Sofitel has three properties in Singapore, two in the city centre and one on Sentosa Island. Sofitel Singapore City Centre is very well appointed and is located at the edge of the Central Business District in Singapore, making it a very convenient location for business travellers. The hotel is within 10 mins walk from Chinatown, one of the tourist attractions in Singapore, where the Chinese community used to congregate during the country’s initial years. The hotel is located right above Tanjong Pagar MRT station, with an entrance right next to the hotel, making this hotel a perfect place to stay for travellers who would want to explore the city-state via the subway system. There are a wide variety of dining options within 5 mins walk from the hotel, from local delicacies found in Maxwell Market, to Japanese and Korean food as well as western dining options within walking distance from the hotel. Residents at Sofitel Singapore City Centre will have no trouble finding food that suits their taste bud. Despite Sofitel Singapore City Centre being situated above a shopping mall and the 100AM shopping mall about 3 mins walk away, there are not much shopping options around the hotel. These shopping malls have limited options when it comes to shopping. Having said that, the convenience of having an MRT station entrance next to the hotel means guests can always shop in other parts of Singapore.
I stayed at the spacious Prestige Suite in Sofitel Singapore City Centre, treating its residents to an expansive 76m² of real estate space. The contemporary decorated Prestige Suite comes with hints of French elements, paying homage to its French roots.
A parqueted flooring serves as the entryway into the Prestige Suite at Sofitel Singapore City Centre, where residents of the suite can slip into their shoes before heading out to explore Singapore. The placement of a full-length mirror next to the entrance to the suite is a good addition, allowing residents to check themselves before heading out. There is a toilet next to the entrance of the Prestige Suite in Sofitel Singapore City Centre, serving both residents of the suite and their guests.
Past the parqueted entryway, the carpeted area marks the space of the living room. The entire elongated living room can be seen from the entryway, which takes up about half of the space in the Prestige Suite. I find the Living Room space is very well utilised. The amount of furniture in the living room is just nice and does not feel cluttered. There is sufficient space for residents to move around without bumping into the furniture. There is a dining table with four chairs placed to the left of the entryway. The addition of the dining table in the suite allows residents to host their guests for a meal. The clever placement of a large mirror by the wall next to the dining table makes the already expansive living room feel even more spacious. Residents in the Prestige Suite at Sofitel Singapore City centre can find the minibar tucked in one corner of the living room, next to the dining area. The placement of the minibar here optimises the space usage in the suite. The lilac coloured cabinetry hides the mini-fridge (which was empty at the time of our checking-in), electric kettle and some cups. On top of the cabinetry is a Nespresso Machine and space for residents to utilise the electric kettle.
Further, into the living room, residents can laze on either the three-seater fabric couch, which is large enough to seat five persons comfortable or stretch their legs out on the single-seater armchair and be entertained by the numerous local and international TV programmes on the 55″ LED TV mounted to the wall of the living room. The additional Bose soundbar enhances movie experience in the lounge area of the living room. The only flaw I find in the living room is that the TV is fixed and cannot be swivelled to face the dining table or the work desk. There is so much space in the living room of the Prestige Suite of Sofitel Singapore City Centre that even with the black marble coffee table placed in front of the couch, residents still have sufficient space to dance around. The entire lounge area in the living room looks chic and cosy, coupled with the warm lighting used, feels very inviting.
Placed at the very end of the living room, just in front of the floor to ceiling three-panel window is the work desk. The sizable work desk comes with a fairly comfortable allows residents to do some decent work on and look out into the city from the window for some inspirations. There are several power outlets at the work desk for residents to power up their laptop.
The comfortable ambience from the living room flows into the bedroom, with consistent colour scheme and decor in both rooms. The bedroom is a tad smaller but still feels cosy with the lighting and the colour scheme chosen for its decor. The furnishing in the bedroom is much simpler with no unnecessary furniture making the entire bedroom looks clean and uncluttered. The bedside lamps are mounted on the walls on both sides of the bed and even the controls for the curtains, air-conditioning and power outlets are conveniently found on the walls on both sides of the bed. I thought this clever way of placing these important features that not only makes the bedroom looks uncluttered but also frees up space on the bedside table for residents to fully utilise the space on the bedside tables.
The centrepiece in the bedroom is the King bed topped with a firm mattress. The sleep quality on the King bed would be comfortable if not for the highly uncomfortable pillows. The four pillows on the King bed is very soft and very flat, it feels as though I am not sleeping on any pillows. The sleep quality is so bad that I have trouble sleeping at night and woke up with a headache the next morning. The hotel does not provide any pillow menus for residents to choose from. I called up to request for firmer pillows and the supposedly firmer pillows that were brought up did not improve the sleep quality.
Opposite the King Bed is another 55″ LED TV mounted on the wall, allowing residents to watch programmes from the comfort of the bed. The entertainment options on the TV in the bedroom is the same as that found in the living room. I like the addition of the ledge below the TV, providing additional space for residents to place small items on. The bedroom is not furnished with any dressing table, which I think is no big deal since the bathroom is steps away.
