Top-notch offering, luxurious experience (with some misses), but time for a refresh.
The holy grail of staycations in the midst of pandemic, the Valley Wing of Shangri-La Singapore is probably the most hyped-about staycation experience after Covid-19 pretty much closed off cross border travels for Singaporeans.
All day champagne, decadent breakfast spread, luxurious room and lobby, excellent service — this is effectively the all-business class version of a hotel. Of course, I had to go and see for myself what’s the allure behind this much talked-about luxurious experience.
Before we jump right into this review, note that the stay was made in May 2021, right before Phase 2 (Heightened Alert), so the experience may differ slightly.
Shangri-La Singapore marks the beginning of the Shangri-La Hotel Group. Founded by Malaysian businessman Robert Kuok, the hotel was set on Orange Grove Road, envisioned to be an oasis in the vicinity of Orchard Road, then set to be Singapore’s golden shopping district.
The sprawling luxury property, covering some 15 acres, was built in stages: The Tower Wing was the first to be completed in 1971, followed by the Garden Wing in 1978. Consequently the Valley Wing was added in 1985, bringing the total room count to over 1,000.
Shangri-La Singapore is on a different level of exclusiveness: it also has the reputation for hosting several high level government-to-government meetings, with countless foreign delegates and dignitaries staying at the hotel through the decades.
The property has hosted countless foreign dignitaries, international conferences, and high society weddings. One iconic G2G meeting – the IISS Shangri-La Dialogue, Asia’s defence summit – also took its name from the hotel, signifying the importance of the hotel to international relations.
One hotel, three wings
Built over more than a decade, Shangri-La Singapore comprises three key wings: Tower Wing, Garden Wing and Valley Wing.
The Garden Wing is more often than not referred to as the entry-level wing, even though it was not the first to be built of the three. Completed in 1978, the wing added an open-air garden atrium and cascading waterfall, giving the property its resort feel. A much shorter building with only five stories, all rooms have balconies which overlook the abundant greenery or the swimming pool.
Tower Wing is the main high-rise block of the hotel, stretching some 24 storeys. The Tower Wing is the original building that opened with the hotel in 1971, but it’s also the most up-to-date, having completed a major renovation in 2017. It also hosts the hotel’s Horizon Club lounge, as well as the five themed family suites (pick from: castle, outer space, safari, treetop and underwater). The wing is currently closed to bookings, as it’s used for SHN accommodation.
The Valley Wing was finished in 1985, and is practically a hotel within a hotel. It boasts a private driveway and entrance, a lounge that serves all-day champagne, and the most opulent breakfast in the house at the Summit Room. Guests receive special Valley Wing monogrammed bathrobes and amenities, and should you venture out to mix with the hoi polloi at the hotel’s shared facilities, you’ll even find special reserved seating at the pool.
Citi Prestige came out with a unbeatable deal for cardholders earlier in the year. At S$250++ per night, this was significantly cheaper – at almost half price – of the best available deals in 2020.
Given the good deal, of course the limited number of room nights were snapped up pretty quickly. I didn’t manage to get my hands on one of these deals, but the hotel was quickly to counter-offer with other deals they had available, including the 28-hour Weekday Indulgence package.
Priced at $488++ for two people or $588++ for three people, essentially you get a Valley Wing Deluxe Room with a standard check-in time at 3pm, but with a super late check-out time the following day at 7pm. Effectively, you will get double dips at the afternoon tea and evening cocktails for this package.
Here’s the low-down of the full inclusions:
- 28-hour weekday staycation valid from Sunday to Thursday (check-in time from 3pm and check out time at 7pm)
- Daily breakfast for 2 adults and 2 children below 12 years old at The Summit Room
- Unlimited wine, champagne, juice, coffee and tea from 11am to 10.30pm, at the Valley Wing Lounge
- Afternoon tea, from 2pm to 5pm, at the Valley Wing Lounge
- Evening canapés and cocktails, from 5pm to 7pm, at the Champagne Bar
- Playtime at buds by Shangri-La, one complimentary session per night
- Playtime at Splash, one complimentary session per night
- Extra bed for 1 child below 12 years old (subject to hotel availability)
- One complimentary parking per stay with unlimited entries
- High-speed, unrestricted Wi-Fi and broadband Internet access
The remote nature of Shangri-La Singapore also means that it is definitely not the most conveniently located hotel. While it’s quite near Orchard Road, the hotel is a 20-minute hike from Orchard MRT, with a uphill terrain thrown in for good measure.
