Excellent top-grade hotel in the heart of the city, boasting timeless interiors and five star service.
I fell in love with the InterContinental brand since my first stay back in 2018, so I was always looking forward to snag another stay at this excellent property. The price for a Club room has always been a little prohibitively high, so I was pleased when they dropped their prices owing to a slowdown in international travel earlier this year due to Covid-19.
In this post:
• About the hotel
• The booking process
• InterContinental Ambassador programme
• Checking in
• The room
• Club InterContinental Lounge
• Afternoon tea
• Evening cocktails
• The facilities
• Dining options
• Final thoughts
InterContinental is IHG’s flagship brand and marks the pinnacle of hospitality within the group. While there are some other upmarket brands that the Group has acquired over the years, it is almost certain that the best experience still came from the InterContinental brand.
InterContinental Singapore opened its doors more than two decades ago, in 1995. The hotel houses 403 rooms and suites, with more than a half-dozen room types available for guests, including seven different suite types ranging from Junior Suites to Presidential Suites. InterContinental Singapore also features a Heritage Wing, featuring ‘the style of shophouses from the 1920s as an integral feature of the hotel’s design’.
The hotel was most recently last refreshed in 2016, although this was mainly for the rooms in the main building, with the Heritage Wing untouched.
InterContinental Singapore is jointly integrated with the adjacent shopping mall Bugis Junction which featured a series of preserved shophouses. When it first opened some people were dismayed that the taller block stuck out like a sore thumb in a somewhat historic district, and therefore gave it a thumbs down for the damage the urban planners had done.
Fast forward 20 years later the hotel is definitely well placed in an area mixed with shopping, business and culture, so the development definitely paid off.
The hotel is located on the fringe of the Central Business District, marked by the road pricing gantries that are visible from some rooms if you are lucky.
InterContinental Singapore is also within walking distance to the Kampong Glam enclave boasting tourist-popular streets such as Haji Lane and Arab Street, so there’s already plenty to do around the hotel.
Flanked by not one but two MRT (metro) lines, the hotel is arguably in a rather fantastic location in the heart of the city.
For those who are driving, InterContinental Singapore no longer offer complimentary parking at the basement car park that is co-shared with the mall, so drivers will have to pay prevailing parking rates.
The hotel has limited valet parking at its driveway, chargeable at $20 a day.
The booking process
My booking was made way before Circuit Breaker happened, during a time when tourist traffic dried up drastically, causing a sharp fall in room revenues and occupancy. To save whatever occupancy that’s left, InterContinental ran a promotion, offering a Club room for less than $250 nett. Needless to say, I snapped it up without thinking twice. Book first, think later.
Subsequently, when the Circuit Breaker was announced, of course no stays were possible. InterContinental Singapore was kind enough to allow me to rebook for a date later in the year, hopefully in weeks.
As the lockdown was extended and with the extended closure of the hotel as they had to serve as a quarantine facility, I thought my hopes of utilising the deal was dwindling. Through and through, I probably rebooked myself at least four times, but hey, this is the new normal.
Fortunately, the hotel eventually reopened some time in September, and I could confirm my stay for October.
InterContinental Ambassador offer
Just before my stay, I also signed up for the InterContinental Ambassador programme. The programme is a paid programme, running for USD200 a year, or redeemable with 40,000 IHG points.
The InterContinental Ambassador programme offers the following perks:
- Guaranteed one category room upgrade
- Guaranteed extended 4pm check-out
- Complimentary weekend night (more on this later)
- Platinum Elite status in IHG Rewards Club, with the corresponding benefits
- Restaurants & bars credit of up to USD20 for every stay
- In Mainland China, you get a complimentary breakfast for one each night you stay
IHG was running a time-limited promotion, offering an additional free night award once you sign up and complete a stay at any Intercontinental, Kimpton or Regent properties. This free night certificate could be used for any IHG properties worldwide for properties that are priced at 40,000 IHG points or less, to be used by 30 April 2021.
The Ambassador programme already offers a free weekend night certificate as part of its programme, but that certificate can only be redeemed at Intercontinental properties, and has to be consumed as part of a paid stay (i.e. an additional free night on top of at least one paid night).
Given that I can use 40,000 IHG points to pay for the InterContinental Ambassador membership, the additional free night certificate makes this offer incredibly attractive, given that I could use it on a room worth up to 40,000 points anyway.
The pre-arrival check-in email was sent to me a couple of days before my stay, as a reminder of the details of my stay as well the club benefits for the duration of my stay.
On the day itself, I decided to check in at around noon time. While InterContinental Singapore has a pretty tiny lobby, the good part was that they had six counters so they could process check-ins rather quickly, hence I didn’t have to wait long.
