Singapore has no shortage of hotels. From our world-famous Orchard shopping belt to the bustling city centre, travellers are spoilt for choice when it comes to accommodation. As avid travellers who have stayed in budget hotels (in ulu Malaysian town of Setiawan) to posh, high end ones (like The ‘W’, Ritz Carlton and Mandarin Oriental), luxury to us is more than plush bathrobes, high thread count bedding or opulent interiors. True luxury is when we are treated more than mere paying guests but as eagerly anticipated family friends who have come to stay. When we travel, we look for subtle but significant differences which set one accommodation apart from the pack.
On National Day, we were delighted to check into Grand Park City Hall Hotel for a one-night staycation. Situated right in the heart of the city, it’s flanked by iconic landmarks such as St. Andrews Cathedral, the Armenian Church, Central Fire Station and Funan the Digital Mall, all within a jump, skip and hop. Its proximity to City Hall MRT (a brisk 5 mins walk) offers guests unparalleled convenience to be connected to any other parts in our tiny island (via the MRT) in less than an hour, max.
|An invitation to step inside an oasis…|
|Grand Park City Hall – a gem in the city…|
The lobby, the rooms and facilities live up to the what you’d expect from a Grand Park hotel. The moment you enter, the spacious sunlit lobby dotted by greenery immediately shields you out from the hustle and bustle outside. This, accentuated by the smiles and greetings of the reception staff gave us a fuzzy home-coming feel. If you are observant, you would see the Manager on-duty doing his rounds, joining in with the rest his staff to welcome guests at the lift lobby. Check-in was a breeze and the friendly receptionist engaged us in small talk before issuing us the keys. Along the way, we were accompanied by the concierge, a senior and stately man whom I would mistaken for a butler. Beneath the stern and steady demeanour lies a warm and helpful person who patiently showed us the interior of our family room and ensured that we are properly settled before taking his leave. For such a large hotel (333 rooms), it’s commendable that the concierge took no more than 5 minutes to have our luggage delivered to our room.
|A shout to the area’s rich history…|
|Service with a smile. Service from the heart.|
|Frontline staff, including the Duty Manager – all set to greet guests as if welcoming a friend back to stay.|
The room is spacious and well-appointed with a slight ornate touch – a throwback to the hotel’s age and former history. The bathtubs and bathroom furnishings were distinctly dated (’80s style) but they were clean and well-kept. There were the usual amenities that you would expect in a good hotel but on closer look, you would see Grand Park‘s personable touch. As this is a family room, the hotel supplied petite-sized bathrobe for the kids and even colourful, kiddy bedsheets to make the room more welcoming. There was also a cot setup free of charge and an Ikea children’s table complete with simple toys placed at one corner for kids to entertain themselves. We were impressed – not many hotels go to such lengths to cater to families!
|Spacious and well-appointed rooms…|
|Children’s room with a child’s heart in mind.|
|A child’s bathrobe and toys – this hotel anticipates your needs and meets them…before you even ask for it.|
|Little touches of a luxury hotel… and more.|
Our eyes caught sight of an orange coloured hand-held device sitting on the study desk. At first glance, it seemed that the previous guest may have left his mobile phone and charger behind. But we were soon told that it was their trademark Grand Park ‘Handy Phone’ – a mobile phone for Executive and Deluxe room guests. This ‘Handy Phone’ device allows guests to make free unlimited local calls (yes totally FREE!) to 25 countries as well as activate free directional apps (and maps) to help them get around Singapore. How’s that for anticipating a traveller’s needs?
|The Handy phone….Handy indeed.|
|Acts as your personal guide, suggests itineraries and provides directions to anywhere you want to go, for free!|
We spent the rest of the day lazing at their pool which is surreptitiously located on the 3rd floor, far from the maddening crowd. It’s not a lap pool but cosy enough for intimate family bonding and close supervision of the kids. Midway, we slipped away for a couple massage at the hotel’s Spa Park Asia while Dana was playing with her cousins at the pool. For a city hotel, the spa facilities were impressive. Nothing was spared to give guests a sense of space and serenity – both important elements in relaxation. Our massage was done in the couple room which came with a large jacuzzi (which we didn’t use as we didn’t want to miss the National Day Parade telecast). Their masseuse were experienced and courteous. Whenever we go for a holiday, massages would always be the bonus – we felt pampered, relaxed and rejuvenated.
|The Spa at Grand Park City Hall…|
|A place to unwind and relax…|
|A city spa that offers space and serenity…|
|Couple room – chic and comfy with a luxurious jacuzzi.|
|Pool…yes they do have it!|
|Children take to the pool like bees to honey!|
After watching the NDP on TV (a family tradition), we ‘indulged’ in a late dinner at the hotel’s buffet restaurant, ‘Indulge’ which offers a sumptuous blend of local and international cuisines. The extensive spread ranges from fresh oysters, lobsters, sashimi to BBQ seafood and steak (grilled on the spot according to your liking). After having taken our fill of entrees and mains, we were now left with desert choices. Cakes, pastries and ice creams filled our tables (and our tummies). One dessert worth mentioning is their ‘Durian Penyet’- a durian puree that would have you think you were savouring the real deal right at the plantation! To walk off the calories, we spent the rest of the evening milling around the Esplanade, taking in the atmosphere and energy of downtown Singapore with the crowd celebrating National Day there. It was eye opening to get acquainted with our city as a family – a luxury we seldom afford.