The main lobby – where Garden Wing and Tower Wing guests will arrive at – is located along Orange Grove Road, which can be entered from either Orchard Road or Stevens Road. This is also where the main car park is located at, including the underground car park in front of the hotel.
On the other hand, the exclusive Valley Wing gets its own driveway along Anderson Road. To access it, you will need to enter Anderson Road from Stevens Road, and keep a close lookout for the uphill driveway on the right side. If you miss that and arrive at Orange Grove Road, unfortunately you will need to make a large loop to go again.
A note about parking
Guests staying at the Valley Wing will be invited to park along at the private car park outside of the Valley Wing. Parking space is very limited, even with cars lined up along the driveway, so I would imagine you will be redirected to the main car park if the area is full.
Note that your stay should come with unlimited in/out privileges. If you are parking at the main car park, be sure to ask for a complimentary parking coupon from the concierge before you exit.
I arrived at about 2pm, an hour ahead of the stipulated check-in time of 3pm. With many other hotels in Singapore this usually isn’t a problem, and a room would normally have been available by 2pm.
After being instructed to park my car along the driveway as all the lots have been taken up, I was ushered into the lobby, which definitely a grand first impression.
Think high ceilings, old school charm: the Valley Wing lobby was cosy, yet grand in its welcome. The first thing that will definitely catch your eye is the 8.6-metre tall painting. Produced by renowned Hong Kong artist Lam Chung, the artwork is a visual depiction of what James Hilton wrote in his 1933 novel, of a fictional idyllic settlement high in the mountains of the Tibet which Hilton called ‘Shangri-La’.
After you take your eyes off the painting, you will be escorted to one of the two check-in desks. Unfortunately, my room wasn’t available even at 2pm, so my party was instead directed to enjoy the afternoon tea at the lobby lounge.
In the mean time, the very friendly agent helped me with the check-in procedures and briefed me on my entitlements, before showing us a table at the lobby lounge.
The room – Deluxe Room
Valley Wing comprises 150 rooms and suites across 5 room types. The entry level room is the Deluxe Room where most guests will be staying, but once you move above that, you get a range of suites from the 1-bedroom suite to the sprawling Shangri-La Suite.
|1 Bedroom Suite||11||79m2|
The package comes with the entry level Deluxe Room. Running at 57 square metre, this is probably one of (if not) the largest hotel room in Singapore you may find for an entry-level room, even though there’s nothing entry-level about the Valley Wing.
The Valley Wing was built in 1985, and it’s unclear if it was ever renovated after that. If you are an ardent fan of local staycations, you will quickly realise that the rooms are a throwback to rooms of yesteryears, with well worn wall sockets and an analog thermostat. One step in, you feel like you have taken a time warp back to the 1990s.
An elegant room with an oversized bed in the middle of the room, a sofa right in front of the window that overlooks Anderson Road, adorned with a coffee table big enough for high tea; yet another arm chair that looks like it belonged to the Buckingham Palace; an oak study table on the left of the TV console, and a dressing table on the right side… one could go on and on about the furnishing in the room. It was old-fashioned lux, and somewhat a mash up of British and oriental charm.
The room comes with a full-sized couch just in front of the window ledge, which would have been perfect for those in-room afternoon teas and evening drinks even during Singapore’s famed Phase 2 Heightened Alert. We were pretty glad we didn’t have to resort to that, though.
There is also a work desk if you need it, with plenty of space for all your devices and wires. The chair belonged to the Elizabethan era, where the idea of back support was virtually non-existent.
Next to the desk was the TV console, and probably one of the smallest TV I’ve seen in a hotel room in a very long time. Not only is the screen pathetically small for a luxury hotel, it does not support any of the modern offerings, so you will have to bring along your own casting devices (Chromecast, Apple TV, anything) and cables if you need that.
