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The World’s Best Business Class Experience to the City in a Garden

The World’s Best Business Class Experience to the City in a Garden

Old Apr 15, 18, 10:22 am
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The World’s Best Business Class Experience to the City in a Garden

The World’s Best Business Class Experience to the City in a Garden

Index to Genius1 Trip Reports

Ahead in this report:
  • British Airways Club Europe on the 767 and A319
  • Qatar Airways Business Class on the 787 and A350
  • InterContinental Singapore and impressions from the Garden City
  • A smorgasbord of lounges including QR, BA, QF and IC

LHR-ARN

Singapore is one of my favourite cities, and Qatar Airways one of my favourite airlines. It was therefore with a sense of great anticipation that I arrived at Heathrow Terminal 5 on another of those seemingly endless, miserably grey February mornings and headed towards the First Wing.



Walking through to the Refectory inside the Galleries First lounge, I noticed that BA had repositioned the furniture yet again, which the cynical amongst us might surmise is merely a thinly disguised attempt at distracting us from the ever-decreasing physical condition of the lounge. A promotional set-up of advertising banners and accompanying temporary fridges on the terrace did nothing to improve the premium feel of the space, although the view was as good as ever.



Giving the unappetising buffet a wide berth, I flagged down a waiter and requested the flaxseed granola (with Greek yogurt, fresh berries and honey) from the menu for breakfast, which I ate as quickly as possible before escaping the heat of the Refectory for the relative coolness of the rest of the lounge and a coffee.



If you’re looking for more images of the First Wing and Galleries First lounge at T5, see my previous report here.

Boarding my positioning flight to Stockholm from Gate A13, BA’s new group boarding process worked reasonably well (despite the display screens showing that the flight was closing before boarding had even started) with three lanes set up for Group 1, Groups 2/3, and Groups 4/5, although with a light load, the gate agents decided to board Groups 1 (Club Europe/Emerald) and 2 (Sapphire) at the same time with no announcements.

I was greeted at Door 2L of the second oldest aircraft in BA’s fleet, G-BNWB, a 1989-vintage 767 and my second time on this particular aircraft. I talked in length about the configuration of BA’s 767 fleet in a previous trip report here, so won’t dwell on that now, the only new information being that this particular aircraft had the entire forward cabin of 9 rows dedicated to Club Europe today despite a very low load of just seven passengers.







After checking with the cabin crew once boarding was complete, I moved from 2F (that I had assigned myself to ensure a space next to any potential neighbour) to 4K to enjoy the view from the window. Naturally, the headrest was broken on both seats (in fact, I’m pretty sure they are broken on every convertible seat across the fleet of seven 767s).







Jackets were taken and small menus handed out, the latter accompanied by a hot towel. It really irks me that the menus still have the old Club Europe capital typeface in the logo, almost 10 years after it was changed! We pushed back from the stand 4 minutes ahead of schedule as the intensely irritating and at times inappropriate safety video played.





Lunch service commenced in short order after our takeoff from Runway 27L, beginning with a hand-run bar service. In fact, perhaps channelling QR, all service on this flight was hand-run from the galley, something which I appreciate as it minimises disturbance to passengers in aisle seats.



In an obvious attempt at minimising their workload, the crew decided to present the starter and main course together (the starter should come first on the tray with dessert and cheese, with the main course following once the starter is finished and cleared away). With a starter as miniscule as the Balik-style smoked salmon with horseradish cream, this wasn’t really an issue as the time taken to eat it was barely a couple of minutes, but it did mean the tray table was somewhat crowded.

One disadvantage of moving back to Row 4 was that I was the penultimate passenger to be served, by which time the alternative main course option of grilled Atlantic cod fillet with olive mash and ratatouille had been snapped up. The herb-grilled chicken supreme with thyme jus, truffled linguine and root vegetables did not, however, feel like a compromise as it was flavourful, filling and piping hot. Warm bread was offered from the basket multiple times, and drinks refills were forthcoming.



I concluded lunch with a peppermint tea (where I once again played the game of where to put the teabag without a drip dish) and the coffee cream caramel with gingerbread crumble, which reminded me of those little crème caramel yogurt pots I used to enjoy as a child. Service on the whole was quick, with a personable CSD but a slightly gruff second in command serving the starboard aisle.



I took advantage of the light load on the flight to stretch my legs all the way to the back of the aircraft, noting that this 767 appears to be in fairly good condition for such an old airframe. The washrooms at Doors 2 didn’t have the usual Elemis products in them (or the new White Company products), and despite being dated were clean(ish) and again in good(ish) condition. The stainless steel washbasins have stood the test of time, which is more than can be said for the light coloured plastic basins on the A320 family aircraft.





We had a long taxi into T2 on arrival in a snowy Sweden, disembarking through Door 1L. After navigating the illogical ups and downs of the terminal and emerging landside, it was about a ten minute walk to T5 from where QR flights depart to Doha.

