You know who’s got a long list of ex-lovers?
No, not Ms. Swift. Regent Hotels & Resorts, the British luxury hospitality brand whose ownership has changed hands more times than a bathroom stall phone number. In the space of its relatively short history, EIE International, Four Seasons, Carlson and Formosa International Hotels have all taken a crack at the brand, each hoping to provide true love’s first kiss (or align core competencies to unlock synergistic value, if you’re not the romantic sort).
IHG is now the latest suitor to throw their hat into the ring, and you can’t fault them for a lack of ambition. It has big plans for Regent, positioning it above even its eponymous InterContinental Hotels brand and aiming to grow its footprint to 40 hotels (from just six at the time of acquisition)- most of them new builds rather than conversions. And you know what? Given my experience at Regent Singapore, new builds might be the way to go.
Here’s a hotel that gets everything right with service. From start to finish, guests are treated with the kind of personalised warm hospitality that would not go amiss at a more intimate property many times the price.
But what’s that old chestnut about willing spirit, weak flesh? There’s no disguising the Regent’s vintage, whether it’s the lack of modern conveniences in its plain, uninspiring rooms, or its turn-of-the-century facilities. The mediocre breakfast belies the culinary excellence it’s capable of, and on the whole, one wonders whether the ~S$400++ asking price is too great a dowry for a diva past her prime.
|🏨 tl;dr: Regent Singapore|
|While the service is top-notch, the Regent Singapore has a decidedly yesteryear vibe that won’t be for everyone.|
|👍 The Good||👎 The Bad|
Booking a Regent Singapore Staycation
This staycation has been a long time coming.
Back in June 2020, as Singapore was in the midst of a lockdown and hotels urgently sought for working capital, Regent Singapore launched a flash sale on staycation and dining vouchers. One particular package, a Super Long Foodie Escape, offered the following for S$330 nett:
- Classic room for 1-night accommodation
- Complimentary upgrade to the Regent Club Premium Room (subject to availability)
- $288 nett dining credit for redemption at Regent Singapore’s outlets (excluding Tenshin, Seoul and Park90)
- Check-in as early as 8 am and checkout as late as 8 pm
That seemed too good to be true, and in fact it was. Regent later clarified that the package was meant to be priced at S$330++ (S$388 nett) — still a good deal, mind you — but agreed to honour the packages sold at the lower price. I snagged one of the S$330 nett packages, which meant that I was basically paying S$42 for a Club room with almost two nights’ of stay time!
The vouchers were initially valid for 12 months, because surely everything would be back to normal by then? When it became apparent that things would get worse before they got better, Regent Singapore extended the validity of the vouchers, and offered guests the option of splitting off the F&B component and using it first if they so wished.
I finished my F&B vouchers a long time ago, but Regent Singapore ended up doing a much longer SHN stint than anticipated. Even when other hotels were opening left and right for staycations, Regent remained closed to public bookings all the way till April 2022 (if you’re still holding on to a voucher, do note that the validity will be one year from the date of reopening, i.e. till 10 April 2023).
At the time of writing, a weekend Foodie Staycation package for a club room starts at S$624++ per night, with a S$200 F&B credit and no early check-in/late check-out benefits.
Regent Singapore: Arrival & Check-in
The Regent Singapore is located at 1 Cuscaden Road, just outside the Orchard shopping belt. The location has its ups and downs: it’s a relatively quiet area with more residences nearby than malls. But it also requires a 10-minute unsheltered walk to the main shopping area, and isn’t the most accessible place by public transport.
Onsite parking is available in the hotel’s carpark, and complimentary for all guests (with unlimited in/out privileges).
The Regent Singapore’s lobby looks like it’d have made quite the impression back in 1982 when the hotel first opened (as the Pavilion InterContinental). An ornate chandelier, gold trim on the chairs and tables, a polished marble floor- very regal indeed. Today, however, it feels a little dated.