The bathroom comes with a separate dressing area separated from the bedroom area by a partition, where the wardrobe is as well. Having said that, the bathroom is probably the best sign of its aristocratic factor: double vanity sinks, a bathtub large enough for two people to sit in, a separate shower cubicle with a marble seat, and a toilet with an old-fashion bidet.
The Valley Wing rooms come with L’occitane Jasmin & Bergamote amenities, which are pretty much top of the range even within the L’occitane mainbrand. A quick tip: if you didn’t bring your bubble bath or bath bombs, simply empty an entire bottle of the amenity into the bathtub when you run the bath, and the bubbles will naturally come as you fill it with water.
If baths aren’t your thing (how terrible!), there’s a standing rainshower stall, feel free to step in and have your standing showers.
There are also an assortment of disposable bathroom amenities at the washbasins, including a very thoughtful hair rubber band for ladies to use. The housekeeping staff religiously tops up whenever anything on this shelf is being used, but if you do need extra, just give housekeeping a ring and they will promptly bring them up for you.
There is a small dressing area outside of the bathroom, with a wooden folding gate to separate it from the bedroom area. You will be able to find most of the wardrobe amenities there, including bathroom slippers, ironing and board, and more in that area. You could even change into a wedding gown there with no lack of space.
In-room refreshments wise, the room comes with a mini-fridge (empty, of course), Nespresso machine with complimentary coffee pods, as well as their famed in-house assorted teabags.
There is also a generous fruit platter atop a small drawer where you can find a small set of cutlery for your personal use.
Legend has it that the hotel used to stock its minibar which was complimentary for all Valley Wing guests, but this perk has since been removed. The hotel touts it as a safety measure in the face of Covid-19, but obviously past guests and reviewers called it a cost-cutting measure.
The first thought of a ‘lobby lounge’ brings to mind a dedicated room located at the lobby, similar to club lounges in many other hotels. But here at Shangri La Valley Wing, the entire lobby is a lounge, which is probably a rather foreign concept for many.
This is probably the space you will be spending plenty of time in throughout your stay, to justify the price tag at which the room comes at.
The lobby lounge is also where you will find the Champagne Bar, which as the name suggests, serves all-day champagne, available from 11am to 10pm daily.
Despite its nomenclature, the bar only serves Veuve Clicquot as its choice of bubblies. But of course, apart from champagnes, they will be happy to serve other wines and cocktails too.
The drinks menu is a pretty formidable one. Apart from Veuve Clicquot that Shangri-La Singapore serves as the housepour champagne, you may also opt for the Italian Berlucchi 61 Rose as the sparkling rose of choice.
You can also find a carefully tailored selection of gins from around the world in a special gin trolley located at the Champagne Bar. Choose your own gin and tonic pairing, along with your preferred garnish, from a wide range of premium gin options including Singapore’s very own Brass Lion Gin. Spoilt for choice? leave it in the hands of the bartenders to recommend the perfect combination.
On top of that, you have a selection of nine other wines to choose from, as well as 10 different cocktails including three champagne cocktails to indulge to your heart’s (and liver’s) delight.
A copy of the full menu can be found here.
If you are not too full from drinking the entire day, there’s also some food available during the afternoon tea (2pm to 5pm), and evening canapes (5pm to 7pm) daily. For those with extended check-out times, you are also able to double dip and enjoy another round of drinks and food until your check out time.
The afternoon tea is certainly decent by any club lounge standards. Served on a two-tier stand, the meal comes with an assortment of sandwiches, as well as a plate of sweets including cakes and kuih-kuihs. There’s also a side of scones – both plain and raisins – served separately, with clotted cream and jam on the side.
Of course, you can order a complimentary coffee, tea or even something alcoholic to go with your afternoon delights.
If you are enjoying drinks through the day, you will kind of feel that the food from afternoon tea simply flows over to evening canapes. The evening canape spread is also served on a (pretty much the same) two-tier stand, but filled with different items.
For the first day, we got a mish-mash of sushi, soba, puff pastries, more kuih-kuihs and some fried items. The second day’s items were a little better, with chicken wings and steamed siew-mais. While it’s heartening to see that the menu does rotate daily, it really isn’t anything to write home about, but simply an accompaniment to your evening drinks if you so choose to.
