In July 2008, Singapore Airlines opened The Private Room, the crown jewel of its brand new SilverKris Lounges in the newly-opened Terminal 3.
Nestled within the First Class Lounge, which was itself within the Business Class Lounge, The Private Room was a rare breed of Matryoshka doll- a lounge within a lounge within a lounge!
This was meant to be an exclusive facility, and Singapore Airlines took the mythos very, very seriously. The Private Room was reserved for Singapore Airlines Suites and First Class passengers only- no Solitaire PPS Club members nor First Class passengers on Star Alliance partners need apply.
In fact, for the first year or so, Singapore Airlines did not even grant Private Room access to passengers travelling on award tickets; if you wanted in, you had to pay cash, period (thankfully that policy was reversed in late 2009).
I visited The Private Room several times over the past decade, and the sum total of my experiences averaged out to 3.6 Roentgen: not great, not terrible. I could see why some people would love its old world luxury vibe, but I personally found the ambiance stuffy and the food average at best. Moreover, it paled in comparison to other First Class lounges out there, what with its lack of private shower suites and sleeping areas.
But the Private Room has now been reborn after a multi-year renovation, welcoming guests ever since 31 May. For better or worse, this will be Singapore Airlines’ flagship lounge for the next decade or so until Terminal 5 opens.
I should say upfront that if you’re expecting spas, golf simulators or soaking tubs, look away now because you’re only going to be disappointed. Singapore Airlines just doesn’t go in for that sort of thing, and if you want the flashiest or the frilliest amenities, the ME3 might be more your speed.
Instead, The Private Room encapsulates Singapore Airlines’ philosophy of quiet, dignified elegance. This is a place that whispers rather than screams, hints instead of hollers, and pursues timelessness instead of trends. If that’s what you look for in a lounge, you’ll be right at home here.
|🍸 tl;dr: The Private Room|
|A beautiful redesign and new features make The Private Room every bit an improvement over its predecessor, though there’s still work to be done.|
|👍 The Good||👎 The Bad|
|🍸 A Day in The Private Room|
Getting to The Private Room
If you have access to The Private Room, chances are your experience will begin at Singapore Airlines’ exclusive First Class reception area. Tell your driver to look out for the private driveway, located just before Door 1 on Terminal 3’s departure level.
Upon completing the check-in formalities, you’ll exit through the rear and head straight to a dedicated immigration counter for Singapore Airlines Suites and First Class passengers.
As soon as you pass through immigration, you’ll see the SilverKris Lounge entrance ahead to your left.
Take the escalator up, and pause to enjoy the beautiful batik glass wall commissioned especially for the new lounges. This 12m x 3.8m installation features SIA’s signature batik motif, styled with 105 hand-crafted art glass pieces- a play on the batik design screen that adorns SilverKris Lounges around the world. It was created by glass artist B. Jane Cowie, whose works can also be found at the Enchanted Garden in Terminal 2.
The escalator brings you to the Oval, the unofficial name of the unified entrance area for all three SilverKris Lounges (the KrisFlyer Gold Lounge is further down the corridor, further affirming its outcast status).
The staff should recognise your maroon First Class boarding pass immediately, but in any case you’ll be given a golden ticket during check-in. You don’t really need it to enter The Private Room, but it’s a nice little flourish and can make a good souvenir (the staff by default collect the invitation on arrival, but just ask and they’ll let you keep it).
Access & Operating Hours
The Private Room is open from 5.30 a.m to 2.30 a.m daily.
Access is available to:
- Suites and First Class passengers arriving or departing on a Singapore Airlines flight (guests are not permitted)
Do note that the policy of on-arrival access cannot be found on the Singapore Airlines website. This is something I have confirmed separately through personal experience and checking with airline representatives. To be clear: you do not need an onwards boarding pass to use The Private Room; you can use it even if Singapore is your final destination.