An armchair furnished with a small round marble table is tucked in the far corner of the bedroom, next to the floor to ceiling window. This is a great space for residents to relax, read a book, watch the TV in the bedroom or simply to laze looking out into the surroundings in the comfort of the bedroom.
Instead of using a traditional closet, Sofitel Singapore City Centre employs an open closet concept in the bedroom. The open closet space gives the decor a chic feel and does not make the bedroom feel cluttered. The open closet is well placed in front of the entrance to the bathroom, providing convenience for residents in the Prestige Suite. The in-room safe is found hidden in one of the two big drawers in the closet space. The marble-topped drawer cabinet provides additional space for residents of the suite to place small items or to stow their luggage.
Past the open closet space is the spacious main bathroom in the Prestige Suite. The white marble tiles used in the bathroom gives it a luxurious vibe. The bathroom is fitted with dual sinks and large mirrors allowing both residents to use at the same time. There is a lot of space on the sink countertop for residents to place their personal toiletries. There is even a small TV fitted into one of the mirrors for residents to watch when brushing their teeth. However, residents soaking in the bathtub is unable to watch the TV due to the angel of it being placed. There is a small case in the centre of both sinks that stores bathroom amenities. However, due to the pandemic, only toothbrushes and cotton pads are provided. The rest of the amenities is available on a request basis.
Next to the sink is a large bathtub, perfect for residents to soak in. The water pressure at the bathtub is strong enough to fill up the bathtub in a relatively short period of time. Sofitel Singapore City Centre does not provide bath salt (not too sure if it is due to the pandemic), residents in the suite have to prepare their own bath salts.
Opposite the bathtub are two cubicles where the toilet and walk-in shower are located, both furnished with the same white marble tiles in the bathroom. The toilet is fairly large and is very well lighted. The walk-in shower cubicle is even larger, fitted with both rain shower and regular showerheads. There is even a bench in the walk-in shower. Sofitel Singapore City Centre provides the luxurious Hermès bath amenities to residents in the Prestige Suite which has a hint of woody based scent (unlike their sister hotel in Sentosa which provides Lavin products).
The service rendered at Sofitel Singapore City Centre is inconsistent. The staffs, including the duty manager at the reception, consistently gave bad service. The bad service at the reception starts at check-in. As I arrived at the hotel during their check-in timing of 3 pm, it is expected that there is a long queue. The check-in situation is chaotic! Guests were left scrambling over the place trying to hunt for the counter with the shortest queue. There is no one at the reception attempting to ease the situation.
In all Accor hotels around the world, there would be a counter dedicated to Accor members. This counter ensures all Accor members are accorded Priority Welcome. The signage for dedicated Accor member counter is not prominent and with the chaotic situation, it is not visible. During check-in, the staff at the reception did not even acknowledge our Accor Gold status and certainly did not honour the benefits that come with our status. It seems that the Sofitel Singapore City Centre is merely paying lip service to the Accor membership. We had to ask for the benefits before the duty manager reluctantly gave us the benefits. Check-in at the reception is slow. The staff managing our check-in seems to fumble during the check-in. The situation was made worst when we were given the welcome letter that was not addressed to us! I would feel better if the hotel gave us a generic welcome letter with no names on it.
The service level at the reception is horrendous that every time I walk past the reception, staffs here always pull a long face and did not even bother to acknowledge the presence of guests. A few times I observed the staffs at the reception, who had eye contact with me, simply looked the other way. There was one time I left my key card in the suite and requested for another one from one of the staffs at the reception, the staff pulled a long face as though I was giving her problems.
The hotel does not provide complimentary parking to in-house guests. I had to speak to the duty manager before she reluctantly gave me one. I was informed by the duty manager even told me that the hotel only provides complimentary parking for restaurant guests and I might not get one at the time of check-out. This makes me wonder if the primary clientele in Sofitel Singapore City Centre is in-house guests or restaurant guests. For a manager to communicate in such unfriendly and unthoughtful manner to guests, little wonder the rest of the staffs at reception display such poor attitude.
The bad service did not stop at the reception. When checking into my suite, I release that in-room slippers are not provided and requested for them. It took the hotel 2 hours and after 3 calls to have basic amenities like the in-room slippers to be delivered. The Prestige Suite comes with complimentary mini-bar items and is replenished daily. One would expect these items to be replaced during housekeeping. However, we had to call the operator to arrange for these items to be delivered and it again took the hotel 1 hour to have these items delivered to the suite.
Having experienced the bad service at Sofitel Singapore City Centre for the first day of our stay, we were fortunate to have met several gems in the hotel who understood the meaning of good service. I requested to speak to managerial level staff the next day regarding the bad service I received at the hotel barely 4 hours at the hotel. Adi was there at Racines Restaurant waiting for us, keen on understanding what happened that caused our unhappiness. Instead of forcing the conversation during our breakfast, Adi patiently waited for us at the lounge so we relate to him what had happened. During the conversation, Adi listened with empathy and attentively with no trace of being defensive. We met Adi at the Club Millésime Lounge during the Apéro Chic cocktail hour, as my nephew insisted on sitting on sofa seats despite all the sofa seats are being occupied, Adi displayed excellent adaptation skills and took the effort to arrange for a make-shift sofa seat by the pool that my nephew was happy with. Adi even arranged for the lounge staff to bring the food all the way to the poolside, ensuring that we do not go hungry. Adi occasionally popped over to check if everything is alright and if we needed more food. Adi went all way out to ensure that we were well taken care of.
