Review: Hilton Singapore Orchard

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With its stunning new rooms and exciting F&B concepts, the Hilton Singapore Orchard is a worthy flagship for the Hilton brand.

Reboots are all the rage these days, ever since Christopher Nolan crammed Christian Bale into a skin-tight nomex suit and cowl, with semi-plausible military hardware and a bad case of laryngitis.

And why not? They offer a clean slate, a chance to take on the name without any of the baggage, a tacit acknowledgement that the previous iterations were far from ideal (bat nipples), but this time, this time things will be different.

Hilton Singapore driveway
Former Hilton Singapore

If there’s one property that needed a reboot, it’s the Hilton Singapore. Where do I even begin? It’s perhaps unreasonable to expect greatness from a hotel that opened in 1970, but with all due consideration to its vintage, the Hilton Singapore was dire. 

I did a media stay back in October 2020 (which, as you should know, has never caused me to pull punches), and concluded that:

While the hotel has an undeniable yesteryear charm, nostalgia often plays both ways. Apart from the Executive Suites and Lounge, most of the property is stuck in a time capsule, with minor cosmetic renovations that can’t hide the fact the entire property is overdue for a major overhaul. 

That major overhaul did and didn’t happen. The Hilton Singapore is now the voco Orchard, where as far as I can tell, they slapped a new logo on the façade and some yellow pillows on the couches and called it a day. 

No, so deep was the rot that Hilton decided to break ties with the original property altogether, entering into a new management contract with OUE Commercial REIT to rebrand and redevelop the Mandarin Orchard. 18 months and a S$150 million renovation later, the doors have opened at the Hilton Singapore Orchard, Hilton’s flagship property and the largest in Asia Pacific.

So is this a reboot that works? I’ll reserve final judgement until the property is fully up and running, but on the evidence so far, I’d say the Hilton Singapore Orchard is more Mad Max than Ghostbusters.

That’s a good thing by the way, for the pop culturally illiterate out there.

🏨 tl;dr: Hilton Singapore Orchard
With its stunning new rooms and exciting F&B concepts, the Hilton Singapore Orchard is a worthy flagship for the Hilton brand.
👍 The Good👎 The Bad
  • A top-to-bottom reimagining of the Hilton brand, with beautiful rooms and common spaces
  • High quality breakfast at Estate and exciting new F&B concepts
  • A spacious executive lounge with great service
  • Brand new fitness centre with the latest Technogym equipment
  • Room design may not suit business travellers
  • Disappointing food and shortage of power outlets in executive lounge
  • Tiny swimming pool that’s more obligatory than anything else
📋 In This Review
🏨 Other Staycation Reviews
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Booking a Hilton Singapore Orchard Staycation

For this staycation, I booked the lead-in King Deluxe Room on an Honors Prepay and Save rate. This cost S$257++ (S$302 nett), and was fully refundable up to three days before arrival. Breakfast wasn’t included, but I’d get it courtesy of my Hilton Diamond status anyway (Gold members enjoy free breakfast too, of course).

To sweeten the deal, I paid with my AMEX KrisFlyer Ascend to utilise the S$60 Hilton statement credit (min. spend S$300), bringing the overall cost down to just S$242! 

If you’re thinking of booking this too, I’m still seeing relatively low Honors Prepay and Save rates in April, with prices starting from S$242++ (S$284 nett).

There’s also the option to book an Opening Offer package from S$315++ (S$371 nett) that comes with breakfast, 1,000 bonus points and 25% off F&B, but given that breakfast costs about S$45 nett per adult (less 10% with Dine Like a Member), you’re only marginally better off. 

Three days before arrival, I received an automated email from Hilton informing me that my stay had been upgraded to a suite. 

Hilton Singapore Orchard: Arrival & Check-in

Hilton Singapore Orchard

The Hilton Singapore Orchard is located at 333 Orchard Road, next to the Mandarin Gallery and at the heart of the Orchard Road shopping district. 

If you’re taking public transport, the closest MRT is at Somerset, from which it’s a five minute (partially sheltered) walk to the hotel. If you’re driving, on-site complimentary parking is available for all guests with unlimited in/out privileges. 

Hilton Singapore Orchard driveway
Hilton Singapore Orchard driveway

The ground floor serves as a reception area for arriving guests, and I could see it being used for group check-ins once the tour bus crowds return to Singapore. In the meantime it’s unmanned, though it does provide a hint as to the hotel’s design philosophy. 

