Peninsula Excelsior Hotel

Star Travel Rating

4/5

Review type

Accommodation

Location

Peninsula Excelsior Hotel

Travelled with

Husband

Product name

Product country

Product City

Reasons for trip

Relaxation

Date of travel

Aug, 2013

This is a, now rather dated, hotel comprising of two towers linked by the reception lobby off of which is a swimming pool. On offer are a range of 600 rooms (Superior, Deluxe, Premier, and Premier Club) and Executive Suites and Deluxe Suites. We opted to stay in a Deluxe Room on the 18th floor and we were given a room in the Excelsior Tower. The view of the Esplanade, Marina Bay, Marina Bay Sands Hotel, and the Singapore Flyer were obscured by the hotel’s twin tower so if views are important to you then please choose the location of your room with care, requesting a room in ‘the Peninsula Tower overlooking Marina Bay’. The king sized bed was wonderfully comfortable though and, despite the hum of the lifts operating in the background, we enjoyed deep, undisturbed, refreshing sleeps. The ensuite bathroom is not only joined to the bedroom by a door but a large plate glass window. This is a typical Singaporean architectural feature which is replicated in many of the more modern condos. It is fine if your relationship is one where you feel comfortable with your partner observing your post-poo bottom-wiping process but, if not, there is a privacy screen which can be lowered. On the subject of privacy, please remember that Singapore has strict laws regarding nakedness whereby it is a criminal offence for you to permit yourself to be observed through even the smallest gap in the curtains by one’s neighbour or other member(s) of the public. Please ensure that you draw your curtains / blinds closed fully before exposing yourself. Do not be lulled into a false sense of security by the tendency of the women here to wear short and / or close fitting attire. Men in particular should be aware that women in Singapore may make complaints of ‘outrage of modesty’ as well: please do observe the cautionary advice on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website before travelling to Singapore. Complimentary toiletries (bath / shower gel, conditioning shampoo, soap, toothbrush and paste, comb, and shower cap) are utilitarian, likewise the tea and coffee making facilities in the room. There is a self-coded safe located on the floor of the wardrobe so, if standing, you will need to bend to use it, cable TV, IDD telephone facility with voicemail and a sparsely stocked minibar. Included in our rate was breakfast and free wi-fi. On our first morning, we opted to have breakfast in bed. This was served to us by a stooped gentleman of such mature years that I considered I should be serving him breakfast in bed instead of the other way around. This is not an unusual feature of life in Singapore. There is no Welfare State here and thus one will see older people performing tasks of arduous manual labour including cleaning and clearing tables in hawker centres, collecting recyclable materials to sell, and such like long after their Western cousins have retired. Life is hard if one has insufficient pension provision and / or if one does not have ‘filial’ children who support one financially. The ‘American’ breakfast ($23++ per person with ++ means that one needs to add on service charges (10%) and General Service Tax (GST)) offered a choice of two poached, scrambled, boiled or fried eggs. Choosing the poached variety I was surprised to find that these arrived on a thin piece of sliced white bread which had not been toasted. Nevertheless the poached eggs were cooked to perfection. Rather disconcerting though was the fact that all the food, regardless as to whether it was hot, warm or cold, came wrapped in clingfilm … even the mugs of coffee. Arthritic fingers would find it well-nigh impossible to unwrap. Parking is in the hotel underground car park. Dependent on your movements, you may wish to discuss with the hotel reception the best way of paying for your parking. On our first night’s stay, we arrived at 8pm and left before 8am the following morning which meant that only $4 was deducted from our NETS card which is used to pay for electronic parking throughout Singapore. For those travellers with disabilities, beware: the only lift that we located from the underground car park to the hotel is actually a filthy service lift which deposits one in the Peninsula shopping centre … which closes at 10pm. In addition, to exit the shopping centre one needs to be able to negotiate a heavy glass double door, that is not electronic, next to Spinellis coffee shop. The reception staff were sufficiently disability aware to offer the choice of a room with tiles rather than carpet in view of my wheelchair use but Singapore is largely very disability unfriendly. There was a step up to the ensuite bathroom and then a further step into the shower. There was a grab rail by the