But step into the main atrium, and things become all retrofuturistic a la The Jetsons. Bubble elevators blast off from reflecting pools and traverse upwards towards a soaring skylight, providing passengers with panoramic views of the lobby, Michio Ihara’s “Singapore Shower” hanging installation, and tiers of guestrooms, angled to create a ziggurat.
If the architecture gives a sense of de ja vu, that’s probably because it shares the same DNA as the Pan Pacific and Mandarin Oriental Singapore, all creations by John Portman.
My Foodie Staycation package had an 8 a.m check-in, which I completely forgot about until a front desk associate called me around 9 a.m and told me I could arrive anytime I wished. I ended up checking in around lunchtime.
In addition to the regular check-in desk, three automated check-in positions were also available, which I suppose see action during busier periods.
On arrival, the staff presented me with a pair of letters, one detailing my Regent Club benefits, the other with a link to book breakfast and other dining venues.
I was then escorted to the room to complete the check-in formalities, which basically involved signing a form and providing the voucher registration code. I get that it’s meant to give a personal touch, but felt a bit odd nonetheless- I wouldn’t have minded doing it all in the lobby.
Regent Singapore: Premium Club Room
The 440 guest rooms and suites at the Regent Singapore are split into the following categories:
|Type||Size||No. of Rooms|
|Classic Room||36 sqm||394|
|Premium Room||38 sqm|
|Premium Room w Balcony||42 sqm|
|Premium Room High Floor||38 sqm|
|Regent Premium Club Room||38 sqm|
|Regent Club Room w Balcony||42 sqm|
|Regent Suite w Balcony||88 sqm||46|
|Premier Suite w Balcony||88 sqm|
|Regent Club Suite w Balcony||88 sqm|
|Regent Club Premier Suite w Balcony||88 sqm|
|Ambassador Suite w Balcony||132 sqm|
|Presidential Suite w Balcony||220 sqm|
My booking was for a Classic Room, but the Foodie Staycation package included an upgrade to a 38 sqm Regent Club Premium Room. I had 1219, on the top floor of the hotel.
Just beyond the door was the wardrobe, bathroom and minibar.
The minibar was well-stocked with bottled water: 10 on the counter, and a further five in the fridge. Regent Club rooms also receive an upgrade in the coffee/tea department, with Nespresso capsules and Monogram tea bags.
The wardrobe doors were hard to slide, but once opened revealed a digital safe, luggage rack and ironing set. Two bathrobes of middling quality were provided.
The room then opened out into the bedroom proper, clad in cream and beige, and caught in a time capsule.
I took an instant dislike to the décor, though I’ll readily admit that’s as much personal preference as anything else. Perhaps it was the complete absence of carpentry. Every piece of furniture could be lifted and shifted, which made the room feel less like a purpose-built living space and more like something thrown together.
Some rooms have balconies for fresh air (indeed, the Regent was one of the preferred hotels for SHN guests due to this), but mine wasn’t one of them.
The king-sized bed had a Simmons Beautyrest mattress, complete with plush mattress topper which offset a bit of the firmness. 400 thread count bed linens provided a good night’s sleep (in general, 250-300 is considered good enough, and anything above that is luxury).
One annoying inconvenience was that neither bedside had a master power switch, or any light switches for that matter. To turn off the lights, you had to go to every lamp and switch in the room and flip it off. Curtains also needed to be manually closed.
Fortunately, Regent saw fit to add bedside charging outlets during its 2019 renovation, located inside pull-out drawers on both bedsides.
Unfortunately, there’s a major design flaw. There’s no cutout to accommodate wires or the plug heads, so you need to keep the drawers open when charging devices. Imagine you plug in your phone before going to sleep, and get up in the middle of the night to go to the loo. Swing your legs out of bed, and bam! Instant bruise from colliding with the open drawer.
The living area had a two-seater sofa, a wooden armchair, plus a rectangular coffee table on which a welcome amenity of fruit and a cheese platter were waiting.
I don’t watch a lot of telly on staycations, but I appreciated the fact they upgraded the room’s TV to a 55-inch LCD model with Smart TV capabilities. It’s set on a flexible mount, and can be pulled out of the wall and swivelled towards the bed or work desk.
