parking is complimentary for all in-house guests).
I arrived at the hotel slightly after 12 p.m on Sunday. The doormen immediately came over to assist with luggage, and ushered us into the hotel.
As you might expect, the Four Seasons’ lobby is a picture of old-world elegance. The main entrance foyer resides under a dome, with a floral centerpiece and ornate golden Chinese screens behind it (more than 1,500 pieces of Asian and international artwork and sculptures adorn the public spaces and guest rooms).
Slightly further is the check-in area, flanked by wooden varnished columns and socially-distanced seating areas.
Prior to the stay, the concierge reached out to ask if we were celebrating any special occasion. Well not really, but The Milelioness’ birthday was a month ago, so I said it was a belated birthday celebration. That message was passed along accordingly, and one of the first things the front desk staff greeted her with. A small cake was waiting in the room later on.
At check-in, I was presented with a letter detailing the benefits of Four Seasons Preferred Partner rates (these letters show the agency as Shanghai Shenyou Travel instead of HoteLux, which I guess has to do with the parent company). Unfortunately, Four Season’s doesn’t use a very generous rate for converting the US$100 credit. While other hotels I’ve stayed at use spot or slightly above spot rates, here it was a mere 1.26 (spot rate: 1.33).
While late check-out is not a benefit of Preferred Partner rates, they were happy to extend a 2 p.m check-out the following day.
Four Seasons: Premier Room
The Four Seasons has a total of 255 rooms, split into 215 regular rooms and 40 suites:
|Room Type||Size||No. of Rooms|
|Deluxe Room||49 sqm||215|
|Boulevard Room||49 sqm|
|Premier Room||58 sqm|
|Executive Suite||75 sqm||40|
|One-Bedroom Suite||91 sqm|
|Governor One-Bedroom Suite||162 sqm|
|Ambassador One-Bedroom Suite||162 sqm|
|Royal One-Bedroom Suite||155 sqm|
|Presidential Suite||199 sqm|
I’d booked a Deluxe Room, but remember, my HoteLux reservation came with a complimentary one-category upgrade. I was worried Four Seasons might do the dreaded “view upgrade” and put me in a Boulevard Room (unless we’re on the Pacific Coast or somewhere equally picturesque, “view upgrades” must be the biggest shams in the hospitality industry), but fortunately I ended up in a 58 sqm Premier Room. These are located at the corners of each floor, providing some extra space. While I was crossing my fingers for more (based on past reports, Preferred Partner bookings at the Four Seasons Singapore sometimes get upgraded to Executive Suites), I suppose there’s no sense getting greedy.
I have to be honest. I had misgivings about booking the Four Seasons, given its 1994 vintage. I thought the hotel would end up being one of those “well, it was nice when it opened” places like the Shangri-La Valley Wing or Goodwood Park. The corridors were already giving off that vibe, with their beige walls and white skirting.
But one step into the room, and all those fears were cast aside. It was absolutely stunning. All 255 rooms went under the knife during a multimillion dollar renovation from 2016 to 2018, and it’s clear that work has paid dividends.
Gone are the old drab interiors, ripped out and replaced with a modern colour palette that veers blue and lime green. The room is blessed with abundant natural light, and the beautiful carpets help further exaggerate the effect. At first I thought the streaks on the carpet were sunbeams flooding into the room; on closer inspection, it’s actually clever design.
A full height Peranakan mural wall is a standard feature in each room, comprising a sampling of traditional tiles set against a baby blue backdrop.
The renovations were overseen by HBA, which you might recall is the same company engaged by Singapore Airlines to makeover their Terminal 3 lounges at Changi. Having seen their work at the Four Seasons, I can definitely sense their design philosophy in the mockups we’ve seen of the First Class lounge.
The size of the Premier Room allows for a dedicated dressing table and large vanity mirror, where the staff had written a happy birthday message for the Milelioness.
On the dressing table was a small hygiene kit, with wet wipes, hand sanitizer and a pair of masks.
At the other end of the room near the windows was a settee, handsomely upholstered in grey tones. A little side-table allowed you to take coffee or place small items while you lounged.
Thanks to its corner location, Premier Room guests get a wraparound view of the surrounding neighbourhood.
