Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Kempinski Singapore Staycaytion Review (Terrace Room with Discovery Black)

๐Ÿ‘ Gorgeous deco, impeccable service, great location.
๐Ÿ‘Ž Evening hors d'oeuvres offering sparse compared to the competition.

The Kempinski Singapore - full name The Capitol Kempinski Hotel Singapore - is a relatively new hotel which has just opened in the Capitol Building and Stamford House (built in 1930 and 1904 respectively). To be honest the darling and I aren't exactly history buffs so we're not too familiar with the two buildings, but nevertheless we quite liked the idea of staying in a heritage building refurbished to modern standards, and run by Europe's oldest luxury hotelier, so we booked ourselves in for a night to celebrate her birthday!

Capitol Hotel Kempinski Singapore

For those of you looking for a quick summary: Kempinski Singapore is an amazing intimate, luxurious hotel, and you would not be disappointed with a stay here. Staff are (mostly) well-trained, warm, and welcoming, and the hotel does go out of its way to make you feel like a special guest rather than just another random customer staying the night. The hotel's location is also superb, being connected to the City Hall MRT station (which has Singapore's two major MRT lines), and within walking distance of a lot of the city's attractions. Some minor niggles: Executive Lounge evening hors d'oeuvres offering is weak, and access within the hotel for wheelchairs and prams / strollers isn't the best.

Capitol Hotel Kempinski Singapore

The luxury starts at the intimate, gorgeous lobby, where check-in is done seated at one of four desks with a cold towel and welcome drink, and with a receptionist who already knows all your special requests and likes/dislikes because the hotel actively asked you about them a few days prior. Once formalities are done, said receptionist walks you to your room and makes sure that you're properly sorted - which is amazing, but may perhaps cause some bottlenecks if you happen to arrive with a large crowd.

Capitol Hotel Kempinski Singapore

We had booked a Deluxe Room but were kindly offered a triple-category upgrade to the Terrace Room (thanks to our Discovery Black membership). The room was really nice, with enough space for our bags, stroller, other stuff, and the baby cot (already waiting for us in the room upon arrival).

Capitol Hotel Kempinski Singapore Terrace Room Capitol Hotel Kempinski Singapore Terrace Room

The wardrobe houses the usual amenities: Bathrobes, fluffy slippers, in-room safe, luggage rack, and the Minibar cabinet houses a fridge, nespresso machine, teabags, kettle, and some snacks. Kempinski Singapore makes soft drinks, water, and juices complimentary, but alcohol and snacks are chargeable.

Capitol Hotel Kempinski Singapore Terrace Room Capitol Hotel Kempinski Singapore Terrace Room

Modern facilities like cordless phone, wireless charging pad, electric/electronic lights, blinds, and curtain control, and universal power and USB sockets, and a Sonos soundbar are nice touches, but perhaps expected as this is a new hotel.

Capitol Hotel Kempinski Singapore Terrace Room

The Terrace Room is so named because of the balcony that makes for a nice outdoor lounging area if you are so inclined. The view isn't great, though, which is probably one of the major disadvantages of opening shop in a low heritage building.

Capitol Hotel Kempinski Singapore Terrace Room Capitol Hotel Kempinski Singapore Terrace Room

The bathroom is huge, spanning the entire length of the whole room (possibly a concession to the buildings' dimensions), and has all the bells and whistles you'd expect of any luxury hotel, and even including some you might not (like the high tech warmed toilet seat + bidet, Japan style). A second television in the bathroom is set up at the perfect height for watching some TV while getting your soak on.

Capitol Hotel Kempinski Singapore Terrace Room Capitol Hotel Kempinski Singapore Terrace Room Capitol Hotel Kempinski Singapore Terrace Room Capitol Hotel Kempinski Singapore Terrace Room

If you are the sort that likes to work out by swimming laps, then unfortunately the Kempinski Singapore is not for you: The relaxation pool is - as it's so named - for relaxation, not for swimming. One plus point is that it's salt water, so your hair won't be ruined like it might be at chlorined pools. The gym is fairly well appointed and has treadmills for cardio and a decent assortment of weights and other circuit equipment.

Kempinski also has a spa, but we didn't check it out this trip.

