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Plaza Premium lounges part ways with Priority Pass from 1 July; launches own PPL Pass

Plaza Premium has announced that it will stop accepting Priority Pass entries at most of its lounges worldwide from 1 Jul 2021, and will be introducing its own PPL Pass

Why this matters?

Priority Pass is the world’s largest network of independent airport lounges, with over 1,300 lounges around the world. All kinds of premium credit cards offer a Priority Pass membership, which is a great way to get lounge access when traveling. Priority Pass doesn’t operate lounges as such, but rather has partner lounges that it pays when a member visits.

Plaza Premium operates the world’s largest collection of independent airport lounges, with 180 locations across nearly 50 airports. You can’t directly buy a Plaza Premium lounge membership, but rather Plaza Premium acts as a contract lounge provider for premium airline passengers, and for other lounge access programs.

Historically you’ve been able to visit virtually all Plaza Premium lounges with a Priority Pass membership, but that will soon be changing.

There will be a handful of lounges that will continue to accept Priority Pass entries, but these will be announced only in the months ahead.

Other credit cards that have partnered Plaza Premium directly for complimentary entries will not be affected by this change.

Possibly the best third party lounge network

While Plaza Premium lounges cannot compare with top airline-operated lounges, they are still rather popular because they have worked on improving their offerings in recent years, offering quality lounges that are well decorated and carrying very decent offerings.

In recent years, Plaza Premium also upped the ante with its new first class lounges called Plaza Premium First, available in Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur airports. These are a step up from its regular Plaza Premium lounges and require an added fee for those who are using free lounge passes.

Plaza Premium First Hong Kong (photo: Plaza Premium)

Who is affected?

Most people with a miles-earning credit card will be familiar with Priority Pass, which usually comes as part of their credit card perks. In Singapore alone, those holding the Citi PremierMiles card and DBS Altitude Visa card will have one that offers two complimentary visits a year, while the fee-paying Citi Prestige card offers a souped up version that offers unlimited entries. Unfortunately, such Priority Pass members will definitely be affected by this change.

For customers holding the American Express Platinum Charge card and the OCBC Voyage card, lounge access to Plaza Premium facility will continue to be available, though they may or may not be able to bring guests for free.

Plaza Premium’s partnership with DragonPass will continue, so those holding some ICBC and CIMB cards, plus UOB Visa Infinite Metal cardholders, will still be able to use the lounges within their annual entitlements.

The Maybank Horizon Visa Signature card also retains access to the Plaza Premium lounges, but only at Changi Airport.

Which lounges are affected?

Of the 66 participating Plaza Premium lounges, 59 will be leaving Priority Pass. Most of them will discontinue from 1 July 2021, but there is a small handful that have differing end dates so check the details here.

In Singapore, there used to be three Plaza Premium facilities:

  • Terminal 1: Plaza Premium lounge
  • Terminal 2: TGM (currently closed)
  • Terminal 4: Blossoms Lounge

With the change, Plaza Premium has confirmed that

From 1 Jul 2021, only the Terminal 4 facility will remain accessible by Priority Pass members. This is not unexpected, given that the lounge is a joint venture between SATS and Plaza Premium and the role it plays as the only pay-per-use lounge in the terminal.

With Terminal 2 closed for refurbishment, it’s unclear if TGM will make a return, so that’s a question when it’s ready a few years down the road.

Terminal 1’s lounge will be unavailable to Priority Pass members from 1 July, but there are plenty of other options in the terminal, including dnata lounge and SATS lounge.

PPL Pass

In a follow up to Plaza Premium’s departure from Priority Pass, Plaza Premium Group has also introduced its own PPL Pass, a new membership programme providing access to the Plaza Premium lounges for an annual fee, based on your usage.

Similar to Priority Pass, PPL Pass is a membership programme where you can pre-load your account with either 2, 4 or 6 visits per year. The per visit cost ranges from USD33 to USD37.5 depending on the number of passes you buy.

If you purchase the passes through the Smart Traveller app, you can shave a few more dollars off the passes, so your cost per visit goes down to USD29.83 to USD34, again depending on the number of passes you buy.

All passes are valid for 12 months from the day of purchase.

