Review: Ascott Orchard Singapore Staycation

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A spacious property well-positioned in the heart of Orchard, the Ascott Orchard is a reasonably priced alternative to full-service hotels.

The following stay was hosted by Ascott Orchard Singapore.

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a person in possession of a child, must be in want of a holiday.

It’s been quite some time since I last did a hotel review. As the parent of a young toddler, I must say that the prospect of hosting a child within a hotel room – where I would have to entertain him within the confines of a tiny space whilst somehow preventing him from destroying everything within reach – is not terribly attractive.

Toddler enters enclosed space
Toddler, meet tiny space.

So when Aaron asked me if I’d come out of (parenthood-imposed) retirement to help review the Ascott, I was rather intrigued. As a serviced apartment, Ascott promised more space to play with, with suites available at a relatively reasonable rate. Add to that a great location in the Orchard area (without being on the main stretch where you can hear the street racers of Singapore revving their engines late at night), and I was sold.

(Also, it was free.)

Arrival and Check-in

Ascott Orchard Singapore
Photo: Ascott Orchard

Ascott Orchard is located at 11 Cairnhill Rd, and is pretty walkable from the nearby MRT station, Somerset. The pathway isn’t very sheltered, though it’s possible to duck under shelter from various buildings most of the way (with a detour through the bridge to Orchard Gateway). There’s also an uphill walk along Cairnhill Road, so I wouldn’t really recommend this route if dealing with lots of luggage.

For drivers, do take note of the instructions in the PDF attached to your confirmation email – The hotel carpark (charges apply) is accessible via 22 Bideford Road (entrance opposite Holiday Inn Express) and is linked to the hotel lobby on Level P4. Unfortunately, no complimentary parking is provided, although subsidised parking tickets are offered at S$10 (nett) per exit.

If you do park at the designated hotel carpark, you can enter the hotel reception directly from the carpark. Otherwise, you will need to take the elevator up one floor to Level 2.

Ascott Orchard ground floor entrance
Ascott Orchard ground floor entrance and concierge

Check-in was fairly seamless – we had been offered an early check-in at 11am, during which reception was pretty empty. After filling in declaration forms, I received my key cards as well as complimentary walking tour tickets. I did duck down to suss out the situation around 4pm – there was a short queue, but compared to the notorious problems some properties previously had with processing check-ins, this was impressively painless, especially since this was during the first weekend of the March holidays. In any case, the reception has a high ceiling and plenty of natural light, so there are worse places to have to sit and wait.

Ascott Orchard lobby
Ascott Orchard lobby

The hotel has adopted the theme of ‘fashion’ in its décor (being ‘located in the most fashionable shopping destination in Singapore’, as their website states), and this can be seen in the use of mannequins by the lift lobbies (and also in the rooms).

Ascott Orchard lobby mannequins
A mannequin couple hanging out at the lift lobby. Not creepy at all.

1-Bedroom Suite

Ascott Orchard offers five types of apartments, split into the following categories:

Room Type No. of Rooms Size
Studio Executive 47 30 sqm
Studio Premier 10 30 sqm
One-Bedroom Deluxe  92 60 sqm
One-Bedroom Premier 16 60 sqm
Two-Bedroom Premier 47 80 sqm

Some of the rooms have the option of being combined as dual key units, effectively forming a three-bedroom suite (comprising a two-bedroom and a studio suite). Additionally, they also offer special Bespoke Residences that share the same layout as above, but come decked out with Fendi Casa furniture and accessories.

Bespoke Residences No. of Rooms Size
Murano (studio layout) 3 30 sqm
Pierre (one-bedroom layout) 2 60 sqm
Soho (two-bedroom layout) 3 60 sqm

We stayed in a one-bedroom premier suite. One major difference that differentiates it from the one-bedroom deluxe suite is that the toilet is accessible from both the main living area and the bedroom, which means your child can sleep in the bedroom and everyone else can still hang out in the living room and use the toilet freely without tip-toeing Pink Panther-style past the crib.

The price difference between the two isn’t very high; it might be worth investing in that upgrade, if this is the sort of thing that matters to you (life and its priorities really do change after children come along).

1-Bedroom Premier Suite floorplan
1-Bedroom Premier Suite floorplan
Ascott Orchard 1-bedroom premier suite doors
Bathroom to the left of me; Bedroom to the right

One of the first things you might notice is yet another mannequin hanging around your room. My wife theorises it proves useful for business travellers to drape jackets on, or perhaps as a humanoid stand-in for the lonely long-term business traveller to have a boozy late night conversation with.

Ascott Orchard living room mannequin
Hatstand, clothes rack, stand-in dinner partner?

As a serviced residence, it also has a well-stocked kitchenette area.

Forks, spoons, knives
Forks, spoons, knives
Knives and blades
Various knives and blades. We did our best to prevent Toddler from discovering this drawer.