Ground floor lobby
Ground floor lobby
Ground floor lobby

The hotel’s epicentre is up on level 5, where the check-in desks, restaurants and swimming pool are located. 

While check-in at the Mandarin Orchard took place in a high-ceilinged portion of the lobby, Hilton has chosen to relocate the desks to a more enclosed and intimate area. The lower headspace makes for a more claustrophobic feel, but allows afternoon tea and bar venue Ginger.Lily to occupy the former check-in space. That actually makes sense in a way, since the check-in experience is transitory, but people tend to linger over coffee and cocktails. I know which one I’d prefer to be more spacious. 

Hilton Singapore Orchard check-in area
Hilton Singapore Orchard check-in area

I didn’t see a separate line for Diamond members (nor an option to check-in at the lounge), but it didn’t really matter since the queues were short. 

My suite upgrade was confirmed, as well as 4 p.m check-out for the following day. The staff told me they were seeing pretty decent occupancy for a weekday, thanks to the international school holidays, and a return of medical tourists (Mount Elizabeth is a stone’s throw away). 

The room wasn’t ready just yet when I arrived at 12.15 p.m, so I was invited to have a drink at Ginger.Lily while waiting. 

Hilton Singapore Orchard lobby

As mentioned, this occupies the former check-in area and benefits from the cavernous space afforded by the high ceiling.

Ginger.Lily

Welcome drink

I got my room keys about 20 minutes later, which came on wooden cardstock- slightly more expensive than the traditional PVC, but what kind of monster uses plastic these days?

Wooden room key

What surprised me was the absence of a welcome letter, which typically provides information about facilities, dining and lounge operating hours. I’m told they’re “working on it”, but you’d think this would be the kind of thing sorted out prior to opening. 

In fact, I was completely in the dark as to how to book the facilities. It was only when I visited the concierge that I found out you needed to scan a QR code from a laminated sheet that’s kept at the front desk. Seriously, how hard would it be to place one of these in each room (or at least include the information in a pre-arrival email)?

Facilities booking QR codes

Hilton Singapore Orchard: Executive Suite

The Hilton Singapore Orchard will eventually have 1,080 rooms split across two towers, but at the moment, only one tower with 634 rooms is open. 

What’s slightly confusing (at least for Mandarin Orchard veterans) is that the Orchard Wing is now called the Mandarin Wing, and the Main Tower is now called the Orchard Wing. Rooms in the Orchard Wing are still undergoing renovations and are expected to open in January 2023, so all guests are in the Mandarin Wing for now.

Orchard Wing
Mandarin Wing

Rooms and suites at Hilton Singapore Orchard are split into the following categories:

Type (Wing)SizeNo. of Rooms
King/Twin Premium Room (MW)29 sqm175
King/Twin Premium City View Room (MW)29 sqm200
King/Twin Executive Room (MW)29 sqm201
King/Twin Deluxe Room (OW)34 sqm214
King/Twin Deluxe City View Room (OW)34 sqm160
King/Twin Superior Deluxe Room (OW)34 sqm60
King Accessible Room (OW)34 sqm10
King Premium Family Room (MW)49 sqm24
King One Bedroom Suite (MW)56 sqm11
King Deluxe Suite (OW)67 sqm2
King Premium Suite (MW)70 sqm15
King Executive Suite (MW)70 sqm7
King Presidential Suite (MW)154 sqm1

It looks like a lot of room types, but in reality there’s only seven, further subdivided by view, bed type and executive lounge privileges. 

I was assigned to 2926, an executive suite on the 29th floor. 

Room 2926

Executive suites are located at the corner of each floor, and basically the size of two regular rooms. They have separate living and bedroom areas, as well as two bathrooms. 

Floor plan

The layout of the suite is T-shaped, with the living room to the left of the entrance and master bedroom to the right. 

Entrance corridor

Interior design firm Avalon Collective was engaged to refashion the Mandarin Orchard as the Hilton Singapore, and refashion it they have.

The Mandarin Orchard’s tired, dreary rooms and their “party like it’s 1999” aesthetic have been given a complete makeover. Gone are the gold picture frames, beige drapes, glass-top coffee tables and black leather armchairs, replaced by soothingly modern furnishings and fixtures that would be right at home in an upscale showflat. 