I’m not sure if it’s a good or bad thing, but the hotel doesn’t have those pexi-glass dividers over the counter, making it for a slightly more personable experience speaking with the agent. Note that you will also be physically required to hand over your credit card, so if you have some extent of germaphobia, you may want to bring along some antiseptic wipes or prepare some gloves.
During the check-in process, as the agent was going through my reservation and taking the deposit from me, I came to quickly realise that my InterContinental Ambassador status was not reflected on file. I informed the agent, and kudos to the agent, she quickly apologised for it and was able to quickly rectify that on file. She also let on that the status is usually captured at the point of booking, so if the status changes along the way, it’s best to inform the hotel just before my stay.
While Ambassadors usually get a guaranteed upgrade, they did not have any higher class of rooms available for me this time round, so I was offered a compensation of either 10,000 IHG points or S$70 dining credits. I took the points, effectively offsetting my membership cost by 25%.
A note about car park access
For drivers, please note that the lift lobbies from the car park leading directly to the hotel has been closed off, so the only way to access the hotel from the car park is through the Bugis Junction mall.
Again, InterContinental Singapore no longer offers complimentary parking at the basement carpark, so you will have to pay prevailing parking rates charged by Bugis Junction shopping mall. The hotel has limited valet parking slots on its driveway, chargeable at $20 per day.
My room for the night was a Club Intercontinental Room with twin bed, located in the main 16-storey building.
The Club Deluxe Room was a spacious 38 square-metre space, comfortably holding two oversized twin beds that can easily hold two small-sized adults. Each bed came with two pillows, but they are rather soft and downright uncomfortable for side sleepers, so you might want to request for more pillows.
Beside the bed is also a cosy armchair by the window, most apt for those afternoon daydream moments. The view from the room overlooks Bugis Village, and has a great vantage point over the Bugis/Jalan Besar district.
The room also holds a solid working desk with ample power sockets and USB charging points for those work-from-room days, as well as a 50-inch TV with a Bose sound bar.
While the minibar is empty as with most hotels post-reopening after Circuit Breaker period, there was still a Nespresso machine with coffee pods, as well as TWG teabags in the room, along with some drinking water.
A minor detail of the cabinet top holding these items: it has this little ‘railing’ around it, so I don’t have to worry about having anything accidentally spilling on the floor.
The bathroom was generous in terms of space as well, equipped with a bathtub and a separate shower stall.
There was only a single vanity, but don’t be worried if you need plenty of space for your toiletries.
InterContinental uses Agraria amenities, a San Francisco brand more famously known for their potpourris and scents. The hotel entered an exclusive partnership with Agraria in 2012 offering its Lemon Verbena scented amenities across all 170+ InterContinental hotels around the world.
Club InterContinental benefits
As a Club InterContinental guest, this was what I was entitled to during my stay:
Personalised check-in and check-out services at the Club InterContinental Lounge
- Exclusive access to the Club InterContinental Lounge with light refreshments from 6am till 10.30pm
- Club InterContinental breakfast from 6.30am till 10.30am
- Afternoon Tea at Club InterContinental Lounge from 2.30pm till 5.00pm
- Evening Cocktails at Club InterContinental Lounge from 6.00pm till 8.00pm
- Premium Internet access in your room,
Club InterContinental Loungeand The Lobby Lounge
- Complimentary two pieces of pressing upon arrival
- 25% discount on laundry services during your stay
- Complimentary local calls
- Priority reservations at food and beverage outlets
Unfortunately, the Club InterContinental lounge was closed during my stay, and all the club benefits were hosted at Ash & Elm instead. This was also why I checked in at the front desk, unlike my previous stay where I did my check-in at the lounge.
Note: I enquired at the front desk after check out, the Club InterContinental Lounge should have reopened as of 25 October 2020.
One thing to note, if you aren’t aware yet, every Club room booked entitles three people into the lounge. So if you are only staying with one other person in the room, you can still invite a third friend or family member to join you for afternoon tea and/or dinner.
Shortly after I checked in, it was time for afternoon tea. We went to Ash & Elm and identified ourselves as club guests, and we were quickly ushered to a private dining area in the restaurant reserved for Club InterContinental guests.
A little more about Ash & Elm first: it’s the hotel’s all-day European restaurant located on the ground level, right next to the entrance to the mall. The restaurant features a natural light-filled space with high ceilings, providing a bright and cheery energy into this elegant space.
Club lounge guests are tucked away in a private area, away from the rest of the restaurant so you do get some level of exclusivity.
For those interested in the menu: InterContinental rotates its club menu daily, so that if you are staying across a few days you get some kind of variety.
For the day I was staying, this was the afternoon tea menu:
Club InterContinental Lounge – Afternoon Tea Menu
- Deep-fried chicken siew mai
- Steamed chicken glutinous rice
- Wholemeal bread with creamy cheese tomato, dutch tomato
- Baguette with smoked salmon gravlax, japanese mayonnaise, capers
- Classic raspberry mirror cake
- Assorted eclairs
Beverage wise, there was a selection of tea and coffee we could choose from, as well as hot chocolate or milk if you prefer.
