Conrad Singapore Orchard Review: New spirit, old bones

The Conrad Singapore Orchard is more than just a cosmetic rebrand, though those hoping for a complete makeover will be left wanting.

Is it unfair to go into a hotel stay convinced I’m going to dislike it?

Perhaps, but I’m only human. Like many, I had high hopes when I heard that a second Conrad was going to open in Singapore. While I didn’t quite understand why this market warranted another Conrad, as opposed to say a Waldorf or LXR, I’ve always had a soft spot for the brand.

Those hopes, however, started to wane when I learned that it wouldn’t be a new build, but rather a reflagging of the former Regent Singapore. I stayed at the Regent back in July 2022, and while it wasn’t without its charms, the hotel itself was well past its prime. The rooms were uninspiring, the facilities reminded me of an old holiday chalet, and the property as a whole was stuck in a time capsule.

Spot the difference

That sentiment was only reinforced when I saw the initial publicity photos, because it didn’t look like a lot of work had been done. Isn’t that basically the same lobby? Aren’t those the same bathroom tiles? Oh look, it’s that old swimming pool with all the charm of a late 90s condo. I was already crafting the headline in my mind: “Conrad Singapore Orchard: Same Old, Same Old.”

But here’s the thing. Try as I might, I just couldn’t dislike the hotel.

I can’t say exactly what it was. Maybe it was the refreshed rooms that, while not necessarily cutting-edge, at least exorcised the ghosts of Regent past. Maybe it was the revitalised gym with spanking new Technogym equipment. Maybe it was the wonderful night at Manhattan. Maybe it was the impeccable lounge staff, who addressed every guest by name with an almost fawning level of service.

Whatever the case, I certainly ended up liking the Conrad Singapore Orchard a whole lot more than I expected. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it wins the “war of the Conrads”- for my money, the Centennial has a superior location, facilities and breakfast. Nor would I hold it up as the gold standard for renovations, because the Hilton Singapore Orchard did a far better job.

However, I can say at the very least that this isn’t a mere lazy rebrand, here you slap a new name on the façade and call it a day (voco Orchard, I’m looking at you). There has been genuine work done here; perhaps not enough to appease some, but definitely enough to make it an improvement over its predecessor.

As to whether “not as bad as its predecessor” is good enough for a Conrad, well, the jury’s still out on that. 

🏨 tl;dr: Conrad Singapore Orchard
The Conrad Singapore Orchard is more than just a cosmetic rebrand, though those hoping for a complete makeover will be left wanting.
👍 The Good👎 The Bad
  • Renovated suites are a much-needed breath of fresh air
  • Gym has been fully renovated with brand new Technogym equipment
  • Executive Lounge offers a great evening cocktail spread
  • Friendly, personable service
  • Restaurant line up remains a cut above
  • Balconies have no shelter from the elements
  • Surprisingly small bathrooms in suites; some rooms retain old shower/tub combinations
  • Breakfast quality is passable, but not at the level of other Conrads
  • Swimming pool remains the same unexciting facility it was under Regent
🏨 Conrad Singapore Orchard
🏨 MileLion Staycation Reviews
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Booking a Conrad Singapore Orchard

The Conrad Singapore Orchard opened for stays from 28 December 2023.

Award nights start from 70,000 Hilton points per night, with cash rates ranging from S$333 to S$427++. I decided to pay cash for this stay, booking a Honors Advance Purchase non-refundable rate of S$333++ (S$400 nett).

As part of its opening promotion, the hotel is offering 5,000 bonus Hilton points (worth about US$25) for bookings made by 30 April 2024 and completed by 30 June 2024. I was able to stack this with Hilton’s Points Plus Q1 promo, so an extra 2,500 bonus points were mine too.

Conrad Singapore Orchard: Arrival & Check-In

Conrad Singapore Orchard

First things first: Conrad Singapore Orchard is a bit of a misnomer because the hotel is only nominally within the Orchard area.

It’s located at 1 Cuscaden Road, about a 13-minute walk from what I’d consider to be the “real” start of Orchard Road at TANGS Plaza. Now, whether this is a bug or a feature boils down to your preferences. Like the neighbouring St. Regis, EDITION and Artyzen Singapore, guests will be insulated from the hubbub of being directly on the Orchard stretch. And if you’re willing to hop on a bus (there’s a bus stop just outside the hotel), you’re only about five minutes away from the action.