I’d imagine if you had smaller children or multiple children, the large fridge (with a separate chiller and freezer section, as opposed to regular hotel minifridges) would be helpful for stocking snacks and fruit, and the stove would come in handy if heating things like infant cereal or porridge.

Ascott Orchard freezer
The freezer also doubles as an interactive toy

The fittings are, impressively, De Dietrich, which my wife tells me is a Big Thing in kitchen appliances. She did (semi-)jokingly say that she should have attempted to bake something during our stay, but honestly for short-term staycationers I can’t imagine the oven will get much use.

Ascott Orchard kitchen
De Dietrich oven and stove

Hidden beneath the other counters are a washing machine and a dishwasher, which are probably also a bit of an overkill for the average staycationer, unless perhaps your toddler has an Exorcist-style incident.

Ascott Orchard dishwasher
For use after dinner party
Ascott Orchard washing machine
Actually, this might possibly come in handy for families with young children…

There’s plenty of counter space with the ubiquitous Nespresso machine and a kettle, as well as a little table for two where you can sit and have a coffee together, if you happen to be into having conversations with your spouse.

Ascott Orchard coffee machine and kettle
The coffee machine also happens to be a Toddler favourite.
Ascott Orchard dining area
Supports actually playing Monopoly Deal

The furnishings are nice and plush. It helps that the property is relatively new (opened Dec 2016), so everything feels new and clean. There’s an ottoman that functions as a pseudo coffee table as well, or a little platform for toys and games. If you have a toddler, you’ll know they love opening drawers and cabinets, to which I would say the living area gets an A+ toddler-engagement ranking, as even the ottoman has two pull-out drawers.

Ascott Orchard suite living area
Plenty of space in the living area
Ascott Orchard ottoman
Hours of fun for the curious toddler. Be sure to clear the drawers before checking out!

Otherwise, the living room is spacious enough for children to have their own space where toys / games can be upended and strewn all over the place, leaving the bedroom as a relatively quiet haven for adults to sneak a drink and stare into the existential void.

Toddler playing in Ascott Orchard
Fun times

The living room television is configured for ease of wirelessly casting content, which is the reality of how many people want to use television sets these days. Android users would be happy to know that this is powered by a Chromecast device, though iOS users are still able to cast content from specific apps (e.g. YouTube, Netflix). 

Ascott Orchard Chromecast

Wi-Fi speeds are more than decent, with above-average connection speeds which should support all your streaming needs. Ascott Orchard Wi-Fi speed test

  🔽Download 🔼 Upload
Mandarin Orchard 273 Mbps 294 Mbps
M Social Singapore 46 Mbps 49 Mbps
Conrad Centennial 40 Mbps 44 Mbps
YOTELAir Changi 29 Mbps 49 Mbps
W Sentosa Cove 34 Mbps 34 Mbps
Ascott Orchard 29 Mbps 29 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 bedroom allows for a crib to be placed at the foot of the bed but still let people walk around to the other side. What’s unusual is that they provide one large, square-ish pillow as well as a regular size pillow, so you can either choose to stack them for maximum fluffiness, or appropriate the larger pillow as a pseudo-bolster.

Ascott Orchard king bed
The pillows look nice enough when stacked, but might take some getting used to.

The baby’s crib itself is standard issue size. It comes with crib bumpers, a pillow, not one but two bolsters, and a duvet. They sent up a baby tub as well with the crib. Some hotels provide baby bath amenities (usually Kodomo), but none were provided.

Ascott Orchard crib
Crib is fully well equipped
Ascott Orchard child bathtub
Score some daddy/mummy points if you successfully identified the LÄTTSAM from IKEA

The cupboard contained a laundry rack, which is useful for drying wet swimwear. However, it is very large and takes up a lot of space in the bathroom – it does obstruct the shower door and bathroom door when opened up. But again, it’s likely something more long term guests would wind up using than staycationers.

Ascott Orchard drying rack
Also, clothes don’t dry particularly quickly indoors without open air

The bathroom has the toilet and sink on one side, and the adults’ bathtub encased within the shower cubicle on the other. Unfortunately, there weren’t dual sinks, so turn-taking would have to be practised.

Ascott Orchard bathroom
The shower is sited together with, though still technically separate from, the bath tub

The layout is a plus if you have children who love bubble baths or creating big messes splashing and sloshing water around in the tub. The floor-to-ceiling casement windows provide a bit of a view, but given that the property is neighboured by other apartment blocks, it’s a bit of a trade-off to decide if you want to flash people and enjoy the view, or enjoy the privacy of your bath in an enclosed space. The layout of the bathroom does mean that even using the toilet is in full view of the neighbouring blocks, so the blinds might have to stay permanently down.

Ascott Orchard bathtub and shower
Howdy there, neighbour!