Where it differs from Priority Pass is that there is no unlimited option, so you will have to reload with more passes if you run out.

Final thoughts

Plaza Premium ending its contract with Priority Pass will definitely affect many travellers and how they value certain credit cards, when travel resumes in time to come.

Effectively, for Singapore-based travellers, the options available at Changi Airport will be reduced to either the Ambassador transit lounge at Terminal 3, SATS lounge at Terminal 1 or the Changi Lounge located in the public areas at Jewel.

With most third party lounge options gone from the Priority Pass list, this can swing in one of the following ways: Credit card companies will move towards partnering Plaza Premium on its PPL Pass, or throw in other perks to make the annual fee worth paying.

Offer: 1-for-1 nights at Sofitel City Centre, Oasia Downtown and more on sale at Klook this weekend, 8 & 9 May

Buy 1 night, get 1 night free offers on Klook this weekend (SRV eligible!), choose from selected Accor and Far East hotels

Klook is running another round of SRV-eligible staycation offers just for this weekend, this time offering one-for-one offers at select hotels. Choose from various Accor and Far East properties like the Sofitel Sentosa, Fairmont Singapore and AMOY Hotel.

If you spend at least S$50 of SRV vouchers, you will also receive a S$50 Klook voucher for a future staycation, valid with minimum spend of S$200.

Klook Super Savers 1-for-1 Hotels

The participating hotels in this offer are:

  • Sofitel City Centre from $349 for 2 nights, with 1 set breakfast and 1 set dinner for 2 adults 1 child
  • Fairmont Singapore from $469 for 2 nights, with daily breakfast for 2 adults 2 child
  • Sofitel Sentosa Spa & Resort from $527 for 2 nights, with daily breakfast for 2.
  • Village Hotel Bugis at $190 for 2 nights (room only)
  • Oasia Hotel Downtown at $270 for 2 nights (room only), and
  • AMOY Hotel at S$278 for 2 nights (room only)

Sofitel City Centre Luxury Room

Final Thoughts

It’s a very decent deal, although the best of the lot probably will be the Far East properties even though they don’t come with breakfast.

For families who have still yet to make plans for the upcoming June holidays, the good news is that there are still plenty of availability for these deals in June, so work fast and book some before they sell out.

Book now here!

Singapore to restart travel bubble arrangement with Hong Kong from 26 May

Will it be a second time lucky?

The long awaited Air Travel Bubble (ATB) between Singapore and Hong Kong is finally set to take off from 26 May 2021, announced by both Singapore and Hong Kong on 26 Apr.

This comes almost six months after the plans for the quarantine-free all-purpose travel arrangement was delayed just hours before its launch in November, and subsequently scuppered in December last year, due to a reflux of local cases in Hong Kong as new infections occured.

What are the new requirements?

By and large, the requirements remain the same as what was proposed last year, including:

  • Travellers must have stayed in Singapore or Hong Kong wholly for the preceding 14 days before travel. This excludes select groups of foreign workers (Holders of Work Permits or S Passes working in the construction, marine shipyard and process sectors), as requested by the Hong Kong government.
  • Travellers must take mutually recognised COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests and will need to have negative test results.
  • Travellers will not be subject to any quarantine or Stay-Home Notice requirements, or a controlled itinerary.
  • Travellers must travel on dedicated flights for this ATB, i.e. these flights will only fly point-to-point between Singapore and Hong Kong and carry only ATB travellers. No transit passengers nor non-ATB travellers (e.g. travellers on business green lane arrangements) will be allowed on board.

There’s some new requirements, including mandatory vaccination status for Hong Kong residents using Hong Kong-issued passports.

Vaccination requirements

The circumstances and situation in both cities have changed much since six months ago, as both cities are progressively vaccinating their citizens since early this year.

As such, one key speculation was whether vaccination was a requirement — this may be good or bad news, depending on where you live.

