Having had a fantastic experience with InterContinental Singapore several weeks ago, I decided to check out its newer sibling in town, InterContinental Robertson Quay.
Opened in 2017, the property is one of the many hotels that sprouted up in the Robertson Quay area in recent years, including M Social, Warehouse Hotel and the recently refurbished Four Points by Sheraton (although technically not a new hotel).
IHG together with owners RB Capital announced the hotel back in 2014. It was rather surprising for IHG to open up a second InterContinental brand in Singapore, given the rather small market.
I booked the room through the IHG website. The rooms are fairly straightforward: the entry level room was the Classic Studio or Deluxe rooms, before moving on to the Club Rooms and finally, the Suites. All Club rooms and Suites also get access to the Club InterContinenal Lounge.
A thing to note is that InterContinental Robertson Quay does not offer twin beds in their entry level Studio rooms. For twin beds, you will need to select the Deluxe Rooms which are typically about S$60 more.
A couple of days later I received an email advising me that I have indicated that I preferred a twin bed (which I didn’t), and that I can upgrade to a Deluxe Room for a fee. I wrote that to say that I could keep the room as is, given that I did not opt for a twin bed. They wrote back again to confirm my option.
What really bugged me was the fact that they have addressed me as Ms, rather than Mr, on both occasions, even though I have corrected them the first time round. And this was not the only service lapse in my opinion (more about that later).
When I arrived at the hotel, I was rather excited by the exterior of the hotel: modern and classy. Taking the lift up to the lobby, I was rather impressed by elegance of the fittings and the decor.
Being a mixed-used building, the hotel is fairly compact. The arrival lobby is on the ground floor, while the hotel lobby is on the fourth, where the Club InterContinental can be found also.
So this was where I thought the service could have been a lot more polished. I walked up to the check-in counter, completely forgotten that I could have gone to the Club InterContinental Lounge to check in. The host went to retrieve my reservation, and didn’t offer to bring me to the Club Lounge to check in as well. Having said that, the check-in process was pretty fuss free. However, later that evening I received a call from the Reception, and they were rather abashed to mention that they have retained my ID by mistake, which I didn’t realise as well.
The hotel is a mixed use complex: the first couple of floors were devoted to F&B, including their anchor restaurant, Publico, along with 1880 on the second floor. The rooms took up levels 5 to 10.
Given the size of the property, there were hardly space for anything else. The swimming pool was on level 4 as well, in full view of the lobby lounge. The fitness centre is on the ground floor, outside of the property and enclosed fully by glass, which means you are working out in full view of the public.
At 23 sqm, the room is tiny by a five star hotel standard, but the norm for new hotels. Nevertheless, the design was rather ingenious: the bathroom is integrated with the bedroom so it looks incredibly spacious, without taking precious space away from the room.
The toilet is tucked away in its own corner, while the vanity and the shower cubicle is part of a open concept bathroom nearer to the door. For complete privacy, there’s also a sliding door that separates the bath area (along with the wardrobe) from the bedroom, so that means that if your room companion is taking a shower, there’s no way for you to exit the room or access the wardrobe.
Despite its size, the room is power packed – it has a good sized bed, a side armchair complete with an ottoman, as well as a fold-down seat from the wall to accommodate more people; a Nespresso machine for DIY coffee, Gryphon tea with a kettle and tea cups, as well as other amenities you will expect in a top-end hotel room.
What’s also worth mentioning is the innovative design of the minibar: it’s a pull out drawer refrigerator. There’s also an in-room bar, complete with a shaker and instructions on how to make your own cocktails from espresso martini to gin and tonic, with every ingredient you need somewhere in the bar, including olives, vermouth and juices. Of course it comes at a price, but hey the menu includes an all-in price, so why not?
Club InterContinental lounge
The Club InterContinental serves up daily breakfast, afternoon tea and evening cocktails. Having remembered an excellent afternoon tea at InterContinental Singapore, I decided to go stuff my face after checking in.
Afternoon tea at the lounge is served daily from 2 to 4pm. The afternoon tea is similarly served on a three-tier stand, consisting of sweet and savoury snacks, including mini pastries, cakes and scones. When it’s first served up, instinctively the presentation failed to wow me. I am a big fan of scones: I went for them first and was deeply disappointed at how cold the scone was, and the lack of taste in the cream. The rest of the items were fine, but not incredibly memorable.
What was incredibly dismal was the fact that from the time I walked into the Lounge until I found myself a seat on the outdoor patio, no one came by to say hi or asked if I would like anything. On top of that, I had to go up to a staff twice to request for something. In all fairness, I mentioned this to one staff later on and service has remarkably improved since then.
When I came back and check out the evening cocktails at 6pm, the lounge was noticeably empty. Within the first half hour, I counted no more than 10 people in the lounge although it got visibility more crowded as the sky turned dark. However, never once was the lounge full.
As for the canapés on offer, it definitely pales in comparison to the Bugis property. While there’s a hot plate served, the ‘buffet’ spread consisted of some cold canapés, including smoked salmon with mango and some bread and butter.
Having said that, the alcohol more than made up for the lacklustre food. My staple for the night was the Prosecco, but I heard good things about their cocktails and took a try with their signature Quayside Sling (a cherry and gin cocktail) which delivered on its promise (probably the only thing that made me happy the entire day).
The next morning, I went back to the Club InterContinental Lounge for a quiet breakfast service. I liken the spread to be similar to what Westin Singapore provides: a smaller buffet, but with a small cooked to order menu. The host recommended their signature Sou Vide Eggs Benedict, so I ordered that along with the pancakes with berries. As it turns out, I very much preferred the pancakes over the eggs benedict.
In summary, the property is excellent in its build: the rooms are compact but well purposed, and in fact I haven’t seen any other rooms so efficiently and yet elegantly designed in such a long time now. the Club lounge is adequate in its purpose. However, there are many gaps that need to be addressed, such as the quality of food in the Club Lounge, as well as the lacklustre service.
Overall it is definitely still a good business property given its proximity to city, but I will stop short of recommending this hotel for leisure travellers who will like to shell out $400 a night for a Club lounge. For that, I’ll still suggest they go back to the InterContinenal Singapore where you get much more value for money.