I wasn’t able to get the screen mirroring to work though; try as I might, it just wouldn’t pop up on the list of available devices.
Another nice feature was that work desk had a proper office chair, instead of one of those plush-looking armchairs that offers little to no back support.
Wi-Fi speeds clocked in at 88 Mbps down and 93 Mbps up, making this the third fastest internet connection I’ve seen in a Singapore hotel so far.
|🌐Hotel Wi-Fi Speeds|
|Mandarin Orchard||273 Mbps||294 Mbps|
|Sofitel City Centre||95 Mbps||92 Mbps|
|Regent Singapore||88 Mbps||93 Mbps|
|Hilton Singapore Orchard||64 Mbps||63 Mbps|
|Villa Samadhi||62 Mbps||53 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|
|St. Regis Singapore||29 Mbps||29 Mbps|
|Duxton Reserve||28 Mbps||29 Mbps|
|PARKROYAL Beach Road||28 Mbps||29 Mbps|
|Mandarin Oriental||28 Mbps||28 Mbps|
|Oasia Resort Sentosa||28 Mbps||25 Mbps|
|The Fullerton Bay Hotel||24 Mbps||24 Mbps|
|The Fullerton Hotel||23 Mbps||24 Mbps|
|PARKROYAL Pickering||24 Mbps||23 Mbps|
|Oakwood Premier AMTD||20 Mbps||20 Mbps|
|Shangri-La Singapore||19 Mbps||18 Mbps|
|Pan Pacific Singapore||19 Mbps||19 Mbps|
|Dusit Thani Laguna Singapore||19 Mbps||19 Mbps|
|JW Marriott Singapore||16 Mbps||14 Mbps|
|InterContinental Bugis||15 Mbps||15 Mbps|
|The Capitol Kempinski Hotel||16 Mbps||13 Mbps|
|PARKROYAL COLLECTION Marina Bay||9.4 Mbps||18 Mbps|
|Grand Hyatt Singapore||14 Mbps||13 Mbps|
|Hilton Singapore||13 Mbps||14 Mbps|
|One Farrer Hotel||11 Mbps||21 Mbps|
|Marina Bay Sands||11 Mbps||11 Mbps|
|The Clan Hotel||9.6 Mbps||9.6 Mbps|
|Andaz Singapore||8.0 Mbps||9.5 Mbps|
|Four Seasons Singapore||6.7 Mbps||9.8 Mbps|
|Goodwood Park Hotel||7.8 Mbps||7.5 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|
Like the bedroom, the bathroom design was considerably dated.
The vanity area had a single sink, together with old-style three-hole mixer. It may look more grand than a modern single-hole mixer, but adjusting the hot and cold water mix each time so you don’t burn or freeze your hands is annoying.
I really hated the toilet design, which reminded me of a public restroom, complete with U-shaped toilet seat and stick flush. No bidet hose was provided either.
Why a U-shaped seat anyway? According to this fascinating piece discussing O versus U-shaped toilet seats:
The original purpose for the U-shaped seat, according to Lynne Simnick, senior director of code development at IAPMO—the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials—was to aid women. Simnick explains that the open seat was designed to allow women “to wipe the perineal area after using the water closet” without contacting a seat that might be unhygienic.
The U-shaped seat in public restrooms is a requirement of IAPMO’s Uniform Plumbing Code. On its own, the code doesn’t have any legal force, but city, country, and state governments do frequently adopt it (or a variation) as law. It currently applies, in some form, to more than half the population of the U.S. and the world.
While bathtubs are a standard feature for all Regent Singapore rooms, I’d much rather they installed a shower cubicle instead of a combination shower/tub. Combinations give the worst of both worlds- too shallow and narrow for soaking, too cramped for showering. The sooner these are ripped out and replaced with a proper shower cubicle, the better.
L’Occitane bath amenities are mentioned in the welcome letter as an exclusive perk for club room guests, but are really a standard amenity across all room types. These are dispensed from bulk-sized bottles mounted to the wall.