But if you’re a tourist who values being at the heart of it all, not to mention better MRT connectivity (the Orchard Boulevard MRT station is a 7-minute walk away, via an unsheltered path at the mercy of sun and rain), then the location could very well be a deal breaker already.

Conrad Singapore Orchard
Conrad Singapore Orchard

Complimentary onsite parking is offered to all hotel guests, with unlimited in/out privileges. One important thing to note is that the carpark does not have an elevator, so if you’re driving, drop your luggage off first at the driveway before proceeding into the carpark. 

I arrived at the hotel around 12.30 p.m, and was escorted into the lobby to the check-in area. 

Conrad Singapore Orchard lobby

In my original review of the Regent Singapore, I wrote the following:

 

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 retro-futuristic 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. 

Has any of that changed?

Not really. Based on the lobby alone, you’d be hard-pressed to tell that any work’s been done at all. If I removed the captions below, I’d wager most people couldn’t point out the before and after. 

Regent Singapore lobby
Conrad Singapore Orchard lobby
Regent Singapore lobby
Conrad Singapore Orchard lobby
Regent Singapore lobby
Conrad Singapore Orchard lobby

As far as the lobby is concerned, it’s basically the same John Portman design. Portman, for whom bubble elevators and soaring atria are practically canon events, was also behind the the Pan Pacific and Mandarin Orchard Singapore, so any sense or architectural de ja vu is understandable.

Check-in was handled efficiently enough, though an upgrade required a bit of finessing. 

Conrad Singapore Orchard: Deluxe Suite

The 445 keys at Conrad Singapore Orchard are broken down into 399 rooms and 46 suites.

At the time of visiting, not all the rooms were available for booking, most notably the Conrad Suite, which I assume is still undergoing finishing touches. 

TypeSize
King/Twin Deluxe Room35 sqm
King/Twin Deluxe High Floor Room35 sqm
King/Twin Premium Balcony Room40 sqm
King/Twin Deluxe Suite81 sqm
King Premium Suite125 sqm
King Conrad Suite210 sqm

I had booked the lead-in Deluxe Room, but was eligible for a space-available upgrade as a Hilton Diamond member.

Hilton Honors has automated its upgrade process for a while now, with eligible members notified about their upgrade (if any) 72 hours prior to check-in. Sure enough, my phone received a push notification three days before arrival, informing me that my Deluxe Room had been upgraded to…wait for it… a Deluxe High Floor Room. 

What’s that? Well, in the hotel’s inventory, there’s a magical dividing line between the 7th and 8th floors. Everything 7th and below is a regular Deluxe Room, everything 8th and up belongs to the rarefied air of the Deluxe High Floor Room.

This, needless to say, is a load of bunk. Let’s be clear: this is not a skyscraper with commanding views of the Singapore skyline. This is a modest 12-storey building that isn’t even the tallest structure in its immediate vicinity. There is absolutely no reason why a “high floor room” should be carved out as a separate category, unless perhaps you wanted an easy way to comply with the letter of the Hilton Honors rules rather than the spirit.

Since this stay took place on our anniversary, and since I could see suites available for sale on the website, I figured it was worth asking about at check-in. Some people find this intimidating, but it’s really as simple as asking “are any upgrades available?”

I was told that I had been upgraded to a “lovely high floor room”, so I asked about suites specifically and was told that there were none available. I pointed out that suites were still being sold on the website, after which some computer tapping took place. I was eventually told that a suite was available, but it wouldn’t be ready until around 2.30 p.m.

That was fine with me, and the front desk was kind enough to issue me a key to the executive lounge so I could work there until the room was available. We’ll need more data points from other Hilton Diamonds to suss out just how generous this property is with the upgrades; from what I’m reading online so far, it’s a mixed bag. I suppose the lesson here is “don’t ask, don’t get”. 

I stayed in room 829, a Deluxe Suite measuring in at 81 sqm with a separate living and sleeping area. 

❓ Deluxe Room
If you want to read a review of the lead-in Deluxe Room, you can find a report from a Hilton Diamond member here.

At the former Regent Singapore, the rooms suffered from jaundiced walls and mismatched furniture. There was also a complete absence of carpentry; none of the furniture was built in, and everything could be lifted and shifted. This made it feel distinctly unhomely, more like an vacant space that someone had decided to repurpose into a hotel room. 

