Tucked away in a corner just off the main shopping and entertainment belt of Orchard Road, Orchard Hotel has 656 guest rooms and suites that are housed across two wings. Having been here a couple of times for events at their ballroom, I distinctly remember its iconic clock tower in the centre of its lobby as it stands out from the rest of the interior. To be frank, I don’t recall much else about this hotel but a Traveloka promotion was about to change all that!
- 1-night stay in Premier Club Room
- Breakfast and afternoon tea (as part of club lounge access)
- Complimentary parking
- Spent: SGD$147.20
Stepping into the hotel lobby, it was festive vibes galore with the Christmas stalls and decor all set up. It was also a plus that there was minimal queueing for our check-in at the reception. Chooi Yen, the staff checking us in, was extremely helpful and professional (she would later turn out to be our consistent point of assistance throughout our stay).
We found out from her that in-house guests are entitled to a 20% F&B discount but if we wanted to utilize it at Hua Ting restaurant specifically, we had to put a room deposit first as the bill would be charged to the room. On the other hand, this deposit wouldn’t be required if we wanted to dine at The Orchard Cafe. Peculiar discrepancy in protocols but no matter, we weren’t planning to visit Hua Ting during our stay anyway.
As our room wasn’t ready at that point, we headed out to a nearby restaurant called Social Place to grab our lunch!
Our initial Premier Club Room was located on level 14 (out of 17 floors) with a pool view in the Claymore Wing (the more newly renovated rooms in the Orchard Wing were being used for guests on stay-home notice). Upon entering the room, we were hit by a strong cigarette stench mixed with an intensely irritating floral scent. It seemed like someone had a puffin’ good time in the bathroom and the poor housekeeping staff probably tried to mask it by emptying a whole can of air freshener in there. When we called the front desk to highlight this, all the staff offered was for housekeeping to spray more of that offensive floral odour to cover it up.
The smells were so overpowering that we couldn’t stand being in the room any longer, so we went back down to the lobby to flag the issue up to Chooi Yen. She immediately informed her duty manager and arranged for an eventual room change, though that pool view we had was now gone ): Whatever it is, we were just glad we didn’t have to return to that room.
The room we were reassigned to was a corner room on level 15 with a view of nearby buildings. It was wonderful walking in and not smelling remnants of smoke, although there was something about the air freshener scent they use here that didn’t sit well with my nose. Not that it smelled bad or anything, just that it made my nose and throat feel funky.
Anyway, we found the room to be clean and functional but it was obvious how long this hotel’s been around. The wall and bedside switches are relics in their own right, a stark contrast to the slick ones beneath the TV (wonder why they didn’t do a complete switch…). It was even more apparent in the bathroom where the drain cover was unbelievably yellow, the sink joins were siliconed to death and the shower floor lining was completely stained red all around. Also, it was a little inconvenient that the tap head was terribly short, so I had to be extra cautious to avoid colliding with the side of the sink when washing my hands.
The bed was surprisingly comfortable and my usual firm pillow was delivered quite promptly.
While waiting for Chooi Yen to sort out the issues with our initial room, we started on afternoon tea served at an alternate venue, The Orchard Cafe, as part of the lounge offerings. The actual club lounge, known as the Premier Lounge, was closed, as with many other hotel lounges during the covid period. Afternoon tea was served between 3pm to 5pm without the need for a reservation. What was a tad disappointing was the fact that the food couldn’t be refilled (only drinks), which is not the usual practice at most club lounges.
The savoury items were fairly enjoyable – the standout item for us was the red bean sesame pastry. I was pleasantly surprised that it was still warm on the inside and perfectly flaky on the outside. We couldn’t say the same for the sweet items though. Their cloying sweetness made it difficult to take any more than one or two bites so we left them largely untouched.
As we still hadn’t received news on the change in rooms, I decided to check out the pool and gym on level 4 while my husband remained at The Orchard Cafe. The pool was sizeable with a jacuzzi sectioned out. Alas, the jacuzzi was closed due to supposed covid restrictions.
Oddly enough, the lounge offerings this time didn’t include evening canapes and cocktails so we had to settle dinner on our own. My husband was up for an evening stroll so he ordered takeout from Eggslut, a restaurant known for its insanely long queues. Apparently when my husband got there, the dine-in line was snaking while the takeout line was almost non-existent, so he managed to get our food in a jiffy.
The next morning, our complimentary breakfast was served at The Orchard Cafe. There was a short queue around 9am but it cleared quite quickly. We were informed that there is a 45-minute eating duration but we didn’t stay long enough to know if this was strictly enforced. What was definitely not enforced was the safe distancing when queueing at the various food stations. Space was scarce here so it just wasn’t an ideal situation. The staff at the stations also looked a bit overwhelmed and understandably focused on clearing the queues in front of them, which meant service and niceties kinda went out the window.
As for the food, there wasn’t much of a variety and everything was mostly of a mediocre standard. The eggs couldn’t be made-to-order (even though there were chefs there), so we had to settle for the plain ones that had been sitting out in the cold. Other dishes such as nasi lemak, dim sum and fishball noodles were available too but they didn’t look appetizing enough to sacrifice stomach space for.
My overall rating of the experience: 3 out of 5 stars. Staff here were generally personable and warm, extending a helping hand wherever needed. From the restaurant manager who enthusiastically explained the ongoing promotions, to the housekeeping staff who cheerfully delivered my firm pillow, we felt very welcome indeed. Definitely not forgetting Chooi Yen, who attended to us with dedication and competence. Unfortunately, the service may have been the sole highlight of our stay. Our initial room situation was horrid, bearing a strong stench of smoke despite it being a non-smoking room (we were told it was actually medicated oil but that explanation was a whole lot of smoke too). Thankfully, the subsequent room was fine or we would’ve checked out straight away. Food wise, it was a mixed bag. The savoury items at afternoon tea were quite decent but breakfast was entirely unmemorable. While I wouldn’t completely write this hotel off, I doubt we’ll be coming back any time soon.