Regent Singapore: Facilities
|Yes: 7 a.m to 9 p.m||Yes: 6 a.m to 10 p.m||N/A|
|Kids’ Club||Business Centre||Others|
The Regent Singapore’s swimming pool is open from 7 a.m to 9 p.m daily, and does not require pre-bookings.
It channels an old-style condo, circular in shape and split in the middle by a series of floating buoys. Unlike modern pools which are generally shallow, this one ranges from 1.0M on the shallow end to 2.1M at the deep. Keep an eye on those kids!
The pool area didn’t have an attendant, so it wasn’t possible to order food or drinks to enjoy while lounging. Bottled water and towels were self-serve.
The Regent Singapore’s gym is open from 6 a.m to 10 p.m daily, and like the pool, does not require pre-booking. It offers the usual range of cardio and strength training machines, though do note that the equipment is on the old side and doesn’t have built-in entertainment systems- hence the TVs installed on the wall.
Regent Singapore: Executive Lounge
The Regent Club is located on the 11th floor, and is open from 11 a.m to 8 p.m daily.
While the new IHG One Rewards programme offers club lounge access as a milestone perk (available at the 40-night mark), Regent Clubs are excluded. Therefore, the only way to get Regent Club access is to book a club level room.
Club guests enjoy afternoon tea and evening cocktails, a two-hour use of the meeting room each day, plus 15% off hotel F&B (a bit of a meaningless benefit, since all IHG One Rewards members get 20% off already).
The lounge is small and cosy, like a posh reading room you might find in a country club.
A small outdoor seating area is available on the balcony, though it’s not as nice as you might imagine, given Singapore’s stifling humidity and construction noise from the surrounding area.
Two meal presentations are served daily:
- Afternoon tea: 2 p.m to 4 p.m
- Evening cocktails: 5.30 p.m to 7.30 p.m
Afternoon tea was a simple affair, with help-yourself sandwiches and pastries on the buffet line. In addition to this, a warm chicken quiche and scones were available on request. Monogram teas and Boncafe coffee (seriously, they should just have installed a Nespresso machine) were also offered.
The evening canapes were laid out in a separate section of the lounge that only opens later in the day.
It was a surprisingly large spread, and could even be a dinner replacement for those with smaller appetites. I’m quite certain a number of these items (e.g. pizza, antipasti) must come from Basilico anyway, so that’s a way of sampling the menu if you don’t fancy paying the menu prices.
I had no complaints about the food. The inclusion of clam and mussel seafood stew was a particular surprise; given how hotels and restaurants love to mark up any kind of shellfish dish, it was a treat to see it given away for free here.
Drinks were less impressive. There was a choice of one red, one white and one sparkling option.
- Astoria Cuvee Lounge Brut (3.5★)
- Famille Perrin Ventoux 2020 (3.5★)
- Famille Perrin Luberon Blanc 2020 (3.6★)
None of these were anything to get excited about. The prosecco was forgettable, and the red wine borderline undrinkable. The staff can mix basic cocktails on request, though it’s obviously a far cry from the alchemy whipped up at Manhattan Bar every night.
A special shout out to the lounge team, who made every guest feel welcome. They were cheerful, quick with the refills, and remembered names and preferences.
Regent Singapore: Breakfast
S$22.50++ (Child 5-12)
|7 a.m to 10.30 a.m||No||20% off for IHG One members|
Breakfast is served at Basilico from 7.00 a.m to 10.30 a.m daily, and costs S$45++ (~S$53) per adult. Children aged 5-12 pay half price, and children four and below eat for free.
Guests are required to pre-book a slot, as per the timetable below:
|Slot 1: 7 a.m to 8.30 a.m|
Slot 2: 9 a.m to 10.30 a.m
|Slot 1: 7 a.m to 8 a.m|
Slot 2: 8.15 a.m to 9.15 a.m
Slot 3: 9.30 a.m to 10.30 a.m
What’s interesting is that they don’t offer extended breakfast hours on weekends; instead, guests are given less time per slot. On the morning I visited (Wednesday) the restaurant was half empty so it didn’t really matter how long you stayed, but on weekends it could be more dicey.