The afternoon tea was served in a three-tier tea stand, with a serving of each item for every guest. The dimsum items were right at the top, sandwiches in the middle, and the sweets at the bottom.
While there isn’t any of the usual Peranakan-inspired treats that used to grace the Club Intercontinental lounge, the offering was still pretty solid.
The star of the afternoon tea will probably be the sweets, with the assorted eclairs standing out like a Kinder Surprise to a kid. While there’s always something alluring about dimsum, I’m not a big fan of fried siew mai (like why would you steam it and then fry it?!). The sandwiches were pleasant, but nothing to wow about.
We requested for a second round of everything sans the sandwiches, and the lounge staff gladly obliged.
Evening cocktails were from 6pm to 8pm daily, offering unlimited evening canapes and cocktails for Club InterContinental guests.
Again, we went down to Ash & Elm for evening cocktails. This time round, as we arrived a little later, the private room was full so we were seated outside at the main restaurant area.
We took a look around, and saw that most of the guests were actually Club guests, rather than restaurant diners., which was rather surprising for a Saturday evening.
Let’s get on with the important stuff first, the menu for the evening:
Club InterContinental Lounge -Evening Cocktails Menu
- Sweet & sour prawns with achar
- Egg pancake with kimchi, tau kwa (beancurd)
- Chilli con carne, corn chips
- Crispy potato, spicy sour cream
- Chicken teriyaki bites
- Raspberry mirro cake
- Assorted choux puff
- Dark chocolate praline
There was a rather extensive drinks menu also:
- Beefeater London Dry Gin
- Bacardi Carta Blanca Rum
- Olmeca Reposado Tequila
- Absolut Vodka
- Johnnie Walker Black Label Whiskey
- Sparkling, Red & White Wine
- Sauvignon Blanc
- Pinot Noir
- Cabernet Sauvignon
- Cocktail/Mocktail of the day
Obviously I had to start off with a Prosecco first, which I relished rather quickly. Food took a while to arrive, but hey, all’s good when I have a drink in hand at least.
With the crowd in the evening, the staff were clearly zipping around rather quickly, well under pressure to make sure that all tables are adequately served.
The food came around perhaps 15 minutes later, again on a three-tier stand, with a side plate of the corn chips.
The selection was much better than the afternoon tea in my opinion. My personal favourite was the sweet and sour prawns – come on, who doesn’t like a huge deshelled prawn smothered in a tangy sauce?
The chicken teriyaki bites was nice as I found the pieces on each serving a tad too small, plus I was rather embarrassed to ask for 10 servings at a go.
The desserts were again the star of the show, and I wished I could ask them for a box of pralines to go with my Netflix binge later in the night. Of course, I didn’t.
There was a good selection of beverages, although I didn’t think the spirits were any too premium. I had a go at a couple of the wines; while I didn’t get a chance to check out the labels since they were served to me at table, I didn’t feel like I had to tip any one of the away.
Breakfast next day was once again at Ash & Elm, which is already the breakfast restaurant for the hotel.
During this time where Covid-19 is still a thread, InterContinental Singapore is offering guests with breakfast entitlements the option of having their breakfast in the room at no additional charge.
Breakfast hours are between 7am to 10.30am daily. Due to the higher occupancy over weekends, the hotel has designated three time slots for dining on Saturdays and Sundays: 7am to 8am, 8.15am to 9.15am and 9.30am to 10.30am. While you can walk in, it will be wise to make a reservation anyway given that the breakfast restaurant is usually very crowded on weekends. I made my reservation for 9.30am, giving ourselves a full hour to savour breakfast.
Once again, Club guests were treated a little bit more special, being ushered into the same private room as the day before.
The hotel has done away with its usual buffet breakfast spread post-pandemic, and instead replaced it with an eat-all-you-want a la carte breakfast menu.
The menu for the Club InterContinental guests were a little different from the non-Club guests, featuring the Breakfast Royale menu that is also served at the Lobby Lounge.