Regent Singapore Premium Room
Regent Singapore Premium Room

Mercifully, that’s no longer the case. Interior design firm Unscripted (whose CV includes the Aman Tokyo and Patina Maldives) helmed the reimagining of the rooms, and while they haven’t exactly reinvented the wheel, the revised décor is much more pleasing on the eye.

The Deluxe Suite basically occupies the footprint of two Premium Rooms (which in turn are just Deluxe Rooms plus balconies). The entrance opens into an oversized living room, with a sitting and bar area. 

Conrad Singapore Orchard Deluxe Suite
Conrad Singapore Orchard Deluxe Suite
Conrad Singapore Orchard Deluxe Suite
Conrad Singapore Orchard Deluxe Suite

The bar area had a Nespresso machine, a Fellow Stagg EKG kettle which lets you heat water to your precise temperature, and various glassware. One feature I loved was the 3M filtered water tap, especially since it came with its own drainage outlet- no annoying spills to clean up.

Bar area
Coffee, tea and snacks

The mini-bar prices are…mini-bar prices, but just behind the hotel is Tanglin Mall which has a Cold Storage supermarket in the basement. A walk of less than three minutes, and you can stock up on whatever you need.

Mini-bar
Mini-bar

A Diamond welcome amenity of fruits, tea and assorted cookies was brought to the room later, along with a rather nice anniversary chocolate cake and card. 

Anniversary and Diamond welcome amenity

A hole had been cut into the wall between the two rooms to create a passageway between the living room and bedroom. A sliding door panel could be shut for greater privacy.

Bedroom
Bedroom
Bedroom
Bedroom

I found the king-sized mattress to offer good support, and if you don’t fancy the default pillows, there’s an almost embarassing range of alternatives to choose from:

  • Feather Bolster
  • Ploh Pillow
  • Foam Bolster
  • Memory Pillow
  • Cuddle ‘U’ Pillow
  • Natural Buckwheat Pillow
  • Pocketed Spring Pillow (Non-Allergic)
  • Contour Pillow (Non-Allergic)
  • Non-Allergic Pillow (Firm Support)
  • Non-Allergic Pillow (Medium Support)
  • Feather Pillow (Firm Support)
  • Feather Pillow (Very Firm Support)
  • Soft Feather Pillow

Each bedside had a wireless charging pad, universal power outlet, USB-A and USB-C port. I’m glad to see they’ve not repeated the mistake Regent made of housing these ports in a shallow drawer without a cutout for wires. That design flaw meant you had to leave the drawer open at night, leaving yourself vulnerable to a nasty bump when visiting the toilet in the dark. 

Regent Singapore power outlets

The revised design is tall enough to accommodate a power adapter and can be fully recessed when in use, avoiding such mishaps. 

Bedside charging (with the “drawer” fully recessed)
Bedside charging (with the “drawer” fully extended)
Bedside charging (with the “drawer” fully extended)

The work desk had a comfortable office chair, and built into the table top was a universal power outlet (which was inexplicably installed upside down), a USB Type-A and a Type-C port. 

Work desk
Power outlets (note the upside down power socket)

The Wi-Fi network clocked in at 59 Mbps down and 68 Mbps up, which is among the fastest networks at the Singapore hotels I’ve visited so far. 

🌐 Hotel Wi-Fi Speeds
Hotel🔽Down🔼 Up
Sofitel City Centre95 Mbps92 Mbps
Ritz-Carlton Millenia Singapore79 Mbps63 Mbps
Hilton Singapore Orchard64 Mbps63 Mbps
Conrad Singapore Orchard59 Mbps68 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
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

Two Smart TVs were in the suite; one in the living room (65″) and another in the bedroom (55″). Both had swivel mounts that could be pulled out and angled towards the sofa or bed as necessary.

Television

Surprisingly, neither TV had the option to pair with a personal phone or tablet, so you can’t stream your own content. This feels like a bit of an oversight, but one that should be solvable with the right software.

The walk-in wardrobe had two bathrobes, the heavy gauge sort with a plush interior lining for extra comfort. There was also an ironing set, digital safe, and a Dyson hairdryer, stored in a handsome leather case. Dyson hairdryers, unfortunately, are a suites-only feature. 