The Ascott uses bath amenities from APPELLES, an Australian brand – it seems to be pretty popular; I’ve previously seen it used at the Grand Park chain as well. It also provides fewer towels than the average hotel – with only two hand towels, two bath towels and a floor mat. No face towels were to be found (perhaps you could request for these – admittedly, we didn’t try.)

Ascott Orchard Appelles amenities
Bath amenities from APPELLES

Facilities

During our stay, guests were not required to make a pre-booking for the pool (opening hours: 0600-2200). There’s a friendly and helpful attendant on level 4, where the pool and gym are located, who helps to facilitate SafeEntry checks. The (currently closed) link to Paragon can also be accessed on this floor.

Ascott Orchard Paragon link bridge
A scene from happier days (image from property)
Ascott Orchard Paragon linkway closed
The current reality

There is a small playground on the floor that looks fun enough for pre-schoolers, but is currently closed due to COVID-19 measures.

Ascott Orchard playground
First they came for the playgrounds…

You’ll encounter the small baby pool section as you walk to the pool, which sits at the bottom of a water feature.

Ascott Orchard baby pool
Baby pool or fountain?
Toddler playing at Ascott Orchard baby pool
Toddler votes pool.

Tables and chairs are positioned by the side for adults to keep a watchful eye on their progeny – signs implore you not to climb the water feature, but it might be hard to dissuade more rambunctious children from doing so. The chairs come in the rather interesting shape of a face, though those eyes do little to help in the supervision of said children.

Ascott Orchard poolside seating
They look rather uninteresting from this side
Ascott Orchard poolside chairs
Seen from the back, the shape of the face becomes clear

The adult pool (opening hours: 0600-2200; currently limited to 18 persons at a time) is essentially a lap pool, with a shallower section with loungers, as well as a Jacuzzi section. The view is not much to shout at, again due to the fact that the property is surrounded by tall apartment blocks, but they aren’t close enough for you to feel hemmed in. Children also don’t really care much about the view, and the toddler was happy to just splash about in the water.

Ascott Orchard main pool
The main pool is great for getting some actual swimming done
Ascott Orchard pool view
Somewhat less inspiring for your Instagram shots

While swimming you can also peek at the people working out at the gym (opening hours: 0600-2200; currently limited to 8 persons at a time). It seems like there used to be direct access between the pool and the gym, but current access control measures require gym users to enter through a single entrance, closer to the lift lobby.

Ascott Orchard blocked gym entrance
A major inconvenience for those of us who want to swim, gym, and are too lazy to walk.

There are a few weights machines, but the bulk of the gym equipment seems to be dedicated towards cardio workouts.

Ascott Orchard Gym
Cardio machines in different sections
Ascott Orchard Gym
Do you even lift, bro?

Breakfast

The Ascott has no in-house dining per se, but does host a Kith Cafe on its ground floor. This Kith Cafe outlet opens at 6.30am, so it essentially functions as the breakfast restaurant for staycationers. Its menu (here’s the March 2021 edition) is not discernibly different from its other outlets, and the food is solid, the coffee great and it’s also a family-friendly establishment with a children’s menu which comes with a choice of watermelon juice or a babyccino with each set.

We got a bacon wrap to share and a mini pancakes set for the child; all of us rather enjoyed what we got. Kith Cafe has 25% discount vouchers available on The Entertainer (I have mine via HSBC), although this was not applicable to items from the kid’s menu.

Kith Cafe breakfast
Missing in Action: The other half of the Bacon Wrap was prematurely consumed
Kith Cafe kid's menu item
Mini pancakes set from the kid’s menu
Toddler drinks watermelon juice
Toddler-approved meal

I noticed a large volume of takeaway orders in the morning and found out from the manager that for guests at the Ascott whose room rates included breakfast, there was an online ordering system (Google Form via QR code) for guests to order breakfast for pick-up. The items available for order are listed below:

Kith Cafe – Adult menu
Kith Cafe – Kids’ menu

In any case – I’ve had some truly mediocre (if not outrageously bad) bundled hotel breakfasts, so having the assurance of good coffee and a hearty breakfast might actually be a step up. If Kith’s brunchy menu isn’t up your alley, there is always [email protected] or Paragon within walking distance for your kaya toast and kopi fix.

Monster Day Tour

Ascott has an ongoing partnership with Monster Day Tours – the Hey Explorer, Make Memories with Ascott in Singapore” promotion, where guests who are Ascott Star Rewards (ASR) members (you can join the programme for free) receive a complimentary heritage walking tour experience with their stay at any of the nine participating properties. Guests can choose from any of the three walking tours of the heritage districts of Singapore – Chinatown, Kampong Glam, and Little India. The pandemic has definitely prompted more and more of us to become tourists in our own countries, and it’s a great opportunity to explore neighbourhoods you might not frequent or be familiar with.