The Summit Room
One of the key selling point for Valley Wing guests is breakfast at the Summit Room. In the shape of a round room topped with an opulent chandelier, the room is also decked out with intricate artwork on the curved walls, gorgeous carpets and some of the most beautiful furnishing you can find.
Breakfast hours at the Valley Wing are 7am to 10.30am on Mondays to Saturdays, and ending slightly later at 11am on Sundays and Public Holidays.
Note that Valley Wing guests are given a choice of breakfast at the Summit Room or The Line, but you will want to just settle your breakfast at the Summit Room.
Unlike many other hotels, Valley Wing guests do not have to make an advance booking for breakfast. As such, we (a party of three) made our way down at about 9.30am for breakfast.
This is where the service – or lack thereof – became a sore point in my stay. Despite it being a mid-week stay, the Summit Room was unfortunately full save for one single round table right by the door. I asked if we could take that round table, but was politely declined as they had to keep the table in case a group of five people turned up for breakfast.
We were instead offered an outdoor table at at the patio, which we reluctantly accepted. The only table left on the patio was not acceptable either; the dining table was of a proper height, but the chairs were lounge chairs, so when you are seated, the table was at your shoulder height. Not the most ideal seat for breakfast.
I immediately provided feedback on the table and asked if there’s any other table available. I then asked again if we could take the round table, but was once again declined. We were instead offered to head out to the lobby lounge for our breakfast.
This time round, I pressed the front of house and asked why we couldn’t take that table, given that there’s no other parties waiting to be seated and it was close to the end of breakfast hour. The reply given to me once again was that they could only seat a party of five at that table, and we only had three people. For context, there are only two round tables that can fit a party of five, and the other table was occupied with four diners.
Eventually, we settled for a table at the lobby lounge, which again wasn’t the most ideal as all the tables at the lobby are rather small and not meant for dining.
I reasoned that it was almost close to the end of breakfast service, and that the other table was close to finishing up anyway, but was still denied the table. True enough, for the remainder of the breakfast service, the said round table was left empty (no other guests in fact came for breakfast after us), and the hotel could have three more happy guests if they had exercised better discretion and situational decision making in this instance.
The level of inflexibility bewildered me, especially at a luxury property, in a premier wing no less. While I understand that some properties do not empower its staff to make decisions outside of protocol, a simple check with the manager on duty could have easily solved the issue (more on this later).
The hotel could also benefit from doing a reservation system for its guests – not so much as to limit them to a particular time, but to better manage its table allocation especially for larger parties.
The Real Breakfast Review
Apart from the little brouhaha surrounding sitting, Shangri-La Singapore Valley Wing offers a pretty impressive breakfast spread.
Each guest is entitled to two choices of main courses from a wide menu of over a dozen items, including local and western fare. Based on online reviews, guests used to be able to order unlimited portions but this has since been reduced to just a choice of two.
The menu has been pared down compared to past reviews, including this one by Milelion. For instance, the hotel no longer serves its famed Bikini Sandwich, nor offer a Japanese breakfast on its menu. The tale of cost reductions.
On top of that, there is also a mini continental breakfast items spread available within the Summit Room, with bread, pastries, charcuterie, fruit, yoghurt, cereal and cheeses for one to pick and choose from. If hot food is not your thing, this would have been more than enough to fill you up
Since there were three of us, we took advantage to order a variety of dishes to sample. Given that the steak and eggs were immensely popular, we decided to order one for each of us, and a different second course.
As a form of service recovery for denying us a table in the Summit Room, the manager relented to make an exception to allow us to order one additional main, so we ended up with 7 mains for three of us.
The steak and eggs is cooked to order; you are asked for the doneness you’ll like for your steak. The steak came pretty on point, even though the photo didn’t do justice to it. After all, who doesn’t like a good cut of tenderloin for breakfast? What I thought could have been better was if the steak could come with a simple sauce, or perhaps even some greens on the side, instead of just a single vine tomato.
The nasi lemak was probably my next most favourite dish. While the portion is not big, the flavour is pretty authentic and packs a punch.
The french toast was rather excellent as well. It came pretty crispy, while retaining the soft and moist nature when you slice it up.
