IT‘S rich pickings when searching for a place to stay in Singapore.
There are more than 250 properties on the TripAdvisor list with trusted brands like Hilton, Holiday Inn, Ramada, Park Royal and Mercure sitting as far down as page three of the ranking.
I usually stay at the Crowne Plaza Changi Airport, rarely in town for more than a night or two between flights, but on this visit to the Lion City I decide to venture into Singapore to play tourist for a few days which mean hours of searching for the perfect base.
A fan of Shangri-La properties, and happy to be on Orchard Road after not really spending any time in the neighbourhood since the 1990s, I make a reservation at the Hotel Jen Orchardgateway Singapore.
This branch of Shangri-La’s “fuss-free mid-range” brand opened in September 2014 with 502 guest suites – there are four categories from 27sqm superior rooms to 66sqm premier panorama rooms – as well as a rooftop swimming pool that presents a view to the Marina Bay Sands and Singapore Strait.
The location couldn’t be better, with Hotel Jen Orchardgateway occupying the structure directly above Somerset Station which allows travellers to get from Changi Airport to their hotel room without venturing outside, and the shopping and eating delights of Orchard Road are literally steps from the front door.
My room is on the 15th floor, framing a night-time view to Orchard Road’s neon signs, and a window seat provides a perch to spy the bustle below.
While the sleeping section of this superior city view room is standard – a chair to sit in, a desk to work at, a comfortable bed – the bathroom is far from conventional with the ablutions area that includes a shower and basin open to the living space.
There is a wooden modesty screen that slides across to partially protect the wet area, with the toilet is in a private cubicle beside the entrance, and while I like the casual open-plan design I appreciate this category might not appeal to those keen to close a door when showering.
Breakfast is served in Makan@Jen, the restaurant on the reception level, with the morning buffet a delight for the eyes as well as the taste buds and not too busy during my mid-week stay.
The rooftop pool was one of the reasons I chose the Hotel Jen Orchardgateway, as I was planning to spend a few hours every day swimming and sitting in the shade, but a constant parade of families with youngsters keen to splash mean the deck is too busy for me.
Instead I make the most of the MRT line directly below the hotel, darting around Singapore by underground train to visit favourite neighbourhoods from Tiong Bahru to Kampong Glam, and wandered Orchard Road to browse shops and snack in cute cafes hiding in arcades.
I also spend a few hours one afternoon occupying a table with a view in Lounge@Jen, watching day turn to night while nursing a G&T, and snack on the complimentary tapas selection served up by staff in the evening.
Baywatch@Jen, the bar beside the rooftop pool on level 19 that’s open from early in the morning until late at night, and the lobby’s OnTheGo counter offering snacks during daylight hours complete the roster of places to eat and drink around this hotel.
What I like … the location, right on Orchard Road and an easy journey on Singapore’s pleasant MRT from Changi Airport.
What I don’t … the rooftop swimming pool deck is constantly overwhelmed by children, with the shaded seats around the water busy from breakfast until bedtime, making it more a space for families than adults seeking solitude.