The regular menu is as follow:
Breakfast Set Menu (Ash & Elm breakfast menu)
Two eggs prepared to your preference, grilled bacon, baked tomato, mushrooms, hash brown, baked beans, choice of grilled pork sausage or chicken sausage
- A Morning Booster
Waffles, bacon, fried egg, tomato confit, mango yoghurt parfait, smoked salmon, sliced cucumber, lemon, sour cream
- Taste of Singapore
Kaya & butter toast, soft boiled eggs, chicken congee in claypot with fried shallots, spring onions, dim sum basket
- Wellness Breakfast
All bran cereal, avocado, tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs, mango and avocado quinoa barley salad with ponzu dressing, fruit bowl, greek yoghurt, honey
- Indian Breakfast
Garlic naan, potato korma, dal makhani, cabbage masala, tomato chutney, mint chutney, chicken curry
The following items were the extended list, specially for Club guests:
Breakfast Set Menu (Lobby lounge breakfast menu)
- Eggs Bene
Poached egg, ham, spinach, English muffin, hollandaise sauce, Kaluga caviar, gold leaf, asparagus, confit tomato, hashbrown, button mushroom
- Chairman’s Porridge
Bird’s nest, fresh milk, golden raisins, oatmeal, brown sugar, lemon zest, rock melon, dragon fruit, grapes
- Pancakes Delice
Buttermilk pancakes, whipped butter cream with cinnamon & vanilla, berry compote, Japanese strawberries, gooseberries, blueberries, honeycomb
- Chief Executive’s Dim Sum
Abalone siu mai, Lobster jade dumpling, mushroom minced chicken & gingko nut, deep-fried prawn roll, sugarcane scallop lollipop
Regardless of which menu you choose from, all sets came with pre-mixed cold pressed juices, as well as unlimited coffee, tea, fresh fruits and pastries.
I ordered the Chief Executive’s Dim Sum first, which looked incredibly promising, given that Man Fu Yuan serves up such excellent dim sum.
This is the marketing photo used by the Lobby Lounge:
This was what arrived:
Honestly the presentation left pretty much to be desired. Given that these are not made-to-order but probably taken out of pre-cooked food warmers, the items were still pretty delish, and I was honestly craving for another go at the scallop lollipop.
My companion went for the safe option, an American breakfast.
Being unsatisfied with my dim sum, I went on to order a second breakfast, this time the Indian breakfast. The result was much more pleasant, with a warm and fluffy garlic naan and the authentic accompaniments.
As a full-service hotel, InterContinental Singapore boasts a full range of recreational amenities, meeting facilities and dining outlets.
The hotel has a outdoor swimming pool located in the main building, as well as a full-sized fitness centre.
Located on the fourth floor, the swimming pool is of an older-style pool (read: not infinity pool) flanked by sunbeds. There are also two outdoor jacuzzis on two sides of the pool, which were fairly popular while I dropped in to take a peek.
The fitness centre is opened 24 hours and is fairly impressive in terms of space, featuring a whole range of weight and cardio equipment. The gym also has a yoga studio for those who wish to do their own yoga or stretching, although I didn’t see any class schedule.
While there isn’t a spa, the fitness centre changing rooms also has a sauna for use.
Did you know?
InterContinental Singapore offers a pay-per-month membership for the use of its swimming pool and fitness centre, at S$250 per month. The fee also includes a daily Wellness-booster Bowl which can be redeemed from Ash & Elm. The wellness bowl is a daily creation of chef’s choice consisting of lean chicken protein, mesclun greens, grains, superfood and Italian balsamic vinegar & extra virgin olive oil.
In view of social distancing measures mandated by the government, both the swimming pool and gym can only hold up to 10 people at any point in time. While you need to make a prior reservation to use these facilities, there wasn’t anyone to actively check my reservation when I entered these facilities.
Dining options at the hotel
If dining is your thing, InterContinental Singapore has an impressive suite of restaurants.
Ash & Elm – the hotel’s flagship restaurant, offering European dining and features three exciting culinary theatres including a Charcuterie and Cheese Room, Wood-Fired Oven and a Charcoal-Grill Kitchen. Ash & Elm offers an excellent champagne brunch on weekends at S$128++ per guest.
Man Fu Yuan – Cantonese cuisine comprising perennial favourites, fresh seafood and delicately handcrafted Dim Sum. Man Fu Yuan offers an unlimited ala carte 90-minute dim sum buffet on weekends at S$58++ per guest.
The Lobby Lounge – The famous lounge is the hotel’s most instagrammable centrepiece, and it offers a daily Peranakan high tea at S$88++ for two, with the option of adding S$30++ for two glasses of Taittinger Brut champagne.
Chikuyotei – The Japanese restaurant began in 1992 and now has three branches in Singapore, including the one at the hotel. This particular branch specialises in unagi dishes, Lunch omakase is a standard 6-course set at $98++, while dinner is $158++ or $188++ for 7 and 8 courses respectively.
I had a pretty delightful stay at the property once again, despite the Club InterContinental lounge being unavailable this time round. The room was incredibly comfortable, affording me with a much needed rest, while the club lounge experience was still delightful with its excellent food and beverage offerings.
The team at the property is one of the better ones I’ve seen in a while: the eagerness to please, the personalised and attentive service and prompt response to every request.
The property is also in a very prime location, being located so close to shopping venues and right atop two subway stations. However, despite the rooms being refurbished less than five years ago, they are starting to show signs of age, so maintenance is definitely much needed to keep this hotel great, as always.