King Executive Suite Living Room
King Executive Suite Living Room

The design draws inspiration from the rich colonial and agricultural heritage of Orchard Road (which was once full of fruit orchards, nutmeg plantations and pepper farms), but it’s all rather subtle. The forest green pillows and lightly-patterned carpets are the only hints of a botanical motif, and the room on the whole adopts a neutral colour palette. 

King Executive Suite Living Room

In a corner of the living room was a small seating area with an L-shaped couch and two chairs. Not just any chairs, mind you. The furniture comes from Giorgetti, an upmarket Italian furniture brand with a storied history of woodworking.

Seating area
Giorgetti chair

The mini-bar area had a small selection of (chargeable) snacks, including IRVINS Salted Egg Fish Skins and Toblerone chocolate. In line with the hotel’s sustainability initiatives, complimentary water was provided in cardboard cartons instead of plastic bottles. 

Mini-bar
Carton water

Caffeine hits could be satiated via a Nespresso capsule machine and TWG tea bags. 

Nespresso machine
TWG teabags

On a side note, I’m glad that Hilton didn’t install one of those cursed automated mini-fridges with sensors that bill you should you so much as molest a can of Coke. Instead, there were only six cans of soft drinks inside, leaving plenty of space for storing personal items.

Mini-fridge

Rounding out the living room was a wardrobe, empty except for a set of hangers. The customary ironing board and iron were missing, available only upon request.

Wardrobe

Guests can make use of a separate bathroom in the living room area, decked out in eye-catching marble with a ring-lit mirror and manual TOTO bidet seat. There was also a shower, an interesting feature given that guests don’t generally come to your room to bathe (though if you’re staying with kids, having a separate shower could be a lifesaver). 

Guest bathroom
Guest bathroom
Guest bathroom

On the opposite end of the living room was the master bedroom.

Master bedroom
Master bedroom
Master bedroom

The king-sized bed had a Serta Perfect Sleeper Suite Dreams II mattress, made exclusively for Hilton Hotels. It was on the firmer end of the spectrum, though the pillows were a bit too soft for my liking (there’s no pillow menu).

Bed

Each bedside had 2x USB Type-A outlets and a non-universal Singapore Type G power socket. Given the volume of international guests this hotel is likely to see, that’s a surprising decision. 

Bedside power outlets and switches
Bedside power outlets and switches

Next to the bed was a generously apportioned dressing table with a large vanity mirror, providing plenty of space for evening pre-sleep rituals. 

Dressing table

Like the Conrad Centennial, the Hilton Singapore Orchard has taken the somewhat controversial decision not to include work desks in its rooms, substituting them instead with a round side table flanked by two armchairs. 

Table and chairs

But this is where you find the room’s only universal power outlet, suggesting that this is indeed the place to get work done. I can’t say I’m a fan of this setup, and imagine it’d be an even bigger problem for business travellers without executive lounge access.

Power outlets

Wi-Fi speeds clocked in at 64 Mbps down and 63 Mbps up- not the triple digit speeds of the Mandarin Orchard days, but still more than adequate. 

