Review: Singapore Airlines The Private Room (2023)

The Private Room offers a modern, sophisticated take on luxury, but leans towards competent execution rather than shock and awe.

My trip to London kicked off with a return to The Private Room, Singapore Airlines’ flagship lounge for Suites and First Class customers.

I last visited in June 2022, just a few days after the official opening. Understandably, the lounge was still finding its feet back then, so I was keen to see how things had changed one year later.

Now, if you’ve visited other First Class lounges like Emirates in Dubai, Lufthansa in Frankfurt or Qatar Airways in Doha, you might be forgiven for being underwhelmed by The Private Room. It’s a relative minnow compared to those, and while it has an a la carte dining room and day rooms with beds, that’s about all the frills you get. No tarmac transfers, no golf simulators, no spa, no gym, no soaking tubs- Singapore Airlines really doesn’t go in for that sort of thing. 

What you do get is a pleasant place to enjoy a meal and kill some time before a flight. Is that enough, given what the competition has to offer? I expect there’ll be spirited debate over this, suffice to say The Private Room leans towards competent execution rather than shock and awe.

🍸 tl;dr: Singapore Airlines The Private Room
The Private Room offers a modern, sophisticated take on luxury, but leans towards competent execution rather than shock and awe.
👍 The Good👎 The Bad
  • Food quality has improved since opening
  • Day use rooms offer a private place to rest and work
  • Well-appointed shower suites with Como Shambhala amenities
  • Wine list has been downgraded
  • Inherently limited by its small footprint; those expecting further frills will be disappointed
👑 Monarchy in the UK

Getting to The Private Room

First Class check-in area

Suites and First Class passengers can check-in at Singapore Airlines’ exclusive First Class reception lounge at Terminal 3. Be on the lookout for the private driveway, located just before Door 1 on T3’s departure level. 

If you’re flying to Jakarta (the only SIA T2 departure that features First Class), you can still check in at T3. However, T2 passengers with checked luggage who wish to check in at T3 nonetheless must do so at least 90 minutes before departure, to give the bags adequate time to reach their flight.

The First Class reception lounge is a pleasant oasis from the hustle and bustle of the main terminal, but it’s unlikely you’ll spend more than five minutes here. There’s no food and drink available, just a few seating areas for companions to wait while one person handles the check-in formalities.

Singapore Airlines First Class check-in area

Once your boarding passes are issued, you’ll exit through the rear and head straight to a dedicated immigration counter for Singapore Airlines Suites and First Class passengers.

First Class immigration

After immigration, turn left and you’ll see the “billboard” for the SilverKris Lounge: 105 hand-crafted glass pieces forming SIA’s signature batik motif, designed by glass artist B. Jane Cowie, whose works can also be found at the Enchanted Garden in Terminal 2.

Escalator to SKL

The escalator deposits you at The Oval, the unofficial name of the unified entrance for all three SilverKris Lounges. 

SilverKris Lounge entrance
The Oval

During check-in, you’ll have received a golden Private Room invitation card. It’s not strictly necessary to enter, but makes for a nice little souvenir. The staff used to collect the invitation on arrival, and if you wanted to retain it as a keepsake you had to request for it back (I never understood why they collected it, since invitations had your name written on it and weren’t reusable). Now, the default practice is to let passengers hold on to it.

The Private Room invitation

Access & Operating Hours

LHS: Entrance to The Private Room | RHS: Entrance to First Class Lounge

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)

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. If you have checked luggage, however, you’ll obviously need to collect it at some point. Depending on how much time you spend in the lounge, your bag may either be put to the side of the carousel, or taken to the SATS unclaimed luggage office.

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. 

Passengers with access to The Private Room can also visit the First Class Lounge if they so wish. I’ve covered this in a separate review.

Review: Singapore Airlines SilverKris First Class Lounge, Changi Terminal 3

Lounge Overview

The new Private Room measures in at 951 sqm, about 10% larger than the previous iteration. A total of 78 passengers can be accommodated, but with only a handful of Singapore Airlines flights offering Suites/First Class (with 4-6 seats per aircraft), the limits are rarely tested. I never saw the total number of passengers go into double digits. 