Cold items included cereals, fruits, cold cuts, yoghurt, cheese, and a couple of premade salads.
Western hot options featured roast vegetables, roast tomatoes, hash browns, chicken sausage and pork bacon.
Asian options were served at a different counter, with steamed rice, congee, fried rice, mee goreng and roti prata.
Now, I know the Regent is capable of culinary excellence- some of my favourite meals in Singapore have come from Basilico and Summer Palace. Therefore, the mediocrity of breakfast hit extra hard.
Sausages were cheap and gritty, there was no pancake or waffle station, the bread selection only featured pre-sliced white and wholemeal, Asian options were all carb-heavy, juices weren’t freshly squeezed, and the coffee was bad.
There were also strange presentation decisions. Fruit was served whole instead of pre-cut, which meant hardly anyone took it. Roti prata was stuffed into a dim sum basket and left on a food warmer, which made it soggy like a wet diaper.
Given the S$45++ price, I expected a lot more from breakfast. I mean, Clan Hotel (S$36++), Hilton Singapore Orchard (S$38++), Conrad (S$40++), Fullerton Bay (S$45++) and Capitol Kempinski (S$45++) all charge the same or less, and offer immeasurably better quality than this.
Regent Singapore: Dining
|IHG Savor Save Earn|
Before I talk about the dining options, a quick reminder about IHG’s Savor Save Earn promotion, which offers all IHG One Rewards members 20% off F&B at participating hotel restaurants. The discount is the same regardless of membership tier, and there’s no need to be an in-house guest to enjoy it.
Discounts are available for either dine-in (maximum party of eight) or takeaway, and exclude:
- Alcoholic beverages
- Meals included within a room rate
- Seasonal menus
- In-room dining
- Banquets, group and events bookings
- In-room minibar
The offer is available at the following Regent Singapore dining outlets:
- Dolcetto by Basilico
- Summer Palace
- Tea Lounge
Park90, Seoul, and Tenshin are excluded.
Basilico is, without a doubt, one of the better Italian restaurants in Singapore. Regular menu items like Risotto alla Pugliese (S$40++, aged Acquerello rice cooked with seafood) and Spaghetti Carbonara (S$38++, absolutely no cream allowed!) are excellent…
…but it’s the monthly wine dinners which make it extra special, an opportunity to try exciting off-menu items paired with fine wines. I’ve gone for half a dozen of these and have yet to be disappointed.
Likewise, Summer Palace would probably rank in my top five dim sum places in Singapore. Make it a point to try the Chicken and Prawn Szechuan Dumplings (S$9++), as well as the surprisingly good Pork Dumplings with Baby Abalone (S$10++). If you don’t mind a bit of guilt, the Deep-fried Prawn and Mango rolls (S$10++) and Pan-fried Carrot Cake (S$9++) are good bets too.
Would I recommend the Regent Singapore? It depends on what you’re looking for.
As a dining destination, certainly. If anyone ever asked me for an Italian or dim sum recommendation, Basilico and Summer Palace wouldn’t be far from my lips. And while I’ve yet to try Manhattan personally, I’ve heard enough buzz to put it on my to-do list.
But as a hotel? I’m not so sure. While the service is great, it just doesn’t excite me the way some other places do. And before you say I have a bias towards contemporary styling, let me state for the record that heritage can be done right: the InterContinental Bugis, Fullerton Hotel and Raffles Hotel are all proof of that. The Regent is less heritage and more age, if you pardon the poor wordplay, and for the prices charged, I think you’d be right to expect a bit more.
|🏨 In Summary|
While the service is top-notch, the Regent Singapore has a decidedly yesteryear vibe that won’t be for everyone.
Do say: The demise of U-shaped toilet seats is a testimony to our increasingly phallocentric society.
Don’t say: Just leave the toilet seat down.
|Milelion Staycation Ratings|