First Class passengers on Star Alliance flights and Solitaire PPS Club members do not get access to The Private Room, and will be directed to the First Class Lounge instead. In that sense, The Private Room is Singapore Airlines’ “true” First Class lounge.
|❓ Which SIA routes offer Suites or First Class?|
The new Private Room measures in at 951 sqm, about 10% larger than the previous iteration. A total of 78 passengers can be accommodated, a capacity that’s rarely tested.
The first thing you’ll see after passing through the bronze-lined passageway is a reception area, set beneath a stunning light dome comprising 107 crystalflowers and metal leaves specially designed for Singapore Airlines by French glassmaker Lalique (Lalique also provides the skincare products for First Class amenities kits, and once upon a time, crystal fish).
The crystals are cut in the shape of Aquatic Ginger, one of the 10 native flowers in SIA’s signature batik motif.
Near the entrance is a family room, with a TV, sofa and beanbag chair. Colouring pencils and arts & crafts materials are available on request.
The layout of The Private Room is rather straightforward. It’s shaped like one long rectangle, with the living area in the front, and the dining area at the rear.
The living area is split into two flanks. On the left, you have a three-seater table, plus five semi-private solo pods.
Each of these has a single armchair plus coffee table. Open shelving display cases form a partition between pods, though you could still peer through and see the person in the neighbouring unit if you really wanted to.
The Private Room lacks productivity pods (these can be found in the First Class Lounge), perhaps because the designers felt the aesthetic would clash. I believe these solo units are intended to be the replacement, but the chair doesn’t offer sufficient back support for prolonged working.
While The Private Room does not receive any natural light, it’s not completely windowless. A long chest-high window runs the length of the left flank.
This looks out to the A Gates of the Terminal 3 departures concourse, and no, you’re not invisible. Those below can peer right back, so consider that before sneering down at the unwashed masses below.
On the right flank are six more seating pods, partially blocked off by cubicle-style partitions.
Seating here alternates between pods with two armchairs, and pods with an armchair and couch. Wireless charging pads can be found on the table tops.
Down the middle are three larger seating areas for groups. These feature tall architectural glass screens and custom lighting pieces by LASVIT, creating a lush ambiance.
If you need to take a phone call, a noise-isolating booth can be found just before the dining area, with an armchair and coffee table.
If there’s one place that captures the difference in design language between the old and new Private Rooms, it’s the dining area.
The previous Private Room played it all traditional steakhouse, with dark leather panels, white tablecloths, burnt orange booth seats and dim lighting. Put big band music on the PA and a few celebrity photos on the wall, and you might as well be in Peter Luger or Keens.
The new dining room, on the other hand, channels a contemporary bistro. It’s decidedly minimalist in the décor: clean lines, unadorned walls and a polished white marble floor make it feel bright and airy, and it’s quite an accomplishment that it feels brighter than the old Private Room despite not having the latter’s natural light.
It’s perhaps a bit too minimalist in parts; the white backdrop behind the tables could have used a little texture (perhaps more batik motifs?), and some hanging decorative lights would really have brought the place together. As it is, the design here feels relatively sterile compared to the seating area.
The setup here eschews table cloths, something I don’t really care about (many high-end restaurants have ditched table cloths anyway). What I do care about, however, is that the seats aren’t the most comfortable.
I sat in the booth, and the depth of the seat versus distance of the table leaves something to be desired. Even with the table pulled further forward, there was a noticeable gap between my back and the backrest, something a cushion would really have helped to fix. As it is, you’ll find yourself having to lean forward to eat or type on a computer, which takes a toll after a while.
The previous iteration of The Private Room had a small buffet selection, but the new version has no food anywhere in sight.
Instead, everything is ordered through a leather-bound menu, distributed to guests as soon as they’re seated (you don’t have to take your meal in the dining area if you don’t want to, they’ll bring it anywhere in the lounge).
Breakfast (5 a.m to 11 a.m)
Lunch (11 a.m to 6 p.m)
Dinner (6 p.m to close)
All Day Options
A staff member will come over to take your order when ready, and I waited no more than 10 minutes for any item. The menu has clearly been designed in a way that facilitates quick preparation; important when your patrons may be rushing for their next flight!
