In the lap of luxury: EDGAR reviews the Shangri-La Singapore
A stay in the luxurious Valley Wing of the Shangri-La shows us that Singapore is so much more than a stopover.Peter Iantorno December 30, 2015
A stopover in Singapore. So popular has the city become as a place to break up the journey on long-haul trips, that nowadays the phrase rolls off the tongue. For Gulf travellers heading to Australia or New Zealand, the country is in the perfect location, splitting what would be a tortuous 14-hour slog into two much more manageable seven-hour stints. Yet, for all its geographical advantages, Singapore has suffered as a result of its location, long being dismissed as little more than a sterile stopover.
However, times are changing, and much in the same way as Dubai has gone from desert stopover to holiday hotspot, Singapore has transformed its image and reinvented itself as a holiday destination in its own right, with a unique mix of culture, cuisine, nature and modern living encapsulated into one glorious garden city.
Of course, in order to properly explore any city one must first set up a good base, and it’s difficult to find a better location for exploration than the Shangri-La. Set in 15 acres of lush gardens, the hotel feels like it is hidden away in a remote rainforest, yet just a five-minute stroll away lies the city’s main shopping, entertainment and dining district, the famous Orchard Road.
Featuring 747 guestrooms and suites, the resort is split into three wings: the contemporary Tower Wing; the tranquil Garden Wing; and – EDGAR’s recommendation – the luxurious and exclusive Valley Wing, which comes with perks such as private lifts and a personal butler for all suites, as well as complimentary champagne and cocktails in the elegant lobby lounge.
The Shangri-La is also home to six restaurants, including fine-dining Chinese offering Shang Palace and rustic Italian The Waterfall, which serves classic Southern Italian cuisine with a focus on fresh seafood. Plus, there’s a health club with fully equipped gym, steam and Jacuzzi as well as CHI The Spa, which offers tempting treatments to revive travellers after a long flight.
While there is more than enough on offer at the Shangri-La to keep you occupied for the entirely of the trip, its convenient location means that there really is no excuse not to venture out and see a bit of what the city has to offer. Before we head out, we’re informed by the hotel’s concierge, Zila, that the best way to explore is by hopping on to the city tour bus, which stops just five minutes’ walk away from the hotel. It covers all the must-sees in the city – from the iconic big wheel, the Singapore Flyer, to Singapore’s legendary street food spots, the Hawker Centres.
After a vertigo-inducing ride on the 165-metre Flyer, our Hawker Centre experience includes a long wait in a line full of hungry locals (the longer the queue, the better the food, says Zila), before managing to secure a vacant plastic table to tuck into a mysterious mixed noodle dish that cost just three Singaporean dollars (around AED 8). Despite how it sounds, the food was superb – so good in fact that it has us wondering, do we really need the abundant luxury we are afforded at the Shangri-La?
It is a question that stays with us until later than evening, when we are reclining on a plush armchair in the grand marble-clad and chandelier-laden surroundings of the Shangri-La’s Valley Wing, watching as the well-heeled guests sip champagne and nibble on canapés. Suddenly the answer becomes quite clear: of course, nobody really needs this level of indulgence, but after a day experiencing the down-to-earth side of Singapore, an evening spent cossetted in the lap of luxury is rather appealing.
Much like the city of Singapore as a whole, while the perfect location may be what initially draws people to the Shangri-La, the incredible levels of luxury and comfort at the hotel mean that it is about so much more than geography alone.