Passageway to Private Room

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 crystal flowers 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 Private Room reception
The Private Room reception
The Private Room reception

Crystals are cut in the shape of Aquatic Ginger, one of the 10 native flowers in SIA’s signature batik motif.

Light Dome

I realise it’s a matter of personal taste, but I do prefer The Private Room’s updated interior design. Architects Hirsch Bedner Associates (HBA), known more for hotel projects than airport lounges, have done away with its dark, solemn interiors, which felt very much like a gentleman’s club from yesteryear…

The Private Room, pre-renovation

…and replaced it with a contemporary aesthetic that should prove more timeless. 

The Private Room
The Private Room
The Private Room

The layout of The Private Room is 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. 

The Private Room- left flank
The Private Room- left flank
The Private Room- left flank

Each pod has a single armchair and a round table, separated from its neighbour by a wooden and bronze-accent open shelf display case. These partitions provide some privacy, though you can still peer through and see the person in the neighbouring unit if you really wanted to.

Solo pod

Aesthetically pleasing though they may be, these are no replacement for productivity pods. The chair does not provide sufficient back support for prolonged work, and a circular table is decidedly impractical. Fortunately, productivity pods can be found in the First Class Lounge.

The Private Room does not have any natural light, but a chest-high window runs the length of the left flank, looking out to the giant Bacha Coffee retail store and its impressive storefront. 

Solo pod
View from Private Room

In case you’re wondering, here’s what the reverse angle looks like. Guests inside The Private Room are shielded, but not invisible.

View from outside

On the right flank are six more seating pods, separated by cubicle-style partitions. 

The Private Room- right flank
The Private Room seating

Seating here alternates between pods with two armchairs, and pods with an armchair and couch. The couch is not long enough for lying prone, nor should you with day rooms available for use. 

The Private Room seating
The Private Room seating

Down the middle are three larger seating alcoves for groups. These feature tall architectural glass screens and custom lighting pieces by LASVIT, creating a lush ambiance. 

The Private Room seating
The Private Room seating
The Private Room seating

Near the reception is a family room with a TV, sofa and beanbag chair. Colouring pencils and arts & crafts materials are available on request.

Family Room
Family Room

Near the dining area is a soundproof booth with a table and chair, intended for taking phone calls. That fact eluded one particular gentleman, however, who insisted on sharing his post-landing dinner plans with the entire lounge.

Phone booth
Phone booth

Food & Beverage

Dining room

The Private Room’s dining room is at the rear of the lounge. It should be noted that you don’t have to dine in the dining area; the staff will serve your food wherever you wish, except the day rooms which have a no F&B policy (except water).

The dining room sports a contemporary look that’s a far cry from the traditional steakhouse vibe of its predecessor. Its décor is  minimalist, with clean lines, plain walls, and a white marble floor buffed to a high mirror shine. 

Dining room
Dining room

In fact, the design might be a bit too plain for some people’s liking. I had hoped they would add a subtle batik motif to the backdrop like what the First Class Lounge has, or perhaps some pendant lights to make the place feel less sterile, but nothing’s changed since opening day.

Dining room
Dining room
The Private Room dining area

Seating is a mix of two and four-top tables. The design of the chairs and depth of the booth means that this isn’t the most comfortable place for extended seating. You’ll have to lean forward to type on your laptop (here’s where a pillow would have really helped), so it’s best you finish your meal and go elsewhere to work.

The main change since my last visit was the addition of a small buffet table with self-serve cereals and muffins. 

Buffet area

Apart from this, dining in The Private Room is full a la carte, with the menu clad in a handsome leather folder, something the airline has yet to restore to its First Class cabins (I hear it’s coming soon).

The Private Room menu

The menu is divided into the following sections:

Breakfast (5.30 a.m to 11 a.m)

Click to enlarge

Lunch (11 a.m to 6 p.m)

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

Dinner (6 p.m to close)

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

All Day Options

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

While the breakfast menu is time-restricted, the lunch and dinner menus are interchangeable. Table service is provided, and service times are fast- no more than 10 minutes for any item.