Here’s what I tried over the course of a day.
Despite being labelled as a main, Wagyu Satay works as an excellent appetizer. Each portion is two sticks of lightly barbequed wagyu ribeye cuts, served with onions, cucumber and ketupat (why are there three of these but two pieces of satay, the OCD mind wants to know). There’s something of a luck of the draw with satay, because some pieces will be oozing with fat and others will be drier. You’ll still average out at deliciousness though, so don’t hesitate to order this.
I’ve never had high expectations for airport lounge dim sum, but I have to say the Dim Sum Delights was a triumph. This came with a plump siew mai that was almost bursting out of its skin (no tiny, hollow food court variety here!), a tasty spinach dumpling that I nearly mistook for mochi, plus an intriguingly-coloured charcoal BBQ pork bun.
If I had one criticism, I’d say that a splash of Maggi chili sauce, no matter how artistically spooned, doesn’t exactly elevate the dish.
Avoid the Smoked Salmon Salad. I have no idea why I ordered this; I think some small part of me was hoping they’d surprise with some phenomenal house-cured salmon, but it was basically supermarket salmon paired with supermarket bagged salad. Instantly forgettable.
Clam Chowder in a Bread Bowl is probably meant to conjure memories of San Francisco and Fisherman’s Wharf, but Boudin Bakery this isn’t. The clam chowder was thin and watery, more of a broth than a chowder. It needed bulking up with potatoes, perhaps some bacon for added flavour.
The Hearty Breakfast Platter features Kurobuta pork sausage, eggs your way, roasted vine tomatoes, mushrooms and a mini croissant. It’s basically your classic British fry up, if they stuck a side salad on it and took away the potatoes and black pudding. This was competently executed, though I’d have preferred to see this as a build-your-own option, with additional premium sides like avocado, or things like bacon, hash browns and a choice of toast.
The breakfast platter was rather conventional, but the Grilled Flaguette Sandwich was inspired: a rustic, stone-baked flat wheat bread with pulled duck and cheese. I’d order this every time I’m here (though I’d also advise the chef there’s little point sending out a decorative salad to accompany the dish if you’re not going to put at least a little vinaigrette on it; dry leaves tend to go uneaten).
Sautéed Lobster with Pasta paired a tomato-sauce coated lobster with angel hair aglio olio. I had no complaints about the lobster, which had sweet and delicate flesh (a half lobster is served by default, but you can of course request them to upgrade it to a full portion).
However, the pasta was completely anonymous. This wasn’t a dish that was more than the sum of its parts; it was a dish that was exactly the sum of its parts. Put it another way, it’d be more accurately described as lobster + pasta rather than lobster pasta, because the two items were so distinct. The pasta had close to zero flavour, and a much better execution would incorporate the flavour of the sea by boiling the shells into a bisque, and using it to flavour the sauce.
Every airline with an a la carte dining menu needs to have a signature burger, and while The Private Room’s Wagyu Burger is a good start, it’s not yet the finished article.
I loved that they used a potato bun. You hardly see this in Singapore (Shake Shack aside), and once you bite into a warm buttered potato bun, you won’t go back to regular wheat. The cook on the patty was good, and the meat was still juicy. But what would really have brought it to the next level would be to dress it up a bit, perhaps with a chipotle mayo, or the option to add additional toppings like a fried egg, cheese, grilled onions or relish (same comments about undressed salad leaves apply here).
I also didn’t understand pairing the dish with sautéed potatoes. I mean, things don’t get more classic than a burger and fries, and it’s not like the lounge doesn’t have the ability to make fries (truffle fries can be found in the buffet line in the First Class Lounge).
Crispy Seafood Noodles with King Prawns and Scallops sounds like a slam dunk. Who doesn’t love an elevated version of a classic comfort food?
The execution, however, falls short. The king prawn (single piece, sliced into two) was perfectly cooked, but the scallop was rubbery. Once those are gone, all you have left is a bunch of fried egg noodles drenched in a watery, bland broth.