Capitol Hotel Kempinski Singapore Salt Water Relaxation Pool Capitol Hotel Kempinski Singapore Gym

We were granted access to the Kempinski Singapore's Executive Lounge next to the check-in area. The lounge is gorgeous, and is an extremely pleasant place to sit and rest and idle some hours away. Guests with Executive Lounge access get evening cocktails and hors d'oeuvres / canapes from 6-10pm, plus a private area for breakfast in the mornings. We're not too sure who gets lounge access, though: For most other hotels, access is normally part of the room type - for example, an "Executive King Room" would normally mean a "King Room" with lounge access - but I can't find any mention on Kempinski's website.

Capitol Hotel Kempinski Singapore Executive Lounge Capitol Hotel Kempinski Singapore Executive Lounge Capitol Hotel Kempinski Singapore Executive Lounge Capitol Hotel Kempinski Singapore Executive Lounge

Also, the evening canapes would be sufficient for a pre-dinner appetizer, but most definitely not a dinner replacement (as it is in the lounges of some other competitors like Hilton/Conrad/Pan Pacific/etc). We snacked a little and then headed over to the hotel's flagship restaurant 15 Stamford (by "demon" chef Alvin Leung) to try out his Asian-Singaporean cuisine.

Capitol Hotel Kempinski Singapore hors d'oeuvres

The next day, we opted for the privacy of the lounge (again) to have breakfast. The mini ala-carte / made to order breakfast menu was a nice touch: I ordered some truffled scrambled eggs with baked beans and mushrooms, which were delicious.

Capitol Hotel Kempinski Singapore breakfast Capitol Hotel Kempinski Singapore breakfast

Of course there is also a buffet line with the rest of the breakfast items. It's a little smaller than what's on offer at the main restaurant, but between this spread and the ala carte menu, I think all but the biggest eaters will be satisfied.

Capitol Hotel Kempinski Singapore breakfast buffet Capitol Hotel Kempinski Singapore breakfast buffet Capitol Hotel Kempinski Singapore breakfast buffet Capitol Hotel Kempinski Singapore breakfast buffet Capitol Hotel Kempinski Singapore breakfast buffet Capitol Hotel Kempinski Singapore breakfast buffet

Oh, and for this trip we also had lunch at Frieda (Kempinski Singapore's German restaurant), which had probably the best sausage & mash that I've had in recent memory.

Anyway to conclude, the Kempinski Singapore is my new favourite hotel in Singapore. The effort that the team took to personalize my stay really made me feel welcomed and cared for (as compared to, for example, the 'thank you for being our Diamond member, here is your key to a low floor room with undesirable view, p.s. there are 500 rooms so we forgot what you want' that I usually get from the Hilton group).

However the Kempinski does have some minor niggles like the weak evening canapes offering highlighted above, and the fact that there is a half-staircase between the Capitol Building and Stamford House parts of the hotel which are annoying for pram / stroller users (and presumably wheelchair users too).

If you've read all the way here and are interested, head on over to their website to check out room rates for yourself! https://www.kempinski.com/en/singapore/the-capitol-singapore/.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Pan Pacific Singapore Staycaytion Review (Harbour Studio with Discovery Black)

๐Ÿ‘ Nice, spacious rooms. Good service. Stylish club / lounge with a gorgeous view.
๐Ÿ‘Ž Hmmm. I guess the view is slightly blocked by the Mandarin Oriental?

There are 2 types of people: Those who staycaytion and those who think it's a ridiculous waste of money and therefore don't. The darling and I are the former; We do enjoy the occasional visit to a nice hotel in Singapore, enjoying the service and the change of scenery. Which brings us to today's post, where we check out the Pan Pacific Singapore for a night at their Harbour Studio with access to their gorgeous Pacific Club (Lounge) courtesy of a Discovery Black loyalty membership (more on that at the end of the post).

The Pan Pacific Singapore's got a pretty good location. It's one of the hotels connected to the large Marina Square shopping mall, which means you're walking distance from Marina Bay, Padang, National Gallery, and a bunch of other nearby malls. About the only downside of the location is that the closest MRT station is a bit of a walk away, but with staycaytions that's a pretty inconsequential downside.

We arrived at the hotel at around 12pm. Pan Pacific's lobby is gorgeous, huge, and bright. In our excitement we forgot to take photos ... so you'll have to unfortunately use some imagination ๐Ÿ˜“

Pan Pacific Singapore Staycaytion

Check in was quick, friendly, and efficient. We initially booked a Panoramic Room, but thanks to Discovery Black, were upgraded to a Harbour Studio with Pacific Club benefits. We were also offered a 6pm late checkout, which we gladly accepted.

