There’s no doubt about it, hotel accommodation is expensive in Singapore. Finding a central and comfortable hotel suitable for families within our budget was the aim in planning our trip to Singapore. With a whole week of sightseeing scheduled, we required a place to relax and recharge but that also offered great value. We required a base close to attractions and shopping centres where we could purchase food and snacks as required and also conveniently access public transit.
The Swissôtel Merchant Court is the perfect choice. It offers comfortable accommodation, a convenient location and a combination of both Swiss and local Peranakan hospitality. As a staff member informs me, Peranakan culture emphasises the importance of hospitality and this is certainly evident in the service we receive during our stay.
The central location of the hotel can’t be beat. Located on the Singapore River, it’s close to the nightlife of Clarke Quay which boasts numerous restaurants and bars. The hotel is also located next door to Central shopping centre. Within it are shops, cafes and an extensive food court. It’s also connected to the Clarke Quay MRT underground station. The MRT is super convenient and we use it extensively to get around Singapore. It’s also a close walk to Chinatown, Raffles Place, Fort Canning Park and the many museums and galleries dotted around the CBD.
From the moment we enter the hotel, the staff are efficient and friendly. We’re welcomed with a refreshingly cold hand towel, wonderful as we adjust to the Singapore heat. Recently refurbished, the hotel has 476 beautifully appointed guest rooms and suites to suit your requirements and budget. There’s a variety of rooms available from Premier Rooms to Executive rooms and suites.
For those with larger families, Family Premier Rooms are available with two double beds and lots of rooms. Rollaway beds can be added if needed. No matter what room you choose, all rooms feature modern fixtures and offer comfortable beds featuring Egyptian cotton bedding as well as free high-speed internet.
For an additional charge you can organise a Swissôtel Kids Room for kids aged 2 to 17. These guest rooms are available as adjoining or connecting rooms, providing a fun environment for kids. Decorated with toys and books, the room offers beds with adorable themed bedding and colourful clothing hangers in the wardrobe. To keep the kids entertained, the Kids Room is equipped with a selection of books and entertainment options including Xbox, Wii games, DVD players, DVD movies and kids’ channels on cable TV.
For our stay, we decide to spoil ourselves and upgrade to an Executive Room. We’re up on the 11th floor and look out to the skyscrapers that dot Singapore’s skyline.
Our room features a king bed and a rollaway single bed that’s perfect for my daughter. It’s a soundproofed, comfortable room and is a haven to return to after a busy day of sightseeing.
Choosing an Executive room also comes with daily complimentary breakfast and evening drinks at the Swiss Executive Club Lounge as well as nightly turndown service. It’s well worth the extra money.
We start each mornings with a buffet breakfast and views out to Marina Bay Sands and the Straits.
Each morning, we’re faced with a dilemma of what to eat – there’s so many choices of delicious food ranging from a continental breakfast to a hearty Western-style breakfast. I especially enjoy the array of fruits such as pineapple, dragonfruit and paw paw and the Eastern offerings of dim sums.
In the evening from 6pm to 8pm, we enjoy canapes and drinks. Kids are welcomed too in the Executive Lounge so it works well for families. The canapes alternate nightly. Over the course of our visit, we nibble on satay, sushi, mini hamburgers, samosas, spring rolls and an assortment of cheese and fruit.
However, the most useful feature of the room is the free Handy smartphone available in every hotel room in Swissôtel Merchant Court. These Android phones featuring unlimited internet access are available for guests to use while they are out and about in Singapore. Within the phone is a city guide, a discount attractions ticket hub, as well as speed dial to hotel services.
It also enables you to make free local and international calls to various countries including Australia, the UK and the US. You can also receive incoming phone calls with each phone having its own extension. It’s a great alternative to using your own smartphone and avoiding expensive roaming charges. We used our phone constantly when we were out sightseeing using the map functionality to make sure we didn’t got lost, looking up bus timetables and purchasing discounted tickets.
Within the hotel, there’s a pool, 24 hour gym access and steam rooms. The pool especially is a must-have for Singapore’s hot and humid climate. It’s a large resort style pool with a water slide that’s popular with both kids and parents. There’s also a toddler pool with a smaller water slide. The pool is conveniently open from 6:30am to 10pm.
We spend many hours at the resort-style pool lazing on the loungers and watching our daughter play in the pool. With so many other families staying at the hotel, she has lots of friends to play with. If you don’t feel like moving from the pool area, swim over to Blue Potato cafe conveniently located on the pool deck. It’s a great spot to enjoy some light snacks and drinks during the day or at night.
There’s also other eating options including Ellenborough Market Cafe which offers a variety of Asian and International dishes for their popular buffet breakfast, lunch and dinner. For drinks, afternoon tea and tapas, the Crossroads Bar is a comfortable place to relax.
One of my favourite hotel amenities is the spa, the Pürovel Spa & Sport. After a week of sightseeing, I decide to treat myself with a massage. In keeping with the Swiss origins of this hotel chain, Pürovel Spa & Sport takes its inspiration from Switzerland. The oil for my massage is named Purovel Meadow Mountain essential oil and contains scents of lavender, clary sage and pine that you would find in a Swiss forest.
After consultation with my therapist Angela about the requirements and pressure, my highly anticipated massage begins. Angela starts with long soothing strokes and I can feel myself start to relax. It’s everything and more a massage should be. It provides relief to my aching muscles and it’s not long until I’m in a deep spa trance. Unfortunately, the ninety minute massage is over before I know it and I head back to my room for a restful night of sleep.
The next morning is our last at the hotel. With a night flight back to Australia, the 12pm checkout is super convenient and means we don’t have to rush when packing our bags. We then deposit the bags to the concierge and spend the next few hours lounging poolside. There’s showers available at the pool area to get changed after our swim.
We’re reluctant to leave the Swissôtel Merchant Court. We’ve thoroughly enjoyed the luxurious comfort and delicious food. We’re impressed by the family-friendly nature of this hotel with a fun swimming pool and toddler area, large family hotel rooms and the option to upgrade to a Swissôtel Kids Room.
Far from just being a cursory nod to those travelling with children, families are genuinely welcomed at this hotel. My daughter is constantly fussed over by hotel staff during our stay and spoiled with extra chocolates at turndown service as well as a teddy bear fashioned out of a small towel. It’s these little touches that make a family holiday truly special.
We experience for ourselves the unique combination of Swiss and Peranakan hospitality. Although we arrived as hotel guests, we’ve leave feeling like treasured family guests and vow to return again.
For more information, visit the Swissôtel Merchant Court website.
Disclosure: Family Forays received a media rate for review purposes. All opinions are my own.