So many staycays, so little time. What makes this hotel special?
Along Orchard Road, where luxury hotels are a dime a dozen, Four Seasons Singapore is a stalwart with personality. Rooms, including the 624 sq ft Premier Room where I stay, are fresh, bright and welcoming after a face-lift in 2018.
The blue and lime-green palette is a nod to the Botanic Gardens nearby, with colours inspired by the water and tropical lotus leaves of the Gardens’ Swan Lake.
Floor-to-ceiling windows let in an abundance of natural light, making even the entry-level, 527 sq ft Deluxe Rooms feel expansive.
Those plagued with allergies may find comfort in one of two new hypoallergenic rooms, launched just last month.
Here, you find allergy-friendly bedding, hardwood flooring, blinds in place of curtains and wallpaper that minimises chemical emissions, which all contribute to improved air quality.
What’s worth indulging in?
Between breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner, there is little time to get hungry.
The a la carte breakfast at in-house restaurant One-Ninety comprises an extensive selection of Western and Asian mains.
I go for the chilli crab omelette, with generous chunks of king crab meat and crisp fried mantou buns that hide a pillowy interior.
The Middle Eastern egg shakshuka, a less common option at breakfast, is good too. Ask for sourdough to mop up every bit of sauce.
Guests order one main each, which comes with a bread basket, cold cuts and cheese, granola and a fruit platter.
The coffee and tea selection is respectable, but my pick is a freshly squeezed blend of cucumber and pineapple from their list of juices.
Lunch at the same restaurant is even more tantalising, thanks to a semi-buffet spread displayed behind acrylic screens.
I nibble on crisp broccolini, plump mushrooms, a zesty tzatziki sauce and creamy burrata, then settle in for my entree of slow-braised Australian beef cheek, fork-tender and delicious.
For dessert, I make room for a slice of chocolate caramel cake and round off the meal with a piece of osmanthus and apricot praline, floral and refreshing.
The semi-buffet lunch with starters, soup and dessert costs $38 or $48 with an entree.
For dinner, book a table at Michelin-starred Cantonese restaurant Jiang-Nan Chun, helmed by new executive chef Albert Au, who joined the hotel last month.
The a la carte menu includes specialities such as double-boiled pork ribs soup with sea whelk, maka and dried scallops ($48) and half a Boston lobster braised with superior stock ($38) – the meat sweet and springy.
Please tell us there is a bar.
Yes. 5.30 to 7.30pm, or the Blue Hour, on weekdays is the best time to be there.
Order an alcoholic beverage or mocktail at One-Ninety Bar and tuck into complimentary Mediterranean nibbles, including grilled vegetables, cheese and dips.
Sip on zesty, botanical-inspired cocktails. Bar manager Gabriel Carlos can also shake up off-menu items such as milk punch ($24) – a new experiment where he separates the whey and mixes the remaining clarified milk with tequila, lychee, camomile and coconut for a layered, pandan-flavoured cocktail.
I even detect notes of barley, which Mr Carlos says is from the milk. He tells me the drink has been a resounding hit and I am not surprised. Light and fragrant, it is the perfect pre-dinner tipple.
The bar does double duty serving afternoon tea on weekends.
Skip the middling finger sandwiches, and make room for sweets such as a hazelnut praline choux puff and raspberry-rose dome, which are rich without being cloyingly sweet. Pair them with organic sparkling teas from Denmark.
There’s more. Warm buttery scones served with clotted cream and homemade strawberry-rose jam will leave you full until the next day. Afternoon tea costs $46 a person or $66 with the sparkling tea pairing.
What else is there to do?
All that indulgence is hard on the waistline. Walk it off at the Botanic Gardens or hit the well-equipped gym, capped at 20 people. The staycation crowd has waned, so I have the gym to myself for an hour on Saturday morning.
You can also go for a swim in a lap pool on the third floor or a rooftop pool on the 20th. The latter is also blissfully empty. I lounge in a poolside cabana, dozing off on a windy January morning.
I am woken by a staff member bearing cold water and a cup of rock melon, sweet and ripe. “Just wanted to bring you this,” she says.
For a moment, I feel pleasurably disoriented and forget I am in Singapore.
Verdict: Bliss or miss?
If all you want is to shuttle between bed and restaurant (and maybe the pool), this is the hotel for you.
Every meal I had was good, and isn’t that the gold standard for foodies on vacation?
Use the Four Seasons app to request for little extras, like a set of L’Occitane toiletries.
You can also ask for the pillow menu, which includes options such as a firm contoured pillow and maternity or regular bolsters.
Four Seasons Hotel Singapore
Where: 190 Orchard Boulevard
Rates: Entry-level Deluxe Rooms start at $323++. A Premier Room, which the writer stayed in, starts at $460++
This article was originally published in The Straits Times.
The 624 sq ft Premier Room at Four Seasons Hotel Singapore.