🌐Hotel Wi-Fi Speeds
Hotel🔽Down🔼 Up
Mandarin Orchard273 Mbps294 Mbps
Sofitel City Centre95 Mbps92 Mbps
Hilton Singapore Orchard64 Mbps63 Mbps
Villa Samadhi62 Mbps53 Mbps
M Social Singapore46 Mbps49 Mbps
Conrad Centennial40 Mbps44 Mbps
YOTELAir Changi29 Mbps49 Mbps
W Sentosa Cove34 Mbps34 Mbps
Ascott Orchard29 Mbps29 Mbps
St. Regis Singapore29 Mbps29 Mbps
Duxton Reserve28 Mbps29 Mbps
PARKROYAL Beach Road28 Mbps29 Mbps
Mandarin Oriental28 Mbps28 Mbps
Oasia Resort Sentosa28 Mbps25 Mbps
The Fullerton Bay Hotel24 Mbps24 Mbps
The Fullerton Hotel23 Mbps24 Mbps
PARKROYAL Pickering24 Mbps23 Mbps
Oakwood Premier AMTD20 Mbps20 Mbps
Shangri-La Singapore19 Mbps18 Mbps
Pan Pacific Singapore19 Mbps19 Mbps
Dusit Thani Laguna Singapore19 Mbps19 Mbps
JW Marriott Singapore16 Mbps14 Mbps
InterContinental Bugis15 Mbps15 Mbps
The Capitol Kempinski Hotel16 Mbps13 Mbps
PARKROYAL COLLECTION Marina Bay9.4 Mbps18 Mbps
Grand Hyatt Singapore14 Mbps13 Mbps
Hilton Singapore13 Mbps14 Mbps
One Farrer Hotel11 Mbps21 Mbps
Marina Bay Sands11 Mbps11 Mbps
The Clan Hotel9.6 Mbps9.6 Mbps
Andaz Singapore8.0 Mbps9.5 Mbps
Four Seasons Singapore6.7 Mbps9.8 Mbps
Goodwood Park Hotel7.8 Mbps7.5 Mbps
The Barracks Hotel7.3 Mbps7.7 Mbps
Hotel 81 Tristar7.0 Mbps6.8 Mbps
Raffles Hotel6.9 Mbps6.8 Mbps
Hotel Soloha4.7 Mbps5.1 Mbps
Hotel G Singapore4.4 Mbps4.8 Mbps
Internet speeds based on Speedtest.net scores

The massive 65-inch TV offered a wide range of news, sports and entertainment channels, though there was surprisingly no Chromecast functionality. That’s a poor miss in my opinion, especially when you have such a lovely screen to watch from. 

TV channel selection
TV channel selection
TV channel selection
TV channel selection

Cleverly hidden behind the TV were his and hers (you can tell by the length; hers is longer to accommodate dresses) open-concept wardrobes, supplementing the closet space elsewhere in the room. With the hotel situated along a shopping district, the designers wanted to provide a place for guests to admire their purchases. 

His wardrobe
Her wardrobe

The master bathroom was a picture of elegance, with the floors and walls clad in pristine white marble (making me feel almost guilty for defiling it with my waste). Like the guest bathroom, a backlit mirror, TOTO manual bidet seat and single vanity came standard. Regular readers will know I’m a sucker for his and her sinks, but I suppose having two bathrooms kind of compensates for that.

Master bathroom
Master bathroom
Master bathroom

The shower and bathtub were co-located in a single wet area, though the latter was disappointingly small with barely enough room for a small-framed person. I understand some rooms have free-standing tubs, which look a lot more alluring to me. Water pressure was OK, but definitely not the kind of invigorating deluge that wakes up a jetlagged traveller (and I’d know, having just returned from the USA the previous evening).

Wet area
Bathtub

Instead of the standard-issue Crabtree & Evelyn toiletries you normally find at Hiltons, it seems the Hilton Singapore Orchard has gained special dispensation to use Acca Kappa products. The difference in quality is night and day, and I’d rate these among the best toiletries offered at any hotel in Singapore. 

Acca Kappa amenities
Acca Kappa amenities

All amenities were dispensed from bulk-sized pump bottles, although these weren’t affixed to the wall. I suspect they might have to soon, lest some guests succumb to the temptation to take them home!

The hotel doesn’t offer turn-down service (and again, remember that despite the spiffy interiors it’s still a Hilton, not a Waldorf or Conrad), though they did deliver a bottle of Laurent-Perrier champagne, a small token given to the first 100 Diamond and Gold members to stay at the hotel. 

Champagne

My overall thoughts on the room? I really dig the new décor, which wouldn’t be out of place at a Sofitel or Andaz even. The bathrooms were particularly stunning, and the living area felt like somewhere you could kick back with a book or glass of wine and never feel like leaving. It is every bit an improvement compared to the previous Mandarin Orchard, and I’d go so far as to say I prefer these rooms to the ones at the Conrad Centennial. 

On the other hand, the tiny tub was a disappointment, and the setup wasn’t as work-friendly as I’d have expected from a Hilton, with no work desk and only a single universal power outlet. 

Hilton Singapore Orchard: Facilities

PoolGymSpa
Yes: 7 a.m to 7 p.mYes: 24 hoursN/A
Kids’ ClubBusiness CentreOthers
N/AN/AN/A

Swimming Pool

Swimming pool entrance

The Hilton Singapore Orchard’s swimming pool is open from 7 a.m to 7 p.m daily, and guests can book 60-minute slots within a day of arrival via this link (the first time I’ve seen hotel facilities booked via Chope- no C$ rewards though!). 