Four Seasons is known for their beds, and with good reason. This king-sized bed was heavenly, and I’d rank it among the best hotel sleeps I’ve ever had. It’d even a candidate for my next bed at home, if only I could figure out how to import it.
The default pillows were way too soft for my liking, but of course the Four Seasons has a pillow menu. I personally liked the contour pillow with charcoal memory foam, and the staff didn’t even blink when I requested four different ones to try.
Both bedsides had universal power outlets and USB charging ports. Four Seasons has done some future-proofing by installing USB-C outlets, alongside the more traditional USB-A ones. Curtains are controlled electronically, as are the DND and make up room signs.
Other thoughtful design choices include backlit switches, which makes finding them so much easier at night.
The room didn’t have a work desk as such, but rather a round coffee table with two chairs. If you’re planning to sit here for a prolonged period, you’ll probably need to use one of the bed pillows to support your back as the chairs don’t have great lumbar support.
Adjacent to the coffee table is a pair of universal power outlets, USB charging ports and a Bose speaker.
Four Seasons Preferred Partner bookings can enjoy free premium Wi-Fi, but only if you book a suite. I sure as heck wasn’t going to pay S$25 a day for faster speeds, so I settled for the complimentary plan.
Unfortunately, the Wi-Fi performance on the complimentary network was notably slow, and towards the bottom quartile of all hotels I’ve visited so far. It’s good enough for most things, but you may notice some roughness around the edges when doing heavy-duty streaming or video calls.
|Mandarin Orchard||273 Mbps||294 Mbps|
|M Social Singapore||46 Mbps||49 Mbps|
|YOTELAir Changi||29 Mbps||49 Mbps|
|W Sentosa Cove||34 Mbps||34 Mbps|
|Duxton Reserve||28 Mbps||29 Mbps|
|Mandarin Oriental||28 Mbps||28 Mbps|
|The Fullerton Hotel||23 Mbps||24 Mbps|
|PARKROYAL Pickering||24 Mbps||23 Mbps|
|Shangri-La Singapore||19 Mbps||18 Mbps|
|Pan Pacific Singapore||19 Mbps||19 Mbps|
|Dusit Thani Laguna Singapore||19 Mbps||19 Mbps|
|InterContinental Bugis||15 Mbps||15 Mbps|
|The Capitol Kempinski Hotel||16 Mbps||13 Mbps|
|Hilton Singapore||13 Mbps||14 Mbps|
|Marina Bay Sands||11 Mbps||11 Mbps|
|Andaz Singapore||8.0 Mbps||9.5 Mbps|
|Four Seasons Singapore||6.7 Mbps||9.8 Mbps|
|The Barracks Hotel||7.3 Mbps||7.7 Mbps|
|Hotel 81 Tristar||7.0 Mbps||6.8 Mbps|
|Raffles Hotel||6.9 Mbps||6.8 Mbps|
|Hotel Soloha||4.7 Mbps||5.1 Mbps|
|Hotel G Singapore||4.4 Mbps||4.8 Mbps|
|Internet speeds based on Speedtest.net scores|
The room’s TV does does support streaming, but only from Apple devices. It seems strange that no similar functionality was offered for Android, but you can always connect a HDMI cable to your laptop the old fashioned way.
A wide variety of TV channels were listed, across multiple languages.
Football fans will be pleased to know that Mio Stadium is available, and I was treated to an unusually competent Arsenal performance.
The mini-bar area had a Lavazza coffee machine, kettle and mineral water. Do note that the Aqua Panna in the photo isn’t complimentary- that will cost you a hefty S$12++ per bottle. However, you can get as many of the house brand water bottles as you wish.
The drawer below contained Lavazza coffee capsules and Monogram tea bags- fancy stuff. I’m not a coffee drinker, but The Milelioness tells me she often wishes hotels would provide some complimentary UHT milk in the fridge; it makes a big difference for coffee addicts.
Inside the mini-fridge was the usual assortment of soft drinks, juices, beer and hard liquor. Sample prices: S$8++ for a Coke, S$12++ for Alain Milliat juice, S$12++ for a Tiger Beer, S$5.50 for a bag of potato chips. Yeah, it’s hotel prices.