Steamed Kuhlbarra Baramundi with Superior HK Soya Sauce and rice may not sound terribly exciting, but the execution was perfection.
The barramundi fillet flaked at the slightest provocation, and the sauce provided just a subtle hint of sweetness. And say what you will about loading up on carbs, I’m glad they used a proper jasmine rice supplier. Far too many places cheap out on rice, and for me, if the rice is bad, the meal is ruined. These grains held their shape well and had the right amount of fragrance.
If you’re a fan of dessert, it may disappoint you to know there’s only two options on The Private Room’s menu: cheng tng or waffles with ice cream.
I opted for the waffle, which as it turns out, is actually a croffle (croissant dough shaped like a waffle). It tasted great, though I’m not too sure about the presentation. It looks like someone inverted a mini-tub of Haagen Dazs ice cream, then stuck on two pocky sticks.
While I didn’t have the stomach space to try additional items, here’s an idea of what they look like based on the media preview.
I’ve give the dining a 7/10. Some dishes have the potential to be showstoppers, while others need a bit more time in the test kitchen.
One thing’s for sure though, The Private Room’s dining is much improved from before. During my last visit pre-COVID, I was served watery prawn noodle soup served with cheap frozen prawns and a fatty strip of pork, a confused pile up of lobster, overcooked pasta and undercooked asparagus, and a dollhouse-sized burger.
The food now may not be Michelin-star stuff, but it’s a heck of a lot better than this. Let’s hope they keep refining the menu.
The drinks list reads as follows.
A barista is on hand in the morning from 6 a.m to 10 a.m to put together your caffeine jolt.
Beans are from dialogue, a Single Origin coffee by Boncafe. Coffee purists will cringe at the very mention of the name, but hey, if the same company that produces Moet can also come up with Dom…
Wines are displayed in an attractively-lit display case, with different sections for champagne, red wine and white wine (since they need to be stored at different temperatures).
- Kaesler The Bogan Shiraz Barossa Valley 2015 (4.2★)
There’s also a selection of spirits, though the options are exactly the same as the First Class Lounge (no Hibiki 21 year old whiskey here).
The Private Room doesn’t have its own bar, but the staff can bring over cocktails from the bar in the First Class Lounge once cocktail hour starts at 5.30 p.m. What’s a bit unfortunate is that the selection is paint-by-numbers stuff- think cosmopolitans, margaritas, negronis and Singapore slings.
I can get these anywhere; what would really make the experience special are some specially crafted tipples you can only get in the SilverKris Lounges
The only unique drink on offer was a SilverKris Sling, a mix of gin, orange liqueur, orange and pineapple juice, and champagne. In what I thought was a nice touch, the staff brought the semi-prepared drink to my table, then topped it off with Taittinger Comtes de Champagne in front of me. None of that ghetto Piper-Heidsieck Rare Brut Millesime here!
One final random point: While I appreciate that they went through the trouble of serving fancy San Benedetto mineral water, it made little sense to pour it over ice presumably made from tap water (of course you can ask for it without ice, just that this is the default presentation).
A total of four day rooms are available in The Private Room.
Perhaps weary about overstayers, Singapore Airlines has taken pains to emphasise these are not hotel rooms. The default time slot allotted per guest is two hours (though you can obviously stay longer if there’s no one after you), and it’s meant for napping and working, not a full night’s sleep.
Two rooms (#1 & #4) are configured with adjustable recliners, while two rooms (#2 & #3) have adjustable recliners and beds. I stayed in room #3 twice: once in the late morning, and once in the evening.
To obtain a day room, you need to approach the reception counter. During the media preview, I was told that access would be granted via QR codes, which you scan at the reader outside the room. However, the system is not operational yet, and I understand they may yet change the whole thing to a simpler hotel-style keycard.
In the meantime, you’re not able to open the door yourself. It locks automatically upon closing, so if you need to head to the toilet, for example, you’ll either have to prop the door open, or ask the lounge staff for assistance on return.
To pre-empt what’s sure to be an FAQ: day rooms are single occupancy only. You can’t (officially) share a room with someone else, even though technically one person could sleep on the recliner and the other on the bed.