Wardrobe
Dyson hairdryer

The master bathroom was next to the wardrobe, and what surprised me was how small it was. Remember how I mentioned a Deluxe Suite is basically two Deluxe Rooms combined into one? That’s why the bathroom is the same size as what you’d find in a regular room. It’s more suited for one than two, and the cramped confines mean there’s no room for a soaking tub or his and hers sinks, things you’d expect to find in a suite. 

Master bathroom

At least it’s been modernised. At the old Regent, guests had to make do with a three-hole mixer with separate hot and cold knobs. This has been replaced with a contemporary single-hole mixer with a familiar lever to adjust temperature.

Old vanity area
New vanity area
Amenities

During renovations, the hotel decided to rip out the combination bathtub-showers and replace them with showers (though not for all rooms, as this post suggests). Even though I would have appreciated a soaking tub in a suite, the new showers are certainly an improvement. They come with a Grohe SmartControl concealed button mixer that allows both the overhead rain shower and hand shower to be operated at the same time. Water pressure was strong. 

Shower area

Byredo replaced Shanghai Tang as Conrad’s standard toiletries a few years back, and bulk-sized Mojave Ghost shampoo, conditioner and body wash were provided. These, surprisingly, weren’t fixed to the wall like you’d find in some hotels. 

Shower amenities

Another much-needed update is that the old “public restroom” style toilets with U-shaped seats and lever flushes have been replaced by more conventional household ones. I was a little surprised they didn’t opt to conceal the cistern though, and they missed a trick by not installing bidet seats (only Premium Suites have that) or even providing a bidet hose.

Regent Singapore toilet
Conrad Singapore Orchard toilet

A guest toilet can be found near the entrance to the room.

Guest bathroom

Deluxe Suites have two balconies: one in the living room, and one in the bedroom. The unfortunate thing is that neither was sheltered, which made them completely useless on a rainy day- and many hours after that, while the furniture dried out. That said, I suspect the hotel plans to add awnings in the near future, since I noticed some newly-installed anchor points overhead. Hopefully, this won’t be an issue in a few months.

Balcony
Balcony

On the whole I think the renovation did a good job of adding the kind of modern conveniences which the Regent lacked. Light and master switches have been added to the bedside. The rooms have been given digital thermostats. Curtains are now electrically-controlled. USB-C ports and wireless charging are offered. 

That said, it’s not possible to conceal the hotel’s vintage entirely. You’ll be reminded of that as soon as you step out onto the balcony and see the less-than-appealing façade. If you’re staying in a regular room, you’ll still have the same ugly decades-old bath tiles (and possibly a combination shower tub too, if you’re unlucky). 

It feels like the interior designers wanted to do a lot more, but were inherently constrained by the bones of the building. That, I suppose, is the price you pay for using an existing canvas as opposed to having a clean slate. 

Conrad Singapore Orchard: Facilities

PoolGymSpa
Yes: 7 a.m to 9 p.mYes: 24hN/A
Kids’ ClubBusiness CentreOthers
N/AN/AN/A

Swimming Pool

Conrad Singapore Orchard swimming pool

The swimming pool is open 7 a.m to 9 p.m daily. 

Unfortunately, this didn’t get any love from the old Regent days, and remains basically the same facility. It somehow manages to combine the worst of all worlds- its irregular shape makes it unsuitable for lap swimming, its surprising depth (up to 2.1m) makes it unsuitable for horseplay, and it’s not particularly Instagrammable.

Conrad Singapore Orchard swimming pool

If I had to describe the pool’s vibe, the best I can come up with is “old condo”. It’s hardly the sort of place for a weekend pool party, but it’s not exactly kiddie friendly either. I didn’t bother taking a dip because it felt more depressing than anything else.

For what it’s worth, pool furniture has been replaced from the Regent days, with numerous sun loungers and a few sheltered sort-of-cabanas. Poolside F&B could be ordered via a QR code, with a remote buzzer for assistance.

Conrad Singapore Orchard swimming pool
Conrad Singapore Orchard swimming pool
Ordering button

Gym

Conrad Singapore Orchard gym

The fitness centre is open 24 hours daily, with a gym attendant on hand during daytime hours.

Unlike the swimming pool, the gym is a breath of fresh air. It’s been completely renovated from top to bottom, and decked out with spanking new Technogym equipment including a fancy Pilates reformer machine.