Just outside the bathroom was an elongated wardrobe, with abundant space for all your clothes, plus an ironing board, luggage rack and umbrella. The room’s safe was also here.
The Premier Room’s bathroom is decked out in marble, and as spacious as they come.
It may not look as modern as the rest of the room (it’s the tiles, I swear), but it’s still a massive upgrade from its previous iteration, as seen in the photo below from 2014. Try looking at these two pictures side by side for maximum impact.
Guests enjoy both a bathtub and shower, dual sinks, and a separate enclave for the toilet.
The bathtub came pre-filled with some rose petals. It’s a little stubby in my opinion, and definitely single occupancy only.
I loved the fact that some effervescent tablets were provided, although I couldn’t quite get them to foam. They’re no substitute for Lush bath bombs, that’s for sure.
A ceiling flush-mounted Grohe rain shower provides good water pressure and a fairly large coverage area. There’s no bench in the shower though, so you’ll have to wash your feet the old fashioned way.
The section containing the toilet has its own sliding door, plus a stand-alone bidet. This is probably the oldest-looking part of the entire room, and I do wish they’d concealed the cistern and add an electronic bidet seat during the renovation.
Bathroom amenities are from L’Occitane (and incidentally, exactly the same as the ones I had on Royal Caribbean).
On the whole, I’m definitely a fan of the Four Seasons Singapore room. It was spacious, modern, and felt impeccably clean. While it’s clear that some parts got more TLC during the renovation than others (that toilet area feels like a jarring contrast to the overall aesthetic), HBA has done a commendable job of updating the design to something contemporary and pleasing to the eye.
Four Seasons Singapore: Breakfast
|One-Ninety||A la carte menu||Single item + |
A la carte continental buffet
|6.30 a.m to 10.30 a.m||Mimosas offered||None|
Breakfast is served at One-Ninety restaurant in the lobby from 6.30 a.m to 10.30 a.m daily.
This is done in a hybrid style. Guests can take as much as they want from the continental buffet, but they’re limited to a single main course from the menu. It’s somewhat disappointing for an uberluxe hotel, where you don’t expect this kind of limitation.
There was some confusion initially when the menu was presented. I had emailed the hotel beforehand to ask about breakfast options, and was directed to this page. However, the menu provided at One-Ninety had far fewer options, and was missing things like the chili crab omelette, avocado toast with eggs, nasi lemak, and nasi goreng.
I asked the staff about this, and they invited me to choose from the bigger menu instead. So I suppose that’s one tip for all guests- be sure to check out the “secret menu” ahead of time.
The buffet spread, as mentioned, consists entirely of continental breakfast items (no hot food here).
I’ll let the photos speak for themselves, but you can expect things like toast, cold cuts, muesli, fruits, pastries and cereal. The staff will help you plate items; you just point at what you like.
For the mains, we ordered the chili crab omelette and the ricotta cheese pancake.
I had just come from the Duxton Reserve where their rendition of a chili crab omelette was miserly, oily mess of chili with the occasional flotsam of crab meat. The Four Seasons version, mercifully, was much better. I can’t say the presentation was the best (it’s tough to plate something like chili crab anyway), but there were generous chunks of crab meat laid on top of a perfectly-cooked fluffy omelette. Bonus points for providing fried mantou instead of the steamed ones- since when was chili crab an exercise in damage limitation anyway.
The ricotta pancake came in a cast iron skillet, and reminded me of a dutch baby in terms of presentation. But the skillet wasn’t just for show. It made the outside crispy, while keeping the inside moist and warm. This was absolutely delicious, and the only thing that would have made it better would be a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.
So while I can’t say I’m pleased with the decision to limit guests to one main course each, at least the items we had were of high quality.
Another nice touch was that the staff walked around serving mimosas to guests at breakfast. I thought of asking for just the sparkling wine, but didn’t want to be though of as a lush (at least, any more than already). I saw other guests getting refills, so don’t be shy to ask.