I deeply suspect this is to prevent people from joining the not-so-mile-high club, and to lend further credence to that theory, each room has a small “viewing port” that looks out into the corridor. When you turn off the inside lights, you’re more or less invisible- but do you want to take that risk (rhetorical question, please do not post replies)?
Day rooms in The Private Room are notably larger than those in the First Class Lounge. There’s enough space for a decent-sized work desk, plus a luggage storage rack.
The bed is extremely comfortable, a Tempur Zero G bed base paired with a Tempur Firm Supreme mattress. This provides full-body support, and a variety of massage options (though a vibrating mattress feels a little bit like a love hotel- or so I’ve been told).
Both the top and bottom of the bed can be electronically adjusted to take a range of positions. A zero-gravity setting allows for weightless relaxation by taking stress off the lower back and elevating feet to the same level as the heart.
Sheets are silky smooth, though the blanket could stand to be a tad thicker. There’s no individual temperature controls in the room, and the default setting was too low for me (this coming from someone who regularly sleeps with the A/C close to 21°C).
For added relaxation, guests can request a diffuser with COMO Shambhala essential oils, as well as a yoga mat.
The adjustable recliner may look familiar to anyone who’s flown on the A380 Suites (as well it should, since both are upholstered by luxury leather craftsmen Poltrona Frau).
It did take some figuring out though. First of all, it wasn’t even plugged in when I arrived, and it took the staff a while to figure out how to connect the power. Second, there’s no visible buttons or levers. Instead, you’ll need to fold down the leather around the right hand side pouch to reveal the controls; perhaps a laminated card with instructions wouldn’t go amiss.
All things considered, the recliner is extremely comfortable, and if you can’t score a room with a bed, don’t worry: you’ll snooze very well here too.
Near the door is the unlock button (or rather sensor, it works based on motion) and lighting controls. The room has three different light settings: work, relax and rest (why rest isn’t the same as off, I’m not quite sure).
However, there was something wrong with my room, and I wasn’t actually able to turn off the bedside light. I was later told there was a fault with the driver, which would be repaired over the next couple of weeks.
What’s strange is that when I returned to room #3 for my second stint, the lighting controls managed to switch off the bedside light. Perhaps it’s a contact problem, but anyway those who are light-sensitive may want to avoid this room until they get it fixed.
The room lights also came on suddenly at the halfway point of my stay. I’m told that the staff do this at the end of someone’s two-hour slot to wake up the occupant. That’s better than a noisy alarm I guess, but they need to get the timings right in that case.
While bedsheets and pillow cases are changed between guests, one thing they could stand to pay closer attention to is cleanliness. The person who used the room before me had been eating something which left a lot of crumbs on the chair, missed by the cleaning team. I wouldn’t be too upset if they banned eating in the day rooms altogether, actually.
So there’s certainly kinks to be worked out with regards to access and hardware, but on the whole I’d say the day rooms are an excellent addition to The Private Room.
Wi-Fi & Productivity
When I first arrived at The Private Room in the morning, Wi-Fi speeds clocked in at ~20 Mbps down and ~27 Mbps up. I tested the network again later in the day when the lounge was about 30% full (which counts as relatively crowded for The Private Room), and the speeds had dropped to ~10 Mbps down and ~23 Mbps up- still more than adequate for Netflix and video calling.
Keep in mind the Wi-Fi network is shared among the three SilverKris lounges, so connection speeds aren’t a function of The Private Room occupancy alone.
Universal power outlets and USB ports are plentiful throughout The Private Room, located at almost every seat and table.
Zens wireless charging pads can also be found on some tables.
Showers & Toilets
One incredible oversight the designers of the previous SilverKris Lounges made was not to have private shower rooms. This ended up haunting the airline for more than a decade, as guest after guest made do with showers inside the main toilet, an arrangement more suited to a locker room than luxury lounge. Heaven only knows the number of complaints they got.