The Valley Wing Half-Boiled eggs is supposedly another famed Shangri-La offering, and my guess is that this is because of the caviar. I’m personally not a fan of caviar, but I do get how this combo of bread, eggs and roe works.
Roti jala is not so commonly found in Singapore, so this is a pleasant surprise. The winner of this dish is the curry, which warrants additional servings of the roti.
Overall, Valley Wing breakfast is prided on quality instead of quantity. Individual dishes are excellent, but the portions are puny especially if you are big eaters (like us).
Unfortunately, the limit of two mains per guest also means that you will hardly be filled even if you maxed out your quota (as we have found), and you will have to make do with the continental breakfast buffet to get a hearty breakfast.
Shangri-La Singapore was built to be an oasis in a city centre, so obviously it was going to be self-contained as far as possible. That means, you get a galore of facilities fit for royalty without having to step out of the compounds at all.
|Swimming pool||6am to 8pm|
|Fitness centre||6am to 10pm|
|Tennis courts||By reservation|
|The Chi Spa||10am to 7pm|
|Kid’s club||8am to 7.30pm|
|Business centre||24 hours|
Shangri-La has a large free-form swimming pool, located in the centre of the three wings, open for all guests’ use from 6am to 8pm daily. This is a massive pool – probably one of the biggest among hotels in Singapore – measuring in at 912 m3. The pool is also decently deep, ranging between 1.2 to 2.5 metres deep, but the deep end is cordoned off while we were there.
Due to the pandemic, you will have to enter and exit the pool via a single point of entry near The Line, with the necessary check-ins (and outs) done via TraceTogether.
There is also a separate kids-only Splash Zone, where only kids can use (adults can’t enter if you don’t have a under-12 with you).
Fitness Centre / Gym
The fitness centre, or Health Club as termed by the hotel, is open daily from 6am to 10pm. No reservations are required, but given the latest regulations you may wish to check with the hotel if you need to be vaccinated to use the gym.
The gym is humongous even for a hotel of this size. The space also has plenty of natural light, with floor-to-ceiling windows throughout most of the gym to give guests a view of the lush gardens outside.
There is also a sauna, steam room and in-door whirlpool within the changing rooms, but unfortunately these facilities are closed during this period of time.
Given the size of the fitness centre, the hotel also sells annual memberships at S$3,000 a year to use the gym, swimming pool and other health club facilities.
Shangri-La also has three tennis courts available for guests to rent at S$10.40 per hour, which I understand to be very reasonable. I don’t have photos of the courts but Milelion does have some very reasonable ones.
The Chi Spa
We didn’t visit The Chi Spa, but for those who are interested, the spa is located in the Garden Wing (open daily, 10am to 7pm). Pricing is pretty standard hotel spa prices: S$85++ for a 30 minute foot massage, or S$165++ for a 60 minutes treatment. The full menu and price list can be found here.
Buds by Shangri-La – Kid’s Club
We also didn’t review this (given there weren’t any kids on this stay), so you will find a more meaningful review by GirlEatWorld here (scroll to near the bottom for the section on Buds) and one by Women’s Weekly here.
Shangri-La Singapore definitely delivered on the luxe experience — only if you prefer the old-school luxury back in the 1990s. I enjoyed my stay there, only because it was a marked departure from the experience accorded by other properties with their modern conveniences, so this is kind of a novelty, time-warp style.
The clear upside to the Valley Wing experience was definitely the bottomless, all-day champagne and seemingly endless food service. The rooms were on the other end of the spectrum: while its generally roomy and clean, the rooms are in a desperate need of an upgrade since about a decade ago.
The service was also generally excellent. Room requests were promptly met, check-in was smooth and pleasant, and staff were generally helpful and attentive throughout our entire stay. While service was great for most of our stay, it was marred by the breakfast seating episode. Normally I wouldn’t fuss over an incident like this, but in a top-notch property such as Shangri-La, there is certainly no room for any unpleasant encounters.
Having said all of the above, I can imagine how the Valley Wing is probably a great option for select groups of guests: those don’t intend to leave the hotel the entire time and enjoy day-long drinking sessions, or if you are a family with young kids and need plenty of space for them to run out their energy.