Our room was on the 27th floor and was surprisingly spacious (for Singaporean standards). The room is 495sqft, which is literally more than half the size of our entire apartment (915sqft). The King-sized bed and pillows were really comfortable and we had no problems getting a good nights' sleep. The more keen-eyed readers among you might also spot a Herman Miller Aeron chair at the work area.

Pan Pacific Singapore Staycaytion Harbour Studio Pan Pacific Singapore Staycaytion Harbour Studio

The mini-bar area has complimentary tea and Nespresso coffee, and the usual range of non-complimentary wine, snacks, drinks, and alcohol.

Pan Pacific Singapore Staycaytion Harbour Studio

The washroom is nice, and has separate toilet (with manual bidet seat), shower, and bathtub areas. It might not be too clear from the photo, but the tub can fit two adults with a bit of a squeeze. A full range of amenities are provided so you can pretty much leave all your toiletries at home (except maybe facial wash).

Pan Pacific Singapore Staycaytion Harbour Studio Pan Pacific Singapore Staycaytion Harbour Studio

Pan Pacific Singapore also arranged for a pretty nice welcome gift of chocolates and dragonfruit (I'm not sure if this was because of my Discovery Black membership, or if all guests receive it).

Pan Pacific Singapore Staycaytion Harbour Studio

The most amazing part of the room was, however, the view. The rooms on this side of the hotel all overlook Singapore's iconic Marina Bay (with Marina Bay Sands out of the camera's field of view over on the left). It's quite nice in the daytime, but absolutely gorgeous at night when the lights come on.

Pan Pacific Singapore Staycaytion Harbour Studio Pan Pacific Singapore Staycaytion Harbour Studio

I mentioned earlier that we were provided with Pacific Club (lounge) access thanks to the room upgrade. This comes with:
• Afternoon Tea from 3-5pm (on both check-in and check-out days)
• Champagne Breakfast in the Club, or breakfast at The Edge
• Cocktails & Canapes from 6-8pm (only on the check-in day)

Pan Pacific Singapore Staycaytion Pacific Club Lounge

At all other times you're welcome to rest and relax in the pretty stylish lounge. Outside of breakfast, tea, and cocktail hours, there's a small selection of biscuits, crisps and candy bars on offer, but drinks and other food are chargeable.

Pan Pacific Singapore Staycaytion Pacific Club Lounge

As the Pacific Club is on the 38th floor, the views are to die for.

Pan Pacific Singapore Staycaytion Pacific Club Lounge View

For the Afternoon Tea session, the Club provides an assortment of sandwiches and salads, cold cuts, a couple of hot dishes (har gao and glutinous rice for us), and pastries / cakes. As long as you've had a decent (or late) breakfast, the selection of food on offer is more than enough to serve as a late lunch.

Pan Pacific Singapore Staycaytion Pacific Club Lounge High Tea Pan Pacific Singapore Staycaytion Pacific Club Lounge High Tea Pan Pacific Singapore Staycaytion Pacific Club Lounge High Tea Pan Pacific Singapore Staycaytion Pacific Club Lounge High Tea

Evening canapes & cocktails is pretty similar, except that there's booze and a dress code (smart casual). For the teetotalers among us, fear not! A wide range of soft drinks, fresh juices, and mocktails are available.

Pan Pacific Singapore Staycaytion Pacific Club Lounge Cocktails Pan Pacific Singapore Staycaytion Pacific Club Lounge Cocktails Pan Pacific Singapore Staycaytion Pacific Club Lounge Cocktails

For breakfast we decided to skip the lounge and head directly to The Edge (Pan Pacific Singapore's huge buffet restaurant). The buffet spread is HUGE, covering all sorts of international, chinese, and indian cuisine. No photos though -- sorry! (we didn't bring our phones / cameras down with us).

Pan Pacific Singapore also has a decent swimming pool, gym, and spa. As we were only on a 1 night stay we didn't really have the time to explore any of them.

Pan Pacific Singapore Staycaytion Swimming Pool

Now just to come back to the upgrades. Discovery Black entitles to you to up to a 2-level space available room upgrade. If you book a room with no Pacific Club benefits, it is possible for you to be upgraded to another room which also has no Club benefits (or to not get upgraded at all). Therefore the only way to guarantee Club access is to book at least a Pacific Room.