Four Seasons Singapore: Facilities
|Level 3: 8 a.m to 7 p.m|
Level 20: 9.30 a.m to 7 p.m
|Yes: 8 a.m to 9 p.m||Yes: 9.30 a.m to 7 p.m|
|Kids’ Club||Business Centre||Others|
|No||No||4 x Tennis courts|
Guests at the Four Seasons have a choice of two swimming pools, one on level 3 and the other on the rooftop level 20. Reservations are not required at either pool, and it’s first come first serve.
Level 20 (open 9.30 a.m to 7 p.m daily) is positioned as the “family pool”, even though this is arguably the place where adults would rather hang out. You can take in some great views from here, and on a clear day, even catch the sunset with a cocktail while relaxing in a cabana.
Level 3 (open 8 a.m to 7 p.m daily) then becomes the “adult” pool by default, but I can’t tell for sure if that rule was strictly enforced (in case you were wondering, both pools are equally shallow at 0.8m). This area gets very hot in the morning, but later in the day the hotel building shields it from the brunt of the sun. In contrast, the rooftop pool is pretty much hot all day long.
In contrast to the kidney-shaped pool on level 20, the pool at level 3 is in the shape of a trapezoid, which at least allows for some regular lap swimming.
For those afraid of cold water, level 3 has a small outdoor jacuzzi where the water is kept at a toasty 40.5°C (that’s a safe temperature; I checked).
What was nice is that both pools had attendants, who brought around cold water and sliced fruits for all guests. It’s such a simple thing to do, and I can’t imagine it costs a lot of money. Yet, you’d be surprised how many “luxury” hotels don’t even bother with small gestures like this.
The Four Seasons gym is located on level 3 next to the pool, and open from 8 a.m to 9 p.m daily (the website says it’s 24 hours, but I suppose they now need to close it for sanitization). Just like the pool, no prior reservations are required; just show up and go.
It’s a medium-sized facility that’s more than sufficient for a hotel with just 255 rooms, with the usual assortment of cardio and strength training equipment, plus free weights. Guests can also access a sauna and steam room, and borrow a set of exercise clothes from the hotel if they’ve forgotten to pack theirs (or at least they could pre-COVID; I’m not sure if that’s changed since).
The gym also had alcohol wipes, disposable earphones and bottled water.
Tennis enthusiasts will relish the fact that the Four Seasons has four tennis courts, including two sheltered ones- a rare commodity in Singapore. The prices, however, are steep; it’s a far cry from the S$10.40 at Shangri-La.
|Per Hour||In-house guest||Outside guest|
|Indoor with A/C||S$100++||S$150++|
I’ve played here a couple of times, and just a word of warning to fellow tennis junkies- the bounce of the indoor court is extremely weird, and there’s a couple of places where the surface has split apart. It’s always amazing to play in air conditioning, but things like that may throw off your game.
The Four Seasons Singapore spa is open daily from 9.30 a.m to 7 p.m. I received a 20% discount on spa treatments, but, well, it’s hardly going to put a dent on things. A 60 minute treatment will cost S$165++, going up to S$310 for 120 minutes.
The spa menu can be found here.
The Four Seasons welcome letter makes mention of a “club lounge” on level 3, but before you get too excited, keep in mind this isn’t a club lounge in the traditional sense of the word.
This is more of a seating area, where staff will serve water, coffee and tea all day long. Don’t expect any snacks, much less champagne. It’s conceptually no different from an extension of the lobby.
Other Dining Options
|Jiang-Nan Chun||Lunch: 11.30 a.m- 2.30 p.m|
Dinner: 6 p.m- 10.30 p.m
|One-Ninety Restaurant||Breakfast: 6.30 a.m- 10.30 a.m|
Lunch: 12 p.m- 2.30 p.m
Dinner: 6 p.m- 10.30 p.m
|One-Ninety Bar||All day: 8 a.m- 10.30 p.m|
I had a big internal debate about where to spend the US$100 (S$126) hotel credit. On the one hand, Jiang-Nan Chun was a Michelin-starred restaurant. On the other, it’s always difficult to order Chinese-style dishes for just two people (and I wasn’t about to spring for the set menu).
I eventually decided on One-Ninety, and regret the choice. While One-Ninety served a good breakfast, dinner was decidedly not its strong suit.