A maximum of eight people are allowed in the pool area at any time. A special key card is required to access the pool area, so you won’t be able to just come and go as you please. 

Now, the swimming pool was a notable Achilles’ heel of the erstwhile Mandarin Orchard, a tiny puddle completely unsuited to a 1,000+ room property.

Mandarin Orchard Swimming Pool
Mandarin Orchard Swimming Pool

Sadly, nothing much has changed. This is fundamentally the same pool from before, with the surrounding astroturf dug up and replaced with tiles, and a small elevated wooden deck constructed for the loungers.

Hilton Singapore Orchard swimming pool
Hilton Singapore Orchard swimming pool
Hilton Singapore Orchard swimming pool

It’s too big (small?) a thing to overlook, so I can only surmise the Hilton team simply couldn’t find the space to build a larger facility. It’s a shame, because even if the hotel is mostly business and medical tourism focused, there’s bound to be more than eight people amidst the 1,000+ rooms who want to use the pool at the same time. 

Another issue the pool faced during its Mandarin Orchard days was privacy, since guests checking in at the lobby were treated to a lightly obscured view of the sunbathers in all their glory. 

That’s been resolved somewhat with the relocation of the check-in area, although the hotel has also put up some additional privacy screens. If someone really wanted to, they could probably still cop a look at the pool area from the lobby, but the new layout means foot traffic through the area is mostly transient.

Privacy screens from the lobby side

A total of six pool recliners with umbrellas were situated on the wooden deck, with QR code menus for ordering food and drinks. 

Pool chairs
Pool chairs

I suppose you could argue that the intimate environment provides a rare moment of privacy amidst a mega-hotel (assuming you can even book a slot), but if a nice pool is your sole criteria for a staycation, this probably won’t be it. 

Gym

Hilton Singapore Orchard gym

The Hilton Singapore Orchard’s fitness centre is open 24 hours a day, with guests able to book 90-minute slots within a day of arrival via this link.

Gym entrance

The gym is located on the 6th floor of the Mandarin Wing, and is actually one of two facilities- the second will come with the opening of the Orchard Wing.

Treadmills
Elliptical trainers

Cardio machines are fitted with the latest Technogym software, allowing you to participate in exercise programmes, go on simulated walks, or watch YouTube/Netflix. The software also supports syncing with Apple and Samsung watches for heart rate and fitness data. 

Technogym suite

Other equipment includes a rowing machine, stairmaster, various strength training stations and free weights. 

Rowing machine and stair master
Strength training and free weights
Medicine balls, foam rollers and yoga balls

Hilton Singapore Orchard: Executive Lounge

Hilton Singapore Orchard Executive Lounge

A flagship property like the Hilton Singapore Orchard is bound to attract a lot of Diamond members, so it’s important the executive lounge is up to the task. 

The lounge is located on the 6th floor and open from 9 a.m to 10.30 p.m daily. It has space for 250 guests, though mandatory social distancing cuts that number in half. 

Lounge reception

Inside you’ll find all kinds of seating configurations, ranging from two and four-top dining tables to booth seats and communal worktops.

Executive lounge: dining tables
Executive lounge: dining tables
Executive lounge: dining tables
Executive lounge: dining tables
Executive lounge: dining tables
Executive lounge: communal tables

A fancy living room area at the far end of the lounge gave it a more residential feel, with display cases and recliner style seating.

Executive lounge: Living room
Executive lounge: Living room
Executive lounge: Living room

The lounge has its own set of washrooms, with nifty no-touch door opening sensors. 

Door sensor
Men’s washroom

While the Mandarin Orchard’s club lounge was known for commanding views from its Top of the M perch, the views here are somewhat less inspiring.

View from lounge

While I have no complaints about the look and feel of the lounge — it feels like an inviting place to linger over a drink and catch up with emails — I do have concerns about its work credentials. The chairs are primarily designed for lounging, and none of them offer the kind of lumbar support you’d need to go beyond a 30-minute laptop stint.

Moreover, the lounge has a critical shortage of power outlets. I counted a total of 30, and even that’s a generous figure since some of them were on pillars away from the seating areas (more suited to a vacuum cleaner than a laptop charger). 