Conrad Singapore Orchard gym
Conrad Singapore Orchard gym
Conrad Singapore Orchard gym
Conrad Singapore Orchard gym

The Technogym entertainment suite will keep you entertained throughout, with the usual Netflix and TV apps, training programmes and walking simulators. Some machines even have wireless charging pads for your phone. 

Technogym suite

The gym was well-stocked with towels and water in paper cartons. Guests can participate in complimentary fitness classes each morning run by Trapeze Rec. Club, a holistic wellness club in Tanjong Pagar. 

Conrad Singapore Orchard gym
Fitness schedule

So full marks to the hotel here, because this is an excellent facility. 

Conrad Singapore Orchard: Breakfast

Basilico
Served atCostStyle
BasilicoAdults: S$45++
Children (6-12): S$22.50++
Buffet
HoursSparkling Wine?Discounts?
6.30 a.m to 10.30 a.m
NoNo

Breakfast is served at Basilico from 6.30 a.m to 10.30 a.m daily. It’s complimentary for Hilton Gold and Diamond members; otherwise you’ll pay S$45++ per adult. 

While the breakfast quality has improved from its Regent days, I still felt it wasn’t quite up to what a Conrad should be offering.

The buffet was spread out over several sections. In the centre of the restaurant was a circular counter with juices (all of which displayed prominent ‘C’ Nutri-Grades, somewhat hilariously), cut fruits, cold cuts, cheese, salads, cereals, bread and preserves. 

Conrad Singapore Orchard breakfast
Conrad Singapore Orchard breakfast
Conrad Singapore Orchard breakfast
Conrad Singapore Orchard breakfast
Conrad Singapore Orchard breakfast
Conrad Singapore Orchard breakfast
Conrad Singapore Orchard breakfast

Then there was a section with a carving station (Canadian bacon), dim sum, you tiao, the usual Western breakfast items like sausages, hash browns, roast tomatoes, mushrooms, baked beans and bacon, a noodle bar (with beef noodles), and an egg station. 

Conrad Singapore Orchard breakfast
Conrad Singapore Orchard breakfast
Conrad Singapore Orchard breakfast
Conrad Singapore Orchard breakfast
Conrad Singapore Orchard breakfast
Conrad Singapore Orchard breakfast

A nicely decorated pastry table had pancakes, waffles, muffins, croissants, donuts and French toast. Freshly-baked kaya buns and banana bread were also available. The banana bread is definitely worth trying. 

Conrad Singapore Orchard breakfast
Conrad Singapore Orchard breakfast

The last table had an assortment of Asian items, like fried rice, stir fried broccoli, Japanese sticky rice, miso soup, fish congee, and a couple of Indian items. 

Conrad Singapore Orchard breakfast
Conrad Singapore Orchard breakfast
Conrad Singapore Orchard breakfast
Conrad Singapore Orchard breakfast

My overall take was that the food was alright, but not up to the usual high Conrad standards. There was a heavy emphasis on carbs, and notably missing was a supplementary a la carte menu. Most of the Conrads I’ve stayed at have offered this at breakfast, and it’s something that’s supposed to set the brand apart.

The Conrad Centennial has this beat comfortably, and it’s no match for the Hilton Singapore Orchard either, which is disappointing given the Conrad’s supposedly superior status.

Conrad Singapore Orchard: Executive Lounge

Conrad Singapore Orchard Executive Lounge

The Executive Lounge is located on the 11th floor. Operating hours are 6.30 a.m to 10 p.m daily, with children under 12 permitted until 6 p.m.

The lounge’s footprint remains the same as its Regent days, but the carpets and furniture have been replaced, as well as most of the interior carpentry. The resulting lounge feels considerably more modern, though it’s still missing important amenities like readily accessible power outlets. I counted just a handful in this 50-seater facility, mostly in awkward positions behind furniture. 

Conrad Singapore Orchard Executive Lounge
Conrad Singapore Orchard Executive Lounge
Conrad Singapore Orchard Executive Lounge
Conrad Singapore Orchard Executive Lounge
Conrad Singapore Orchard Executive Lounge

There’s also an outside seating area sheltered by an awning, though it still gets wet when it rains if the wind is strong enough. 

Outdoor seating area

The lounge offers three meal presentations per day.

  • Breakfast: 6.30 a.m to 10.30 a.m
  • Afternoon tea: 2.30 p.m to 4.30 p.m
  • Evening cocktail: 6 p.m to 8 p.m

The breakfast selection in the Executive Lounge at any hotel is usually smaller than the main restaurant, but space constraints here make the haircut especially acute. I’d reckon this offered less than 30% of the items you’d find at Basilico, so unless you really crave privacy and personalised service, downstairs might be the better choice.