Bad news first: Hong Kong residents travelling using a Hong Kong passport can only take the ATB-approved flights from Hong Kong at least 14 days after they have had two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Hong Kong residents travelling to Singapore under the ATB will need to be vaccinated if they meet all of the following criteria:

  • Above 16 years old
  • Not exempted from vaccination based on medical grounds
  • Using a Hong Kong travel document
  • Have stayed in Hong Kong for more than 90 days

This means that non-Hong Kong citizens are effectively excluded from the vaccination requirement when visiting Singapore, including Singaporeans who are working/living in Hong Kong.

Fortunately, Singapore residents travelling to Hong Kong will not need to be vaccinated.

Recap: testing requirements

No change from the previous requirement, there will be a total of 3 or 4 PCR tests required if you are departing from Singapore, depending on how long you are going to stay in Hong Kong. The tests and approximate costs are as follow:

TestCost
Singapore pre-departureBetween $135 and $200
Hong Kong arrivalAbout $85
Hong Kong pre-departure*Between $40 to $320
Singapore arrival$160
COVID-19 PCR tests and costs

*Note: If you are departing Hong Kong within 72 hours of taking the test upon arrival in Hong Kong, you will be exempt from taking a pre-departure test from Hong Kong. Children under the age of 12 are also exempt.

Other requirements

Both the Singapore and Hong Kong ATB website have been updated with the latest rules and process details.

Other requirements that travellers will need to fulfill include:

  • For travellers to Hong Kong, they muse use the “LeaveHomeSafe”(LHS) mobile application to scan LHS QR codes when visiting premises during the stay in Hong Kong, and retain the records for 31 consecutive days after leaving Hong Kong.
  • For travellers to Singapore, travellers must apply for an Air Travel Pass between 7 and 30 days before arrival to Singapore.
  • Visitors to Singapore must install and use the TraceTogether app, and are also required to retain the TraceTogether app with the data for 14 consecutive days after leaving Singapore. 

Flights for ATB

As with before, the ATB will be served by home carriers of both territories: Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific. Both airlines will be running one single inaugural flight on 26 May 2021.

Subsequently, Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines will operate on alternate days for the first two weeks of the bubble arrangement. Each carrier will then increase frequency to a daily service from 10 Jun 2021.

The full schedule is as follow:

Singapore Airlines

SectorFlight No.DepartureArrivalAircraftDates Operating
SIN-HKGSQ88208401240A350-900R26, 28, 30, 31 May
SQ88208401240B777-300ER2, 4, 7, 9 Jun
Daily from 10 Jun
HKG-SINSQ88314251820 A350-900R 28, 30, 31 May
SQ88314251820 B777-300ER 2, 4, 7, 9 Jun
Daily from 10 Jun
Cathay Pacific A350

Cathay Pacific

SectorFlight No.DepartureArrivalAircraftDays Operating
(From 7 Dec)
SIN-HKGCX73414451900A350-90027, 29 May
1, 3, 5, 6, 8 Jun
Daily from 10 Jun
HKG-SINCX75909101300 A350-900 26, 27, 29 May
1, 3, 5, 6, 8 Jun
Daily from 10 Jun

Both Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific are showing the above listed flights as ATB designated services until 30 Sep 2021 at the time of writing.

Final thoughts

After a false start last year, it’s great to see that there is a firm date for Singapore’s very first ATB to take off.

Particularly for Singapore residents, the waiver of a vaccination requirement at this juncture is also a good development – at least for now – given that the vaccination rate in Singapore is still pretty low at this point in time.

The ATB also came at a welcomed time as we draw close to the school holidays. At the time of writing, ATB flights are fully booked out for at least the first two weeks, so those looking for a getaway to Hong Kong can now only wait till late June or later for their travel fix.

As we press closer to the inaugural flight date, I guess the only thing to do is to hold our breaths and see if it truly takes off.

InterContinental Singapore offering 100% dining credit when you book a room

Book a room at either S$350 or S$450 nett and receive the same amount in dining credits for your stay

InterContinental Singapore is now running a promotion offering its rooms from S$350 nett, and offering the full value of the room in dining credits that you can use at its restaurants.

The offer

The offer is currently running for stays between 8 Mar 2021 and 31 May 2021. The two room types you can book are:

The Deluxe King Room at S$350 nett

or the Junior Suite at S$450 nett

InterContinental Singapore Junior Suite

Both rooms will come with either S$350 or S$450 worth of dining credits which you can use during your stay (more on this later). Note that the rooms do not come with breakfast, so you will need to offset it from the dining credits.