Just like breakfast, it’s served in a semi-buffet style, where guests order one main and help themselves to appetizers and dessert from an all-you-can-eat selection. The buffet is sorted into salads, antipasti, cold cuts, cakes and cheeses.
For the main, I ordered the squid ink tonnarelli pasta with crab. This is a dish I could make in my sleep at home, so I know what it should taste like. While a small squeeze of lemon helps add some acidity to the dish, it tasted like they’d squeezed an entire lemon into the pasta. I could barely taste any of the other ingredients, and it was so sour my lips puckered up.
The Milelioness paid a S$15 upcharge to get the hokkien mee with half lobster, Hokkaido scallops and prawns, but this was likewise disappointing. The seafood lacked the distinctive sweetness you get from fresh seafood (no doubt it was previously frozen), and there wasn’t any lard at all in the hokkien mee. That’s healthy and blasphemous at the same time- without lard, you don’t get the dish’s signature creaminess. And while hokkien mee is normally a two thirds mix of yellow egg noodles and one third rice vermicelli, this one was 80%+ vermicelli.
I was particularly annoyed by the fact that we were charged S$3++ per head for plain water, something that was not mentioned upfront by the server. I raised the matter when paying the bill and got the charge removed, but even so, we’re not talking Aqua Panna or Evian, we’re talking the hotel’s own filtered water (alkaline water to be precise, which fyi is complete junk science). Is there seriously a need to charge S$3++ when you’re a luxury outfit?
The total damage for dinner was S$154, which wiped out our dining credit and then some. Given the quality of the food, it felt like a complete rip-off, and probably the lowlight of the entire stay.
Four Seasons Singapore: Service
While no real opportunity presented itself for the staff to go above and beyond, I’d say that the handful of service experiences I had were positive. Every time we visited the pool, cold water bottles and towels appeared shortly after. Hotel staff were more than happy to engage and make small talk, or keep their distance otherwise.
While turndown service is provided, I didn’t really notice anything different before and after (apart from some minor housekeeping). At other places like the Raffles and Capitol Kempinski, turndown is used as an opportunity to reinforce the hotel’s brand- at Raffles, a small card with an excerpt from a famous writer who stayed at the hotel; at Kempinski, a small treat from one of the hotel’s F&B concepts. It’d be good if Four Seasons could do something in a similar vein.
The lack of a club lounge and limited dining concepts mean the Four Seasons Singapore feels somewhat incomplete when compared to its regional counterparts in Kuala Lumpur and Hong Kong. That said, I quite dig the vibe of their new-look rooms, as well as the tranquility afforded by a low density property.
Dinner at One-Ninety was a complete dud (and I’m still disgruntled at the S$3++ charge for plain water), but thankfully breakfast was much better- now all they need to do is lift the one main course restriction!
Room rates here have come down significantly due to COVID, so this may be your best opportunity to experience the hotel without breaking the bank. HoteLux is currently offering the third night free at Four Seasons Singapore, plus a US$200 credit (instead of the regular US$100) if you book a suite.
One last thing I couldn’t slot in anywhere else: Four Seasons is one of the few pet-friendly hotels in Singapore. Up to two pets weighing below 11.5 kg (total) will be accommodated with a one-time cleaning fee of S$100 nett (S$130 nett for suites and higher).
For those who have stayed at overseas Four Seasons- how does the Singapore edition measure up?
|Overall Staycation Rankings|
- Capitol Kempinski
- Raffles Hotel
- Shangri-La Valley Wing
- InterContinental Bugis
- Mandarin Oriental Singapore
- Four Seasons Singapore
- Fullerton Hotel
- Andaz Singapore*
- Pan Pacific Singapore
- PARKROYAL Pickering
- W Sentosa
- Mandarin Orchard
- Hotel Soloha
- Hilton Singapore
- Duxton Reserve
- Marina Bay Sands
*Andaz Singapore ranking is as per my 1 October 2020 visit; the experience has notably declined since then.
|🏨 In Summary|
The Four Seasons Singapore boasts beautiful, modern rooms set amidst a tranquil and relaxing atmosphere. While I’m not entirely sold on its F&B credentials, the attentive service and variety of facilities help carry the day.
Do say: This hits all the right notes
Don’t say: Vivaldi stopped composing because he went baroque