Power outlet location
Power outlet location

In fact, I found only a single outlet built into the furniture. The rest are located on the walls, requiring the running of unsightly wires across the floor, tangling with chair legs and spoiling the lounge’s aesthetic. 

Power outlet- strange use of white for a faceplate, given the rest of the lounge uses black

All power outlets accept Singapore-style plugs only, and there were no USB ports. 

That’s a poor omission for a business-focused hotel, and travellers are going to be in for a rude shock when the place fills up and the outlet wars begin (or the hotel is going to have to place ugly-looking power strips around the lounge).

There’s only a single power outlet in this entire area (below the TV)

The lounge has a self-serve bar area and a heavy-duty Nespresso machine, no doubt in anticipation of peak demand in the mornings. There’s also a buffet line, so eventually this will become an alternative place to take breakfast for those wanting to avoid the crowds downstairs. 

Bar area
Future buffet area

Afternoon tea is served in the lounge from 3 p.m to 4.30 p.m, with evening cocktails from 5.30 p.m to 7.30 p.m. Reservations are not required for either. 

Afternoon tea
Evening canapes

Frankly speaking, you can give both a miss. The food was completely forgettable, and certainly not worth asking for seconds. Dim sum was dry, salads limp, and pastries uninspiring- a far cry from the culinary excellence the hotel is capable of producing at its restaurants. 

In terms of alcohol, I saw beer as well as an Indomita Chardonnay and a Cabernet Sauvignon. There’s no sparkling wine option, sadly.

Cocktail hour white wine
Cocktail hour red wine

I also spotted a selection of spirits, but without a drinks list I couldn’t tell if cocktails were on offer.

Spirits

Service in the lounge was excellent. Every guest was warmly welcomed back, drinks preferences were remembered, and top ups were frequent. To be fair, lounge utilisation was on the low side when I was there, so the real test will be to see how they manage a full house down the road. 

Hilton Singapore Orchard: Breakfast

Estate
Served atCostStyle
EstateS$38++ (Adults)
S$19++ (Child 7-12)
Staff-served buffet
HoursSparkling Wine?Discounts?
6.30 a.m to 10.30 a.m
No10% off for Hilton members

Breakfast is served at Estate from 6.30 a.m to 10.30 a.m daily, and costs S$38++ (~S$45 nett) per adult. Children aged 7-12 pay half price, and children six and below eat for free.

Gold and Diamond members receive complimentary breakfast for two guests, while base and Silver members can save 10% off the bill with Hilton’s Dine Like a Member promotion. 

Estate

Estate is a gorgeous venue to behold, with each section adopting a different botanical theme. The lighting is warm and inviting, featuring residential-style open kitchens and mirrors on the ceiling (so all they need now is some pink champagne on ice).

Estate
Estate
Estate

Breakfast is run buffet style (though a la carte options are also available), with the staff serving up items directly from the line and doing a commendable job of keeping up with the morning rush. 

Buffet area
Buffet area
Buffet area

The spread was certainly impressive, all the more so because Estate has a real knack for presenting food. Displays were attractively lit and full of vibrant colours, items neatly arranged and regularly replenished, and nary a silver food warmer in sight. 

I’ll walk you through the various areas of the buffet, starting first with the pastries and bread section.

Pastries
Pastries
Bread

A special mention to Estate for using the good butter. This is Beurre d’Isigny, and once you try it, you’ll never go back to anything else.

Butter

Next up was cold cuts, a salad bar, cut fruits, cheese, and honey from the comb.

Cold cuts
Salads
Fruits
Cheese and honeycomb

A wide selection of cereals were available, as well as freshly-made pancakes and french toast. 

Cereals
Waffles and pancakes

Various egg dishes can be made-to-order, or you can pick from the trays if you’re in a rush and create your own fry-up with sausages, hash browns, tomatoes and (pork and turkey) bacon.

Egg station
Sausages and bacon
Roast veggies, hash browns and baked beans
Sautéed vegetables and mushrooms

Asian options consisted of dim sum, prata with curry, nasi lemak, porridge, and a noodle station serving up prawn mee.

Dim sum
Nasi lemak
Porridge
Prata and curry
Noodle station

Be sure you don’t miss the juice station, located on the outskirts of the buffet line. The staff will happily whip up any juice combination you can think of, or pour you one of their pre-prepared mixes like a classic ABC (apple, beetroot, carrot).