For reference, breakfast at Ash & Elm is chargeable at S$40++ per adult making it a total of S$94 nett for two people. If you prefer ala carte options, you can also take your breakfast at The Lobby Lounge, featuring items such as eggs benedict with caviar (S$30++). 

Junior Suites at the InterContinental Singapore do not come with Club lounge access, so that will have to be purchased separately upon check-in, subject to availability. Note that you will not be able to use your dining credits to offset this additional fee.

As of today (21 Mar), all Friday and Saturday dates are no longer available, but the rest of the days are pretty fair game.

The fine print

Some of the key terms and conditions you will need to know:

Firstly, the entire sum of the of dining credits must be used during the stay. Any amount over the credit will have to be settled upon check out, but unused credits will be forfeited.

The dining credits covers service charge and taxes, so it’s not S$350 or S$450 before the additional charges.

Note that while the terms & conditions for the offer explicitly said that IHG Rewards Club points will not be earned and InterContinental Ambassador membership benefits do not apply, your mileage may vary so no harm providing it at the point of booking.

Dining credits

The dining credits can be used at the following restaurants at InterContinental Singapore:

  • Ash & Elm
  • Man Fu Yuan
  • The Lobby Lounge
  • Palms Pool & Champagne Bar

Unfortunately this means that you won’t be able to use the credits at the famed Chikuyotei also located within the hotel. Also excluded is in-room dining, so please bear that in mind if you intend to take up the offer.

From experience, you will end up spending anything between S$50 to S$100 per head per restaurant, depending on whether there’s alcohol involved.

I went to Ash & Elm for dinner last Christmas, and the total bill for a party of four came up to about $450 nett, including a bottle of wine.

Final thoughts

If you are planning to dine at any of the restaurants at InterContinental on a specific day, this is an offer that you might want to look into. I personally refer to look at this offer from the other perspective: getting a free night stay if I’m looking to spend at least S$350 in dining at the hotel.

However, weekend availability is nil at this moment, but there are some public holidays coming up, so this promotion might be good for those days if you snap them up quickly.

Book here.

REVIEW: Sofitel City Centre Singapore, Prestige Suite

Sofitel City Centre is arguably one of the Singapore’s finest hotel. Modern furnishing, comfortable and elegant rooms, great food, this hotel still packs a punch for a staycation, even in the face of Covid-19.

In this post:
About the hotel
Booking & check-in
Car parking
Prestige Suite
Club Lounge – Club Millesime
Evening cocktails
Lobby Bar – 1864
Breakfast
The facilities
Final thoughts

Sofitel City Centre sits in one of the most remarkable buildings in Singapore, Guoco Tower. Formerly known as Tanjong Pagar Centre, the building has since been renamed to Guoco Tower, cementing its role as Guocoland’s flagship development in Singapore and its location where the head office resides.

Completed in 2016, Guoco Tower became the tallest building in Singapore with a standing height of 290m – a mere 10 metres taller than the famed Republic Plaza, OUB Centre and UOB Plaza. This record was made due to a lifting of height restrictions in downtown Singapore as it sits within a flight path towards Paya Lebar Airbase, which is due to be decommissioned by 2030.

Developed by Guocoland, the building was designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. Back then, it was rather hard pressed to find yet another plot of land in the heart of the Shenton Way/Tanjong Pagar business district to build yet another mixed development, but Guocoland secured this parcel of land back in November 2010 for a cool S$1.7 billion.

The building comprises a myriad of uses: retail, commercial, residential and a hotel. What’s particularly notable is Wallich Residences, a very exclusive 181-unit development which starts at 180m above the ground – equivalent to 50 stories, offering an amazing view over the city.

The hotel

Sofitel City Centre is Singapore’s second Sofitel property, after Sofitel Sentosa Spa & Resort. Opened in 2016, the 223-room property is styled as a luxury full-service hotel.

Consistent with other new hotels built in the same era, the hotel is nested as part of a larger development, with its main lobby on the fifth level of the building. Guest rooms start from level 7 to level 20, with premium rooms located on levels 15 to 17, while club rooms are 18 to 20.

