Hotel Reviews: InterContinental Singapore | UK week

“How was your pillow?” my taxi driver asked as he picked up my luggage at the gate of the InterContinental Singapore. Spotting my slightly confused expression, he explained that many of the people he’d picked up at that exact location over the years had all commented on the same thing: the hotel’s wonderful bedding.

I wasn’t surprised to hear that; I had had my best night’s sleep in months falling asleep in my king-size bed. But it wasn’t just the soft pillows that had contributed to my serenity. Every element of my experience at the InterContinental – from the attentive service to the peaceful pool – had imbued me with a sense of complete satisfaction.

Why stay here?

The InterContinental Singapore is the flagship hotel of the InterContinental Hotels group – and when you arrive, it’s easy to see why. With its vast marble reception area (which, to my relief, was heavily air-conditioned), the hotel immediately evokes feelings of grandeur.

Located in the artistic neighborhoods of Bugis and Bras Basah, the 403-room hotel offers a true indoor/outdoor atmosphere thanks to interior atriums reminiscent of the ornate and colorful shophouses of the Peranakans. This theme is furthered in the hotel’s Club Heritage rooms, which feature authentic boutique decor with a soothing color palette and wooden flooring.

Comfort is paramount in guest rooms, with all bedding of the highest quality (and my taxi driver was ok – my pillows were truly amazing). Most rooms contain floor-to-ceiling windows and while the building lacks views of the iconic harbour, there’s still more than enough to gawk at.

What to eat and drink

The spacious hotel lobby lounge is the perfect place for an English afternoon tea with a local twist. Served daily between 1pm and 5.30pm, the bespoke Heritage Royale Luxury High Tea is a dining experience you won’t soon forget.

The reception hall

Shortly after I sat down, I was presented with a tiered spherical serving stand filled with an array of tempting treats. On the savory side, I had an Ayam buah keluak crostini (a twist on a traditional Peranakan dish of braised chicken with tamarind and walnut paste), a slice of pumpernickel weighted with Kaluga caviar, smoked salmon and brie , and a pan-fried Hokkaido scallop served with scrambled eggs and truffle paste.

My highlight however had to be the chilli lobster sandwich which came with crushed peanuts and coriander – an upscale take on a traditional Singaporean dish.

Helice Hong, the hotel’s talented pastry sous-chef, exemplifies her range best with the sweet finger foods, which include lemon scones served with jam, clotted cream and a Singaporean specialty: coconut gulu melaka, made with palm sugar and eggs. I savored the gold-dusted Ondeh Ondeh, a traditional Singaporean cake ball coated in shredded coconut that oozed caramelized gula melaka (a type of palm sugar) as I bit into it.

afternoon tea

Another great eyebrow-raising dessert was the gold leaf banana cake topped with sweetened coconut cream, which was unrecognizable from the DIY versions I became so familiar with at the start of lockdown.

We washed down our bites with a pot of delicate loose leaf tea and a flute of Taittinger Brut Reserve. This was followed by a glass of a hand-brewed non-alcoholic champagne alternative from the Copenhagen Sparkling Tea Company, which was as deliciously bubbly and sweet as the real deal.

The award-winning restaurant Man Fu Yua

I dined in a private room at the hotel’s award-winning Man Fu Yua restaurant, which serves authentic Chinese cuisine and emphasizes communal dining.

I was lucky enough to sample a bespoke menu created by Executive Chef Aaron Tan, which started with Yasheng, a Cantonese-style raw fish salad featuring salmon, scallops, vegetables, golden crackers, pomegranate and various sauces, which is traditionally served during the lunar season. New Years Eve. The presentation of this dish – on a glass platter surrounded by spectacular dry ice – was exciting.

As usual, my dining companion and I used long chopsticks to mix the ingredients before saying a few scripted “auspicious wishes” to each other, ranging from “sweet and loving relations” to “excess gold and of wealth”.

A selection of dishes at Man Fu Yua

After a bang as a starter, we were presented with a stunning dish consisting of four elements: a cold oyster in wine and salmon roe, a sea urchin with egg white and crabmeat, a slice of Truffle-braised soy chicken and a seafood dim sum roll with Sriracha. Each bite was meant to represent one of the four elements of Chinese cuisine (cold, hot, wok and steam) and the dish was accompanied by a refreshing glass of Taittinger Brut Reserve.

Dish representing the four components of Chinese cuisine

Other culinary creations included a fried lobster with golden “egg floss” and asparagus and an Angus beef tenderloin with black pepper and crispy garlic, served with Cantonese fried rice. Each innovative dish was expertly paired by Louie Wu, the restaurant’s sommelier, an unusual role in a Chinese restaurant.

Dessert was a boiled pumpkin filled with palate-cleansing almond cream, along with a bird’s nest egg from Sarawak, reminiscent of a Portuguese pastel de nata. This was paired with a warming Chinese digestif infused with ginseng and chrysanthemum specially created by Tan and Wu, who made the perfect last drink.

What to do

The hotel doesn’t have a spa, but there is a 24-hour fitness center stocked with all the cardio and weight-training equipment a gym bunny could need.

But no Singaporean hotel would be complete without an outdoor pool with stunning views — and the InterContinental certainly doesn’t fail on that front. Rather than the rectangular infinity pool so often associated with luxury hotels in this country, the pool here is rather oblong, surrounded by small relaxation pools and surrounded by lounge chairs.

The swimming pool at the InterContinental Singapore

The hotel’s prime location means there are tons of places to explore just minutes away. It is conveniently located next to the famous Bugis Junction shopping complex, Singapore’s first air-conditioned, glass-covered shopping street, and is also easily walkable to several historic enclaves including Arab Street, Kampong Glam and Little India.

The impressive Sultan Mosque – one of the most impressive religious buildings in the country, which was built in 1824 for Singapore’s first Sultan – is just up the road. Around the corner is Parkview Square, an office building reminiscent of Gotham City and home to several Fernando Botero sculptures in its forecourt.

How to arrive

Singapore has just reopened its vaccinated travel lane (VTL) with the UK, allowing quarantine-free air travel between the two countries. Only unvaccinated Singapore citizens, permanent residents and long-term pass holders can enter Singapore on a non-VLT flight.

There are strict rules associated with VTL flights; passengers must provide proof of their vaccination history, undergo a PCR test before travel and take a daily rapid test (self-administered) for almost a week after arriving in the country. Advice changes all the time though; visit the Singapore Safe Travel website for the latest updates.

Rates and how to book

Rooms at the five-star InterContinental Singapore start from SGD270 (about £150) per night, or SGD350 (£192) including breakfast. All stays can be booked through

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