|Do like what the sign says.|
|A place to lounge, chat and chill…|
|Wide selection of food to cater to all tastebuds…|
|The freshest BBQ seafood we’ve tasted from hotel buffets…|
|The wifey’s fav part of any buffet – the desserts!|
|Strawberry Shortcakes anyone?|
|Us at the Padang, soaking in the NDP atmosphere!|
Whenever we travel, we always look forward to the hotel breakfasts. Nothing mars the holiday mood more than having to fuss over breakfast arrangements early in the morning when we’re still half asleep. Here at Grand Park City Hall, the breakfast selection spoils us. We particularly like the Soya Bean Drink with ‘You Tiao’ (Fried Fritters) – we enjoyed dipping these fried dough sticks into freshly made warm soya bean drink. The constant refills by the kitchen attests to its appeal! The breakfast crowd does fill up fast but kudos to the breakfast crew for maintaining brisk and friendly service. To enjoy a leisurely breakfast, our advice is to go early.
|Good Morning Singapore!|
|Can’t decide what’s for breakfast? We don’t blame you!|
|Freshly baked goodness…|
After breakfast, we have few hours to spare before checking out. We gamely acted like tourists and took the ‘Handy Phone’ out for a ‘spin’. The interface was similar to an Apple Iphone and hence very user-friendly. No messing around with manuals or FAQs, just unplug the device from the charger and follow the instructions onscreen. Our 6 year-old helped us navigate to a few nearby touristy sites in the civic district. Being heritage lovers, our first stop was the Armenian Church – Singapore’s oldest church (and the church where we took our pre-wedding photos!). After that, we walked to the Hill Street Central Fire Station and The Civil Defence Heritage Gallery and The Philatelic Museum (free entry for Singaporeans, ID required). We even used the Handy Phone to guide us a little ‘further’- taking the MRT to Gardens by the Bay. Needless to say, we enjoyed getting re-acquainted with the sights and sounds of this familiar country we call home. All these without hefty car park charges, long parking queues and weekend traffic and best of all, with a ‘Handy’ guide to bring us around!
|Taking ‘Handy’ for a walk. Handy provides all the info a traveller needs with bonus free international calls!|
|How convenient to have your hotel right in the city center!|
|Right next to this stately building – Singapore’s first church, the Armenian Church.|
|Nestled among lush green ground…|
|‘I was here’ – leaving her mark in the church’s guest book…|
|Steeped in history and significance – we spotted the tombstone of Ms Agnes Joaquium, of which our National Flower was named after.|
|A wonderful chance to appreciate our heritage while on staycation!|
|The grand old dame, right opposite the hotel!|
|Singapore’s oldest working fire station – The Central Fire Station.|
|Tourists for a day – relying on the Handy to navigate…|
|So many fun for free places to visit within a stone’s throw of the hotel!|
|Daddy and daughter – out and about in whimsical safari matchy tees!|
|Escape from the scorching heat outside by visiting the air-conditioned Civil Defence Heritage Gallery…|
|Our 1st visit to The Philatelic Museum…what a pleasant find!|
|This place definitely has our stamp of approval!|
|Superheros in a museum??|
|So many activities to keep the children engaged…|
|A step back in time….interactive display of our multi-racial community…|
|Back at the streets of old?|
|The heritage floor (2nd level) at the Philatelic Museum is fun and engaging!|
|No…real food but very convincing…|
|More interactive displays to inform and educate. Here, Dana’s learning how to use herbs as natural remedies for common ailments…|
|A rare chance to share with the children the kitchen wares of old…|
|The Philatelic Museum offers more than display of stamps…|
|Fav find of the day – The Philatelic Museum is actually quite enjoyable!|
Staycations are a strange thing – you’re local but yet you also want to be pampered like a ‘tourist’; you’re home but yet you’re not. But one thing’s for sure, staycations offer us a brief escape and to rediscover and reconnect with the places and experiences right in our backyard. Grand Park Central City Hall, with its prime location, warm service and customer-centric initiatives, really is, a home away from home.
You can take advantage of the hotel’s many offers to enjoy a memorable and fuss-free staycation while participating at some of these upcoming popular events which Singapore is hosting:
1) Singapore Night Festival (22-23; 29-30 August 2014)
2) The Colour Run Singapore (30 and 31 August 2014)
3) Singapore Bay Run and Army Half Marathon (31 August 2014)
4) Singapore Grand Prix and related fringe activities (19-21 September 2014)
5) Concerts, events and other activities that start very early or end very late in the city center
Forget about the car or logistical nightmare. Book a staycation for the family, attend the events with peace of mind, enjoy the sights and in between, let yourself be pampered with the uniquely personable Singaporean hospitality which Grand Park City Hall gives. It really is worth it.
|An excellent city hotel that provides an affordable and memorable getaway for the entire family!
Address: 10 Coleman Street Singapore 179809 Tel: (65) 6336 3456
Check out its ‘Family Moments’ Promotion which includes the following benefits:
- Children under 12 stay free
- Breakfast for up to two adults and two children
- 50% off the 2nd Room
- Complimentary Internet Access
- Complimentary kid’s meals when accompanied by paying adults
- Complimentary upgrade to Deluxe Room on Weekends
For room reservations, please contact (65) 6432 5558 or email [email protected]