Thursday, November 29, 2012

Hotel Review: Fairmont Singapore

Location: Raffles City, Singapore
Rating: ** (2 out of 5)

Here’s a little known fact: Four Seasons and Fairmont, two of the world’s largest luxury hotel chains, are both Canadian-owned. Headquartered in Toronto, the Fairmont group boasts an impressive collection of historic hotels across the globe. Within Canada, the group operates such national icons as Château Frontenac in Quebec City, the Royal York in Toronto and the Banff Springs in the Rockies. Outside Canada, its portfolio includes the Plaza in New York, the Savoy in London and the Peace Hotel in Shanghai. The very names of these premises evoke pageantry and timeless romance.

The Fairmont Singapore

So how does the Fairmont Singapore stack up against such an illustrious list? Well, it doesn’t. The Fairmont Singapore is made up of two towers on the intersection of North Bridge Street and Bras Brasah Road, adjacent to the Raffles City shopping center and a five-minute taxi ride from the main financial hub. Despite its central location, the hotel is dated and in desperate need of a facelift. As of now, it is just another business hotel for weary travelers to check in and check out. Look around the lobby and all you see are men and women in dark suits pulling a Tumi carry-on with one hand and thumbing a Blackberry with another.
The marbled lobby

If there is any doubt that the Fairmont Singapore is devoid of character, their generic guest rooms should put it to rest. The combination of cherry wood and beige upholstery is straight out of an IKEA catalog in the early 1990s. The only thing going for the room is the floor-to-ceiling window overlooking the sprawling city. If you crane your neck, you will actually see the Singapore Flyer – a copycat of the London Eye – shining in the night. Although the bathroom is spacious by Singapore standard, the white tiles and glaring fluorescent lighting give it the charm of a hospital supply room.

All that, however, is assuming you get a refurbished room in the south tower. Life is so much worse if you are stuck with one of the "classic rooms" in either building. These older rooms are dark, musty and shockingly bad. They are relics from the 1960s and an embarrassment to the Fairmont name. If the front desk gives you an old room, ask for a room change immediately, even if you have to pay a bit more. It may seem like throwing good money after bad, but the alternative is unthinkable.

If this is already a refurbished room, 
imagine what an old one would look like

The Fairmont Singapore is a functional hotel. Get your room key, turn on the lights and plug in your laptop for a night of work emails and spreadsheets. Register as a Fairmont President’s Club member and get free WiFi access for your entire stay. But you won’t bat an eyelid because your company is picking up the bill anyway. You are grateful, however, that the Bose radio on the nightstand has an iPhone dock and an alarm clock that will wake you up at 7:30AM for your client meetings the next day. The Fairmont website describes the city of Singapore as a “pragmatic center of business.” It appears that the hotel itself falls squarely within that description too.

1 comment:

  1. like your style of writing. You break it down nicely. Very informative post. Keep up the good work.
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