HEY EXPLORER, MAKE MEMORIES WITH ASCOTT IN SINGAPORE
Image from Ascott website

We opted for the Little India walking tour. The tour takes two hours, including a break at a little eating house midway. The heat can be a bit punishing, but overall there’s enough shade to duck into for the most part that you never feel like you’re wilting in the heat. We also made use of a stroller throughout the tour, and while there are some steps up and down curbs, it wasn’t too bad overall.

Toddler in stroller
He wasn’t too keen on actually walking during the tour.

Our guide was Bas, who proved to be very friendly and knowledgeable, often supplementing the tour with additional media from his iPad. The tour started from exit E of Little India MRT station. There was a small group of nine of us, and Bas began by setting us up with these neat little wireless receivers that could pick up his microphone transmission so you could still hear him even if the group separated due to crowds or if traffic and ambient noise got a little loud.

Monster Day Tours wireless receiver
The Toddler insisted on holding on to one of his own – thankfully, Bas was able to provide an extra set!

The walking tour is really centred on stories about the neighbourhood. The stories range from the historical development of the precinct, key landmarks, the traditional trades and businesses present in the neighbourhood, as well as the hidden stories behind road names. Little India has also had a number of large scale murals painted as part of the annual Artwalk Little India event, so the murals are vivid visual aids that also help to bring the stories to life. (It will probably not hurt that they make the precinct extremely insta-worthy.)

Monster Day Tours Little India
Colourful cows riding bicycles – just your usual wall graffiti

The tour also doesn’t flinch from the disconcerting juxtapositions of the neighbourhood, e.g. signs reminding you of the liquor ban are installed side-by-side with tourist-friendly murals, or that grassy areas are sometimes fenced up by fences with sharp spikes up top to prevent loitering and gathering. Early in the tour, along Race Course Road, I was surprised that the guide highlighted the epicentre of the riot. There was a foreigner on our tour who asked the guide questions about the riot, and I thought the guide did a good job of balancing being factual but also showing empathy for migrant workers.

Little India riot epicentre
The Little India riot began at this very junction.
Little India liquor control
Police controls remain to this day

 The greatest success of the tour, to me, is how it helps to highlight the diversity of the communities that Little India services. The CMIO race classification system can sometimes flatten our conception of race and, by extension, the historical ethnic enclaves. But the tour is quick to highlight the presence of both North and South Indian-style temples, as well as the presence of Peranakan-style buildings nestled amongst the shophouses.

Monster Day Tours North Indian temple
North Indian temple
Monster Day Tours South Indian temple
South Indian temple
Monster Day Tours Peranakan building
Colourful Peranakan building – an Instagram favourite

A part of the tour also takes you to the colloquially-termed ‘Bangla Square’, an open-air area where Bangladeshi workers congregate and where the businesses surrounding the square all have signs in Bengali. If you have slightly older children, I believe the tour is a good chance to kickstart conversations about diversity in Singapore. Even if you don’t have children, it’s probably important to learn more about our country and histories, especially because our physical landscape feels like its being rewritten on a daily basis.

If you’re mainly looking to have a good time with friends and family, the tour does offer plenty of  that, with a mid-tour snack break (with complimentary thosai) and a jaunt through a field of elephant sculptures.

Monster Day Tours complimentary thosai
Food stop = good stop
Monster Day Tours elephant sculptures
Where the wild things are
Toddler plays with elephant sculpture
Toddler demonstrates the proper care of elephants

Conclusion

The Ascott might not be the first name that comes to mind when one thinks about luxury hotels, but if you’re not looking for extras like lounge access or on-property dining, it offers great accommodation for a reasonable price. I would definitely recommend it for families, especially families who appreciate having additional space. For younger staycationers looking for new experiences, the current tie-up with Monster Day Tours also makes the Ascott an appealing option. It’s a lovely, well-maintained property within walking distance of the Orchard shopping strip, and I’m currently thinking about coming back again in future school holidays.

Perhaps it’s time for me to look into the ASR status match

Louis Tan
Louis Tan
Louis believes he caught the premium travel bug after attaining KrisFlyer Elite Gold and occasionally being upgraded while shuttling between the UK, Singapore and Japan (in economy class). These travels have led to a wonderful marriage, as well as a burning desire to avoid flying long-haul economy. He previously travelled with a gryphon plush toy, Griffles, which often stood in for him in vacation photos. Griffles is mostly busy with entertaining a toddler these days, but still manages to continues amusing (and confusing) air stewardesses, hotel staff (and just about everybody else) all around the world.

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JW19

Where’s Griffles? Nice to have you back Louis.

Lawrence Wee

Nice one bro!

Kopi lim

Kith cafe is pretty bad for both food and coffee. Had it back when it was still on the Entertainer and didn’t think it was worth paying even half the price for.

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