Most of the hotel’s restaurants and facilities are contained on the fifth and sixth floors, which can be accessed without a key card.

The hotel has only one in-house restaurant, Racines, situated on level 5. On the same floor you will find the hotel’s lobby bar as well, 1864. The recreational facility, including the outdoor pool, So Fit gym and the hotel’s club lounge, Club Millesime, are all located on level 6.

Lobby lounge – 1864

The hotel offers only five types of rooms, three rooms and two suites. Rooms offered include Luxury Room, Luxury Premium Room and Club Luxury Room, while the two suite types available are Prestige Suite, and the largest Joaquim Suite.

All the entry level rooms are of equal sizes at 38 square metres, while the Prestige Suite takes up the footprint of two rooms. The Joaquim Suite is the largest suite on-site, spanning 114 square metres, featuring high ceilings and towering windows across the suite. The suite also comes a fully-equipped kitchen, a 10-seater dining table, a spacious living room and an exclusive lounging area.

For this stay, I booked a Prestige Suite, as well as a separate room for a group of us to spend New Year’s Eve at.

Booking & checking in

This was a new year’s eve stay, and given that international travel was nearly impossible, my friends and I decided to check out local hotels for a two-night staycation.

Most hotels were charging an arm and a leg for a New Year’s eve stay, but surprisingly Sofitel City Centre were holding prices steady. They didn’t offer any festive packages for the last day of the year, but in fact went a step further to include the date for the Accor Black Friday sale, and the suite went for about $600 per night.

One thing to note – you will not be able to add a third person to the room online. To do so, you will need to call up the hotel and get them to manually do so. The extra bed, along with breakfast and other entitlements you may have, will come at an additional $160++ per night.

A note about car park

Guoco Tower has two car parks, A & B, with only Car Park B providing direct access to the car park.

While the hotel sits in the Guoco Tower, the hotel doesn’t offer complimentary parking for guests. If you are doing a weekend stay – good for you, parking is at a very affordable S$2.50 per entry per day. However, the rates for weekdays are pretty exorbitant, so you are better off leaving your car at home.

Day / TimeRate
Mondays to Fridays
7am to 4.59pm
5pm to 6.59am next day

$1.50 per 30 min
$2.50 per entry
Saturdays, Sundays and Public Holidays
7am to 6.59am next day

$2.50 per entry
Guoco Tower Car Park B parking rates

The Prestige Suite

As the entry-level suite for the hotel, the Prestige Suite is a one-bedroom suite, with a separate living and bedroom area. Spanning the size of two regular Luxury rooms, the expansive suite is practically a mini-apartment: a living room complete with a dining area, and a luxurious bedroom with a bathroom large enough for a mahjong session.

The main door opens up to the living and dining area. The living area is located closer to the opposite end of the room from the door. Right by the full floor-to-ceiling window is a beautiful wooden work desk, with a leather seat for the work-in-room moments.

Sofitel City Centre – Prestige Suite living room

On the other wall was a sleek-looking four-seater sofa with an abundance of cushions, fronted by a beautiful oval-shaped glass-top coffee table. At the side was another single armless chair with an ottoman, long enough for stretching out one’s legs for those lazy afternoon naps.

Sofitel City Centre – Prestige Suite living room

Right across from the sofa was a wall-mounted 55-inch Smart TV. However, the viewing distance is a tad too far for a comfortable view.

As we had a third person in the suite, the extra bed was set up right in front of the television.

Sofitel City Centre Prestige Suite – extra bed

Closer to the main entrance was a dining table large enough for four people. At a corner was the minibar and pantry area, where you can find the usual Nespresso machine, coffee capsules, tea bags and glassware. The suite also had a teapot on top of the teacups, which was a nice touch.

Dining area

With most other hotels, the minibar has been emptied out. However, for guests in Prestige Suites, the hotel offers a complimentary fill of the minibar, which has to be requested through in-room dining.

The minibar items are not as fancy as what you’ll usually find in a paid minibar, but still pretty generous by any standards: a small portion of coconut water, two cans of soda, a can of local coffee/tea, a bottle of coconut water, as well as some packaged snacks to last through those late night drinks.