Juice station

My pick of the dishes? Definitely the porridge, french toast and prawn mee.

Porridge
French toast
Prawn noodles

Hilton Singapore Orchard: Dining

Hilton Singapore Orchard offers a total of four dining concepts for now, with Osteria Mozza becoming the fifth when it opens in April 2022. 

  • Chatterbox
  • Estate
  • Ginger.Lily
  • Osteria Mozza (opening mid-April 2022)
  • Shisen Hanten

From now till 30 June 2022, Hilton Honors members can enjoy discounts at Estate and Ginger.Lily under the Dine Like a Member promotion. Base and Silver members save 10%, while Gold and Diamond members save 25%. 

Dine Like A Member

Chatterbox

Hallway to Chatterbox

The famous Chatterbox restaurant has undergone a S$4 million renovation, replacing its oh-so-2000s décor with a sleek, minimalist Japanese feel. The new 126-seat restaurant can be accessed either through the Mandarin Gallery mall, or via an umbilical-like corridor from the Hilton Singapore Orchard lobby.

Opening hours are 11.30 a.m to 2.30 p.m and 6 p.m to 10.30 p.m daily. 

Chatterbox Reception
Chatterbox Bar
Chatterbox Restaurant
Chatterbox Restaurant

I visited Chatterbox twice during my stay, the first time tucking into a plate of fiercely-addictive salted egg chicken wings (S$12++ for four pieces), and the obligatory Hainanese Chicken Rice (S$25++, with your choice of breast or drumstick). 

Salted egg chicken wings
Hainanese Chicken Rice

I’m pleased to report that the renovation has had no effect on consistency, as the chicken rice tasted exactly the same as the last time I had it (August 2020)-  moist chicken, plump, flavourful rice grains, tangy chili, cabbage soup that isn’t just for show. 

Is it worth the price tag? Look, I’m not keen in getting drawn into a discussion about whether Chatterbox chicken rice is part of our national culinary heritage, or an overpriced tourist trap. I’m just thankful we live in a country with both options at our disposal: an elevated, non-threatening environment where one can enjoy a craft cocktail and introduce hesitant overseas friends to our local gastronomic bounty, and a pick-me-up, S$3 option seasoned with the hawker’s sweat and tears (hopefully not literally). 

The following day, I tried the Lobster Laksa (S$34++), which wasn’t quite as good as the previous time. The broth tasted a little gritty, and the noodles were overcooked.

Lobster Laksa

I also sampled the braised seafood white bee hoon (S$29++), which was decent, though I think you might be better off going for the seafood hokkien mee (S$25++) instead. 

Seafood white bee hoon

Estate

Estate

Estate is open from 6.30 a.m to 10 p.m daily. I’ve already talked about breakfast, but there’s also the option of a lunch and dinner buffet and all-day a la carte dining.

The lunch buffet costs S$62++ (Mon to Thu) and S$70++ (Fri to Sun), while the dinner buffet costs S$82++ (Sun to Thu) and S$99++ (Fri & Sat). Children aged 12 years and below dine at 50% of the adult price, while children aged 5 and below dine for free. 

Do note that while the lunch and dinner buffet spreads differ, they’re the same regardless of day of the week (e.g. the dinner spread on Saturday will be the same as on Monday). 

We came here for dinner, where the following items were being served.

That looks like a lot of food, and it is. Estate’s spread is second to none, but there’s quality as well as quantity to be had here.

Oysters and seafood
Salad bar
Nasi goreng, XO hokkien mee, carrot cake, glutinous rice
Truffle duck
Black bean tofu, white turnip with baby shrimp, green vegetables with salted fish
Sichuan-style chicken, short ribs, sweet and sour pork
Black mussels with white wine sauce, boneless chicken leg, potatoes with truffle butter
Supreme soy-glazed river prawn, kam heong clams with omelette, nonya stew with baby squid, chili crab
Estate dinner buffet spread

Fruits

Dessert selection

Estate’s signature dish is black truffle roasted duck, served with sweet turnip pickle and fried tofu. The duck was delicious, although the ginger honey soya sauce was overpoweringly sweet and could have been done without. 

Black truffle roasted duck

This was served along with a consommé made from the carcass of the duck. It’s herbal and slightly bitter, which I suppose provides a good counterpoint to the sweetness of the sauce. 

