Archive for category Hotels

Swissotel The Stamford, Singapore

On my many trips to Singapore over the past 15 years I’ve probably stayed at Swissotel The Stamford 30 or 40 times. During that time you could see the hotel getting older and starting to look tired.

Thankfully the lifts, corridors and rooms have started to be renovated and are now quite fresh though the room has a number of issues.

They hadn’t renovated the whole hotel when I was there, but the new renovated rooms are listed separately on the website so you can ensure you get a “new” room.

First thing you’ll notice is the new carpet, much improved lighting, a HUGE television and modern artwork on the wall.

The old clunky wooden bedside tables are gone and replaced with a wall unit with the landline phone and clock radio. There’s also a mobile phone that you can use for making calls and surfing the web while you do the touristy stuff. But I couldn’t find a way to send SMSes, and I couldn’t set it up as a wifi hotspot. I ended up getting a local SIM and not using the phone.

The nightlights have motion sensors attached. So if you get up in the middle of the night the floor level nightlights will automatically come on – no fumbling for the light switch. Nice!

The TV isn’t in the best of locations. It’s inconvenient to watch from both the bed, and the couch.

Speaking of the couch. This is a new addition to the Swissotel rooms. They’ve replaced the desk and desk chair with a more modern table and couch combination. Not an ideal setup if you want to do some work. And if you want to charge your laptop and phone, then you’ll need to drape the cables across to the power points that are on the wall next to the couch. They do have USB charging points along with the power points which is nice, but you’ll need a long charging cable.

The whole desk, couch power point setup just hasn’t been thought through and I’m guessing they’ll be getting complaints.

The bathroom has also been rejigged. There is now a walk in shower, no bath anymore. However, the shower head in my room was playing up and leaking, and you could see the paint damage. The vanity area was well done.

My room also had a Nespresso machine, but that might have been because I am a Swissotel Circle Eleva member.

Overall, the renovation is a good start, but I think there needs to be a number of tweaks to make the room a little more functional, especially for a business traveler.

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Shangri-La Hotel, Sydney, Australia

I’d attended a seminar at the Sydney Shangri-La before but never had the opportunity to stay here.

It’s in a sort of weird location right at the corner of the Cahill Expressway and the southern approach to the Sydney Harbour Bridge. So close that my room window allowed me to almost look across the bridge in it’s entirety.

Upon entering the hotel you’re welcomed by a bright, marble reception area with a lobby lounge to the left and reception to the right. Checking in was fast and painless and I was off to my room in about 5 minutes.

In many hotels the corridors are cramped and claustrophobic. But here they are expansive. Probably the widest I’ve seen in any hotel recently. No filthy carpet like the Hyatt Regency either :).

The room was large by comparison to the Marriott and the InterContinental. I had a view of the Harbour Bridge and Circular Quay from my sixth floor room.

For drinks we headed upto Blu Bar on level 36 which offers absolutely magnificent panoramic views of Sydney. Drinks were standard hotel prices but the view means you’ll forget getting gouged.

The bed and pillows were some of the most comfortable I’d had in quite a while but that’s expected of a 5 star hotel.

Bathroom was large and had a separate bath and shower which you don’t see that often anymore.

Despite my room being on a low floor and being so close to 2 majorly busy roads there was no problem with noise.

Superb hotel!

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Pier One Sydney Harbour, Sydney, Australia

This is a little out of the way gem of a hotel on Sydney Harbour. This hotel is built on one of Sydney’s old piers and uses the rustic form of the pier in the design of the building.

The rooms are on the largish side and with soaring ceilings. My room had a huge beam as a central feaure that supported the upper floor of the original pier along with the intricate metal work that connected the beams together. It looked pretty impressive I must say.

Outside the front door of the hotel is the south supporting column of the Sydney Hardbour Bridge along with the extensive stone work that supports the approach road of the bridge.

Foodwise I couldn’t be bothered leaving the hotel and I had 4 meals at the hotel restaurant, The Gantry.

The dinner menu was small but had quality.

On my first evening I had the pheasant, and on the second the wagyu steak – both cooked to perfection. I would eat these dishes any day!

I also had breakfast at the hotel each morning as there was a special on that gave me free breakfast with the corporate rate.

My only beef with the restaurant is the consistent errors they made on the bills! When eating in the hotel I always have the total put on my hotel bill, makes it easier for me as I only have one bill to worry about at the end.

What were the problems?

Even though I charged my dinners to my room account I found out that they had added a credit card surcharge to the dinner bills before they added it to my room account. I noticed something was wrong when I was checking out as the restaurant bills weren’t round numbers. If I hadn’t noticed I would have been paying a credit charge surcharge twice for my dinners, and also paying a credit card surcharge on the credit card surcharge.

Secondly, even though I showed the discount card for the free breakfast to the wait staff they didn’t record it and still charged me for breakfast. I also bought this up at checkout and the charges were removed.

So a great hotel, a splendid restaurant menu…. just make sure you check your bill before you checkout so you don’t pay more than you should.

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Sydney Harbour Marriott Hotel, Sydney, Australia

In over a hundred trips to Sydney I’d never stayed at the Sydney Harbour Marriott. I’d stayed at the other Marriott up on College Street but wasn’t impressed – it is not longer a Marriott.

The Sydney Harbour Marriott Hotel was seen as the flagship Marriott in Sydney and it has a location that can’t be faulted.

I don’t know how long this property has been the Marriott, atleast for 10 years from what I can guess, but you can see that it’s a little dated if you really look. Just little things like the odd missing light switch, the tiling in the bathroom that’s been repaired shoddily, or the quick gaffer tape fix that was applied to the bathroom sink that you can only see when you’re sitting on the loo.

But don’t get me wrong, overall it’s a very good hotel. Check-in and check-out are always efficient and courteous, as are the concierge staff.

InterContinental up the road is probably a slightly better hotel, but the Marriott is also a great place to stay.

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Customs House Bar, Sydney, Australia

I’ve been doing a bit of travel to Sydney every couple of weeks – I always stay in the CBD.

Customs House Bar is part of the Marriott Hotel. You can enter it by going through the hotel from Pitt Street, or you can enter it directly from Macquarie Place Park at the corner of Loftus and Bridge Streets.

There is a large outdoor area abutting the park where you can enjoy your drinks and a meal. It’s nice when the weather is warm, but can be chilling during the winter even with heaters.

The Food menu is pretty much standard pub fare with not too many choices but what’s there is pretty good. A selection of ribs and burgers, and a number of sides.

The number of beers on tap is very impressive though and they have one of my favorites, Dogbolter.

If you want a pub meal in the CBD with a good beer this place is a good choice. Be warned though that food prices are more aligned with what you would expect from a large international hotel chain, not your local.

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