Discovery Black membership can be fast-tracked for free and with no strings attached if you are a World Elite Mastercard holder: Check out the details over on Mile Lion.

To conclude, the darling and I really enjoyed our short staycaytion at the Pan Pacific Singapore. The rooms are nice and spacious, service at the Pacific Club was very good, and the hotel's location right above Marina Square means that it's easy to fill in the time between meals with some window shopping or to just take a stroll. In fact we might go as far as to say that this hotel is our favourite price / performance staycaytion spot in the city at the moment (as long as you get lucky with the Club access, of course)!

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Great German/European Food at CURATE, Resorts World Sentosa (a 4 Hands Kitchen dinner)

๐Ÿ‘ Very good German-focused European food. Gorgeous dining area.
๐Ÿ‘Ž Inconsistent meal pacing; Portions a little on the small side.

Another month, another 4 Hands Kitchen dinner: This time heading to Resorts World Sentosa's CURATE! This week, CURATE's Chef Benjamin Halat hosts one-starred Chef Nicolai Wiedmer from STUCKI in Basel (the Swiss-German speaking side of Switzerland). Both Chefs have cooked extensively in Germany / Switzerland, so we're expecting a very heavy German influenced dinner.

Curate Resorts World Sentosa

A small note on the dining area, which is cozy but oh-so-gorgeous. Several tables are within full view of the kitchen (and the pass) - which we like - but if you're not interested in observing the chefs, do request to be seated in the corner off to the side.

Curate Resorts World Sentosa

Up first, an amuse bouche of Eierstich, an egg custard not unlike Japan's chawanmushi. In this rendition it's topped with small cubes of white asparagus, ham, and tomato, which provides an interesting tangy, refreshing complement to the deliciously-seasoned egg.

Curate Resorts World Sentosa

Next up: Cured Trout (by Chef Wiedmer), with Pickled Cucumber and a starchy, sticky Jasmine Rice Cream. The trout was good, and the cucumbers pickled just right (without being overly sour like gherkins sometimes are). We weren't really that enamoured by the starchiness of the rice cream, though. Acquired taste / texture perhaps.

Curate Resorts World Sentosa

My mobile phone camera doesn't do justice to the beauty of Chef Halat's first dish: The Grilled Scallop served with Sauerkraut, sauerkraut consomme, and parsley cream. The scallop was cooked just right, but the amount of sauerkraut might be a little excessive if you're not a fan of pickled flavours. I am, though, so I found the starter delicious and appetite-whetting.

Curate Resorts World Sentosa

Next up: Chef Wiedmer's Ossetra Caviar, served alongside a delicious earthy piece of eel in yuzu dashi and celery. We were annoyed enough by the 45-minute gap between this plate and the previous one that we struggled to really enjoy it, though.

Curate Resorts World Sentosa

Chef Halat is up again with a perfectly-cooked piece of Pike Perch. Or at least, the flesh was perfectly cooked; we didn't much care for the limp skin. The lentils and beurre blanc accompaniment was divine, though: Who knew fish and lentils went so well together? Standout dish of the night for us.

Curate Resorts World Sentosa

Last savoury plate of the night was Chef Wiedmer's Lamb Loin (and lamb belly) served with Hazelnut Dukkah, Carrot, and Dill. With the lean loin and fatty belly - you get the best of both lamb worlds, really. The accompanying sauces and carrot mash was also delicious, with Dill standing in as a surprisingly competent replacement for the more typical mint jelly / sauce.

Curate Resorts World Sentosa

Finally, Chef Halat presents his rendition of Snickers, with Dulcey (a chocolate from Varlhona), peanuts, and caramel. It's like eating a deconstructed snickers bar, only with much more chocolate than peanuts. Oh, and much, much more delicious.

Curate Resorts World Sentosa

We end the dinner with some petit fours and coffee ... and with stomachs perhaps not quite satisfied. The darling and I aren't large eaters by any means, but even we were tempted to adjourn somewhere else for supper.

Curate Resorts World Sentosa

CURATE normally prices their dinners from s$148 (5-courses) up to s$228 (8-courses), and so - like pretty much every other fine dining restaurant in the city - isn't cheap. The food overall was really good, though, and perhaps worth a visit just for the fish dish alone. CURATE is in Resorts World Sentosa, and is walkable from the 'free entry' area of Sentosa. Reservations recommended; Non-Halal.