shower but otherwise it was very cramped and inaccessible. Having eaten dinner already prior to our arrival, we decided to partake of some cheesecake and coffee in the hotel’s ‘Coleman’s Café’ prior to retiring for the night. The café was largely deserted, and the cheesecake had gone too. The menu in the café is limited and we ended up having a fresh fruit platter and a trio of ice-creams with sliced banana. The latter came with copious amounts of aerated canned cream squirted over it and brown and red syrup drizzled on top. The ice cream was of poor quality and clearly full of food colouring. The cappuccinos had been made with what I suspect was UHT milk and thus I found it undrinkable. Foodies would definitely find this hotel sorely wanting! Location The hotel is located in the city centre and within walking distance of City Hall MRT, Raffles City shopping mall, Suntec City shopping mall and convention centre, the Esplanade, Museums, Boat Quay, Clarke Quay, and Fort Canning Hill. It is a 3-minute drive to Raffles Place financial hub and Chinatown and a 10-minute drive to the Marina Bay Sands casino and convention centre, Resorts World Sentosa casino, Universal Studios theme park and Orchard Road tourist shopping area. It is a 20-minute drive to Changi International Airport and the Singapore Expo. I recommend that you take the opportunity to visit the Civil Defence Heritage Gallery which is located in the Old Fire Station. I decided to spend my time so doing and I ended up having a personal guided tour there from the ex-Chief Trainer of the Rescue K9 and DART Service. It was fascinating to listen to his stories as he covered many of the major events in Singapore and elsewhere of which I had read and heard but he brought it all to life for me. In addition, the Philatelic Museum is also close by but I had already visited this so I gave this a miss. Although virtually all the tourists who flock to Singapore invariably gravitate to Orchard Road, unless you are purchasing something during the Great Singapore Sale (GSS – the Singaporeans love their abbreviations) and you have researched prices in advance, my strong advice is not to purchase from this area. You will often find the same items in other branches of the stores in other malls elsewhere on the island retailing at cheaper prices. In addition, if you are visiting from the UK then designer stores nearer to home e.g. France, will also prove to be more economical. Please also remember that Asian folk tend to be more petite than us Westerners and you may have difficulty finding your size in stock here. If you are going to spend any length of time in Singapore then I advise that you purchase ‘Expat Living’ magazine or at least access www.expatliving.sg as this is a useful source of information, including on where to locate stores that cater for Western sizes. For example, in the UK one can find men’s shirts in Marks and Spencers with 2” longer sleeves … here is Singapore you will not find any such shirts. Instead they sell men’s shirts with 2” shorter sleeves! In addition, the pricing in Marks and Spencers is dramatically higher here. Never forget that this is one of the world’s most expensive places to live so please do not be shocked by prices and remember that most prices quoted will be exclusive of the ‘plus plus’. Funan IT mall is next door to the hotel and this is a fantastic mall for all one’s computing and IT needs in general: a true geeks’ and nerds’ paradise! Amenities There is room service available from 11.00am to 11.00pm with some limited items available until 2.00am, although when we tried to order some soft drinks on the list which were supposedly available after 11.30pm we were told that, in fact, they weren’t available ‘because the bar is shut now’. In addition, the hotel had run out of the popular drink in Singapore ‘Milo’. Laundry, dry-cleaning and pressing services are available but we did not use these. An iron and ironing board can also be borrowed. There is a Business Centre but this only functions during office hours. There is a gym (open 6.00am – 9.00pm) and sauna (open 7.00am – 9.00pm) and two swimming pools. The main pool, called The Falls, is not disability friendly as one has to access it via several steps and doors that are not electronic. Sunbathers are also overlooked by the bedrooms of both towers of the hotel so there is little privacy. However, there is another pool, called The Stillwater at the base of the second tower which is less patronised and thus more peaceful, although, again, the doors to this are not electronic. They are both open from 7.00am – 9.00pm but with no lifeguards on duty. Dining and Entertainment Coleman’s Café is located on the 5th floor of the Peninsula Tower and this offers buffet and a la carte meals including local Asian food as well as international cuisine. This is open from 6.30am to 10.30am for breakfast, and serves lunch and dinner until 11.00pm. I had breakfast