Complimentary minibar items, replenished daily

The bedroom contained a full king-sized bed, along with an ottoman at the foot of the bed. To add on to the comfort of the room, there was yet another lounge-worthy armchair next to the window, with a small coffee stand and standing lamp, looking so inviting for afternoon reads (or mobile gaming). The room also had another 55-inch wall mounted television if you prefer to lie in bed for your TV-binging.

Prestige Suite bedroom
Prestige Suite bedroom

The bathroom was arguably my favourite spot in the room. Spacious enough for a bed, the bathroom comprised a double vanity, a humongous bathtub, as well as a separate shower and toilet stalls.

Prestige Suite bathroom

The bathtub comes with this handy tray that holds up your tablet or a book while you are taking your bath, and also comes with a slot for a plastic wine glass if you prefer a tipple in your soak. I tried using the stand for my iPad, but gave up after 10 minutes for fear that the holder will tip over and reverted to watching my show on my phone instead.

Prestige Suite bathroom
Prestige Suite bathroom

For the Prestige Suites, Sofitel City Centre uses Hermes amenities, similar to what you may find in the higher grade villas at Sofitel Sentosa. The rooms on the other hand, stock Lanvin amenities.

Hermes amenities
Lanvin amenities – found in lower room types

Club Millesime

Sofitel hotels style their club lounges as Club Millesime. Wine aficionados will know that Millesime is the french word for vintage and typically used by french winemakers to indicate the year. In Sofitel City Centre, Club Millesime is located on the sixth floor of the hotel, tucked in a corner.

Club Millesime

The lounge is a fairly small one, although sufficient for the number of rooms the hotel has. Even with social distancing measures in place, the lounge can take up to about 15 parties of various sizes, including a couple of larger tables for bigger groups. The lounge include an al fresco area, with tables facing the swimming pool for those who prefer to be out in the open.

Club Millesime

Post Circuit Breaker, Sofitel City Centre currently offers one-hour evening cocktail slots for eligible guests, including guests in club rooms, suites and Accor ALL Diamond and Platinum members.

Club Millesime

By default, the lounge offers evening cocktails from 5pm to 6pm, but on busier days the lounge may offer sometimes offer a second seating from 6.15pm to 7.15pm. Due to capacity constraints, all guests will be required to make a reservation for their preferred slot via an online reservation system.

To do so, you will receive an email from the hotel a few days before your stay, with instructions on how to go about making the booking. If you run into any problems with the link like I did, you can also call up the hotel, they are more than happy to help with the arrangements.

Email from hotel

For those who are interested, you can also access the booking links below:

  • Reserve access to SoFit (Gym) 
  • Reserve access to Swimming Pool 
  • Reserve access to Club Millesime Apero Chic (For Club Guest only) 

Evening cocktails

For the evening cocktail session, the lounge offers unlimited alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, as well as a selection of hors d’oeuvres. The selection is offered up as a tray of small portions dished separately in bowls, while drinks are served by the glass.

The key upside to the lounge is that they serve champagne as opposed to sparkling wine, although the choice of champagne may differ by the day, depending on what they have in stock. During my stay, I have been offered Delamotte as well as Duval-Leroy, both are pretty decent options.

In terms of food options, the lounge serves a mix of sweet and savoury snacks. The menu is displayed on the TV screens in the lounge, and the offering during my stay is as follow:

And this is how it is being served:

Evening cocktails, Club Millesime, Sofitel City Centre Singapore

For those looking to fill up, you can always request for unlimited refills of any of the items, but do bear in mind that the staff may be too busy to get to you quickly so please re-order early.

One other tip: if there are two sessions for evening cocktails during your stay, I’d recommend that you go for the later seating if you wish to linger in the lounge even after service stops at 7.15pm. Guests at the first service will usually be ushered out on the dot, and the last pour will be about 15 minutes before the end of the hour. So if you want to maximise your time in the lounge, go for the second seating.

1864 – Lobby Bar

As an Accor ALL Platinum member, I was also offered two welcome drink vouchers which can be redeemed at the lobby bar, 1864. Welcome drink vouchers are offered to all Accor ALL members with Silver or higher status. If you are an AccorPlus member, you will be gifted a complimentary Gold status so the welcome drink is definitely offered on each stay.

