Whether we’re exploring another city or doing a staycation in Singapore, we love hotels that tell a story. And the newly revamped Grand Park City Hall has become one of them. Sitting on the historical site of St. Gregory Place, the results of the careful renovation and restoration are a a major throwback to the neoclassical designs of the century-old shophouses that used to be in the same location while incorporating modern technology and contemporary interiors at the same time.
A short stroll from City Hall MRT and National Gallery Singapore, the experience starts even before you hit the lobby. The updated driveway and entrance features a new majestic-looking bronze arch, and the arrival foyer sports clean lines and pretty black metal lattice dividers. Guests will also start spotting the modern and relatable art pieces that recount the history of our city state in the waiting room and the elevator cars. These artworks capturing the cultural influences that make up our melting pot were curated by Singapore-based artist Aubrey Kurlansky.
Superficial changes aside, this is also the first hotel to launch facial recognition technology for check-in on mobile – guests just need to download the integrated Grand Park City Hall app. We have to admit it’s pretty handy since pre-arrival registration can be completed before arrival and the check-in process is expedited to the point of taking a selfie (to verifying guest identities).
Our experience was frustrating though, because when technology fails – and the human refusal to believe that technology can fail – more time is spent at the front desk trying to check in via the app multiple before surrendering and opting for the manual method. I also enjoy the human connection in hospitality and hotels, so this time saving initiative would probably have a larger positive impact on those who prioritise other aspects of the stay.
However, the good thing is the app can also be used as a secure mobile key (which is certainly more sustainable and better for the environment) and an in-room controller for all the electronics, including lighting, the television, and air-conditioning. And rather than picking up the phone, guests can send a message to the hotel concierge directly via the app for enquiries or requests they might have. Fitness facilities are accessible 24 hours a day while the swimming pool on level four opens at 7am and closes at 7pm.
The rooms themselves, including our Crystal Club Deluxe Room, are beautiful amalgamations of Peranakan pattern tiles on the floor, vintage statement pieces, and artwork reflecting local landmarks. For its size of 28 to 30 square metres (301 to 322 square feet), it’s incredibly value for money. Even though there were in-build USB charging points and wireless table-top charging that actually worked, there was a lot of space to move around in the room. The complimentary minibar stocked with coffee, 1872 Clipper Tea Co. tea, and healthy munchies wasn’t paltry either. We just wished the generosity of space extended to the bathroom, where doors have just the exact amount of space to swing open.
In the bathroom, the water pressure of the rain shower was excellent and we enjoyed the APPELLES bath amenities. An apothecary brand from Australia that boasts native botanical extracts, pure essential oils, and powerful vitaminsin their products, their packaging is environmentally friendly and recyclable, and all their formulations are free of parabens.
We also like that we could open the wardrobe from the other side in the bathroom. The only annoyance was a little step down from the corridor of the room into the bathroom that I kept missing about 20% of the time.
The perks of staying in the club room are plentiful. For one, you get non-alcoholic refreshments all day from 6.30am to 11pm. Although Grand Park City Hall doesn’t necessarily market itself as a business hotel, the Crystal Club lounge is a great place to work if you absolutely have to as service was patient and incredibly attentive. There’s complimentary laundry service for two items per day per room, which makes good sense on a staycation if you’re staying more than one night at the hotel.
Crystal Club guests also get complimentary cocktails and canapés over the sundown hours of 6pm to 8pm. That’s certainly something to look forward to since it’s free flow Prosecco, red wine, white wine, and classic cocktails for two hours. The selection and quality of food might not be not amazing compared to some of the other five star hotels; the tiramisu shooters featured a thin chocolate sauce that reminded us of supermarket Hershey’s and we were quite disappointed there weren’t cold cuts to go with the three types of cheeses available. That said, we were quite pleased that neither the pasta Arrabbiata with bacon nor the soba on the buffet were soggy. Other highlights include the Thai vermicelli seafood salad, pan seared seabass with tomato salsa, and prawn egg custard.
For a new hotel that’s centrally located, we’d say that Grand Park City Hall is one of the properties offering the best value in Singapore right now. Plus, whether you’re looking for a staycation that’s focused on food and drink, arts and culture, or even just playing random tourist around Singapore, it’s a great base to venture from.
Grand Park City Hall is located at 10 Coleman Street, Singapore 179809, p. +65 6336 3456. Room rates start from S$206++ a night.