there on our second day and this is a buffet affair with a wide range of both Asian and Western foods. Once again, though, I found the coffee to be undrinkable. The staff were very helpful to me, ensuring that I had everything that I wanted. The Sky Lounge is a 4000 square foot 2-level executive lounge located on 22nd floor of the Peninsula Tower. This offers spectacular views and ‘fine dining’. We opted to try their Nightly Evening Cocktail offer which included a free flow of cold canapés, ‘sumptuous savouries’, and miniature sweets, together with free flow of house pour wine, Tiger beer, some spirits (e.g. Bacardi rum), juices, and soft drinks for $48.00++ per person from 6.00pm – 8.00pm. We found this to be a delightful way to while away an evening, watching the sun go down over Singapore and enjoying the views. As a glass of Tiger beer is usually at least $10++ in this hotel, this can be a cheap evening if your partner is thirsty! Please note, however, that the second level is only accessible via a curved staircase. Lobby Lounge This is what it says on the tin but you can only access most of the seats if you can negotiate a step up (no handrails). A café / bar is located adjacent to the concierge and money exchange and this serves drinks and snacks from 8.00am to 11.00pm. You may find that your money goes further if you do not patronise this and instead spend time in many cafés and coffee shops to be found across the island. Smoking Smoking is prohibited in all air-conditioned establishments. Disability friendly? Singapore has only recently signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and it shows. Singapore is, generally speaking, not a disability friendly environment. Many places are not wheelchair accessible although in most of the newer shopping malls you will be fine. Hotels do not routinely have accessible rooms. Ramps provided are often installed at inappropriate and, in my view, unsafe angles. There are only about 3 guide dogs here and I am not aware of any hearing dogs for the Deaf or any other types of assistive dogs here. Websites for various organisations e.g. theatres, will not routinely have a section on accessibility that you can check prior to visiting. I have had to telephone the organisation SISTIC (Singapore’s ticketing organisation) numerous times in order to purchase tickets for wheelchair seating and the theatre has literally had to rip out fixed seating in order to accommodate the wheelchair as there has been no section for such seating planned and incorporated in the design. Needless to say, this takes determination and persistence. In addition, if you a lone traveller with a disability, you can expect to be greeted with stares of wonderment and disbelief. The culture here is such that many people do not expect people with disabilities to live independent lives and so you may have people approach you asking if you are ‘on your own’. Many local people who have disabilities and / or impairments will have foreign domestic workers (FDWs) who live in to assist and ‘care for’ them and thus when you are asked if you are on your own, the locals will be asking where your maid or helper is! For independent-minded Westerners this can be wearing after a while. In respect of this hotel, there are areas which are not accessible as indicated above and you would be well advised to contact the hotel first to discuss your specific needs with respect to room allocation. their responsibility to have a duty of care to others seriously. Any Mistakes? Our newspaper was only delivered to our room on our first morning but on the following mornings I had to ask the concierge to supply one which he happily did immediately and with apologies. On checking out I noted that we had been overcharged as breakfasts had been added to the bill and yet the prepaid room rate had included this. I pointed this out to her and this charge was promptly removed. Recommended? You may wish to consider staying here if you plan on watching the National Day fireworks and you choose a room with care from which to do so. This is an annual event in August. Alternatively the Nightly Evening Cocktail offer can present a value-for-money experience if you and your partner are thirsty for alcoholic beverages and you do not need to be a resident to enjoy this. If you are working and need to access the Supreme Court or Parliament House then this hotel is ideally situated for this purpose. This hotel is fine if you wish to devote more of your hard-earned money on your sightseeing trips and you spend most of your time outside of the hotel, and especially if you intend to rely on public transport and / or Shank’s pony to get around in view of its location. If you wish to have a more luxurious stay in Singapore where the hotel forms a greater part of your experience, then I would suggest that you consider the Shangri-La Hotel.

Pamela Mykytowych

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