The welcome drinks list is fairly extensive, with a two-page spread of options for you to choose from.

Apart from the usual cocktails such as Cosmopolitan and espresso martini, they also offer two options of in-house barrel-aged cocktails, as well as wines, beers and spirits. Unfortunately champagne is out of the list so don’t expect any bubblies.

Facilities

The hotel also has an in-house fitness centre, as well as a swimming pool, both of which are at level 6 of the hotel.

Pre-Covid-19, the hotel used to offer access to the adjacent Virgin Active gym to guests staying in the Luxury Premium rooms or higher, but this has since been suspended as a result of capacity restrictions at the gym.

To use the facilities, a prior reservation is required. The swimming pool is opened from 7am to 8.30pm daily, with access offered in 90-minute blocks, while the gym is opened from 7am to 8pm daily and can only be used in 45-minute blocks, which is a tad short for a proper workout.

FacilityOperating hoursSlot length
So Fit – fitness centre7am to 8pm daily45-minute slots, available on the hour
Swimming pool7am to 8.30pm daily90-minute slot, available every odd hour
(i.e. 7am, 9am, etc)
So Fit – fitness centre
Swimming pool

Racines – Breakfast

Racines is the flagship restaurant for Sofitel City Centre and have been serving up an excellent twist of Chinese-French duo cuisine since it opened years ago. An excellent choice for dinner, I have dined here several times during dinner and the experience has always been pleasant.

Since Covid-19 struck Singapore, the face and experience of dining has changed. Previously a self-service buffet spread, Racines now serve an a la carte breakfast that you order on your mobile phone using a customised QR code available on every table.

Racines
Racines

The menu is pretty extensive, but features pretty standard hotel breakfast fare:

  • Cold Cuts & Cheeses
    • Beef Salami
    • Troilspeck
    • Black Forest Ham
    • Smoked Salmon
    • Emmental cheese
  • Cereal & Yoghurt
    • All-Bran
    • Bircher Muesli
    • Greek Yogurt
    • Acai Bowl
  • Salad & Fruit
    • Quinoa Salad with Chickpeas
    • Mesclun Salad with Feta Cheese and Vinaigrette
    • Couscous Salad with Pepper
    • Fresh Fruits
  • Bread & Pastries
    • Mini croissant
    • Assorted Oven-baked viennoiserie
    • White toast
    • Homemade baked bread roll
    • Gluten free bread
  • Hot Selections
    • Eggs – according to your preference
    • French toast
    • Waffles
    • Buttermilk pancakes
    • Plain porridge
    • Shredded chicken noodle soup
    • Paratha with dhall
    • Egg fried rice
  • Hot sides
    • Streaky pork bacon
    • Grilled tomatoes
    • Chicken sausage
    • Crispy hashbrowns
    • Baked beans
    • Dimsum

There’s also a selection of hot beverages, including Nespresso coffee and TWG tea as well as assorted juices you can choose from.

If you have gone for repeated stays at the property like I did, you will realise that the menu remains the same and there are no ‘seasonal’ items that switches out every so often.

Racines breakfast

Final thoughts

Sofitel City Centre is indeed one fine hotel for a staycation in the midst of Covid-19, with an excellent location coupled with well maintained rooms and facilities.

This little oasis in the heart of town is a gem, it’s proximity to plenty of good food around the area makes it an excellent choice for a get-together venue, especially for those late night in-room drinks with family and friends.

The hotel offers a decent range of facilities good for a city hotel, even though it’s pretty basic. While the hotel does not offer any spa facilities, the pool is adequately scenic and perfect for that Instagram shot and the fitness centre is sufficient for a basic workout.

Some of the downsides to the hotel is obviously the limited offerings for evening cocktails, but this is pretty compensated with the fact that they serve champagne, a rarity among Singapore hotels. If you would, the hotel’s restaurant, Racines, also The breakfast is also adequate, although the queue situation can be a little out of the world.

If you still have your Singapore Rediscover Vouchers, you can also consider checking out the packages that Klook has to offer here.