The staffs at Club Millésime Lounge were a group of staffs who understood what customer service is all about. As my nephew was a tad noisy, instead of denying entry to the lounge, we were given a room so that we were able to enjoy the evening cocktail. I am pleasantly surprised that the staff brought all the food that was on the menu for the evening cocktail for us to sample. They occasionally came into the room to check if we require more food and drinks. The staffs at Club Millésime Lounge were very accommodating and made guests visiting the lounge feel welcome. There was an instance my sister requested the staff to help her heat up some food for my nephew, the staff instead of rejecting went all way out to ensure that the food was being heated up. We were made to feel welcome whenever we visited the Club Millésime Lounge. One of the staffs, Daniel, was always seen with a huge smile on his face whenever we met him at the lounge. He always ensured that we had drinks and we were comfortable.
There is another group of staffs at Racines Restaurant who made us feel welcome every time we visited. I am surprised to know that Charmane, who showed us to our table on the first day, took the effort to remember our seating preference and even our room numbers on the second day we were there for breakfast. Service at the restaurant is always impeccable. Food always comes within minutes of placing the order on our mobile phone and the staffs at Racines is always very attentive to ensure empty plates do not stay on our table for too long. The staffs at Racines are also very patient in waiting for us to decide what food to order when we did takeaways from them.
Club Millésime Lounge
Residents in the Prestige Suite at Sofitel Singapore City Centre are given access to the Club Millésime Lounge. Located on the 6th floor of the hotel, the earthy themed lounge is a great place for residents to chill out while waiting for their suites to be made up by the housekeeping staff. There are not many people visiting the lounge at the time of my stay, making the lounge an alternate excellent place for residents to do some work. Unlike the lounges in other hotels, Club Millésime Lounge at Sofitel Singapore City Centre does not serve finger food or snacks outside their fixed Apéro Chic cocktail hour. Guests visiting the lounge outside their evening cocktail timing can only find soft drinks, coffee and tea served at the lounge (not even beer).
The only time any food (and beer) is served at Club Millésime Lounge is during the Apéro Chic cocktail hour, with two seatings for guests to choose from (due to the pandemic). I am pleasantly surprised that the hotel serves up sample sizes of all the food available in the menu for guests to sample and place further orders, which the staff at the lounge is happy to top up. I find the variety of food offered during Apéro Chic cocktail hour is a tad limited. Despite that, the food served during the evening cocktail is delicious, leaving us asking for more servings.
Due to the COVID pandemic, Sofitel Singapore City Centre has put in place measures to control the number of residents who can use the swimming pool. Residents are to book the usage of the pool on their mobile phone from the QR code that was given in the letter during check-in. The swimming pool is closed for 30 mins after every slot for the hotel to clean the facilities. I thought these arrangement goes to show the emphasis the hotel place in their guests’ well-being.
The swimming pool is located on the 6th floor in Sofitel Singapore City Centre. Guests are to exchange their key card from the staff at the pool area for another key card to gain access to the pool. Perhaps due to the pandemic, the swimming pool was not crowded (at most only 6 pax including us) during our visits to the pool. There is no lack of deck chairs at the swimming pool, we were able to choose the place we wanted during our visit to the pool. The infinity lap pool feels as if it is planted in the middle of a garden. We were surrounded by tall buildings, making the pool a great place to chill out. The 30m infinity pool is large enough for guests to do some decent swim. The jacuzzi facility at the pool was closed during our visit due to the pandemic.
The SOFIT Gym is located on the 6th floor of the hotel. Similar to the pool, guests wanting to use the gym would be required to book through the QR code found in the letter during check-in. There is a limit of four users at the gym at any given slot. The gym is closed for 30 mins after each booking slot for the hotel to clean. The gym is some the small side and is equipped with four treadmills and two elliptical machines. There are a weight machine and some dumbbells for guests to do a decent workout. There is even space for guests to practice yoga at the gym.
Despite the convenient location and the spacious suite as well as the wonderful staffs like Adi and Charmane we met at Sofitel Singapore City Centre, I would hesitate to recommend the hotel. The first impression that we received at the reception coupled with the consistently bad attitude displayed by the staffs at the reception counters is enough to deter me from returning. The Prestige Suite in Sofitel Singapore City Centre is spacious and luxurious, but the sleep quality on the pillows and the lack of pillow menu for firmer or foam pillows (unlike their sister hotel at Sentosa) is also another factor that would deter me from returning. Parking charges that would have to be incurred by guests is also another factor that would discourage me from returning. It seems the hotel values their dine-in guests more than their in-house guests by providing complimentary parking to the former group. During this period when the entire world faces border restrictions, most of the in-house guests at Sofitel Singapore City Centre would be locals, without complimentary parking, I rather opt to stay somewhere else.