I started with a Hearty Breakfast Platter, served with a Kurobuta pork sausage, eggs your way, roasted tomatoes and brioche toast (replacing the croissant from my previous visit). It’s competently executed, but I would prefer this to be a build-your-own with additional sides like avocado, bacon, hash browns and a choice of toast. 

Hearty Breakfast Platter

The  Grilled Flaguette Sandwich was one of the highlights of my last visit, so I ordered it again. The taste continues to be spot on: rustic, stone-baked flat wheat bread with pulled duck and cheese is a winning combination. 

Grilled Flaguette Sandwich

However, I thought it looked better the previous time (note the nice grill marks and larger potion).

Grilled Flaguette Sandwich (June 2022)

The Singapore lobster laksa was delicious (they’ll deshell it for you if you want), though I think Qantas still has the edge on the “best Changi laksa” title. I would have preferred to see quail eggs instead of chicken eggs as they’re a little more dainty.

Lobster laksa
Lobster laksa

I later returned for lunch, which started with Wagyu satay. Each portion consists of two sticks of lightly charred wagyu ribeye cuts,  served with onions, cucumber and ketupat. Some pieces will be fattier than others, but it averages out very well. 

Wagyu satay

I previously wrote that The Private Room lacked “chef-y” dishes, meaning original creations showcasing the chef’s creativity as opposed to tried-and-true recipes. I don’t know whether you’d consider chili crab capellini with caviar to be original, but this was a superb addition to the menu. The pasta was al dente, the crab meat lightly sautéed, and the deep fried choy sim leaves offered an intriguing texture. Yes, the caviar portion was small, but everyone knows the carbs are the highlight!

Chili Crab Capellini

Also superb was the roasted duck rice, served with pork lard rice. You heard that right: pork lard rice. It’s subtle at first, but as you eat more rice and your mouth gets gradually coated with fat, a sort of euphoria washes over you. 

Duck rice

The Private Room previously offered only ice cream with waffles and cheng tng as dessert options. There’s now two additional choices: a cake of the day, and a warm chocolate fondant. I had the latter, and it was beautiful. Vanilla ice cream was the perfect accompaniment.

Chocolate fondant

On the whole, I’d say the quality of food has improved since opening day, and I hope they build on this. 

Below is the drinks menu:

Click to enlarge

Let’s talk wines first. Wines are displayed in a brightly-lit display case, with separate sections for champagne, red and white wine.

Wine fridge
🍷 The Private Room Wine List
WineTypeVivino
🇫🇷 Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs 2012Champagne4.5/5
🇫🇷 Chateau Du Taillan Haut-Medoc Cru Bourgeois 2016Red3.7/5 
🇦🇺 Kooyong Mornington Peninsula Pinot Noir 2015Red3.7/5 
🇦🇺 Kaesler The Bogan Shiraz Barossa Valley 2015 Red4.2/5
🇫🇷 Domaine Laroche Chablis 1er Cru Beauroy 2015White4.2/5
🇳🇿 Dog Point Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2016White3.8/5

The last time I visited The Private Room, there were two French reds on offer: a Chateau Leoville Poyferre Saint-Julien 2007 and a Chateau Corton Grancey Grand Cru 2010. Now there’s just a single French red, and it represents a significant downgrade. That’s not me the wine pleb talking, mind you, that’s the opinion of Gary Low, co-founder of Vinoluxus and Head Sommelier to some of Asia’s best restaurants. 

His thoughts:

Unfortunately the selections are not what it used to be. There no longer is an emphasis on premium wines within the TPR, but more emphasis on cost reduction as evident after COVID, after change of contracts. Even Emirates serves premium wines for frequent flyers in their First Class Lounge, the likes of Gruaud Larose and Figeac.

In terms of spirits, one additional option has been added since last year: Hakushu Distiller’s Reserve, a single malt Japanese whiskey. The vodka has also been replaced from Belvedere to Grey Goose, and the single malt Scotch whisky from The Glenlivet 18 Years Old to The Glenlivet Distiller’s Reserve.