Breakfast selection

Hot items include bacon, hash browns, roast tomatoes, baked beans, mushrooms, oatmeal and sausages. 

Breakfast selection
Breakfast selection
Breakfast selection

There’s also a live cooking station for those who want eggs made to order.

Egg station

To the side of the room were display cases with bread, pastries, cheese, juices, cut fruits and cereal.

Breakfast selection
Breakfast selection
Breakfast selection

Afternoon tea was a modest affair, featuring a small selection of scones, tarts, sandwiches and cakes. 

Afternoon tea
Afternoon tea
Afternoon tea

Evening cocktails were more substantial, and the selection on the night I visited included truffle cheese croquettes, chicken karaage, a tuna pizza, a vegetarian bee hoon, various cold cuts and cheese, and assorted breads. 

Evening cocktails
Evening cocktails
Evening cocktails
Evening cocktails
Evening cocktails
Evening cocktails
Evening cocktails
Evening cocktails
Evening cocktails

I was pretty impressed by the spread. There’s enough here to be a dinner replacement, and not just cheap carbs- the pizza and antipasti are from Basilico and Dolcetto, the soup from Summer Palace. 

The alcohol selection had the usual range of spirits (the staff can whip up simple cocktails on request, though having a simple QR code menu with the options would be helpful), as well as a couple of reds and whites.

Alcohol selection
Alcohol selection

The wines are passable for lounge pours, though those expecting champagne will be disappointed- the bubbles here are prosecco (and before you say that’s asking too much, the Conrad Centennial used to pour Laurent Perrier champagne prior to COVID). 

If you’re a visitor to Singapore, my take is that you don’t need to return to the hotel just for afternoon tea, but you probably should make the time for evening cocktails.

Dining

Dining is undoubtedly the crown jewel of the Conrad Singapore Orchard, with a line up of restaurants that any hotel would be proud of.

A total of 10 bars and restaurants are housed by the hotel.

Restaurant/BarCuisine
Summer Palace
(reopening February 2024)
Chinese
ManhattanBar
BasilicoItalian
DolcettoItalian
Tea LoungeAfternoon Tea
Park90Wine Bar
Shoukouwa ShinjidaiJapanese Sushi
The House BarBar
TenshinJapanese Tempura
SeoulKorean BBQ

As part of Hilton’s Dine Like a Member promotion, Hilton members can enjoy 10% (Regular, Silver) or 25% (Gold, Diamond) off F&B at the following restaurants and bars:

  • Basilico (excluding wine)
  • Manhattan Bar
  • Dolcetto

I’ve previously written about Basilico and Summer Palace, and believe they’re every bit worth the visit. This time round, we chose to celebrate our anniversary at Manhattan.

Manhattan

Manhattan Bar

Manhattan is a regular fixture on all those “Best Bar” lists, and I can say the hype is truly deserved.

The current cocktails menu adopts a Broadway theme, featuring drinks with names like The Majestic (the home of Phantom of the Opera), Hamilton (self-explanatory), Land of Lola (a tribute to Kinky Boots), and Don’t Look Back (Hadestown). Cocktails start from S$28++, which isn’t cheap by any means, but the 25% off for Gold and Diamond members helps take a bit of the sting out. 

We tried the signature Manhattan (which they make tableside), Lady of Song (topped off with Telmont champagne) and a Cane Reviver, all of which were amazing. This is a place that knows its mixology, and you’d be well-advised to trust their recommendations. 

Tableside Manhattan
Lady of Song
Cane Reviver

From the food menu, we had the Manhattan Lobster Taco (S$34++), Hokkaido Scallops (S$27++), and Ceviche de Pulpo (S$26++). The first two dishes were great, the last one disappointing (rubbery octopus).

Lobster tacos
Seared scallops
Octopus carpaccio

The staff were lovely, and gave us a couple of celebratory drinks plus a cake to mark our anniversary.

Anniversary drinks

Service

Service was a rare highlight of the Regent Singapore, and it’s good to see that the Conrad Singapore Orchard continues that tradition.

