Thursday, November 21, 2013

where i stayed: singapore 2013

Whenever people ask me "Is this hotel OK?" I never know what to answer. My standards are admittedly not very high. Number one criterion is location. You'd probably say that location is paramount for everyone, but not the way it is for me. I would forego cleanliness for a really good location, haha.

Second, the bathroom has to be decent. By that I mean spacious, and with bone-crushing water pressure, both in the shower and the toilet. Hot water is a bonus, not essential.

Third, I must have free wifi. Those three things are all I really need, and because I don't expect a lot I am quite easy to please.

For my first three nights in Singapore, I chose Bliss Hotel. You can see it as soon as you step out of the Chinatown NE4 MRT station, and that was enough to make me fall in love with it. It was pricey and the room was quite small-- hey, it's Singapore-- but the king-sized mattress and fluffy pillows were surprisingly luxurious. The floor area of my room on the top floor was not enough for a closet (See the clothes hangers on either side of the window? That's the closet.) but there was space for a flat screen TV, a mini ref, a desk/dresser, a luggage rack and a coffee/tea station-- thank you, Bliss Hotel, for introducing me to Super Coffee. There was even a personal safe.

The bathroom sink was situated outside the T&B, which I think is genius and a time-saver if you're sharing the room. Toiletries, towels and slippers were provided.

Rain shower, check. Complimentary shampoo, body wash and lotion, check. Thick and soft toilet paper, check. Bidet, check. Water tended to escape from the shower stall and get on everything whenever I took a bath, but the exhaust fan dried the floor in a jiffy.

Bliss Hotel appealed to my obsessive-compulsiveness. Everything in the room was neatly and efficiently arranged, even these:

For the last two nights, I wanted to hang out at Orchard Road. I've stayed at Mandarin Orchard and Royal Plaza on Scotts before and had no complaints, but this time I decided to try the newly opened and cheaper Holiday Inn Express on Bideford Road. It's right next to Paragon and spitting distance from Takashimaya. The nearest MRT station, Somerset NS23, is just five minutes away.

The layout of my room was very typical for Holiday Inn, I would say. TV, mini ref, a separate closet with robes and slippers provided, luggage rack, personal safe, king-sized bed, two firm pillows, two soft pillows, the usual complimentary instant coffee and tea. I appreciated the bright yellow lounging chair-- very comfortable. And the office-style chair in front of the dresser? I wanted to take it home. The carpet, however, creeped me out a bit. But that's just me. I'm not too keen on carpets.

Their room was larger than Bliss Hotel's; their bathroom was about three times bigger. Unfortunately, the shower's pressure was not as strong as I would have liked. And the toiletries were kinda blah.

The hotel rate included breakfast in the lobby. It wasn't really necessary, as I would have preferred to go to a kopitiam anyway, to the detriment of my cholesterol levels. But a western-ish (couldn't resist the fried rice) was a nice change of pace.

The usual beans, eggs and sausages. With rice and sambal, just because.

Fresh fruit is always a welcome sight at a breakfast buffet. The fiber keeps you regular, y'know. The breads and pastries were dry, though.

I also had fresh grapefruit juice, some cereal with soy milk, and a cup of yogurt to round things off. Yez, I know I ate too much. Breakfast buffets are the bane of my existence.

Verdict: Guess what, Bliss Hotel and Holiday Inn Express cost the same. Both hotels are easily accessible by MRT, but then so is the entire country. The service in both were exemplary. The amenities were comparable.

Objectively speaking, Holiday Inn Express offers more value. The rooms are bigger, breakfast is included and it's right smack in the middle of the Orchard Road area which I adore. But I also have a soft spot for boutique-type hotels, and it's nice to walk around a neighborhood like Chinatown that's not just all shopping malls.

If I had to plan this trip all over again, would I choose Bliss Hotel or Holiday Inn Express, or stay at both? Honestly, I don't know.

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