Duck consommé

If you ask me, that honey soy-glaze goes a lot better on the Australian short ribs, which fell off the bone at the slightest provocation. 

Honey soy-glazed Australian short rib

Nasi goreng kampung is another source of pride for the chef, and be sure to ask for an extra portion of the homemade chili. 

Nasi goreng kampung

Estate does a unique play on chili crab, pairing a soft shell version with crispy cheong fun. I loved the crab, though I believe it’s best not to mess with the classics- man tou would have been a much better accompaniment. 

Crispy cheong fun with soft shell chili crab

While putting cheese on seafood is a mortal sin, scrape it to the side and you’ll find a very lovely squid ink tagliatelle with octopus confit.  The pasta happens to be gluten-free, so those with Celiac disease can join in the fun too.

Squid ink tagliatelle with octopus confit

Before you end the night, head to the desserts display and help yourself to a champagne raspberry gelee. Yes, I checked: they do use real champagne to make this, and in abundance. A few of these and you might not be able to drive home.

Champagne raspberry gelee

The total damage for two people, after taxes, service charge and Hilton’s 25% discount was S$145. Considering that Estate’s predecessor Triple Three charged more than that with way less impressive food, it felt like money well spent.

Ginger.Lily

Ginger.Lily

Ginger.Lily is the Hilton Singapore Orchard’s go-to venue for afternoon tea, artisanal cakes and craft cocktails. An all-day menu with canapes, soups, salads and more substantial items (think wok-fried tom yum quinoa and sea urchin with gluten-free tagliatelle) is also available. 

Opening hours are 9 a.m to 10.30 p.m daily, with the following service timings: 

  • Afternoon Tea: 2 p.m to 5 p.m
  • Cake Shop: 10 a.m to 8 p.m
  • Breakfast: 9 a.m to 10:30 a.m
  • All-day Menu: 11 a.m to 10:30 p.m
  • Bar & Cocktails: 12 p.m to 10:30 p.m

Ginger.Lily
Ginger.Lily
Ginger.Lily

In a major coup, Hilton has managed to poach the affable Michael Mendoza from PARKROYAL COLLECTION Marina Bay to head up the bar programme. 

Bar

He was more than happy to go off menu and craft some custom drinks for us- a champagne cocktail for me, and a play on a whiskey sour for the MileLioness. Both were delicious, and my biggest wish now is that Ginger.Lily gets added to the AMEX Chillax programme so I have an excuse to stop by more regularly. 

Champagne cocktail
Whiskey sour

I didn’t have the opportunity to try any of the food items, but will make it a point to do so in the near future. 

Verdict

Hilton Singapore Orchard Executive Suite

I’m going to be presumptuous and say that no one liked the previous Hilton Singapore, they just tolerated it. It was the kind of place people stayed out of an undying loyalty to Hilton Honors (and an expense account that wouldn’t cover the Conrad) or because of its relatively cheap rates, rather than any great love for the property per se. That’s not a winning formula by any means. 

The new Hilton Singapore Orchard is beautiful and inviting, a setting I could easily see spending a whole day working, enjoying a tipple or sharing a meal. It’s a place I might actually propose as a meeting point for drinks and discussions, even when not staying, and there’s more to look forward to when Osteria Mozza and the Orchard Wing open (I’m dying to see what Top of the M becomes). More importantly, it provides a much-needed hard reset for the brand in Singapore, rehabilitating the Hilton’s image from grand old dame to new kid on the block.

There’s no spa (though that’s not exactly a key selection criteria for the typical Hilton guest), and the underdeveloped pool and lack of power outlets in the lounge are bound to cause issues down the road, but on the whole I’d consider this to be one of the most impressive new hotel launches in recent memory. 

It’s a reboot I can get behind.

🏨 In Summary

With its stunning new rooms and exciting F&B concepts, the Hilton Singapore Orchard is a worthy flagship for the Hilton brand.

Do say: Chatterbox chicken rice is a litmus test of our willingness as a society to elevate hawker food to the same status as haute cuisine

Don’t say: Wah lao, still got service charge

Milelion Staycation Ratings
Aaron Wong
Aaron Wong
Aaron founded The Milelion to help people travel better for less and impress chiobu. He was 50% successful.

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