The coffee selection has some additional options compared to last time — Americano, Flat White, Macchiato and a Skinny Latte —  but I find it hard to believe these weren’t available previously. In all likelihood, the list has just been fleshed out a bit to show more options. As before, beans are from dialogue, a Single Origin coffee by Boncafe.

Barista station

There’s no bar in The Private Room, but the staff can mix up cocktails on request from the First Class lounge. During my previous visit, I remarked that the list was so very pedestrian; think cosmopolitans, margaritas, negronis, tequila sunrise, basically stuff you could find anywhere. I wanted to see unique creations, signature drinks that could only be enjoyed in the SilverKris Lounges.

Well, I read a trip report on Prince of Travel dated April 2023 that showed an expanded selection:

Cocktail list | Photo: Prince of Travel

This was missing from my menu, but I asked the staff and they brought me a Golden Boost (Flower Blossom, Sundried Orange, Lemon Juice, Champagne and Grenadine) and Shimmery Ross (Flower Blossom, Wild Mint, Lemon Juice, Pineapple Juice, White Wine and Grenadine) to try. Both were decent, though I wish the presentation were a bit better (garnish, maybe?).

Cocktails

No prizes for guessing what my other choices were.

Taittinger Comtes de Champagne 2012
San Benedetto mineral water

Day Rooms

Passageway to day rooms

A total of four day rooms are available in The Private Room. 

These are not intended to be hotel rooms, and as such the default time allotted per guest is two hours (though you can obviously stay longer if there’s no one after you- and given how light the Suites/First Class traffic is, it’s likely). It’s meant for napping and working, not a full night’s sleep. 

The Private Room day rooms

Also, day rooms are single occupancy only. You can’t (officially) share a room with someone else, and in any case the bed is only large enough for one. To dissuade amorous couples from getting any ideas, there’s a viewing port on the door.

Viewing port

To use a day room, you need to approach the reception counter. The staff will then unlock the door for you.

Unlike my last visit where the door automatically locked whenever it closed (creating problems when you wanted to visit the bathroom), the new SOP is to keep it unlocked at all times. I’m not sure if this is better or worse, quite frankly. I highly doubt anyone’s going to steal your valuables in a place like this, but all the same I’d prefer it if they just switched to a simpler hotel-style keycard system.

When The Private Room first opened, two rooms had adjustable recliners, and two rooms had adjustable recliners and beds. The adjustable recliners in the latter have since been removed, so now it’s bed or recliner. All rooms have a work desk and luggage rack, plus vanity mirror, small coffee table and wall-mounted hangers. 

Day Room
Day Room
Day Room

The bed is extremely comfortable, a Tempur Zero G bed base paired with a Tempur Firm Supreme mattress. This provides full-body support and six different massage options. 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.

Bed

You can’t adjust the temperature in the room, and while the room was a bit too cold last time (I regularly sleep with the A/C at 21°C, mind), this time round it was fine. As before, guests can request a diffuser with COMO Shambhala essential oils, as well as a yoga mat. 

The staff are supposed to automatically turn on the lights at the end of the stay, but they went on halfway for me. I don’t know if this was human error or a faulty driver, but you might want to wear a sleeping mask just in case.

Wi-Fi & Productivity

The Private Room’s Wi-Fi network clocked in at 26 Mbps down and 28 Mbps up. This is slightly better than the speeds I clocked in June 2022, though the difference is marginal enough that I wouldn’t read too much into it. Moreover, it still doesn’t match the triple-digit speeds offered at the Qantas First Lounge.

Keep in mind the Wi-Fi network is shared among the three SilverKris lounges, so connection speeds won’t be a function of The Private Room occupancy alone. 

Universal power outlets and Type-A USB ports are plentiful throughout The Private Room, located at almost every seat and table.

Power outlets and USB ports
Power outlets and USB ports

Zens wireless charging pads can also be found on some tables in the living area. These minimise the need for wires, but charge very slowly- 5W would be my guess. 