Thankfully, this generational curse has finally been broken and all three SilverKris Lounges now have their own private shower rooms. While Singapore Airlines hasn’t gone with tubs or cabanas, The Private Room’s suites are more than adequate, decked out in fine marble and warm lighting.
A total of three shower suites are available (+1 more accessible unit). Each comes with a luggage storage rack, a GROHE Sensia Arena bidet toilet, and both a rain and hand shower.
Protip: Request for shower #3. This is almost double the size of the other two suites. I’ve been told it’s the largest shower anywhere in Changi Airport, an assessment I wouldn’t argue with!
So large is the shower area, they’ve even seen fit to build a bench.
Shower amenities in The Private Room come from COMO Shambhala’s signature Invigorate range. These has a wonderful scent and lathered well.
Lalique Neroli body lotion and aftershave are available in every shower suite, as well as dental kits, a razor, shaving foam and a hairbrush.
Male and female toilets are located near the showers, clad in similar dark marble tones and equipped with electronic bidet seats.
Just like the shower suites, you’ll find Lalique Neroli amenities and hygiene items in the toilets.
A single nursing and changing room is available for parents to use.
The Private Room Service
I should probably begin this section with the caveat that the lounge is still new, and while the hardware is more or less settled, sorting out the software aspects will take a little longer.
For example, I could tell that the staff were very unfamiliar with the features of the day room, such as how to operate the lights or how to plug in and use the adjustable recliner. They also need to work out a better system of scheduling guests- one way of doing this might be to include it as part of the welcome spiel “...we also have day rooms available, please let me know if you’d be interested in a slot and at what roughly time”. This would ease the problem of having to play time tetris on the spot whenever a guest requests a room.
I was also surprised that there was no luggage storage option available. Guests may be shuttling between The Private Room and First Class lounge, or even planning to walk around the terminal during a longer layover. Instead of having them lug their bags around or leave them unattended (and thereby hogging a space), it’d make more sense if the lounge had a bag check system.
Full marks to the dining room staff, who were cheerful and attentive throughout. Most of them are new hires though, so if you were hoping to say hello to your favourite staff member from the old Private Room he or she may no longer be around. Also, given SIA’s general obsession with service and personalisation, I was surprised not to be addressed by name the whole time I was there- just the generic “sir”. It’s already the SOP to address passengers by name in the air, and hopefully that can be implemented on the ground as well.
What might be a nice touch for a place like The Private Room is for each guest to be assigned a single point of contact (like a butler) as soon as he or she enters the lounge, who can assist with everything from reserving a day room to taking meal orders to reminding them when it’s time to board.
Even though the concept of The Private Room is fast approaching 15 years old, it still exudes an air of mystique and exclusivity quite unmatched by any other lounge in Changi.
Singapore Airlines has finally addressed some of the bugbears plaguing its old lounges, most notably the shower issue. The addition of day rooms will be a godsend to anyone arriving on a late night flight with an early morning connection (remember: you can access The Private Room on arrival even if your connecting flight is not in First Class, or even if you have no connecting flight for that matter), though I do hope they sort out the access system ASAP so guests can go in and out as they please.
A la carte dining is always an awesome feature to have, and The Private Room certainly has a few tricks up its sleeve- the grilled flaguette sandwich, wagyu satay and barramundi were particular highlights for me. On the other hand, other dishes need some tweaking and further refinement, and it’s not yet the same level as what you might find at a Qantas First Lounge for example.
In terms of productivity, I didn’t find The Private Room the best place for working due to its lack of productivity pods or chairs with good back support. I wish they’d thought to build a couple of rooms more suited to that, but failing which there’s always the First Class Lounge.
Service is earnest, and will only improve in the weeks to come as the staff find their feet and get into the swing of things.
How does it compare to other First Class Lounges? This can be a whole article on its own (and I’ll probably get down to writing that soon), but I will say The Private Room does what it can with the space allocated to it. Obviously an Al Safwa or Lufthansa FCT can offer a very different proposition due to the square footage they have at their disposal, but that’s another discussion for another time.
Has anyone else visited The Private Room yet? What’s your take?