Suite Life: A quiet, luxurious stay in the middle of Orchard Road that comes with a free walking tour
SINGAPORE – First impressions?
Tucked behind the sleek Paragon shopping centre, Ascott Orchard appears discreet and quiet.
It looks so unassuming that I nearly miss the sign for the serviced residence and my Gojek driver almost whizzes past its entrance on Cairnhill Road.
I take the lift up a floor to the reception – cleanly designed with a high ceiling and plenty of natural light – and I like my abode for the night immediately.
Two artsy mannequins in the lobby pique my curiosity. The mannequins will be a recurring presence during my stay, as I later spot one in my room and at the lift lobby.
So many staycays, so little time. What makes this hotel special?
My one-bedroom deluxe suite is about 60 sq m – more than enough space for me. I spy several spots where I can set up a workstation if needed – a counter in the kitchenette, the living room with its comfy couch, and desk space in the bedroom.
Again, there is lots of natural light streaming through the large windows, so my suite is bathed in pleasantly warm hues.
My place is comfortable and the furniture is functional, with plenty of storage for those on longer-term stays.
Being a serviced residence, some suites, including mine, come with a kitchen.
Perfect. I whip up instant noodles with tofu for lunch – ingredients I picked up from Paragon.
What are the high points of the stay?
Ascott Orchard is not in your face. Rather, it exudes comfort and restfulness in a low-key style.
The plush bedroom slippers; the elegant and sometimes quirky elements of art; the rain shower and bathtub to luxuriate in – all contribute to a sense of luxury.
The pool is small but feels fancy enough with a jacuzzi, while a section with a glass wall mimics the feel of an infinity pool. The pool is empty when I nip down for a quick laze shortly before the 10pm closing time.
What else is there to do?
Stays booked at eligible Ascott properties before the end of June under The Ultimate Local Vacation promotion will come with a voucher for a free walking tour by Monster Day Tours.
The tours – of Chinatown, Kampong Glam or Little India – take place on weekends only. The voucher, which guests can pick up upon check-in, is valid for one month.
I had invited my mum, and we head to the Lavender MRT station to start our Kampong Glam tour. We are joined by eight others – two young couples who had also booked an Ascott stay, and four university students doing a module on tourism.
Bas, our engaging guide, says that before the Covid-19 pandemic hit, less than five per cent of the walking tour participants were Singaporeans. Now, the figure is 80 to 90 per cent.
He leads us on a two-hour jaunt from Lavender to Bugis, covering Masjid Hajjah Fatimah and the Gelam trees around it that give the area its name (a fun fact for me). We also cover the iconic Masjid Sultan, Haji Lane and the playful murals in the enclave.
The attentive group seems as surprised as I am about the Gelam tree fun-fact, and we are awed by the “Leaning Tower of Singapore” at Masjid Hajjah Fatimah. Mid-tour, we munch contently on the epok-epok that Bas procures for us.
He later tells me that demand for the tours has been good, especially during the December holidays, and many used their SingapoRediscovers vouchers. My free tour would have cost $20 per adult.
My mum says she is happy to go on another walking tour because she gleaned many new pieces of information.
After the tour ends, she picks up her favourite kaya swiss rolls from the Rich and Good Cake Shop at nearby Kandahar St after the tour ends.
Looks like we will rediscover Singapore again.
Verdict: Bliss or miss?
On its website, Ascott Orchard bills itself as suitable for expatriates, business travellers and tourists, but it holds its own for a staycation too.
Singaporeans who wish to be situated in town with ready access to Orchard Road will like the location. The serviced residence is serene and luxe, which means guests will recharge with a restful stay with a whiff of the high life.
This is pretty ideal if you want to spend some quality time with a partner or family, or just yourself.
Hot tip: Rain or shine, guests can shop, dine and explore Orchard Road with ease as Ascott Orchard is linked to the Paragon mall by a sheltered bridge.
• This staycation was hosted by Ascott Orchard Singapore, and is part of a weekly series. For more staycation reviews, go to the Suite Life page.
Ascott Orchard Singapore
Where: 11 Cairnhill Road, Singapore 229724
Rooms: 220 furnished suites, ranging from studios to luxurious penthouses
Rates: From $175.50++ per night under The Ultimate Local Vacation promotion