Doormen were friendly and greeted everyone warmly, instead of chatting among themselves and ignoring guests like you’ll find at many hotels. Management made themselves visible in the lobby during peak periods, chatting with guests and soliciting feedback. The hotel’s service desk sent a WhatsApp message shortly after check-in to introduce themselves, which made requests so much easier. 

My highest praise, however, would be reserved for the lounge staff. They made the effort to remember guest names and preferences, cleared plates quickly and offered refills. They were personable and ever ready to chat, and so polished was the service you’d be hard-pressed to tell this was a new hotel (some of the staff have been transferred over from the Conrad Centennial to help launch the ship and train the newbies).

You can argue that with the hotel still in opening mode, everyone’s naturally on their best behaviour. And maybe that’s true, but if they can maintain this standard, then they could very well be this hotel’s ace in the hole. That’s not just my assessment, mind you. While FlyerTalk members disagree about how successful the renovation is, they almost universally agree that the service was a highlight. 

One last point that didn’t fit in anywhere: every Conrad has a stuffed toy mascot, but it’s MIA here. 

That’s rather surprising, and I hope it’s just a case of they don’t have it yet. A Conrad lion for the Lion City, perhaps? 

Verdict

Conrad Singapore Orchard keys

I started this review by saying that I liked the Conrad Singapore Orchard a whole lot more than I expected. And indeed I did (no doubt helped by the fact that I’d stayed here pre-renovation), but is it worthy of the Conrad name? 

This boils down to what you think a Conrad should be. On the one hand, it’s clearly not the most modern or design-forward property in the portfolio. While the renovation has done a respectable job of bringing the hotel out of its time warp, the very building it inhabits is a constant reminder that renovations can’t paper over everything. Suites guests will be disappointed by the tiny bathrooms and absence of bathtubs, the facilities (gym aside) are severely lacking, and the breakfast isn’t what you’d expect from a hotel of this calibre.

On the other hand, the service is certainly Conrad-worthy, and club lounge guests can look forward to a highly polished experience with a great evening cocktail spread. The renovated rooms, if nothing else, are a big improvement from Regent days, and the restaurant line up is excellent (though you don’t need to be an in-house guest to enjoy that, obviously).

All that said, I’d still lean towards the Conrad Centennial, given its superior location, breakfast and facilities. With both hotels pricing roughly the same in terms of points and cash, it represents the better deal to me.

Is this something that could change over the next year, as the hotel finds its feet? Well, that’s the thing. What holds the Conrad Singapore Orchard back is not so much the software but the hardware. If you came back in a year’s time, what would be different? The service is already good. The breakfast could be improved, sure, but the rooms and facilities are what they are. They’re not going to suddenly redo the bathrooms or build an infinity pool, and I doubt there’s space to open a spa or kids club (I don’t even think that’s the market they’re going for).

So these aren’t necessarily problems that time can fix, and that’s a real shame because the heartfelt effort the staff put in deserves a stronger platform for expression. I get the sense that there’s a lot of new, fresh ideas percolating beneath the surface, but they invariably run into the wall that is the building’s vintage- sort of like Batman in The Dark Knight Rises, when he realises his old bones can’t support the feats of physicality he’s attempting.

It’s not so much that an old dog won’t learn new tricks. It’s that it simply can’t.

What do you make of the Conrad Singapore Orchard?

🏨 In Summary

The Conrad Singapore Orchard is more than just a cosmetic rebrand, though those hoping for a complete makeover will be left wanting.

🏨 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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aladdin

eee they should have at least done something to the carpets in the room… so old fashioned

Ee Ling

Thanks for the link Aaron, and congrats for getting the stuff that I didn’t 😛

Tom

I was feeling disappointed until I saw the lounge spread – that’s not too bad at all! Much better than the Hilton Orchard! Question: Can you smoke on your balcony?

chk

How many smileys does The Milelion CEO give this Suite? Haha

Same points but more expensive cash rate than Conrad Centennial on my 2024 anniversary. After reading a few reviews incl Ee Ling’s, considering Hilton Orchard….

Iwan

Hi Aaron,
Thanks for the review, just in time because I plan to stay there in Feb. I booked two room and I plan to request connecting rooms, and off course I plan to ask for Suite Upgrade too.
Can I ask if there is connecting door in your Suite?

Zaos

Went through a couple of your hotel reviews. Seems like we have different design sensibilities and priorities.
In particular, I thought the regent lobby looked better the way it was.

Last edited 2 months ago by Zaos

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