Wireless charging pads

Showers & Toilets

The Private Room Shower Suites

The Private Room’s revamp provided Singapore Airlines with a do-over opportunity for the toilets and showers. In what can only be described as a major oversight, the previous SilverKris Lounge put its showers inside the main toilet, an arrangement more suited to a locker room than luxury lounge.

But finally, passengers can enjoy to private shower rooms with attached toilets. The largest of these are offered in The Private Room, complete with fine marble and warm lighting. 

A total of three shower suites are available (+1 more accessible suite). Each comes with a luggage storage rack, a GROHE Sensia Arena bidet toilet, and both a rain and hand shower.

The Private Room shower suite
The Private Room shower suite

The pick of the lot is suite #3, which is almost double the size of the other two suites (it’s supposed to be the largest shower anywhere in Changi). It has a laughable amount of space, and there’s even room for a bench in the shower area, allowing you to wash your feet with ease.

The Private Room shower suite #3
The Private Room shower suite #3
The Private Room shower suite #3
The Private Room shower suite #3

Shower amenities in The Private Room come from COMO Shambhala’s signature Invigorate range, in metallic bottles. This is a big step up from the First Class Lounge, where the showers only offer unbranded amenities in generic bottles. 

Como Shambhala Invigorate amenities

Lalique Neroli body lotion and aftershave are available in every shower suite, as well as dental kits, a razor, shaving foam and a hairbrush. 

Shower suite amenities

Male and female toilets are located near the showers, clad in similar dark marble tones and equipped with electronic bidet seats. 

The Private Room toilets
Toilet

Just like the shower suites, you’ll find Lalique Neroli amenities and hygiene items in the toilets. 

Toilet amenities

A single nursing and changing room is available for parents to use. Power outlets have also been installed, presumably for mothers who need to pump before flying. 

Nursing room
Nursing room

The Private Room Service

Service in The Private Room was friendly and efficient, and a special shout out should go to the dining room staff, who made the experience feel like what you’d get in an upscale restaurant. 

I did notice that passengers weren’t addressed by name, however, which is something that Singapore Airlines excels at in the air. Other nice touches they could implement include offering a buggy ride to the gate.

Conclusion

The Private Room

My verdict on The Private Room? There have been notable improvements to the food, which I suppose is the main highlight of the experience. At the same time, there have been cutbacks to the wine list, and those who enjoy their reds might want to wait until they step onboard the plane.

In terms of hardware, it’s pretty much the same facility which opened in May 2022. Those who want a quiet place to relax and grab a bite before flying will be satisfied, those who want something more will be disappointed.

The thing is: it’s impossible to tell whether the lack of bells and whistles is an unfortunate by-product of the limited footprint available, or just SIA’s inherent conservatism at play. The true test for me will be Terminal 5, where SIA will have a clean slate and much more real estate to play with. Unfortunately, that’s more than a decade away, and for better or worse The Private Room is the best they have to offer till then.

It gets the job done. 

The Private Room: thoughts?

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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howard

Great review Aaron and thanks for updating the menu and the food review from you previous trip. It seems much improved!
I’ll be coming through in a few months from NRT connecting to London – so 1am arrival and 9am departure. Not the best timing to sample the menu 😦
Do you have any idea what time the TPR restaurant stops serving? I know the lounge is open until 230am but I wonder if the restaurant shuts down earlier? I guess it could be a blessing in disguise.

howard

Thank you

howard

Aaron, can I ask: given my itinerary, what do you think is my best bet to grab 3-4 hours sleep?

I would have been happy to pay for a transit hotel as I’ve done in the past, but for some reason it’s $300 on my dates. That’s just not justified!

It looks like the SilverKris business lounge has the most sleeping pods, even though I’ll have access to the FCL.

howard

Hi Aaron, Just wanted to say, I’ve been reading more of your reviews today, and I can’t tell you how much I’ve appreciated them. It’s strange that I’ve not come across your site before given how much time I spend at similar sites (too much!) Your reviews are so balanced, thorough, thoughtful and crisp, with just the right amount of detail to satisfy the true geeks among us without being laborious. The photos are great too, and it’s a nice touch to offer before-and-after photos and other comparisons. Thank you for this great thing that you provide! 11 out of… Read more »

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