ARN-DOH

QR online check-in opens roughly 48 hours before departure. I had been unable to check-in via the app as the page hung on the passenger information screen, but things seemed fine via the website and I had been able to complete check-in before loading the boarding pass on the app. This was critical as I was arriving from London around 4 hours ahead of departure of my QR flight; with desks not opening for another hour and travelling with hand baggage only, I needed my boarding pass to get airside as I didn’t want to hang around in the check-in hall. The automated gate at Fast Track security didn’t like my mobile BP, but the agent let me through after insisting on seeing my BA Gold card. I’m not quite sure why that was needed as my boarding pass clearly showed the class of travel which itself is enough to use Fast Track. It appeared to be peak evening time for SAS departures, resulting in security being a little slow despite two lanes being open for Fast Track.

After a brief wander around T5 I headed through immigration to the non-Schengen pier and upstairs to the third party Stockholm Arlanda lounge. This was my second time using this lounge and my impressions remain unchanged from those of two years ago; it’s a pleasant enough space to spend an hour, but uninviting for any longer period of time.



Arranged in an L shape, the main section features a small news section behind reception, followed by an open plan buffet/high top table dining area with plenty of power sockets, but no USB ports. At the end of the dining area is some comfier seating, with a play and business area illogically next to each other around the corner. The design of the lounge is very Scandinavian as you may expect, not to my taste personally and not remotely luxurious, but functional and inoffensive.











Initially quite busy, the lounge emptied rapidly as a flight was called and I was alone in the lounge briefly before fellow QR passengers slowly filtered in. Thanks to the remarkably decent lunch on my positioning flight I wasn’t terribly hungry, and so didn’t investigate the buffet too deeply, although did note there was just the one hot option of potato gratin. Oddly the coffee machine was placed on a high top table and not on the buffet; I assume this is a temporary setup as it looked out of place. I headed to the business area and settled down to catch up with my YouTube subscriptions. There appears to be more lounge space beyond the business area, although this wasn’t open. Utilitarian washrooms are located inside the lounge in a corridor just past reception; they are gender neutral and generally in need of better attention to keep clean.



I noted that the QR app was showing departure time as 19:45 rather than the scheduled 21:45; this was clearly an error as it was by now well past 19:45 and the flight information screens were showing the scheduled time. I popped out of the lounge to the transfer desk just around the corner to collect paper boarding passes, which confirmed the scheduled time as the correct time.

Gate F58 features a closed gateroom layout; I’m generally not a fan of these as they can feel somewhat like a cattle pen. A priority lane was set up for the boarding pass and passport check which was handy to skirt around the building queue, but it made little difference as once inside the gateroom there was quite some wait for boarding to commence; indeed, the crew were only just boarding as I arrived. When things did get under way, Business Class and Emerald/Sapphire were all announced together, plus those with small children. I had strategically positioned myself next to the desk and its tiny priority sign, and followed just a handful of other passengers through the doors. For some reason they all decided to head to the lift, perhaps not spotting the stairs directly in front of them. The result was that I was first down the airbridge and to be welcomed at Door 2L of A7-BCJ, a 787-8 delivered to QR in 2014.

I was escorted through the beautifully lit cabin to 2K, where I was immediately offered my drink of choice, a hot or cold towel and my jacket taken. What a great first impression of what could well be the world’s best business class. The QR 787 fleet is equipped with B/E Aerospace Super Diamond seats in the forward cabin, arranged in a 1-2-1 configuration with all seats having direct aisle access. I won’t offer a full tour of the seat in this section as my focus was on maximising sleep on what is a fairly short flight, and the product is virtually identical to that fitted to the majority of the A350-900 fleet that I would be experiencing on the next sector.





A pillow was pre-placed on each seat, with a blanket and tan coloured Bric’s amenity kit (featuring Castello Monte Vibiano amenities) on the shelf beside the seat. A bottle of water and unbranded noise cancelling headphones were located in the armrest.



The crew soon delivered QR’s signature mint and lime drink along with my requested hot towel. The attention to detail with QR’s service is phenomenal; a choice of towel temperature and for it to be served on its own tray are details that even most international first class products lack.



Next up was the delivery of a bag containing The White Company branded pyjamas and slippers, along with the menu and wine list, an offer of newspapers, and an explanation of the seat’s features for those passengers needing it.



The captain announced a flight time of 5h30 cruising at 39,000ft, with dinner orders taken just before pushback. I say dinner, but of course QR offer à la carte dining so you can choose anything from the menu at any time you like during the flight. The CSM popped around to welcome each passenger individually and apologise for the re-set of the IFE system. Despite just four vacant seats in the cabin, the welcome didn’t feel rushed at all. Talking of the IFE system, I didn’t really use it on this sector but did note that both the touchscreen and handheld remote control were quite laggy.

I nipped to one of the two generously proportioned washrooms located at the rear of the cabin as soon as the seatbelt signs had been turned off after takeoff. The window in the washroom is a great feature, and the facilities were kept spotlessly clean throughout the flight. Rituals amenities included hand wash, moisturiser and body spray, whilst plenty of dental and shaving kits were placed on the vanity unit. If I have one criticism of the washrooms it’s that the hand towels are very flimsy to the point of being almost useless.



The crew seemed a little concerned that I wasn’t going to dine on this flight, but understood when I mentioned the longer day flight to SIN for the next sector in the trip. I’ve included the menu below for completeness, which I perused as the crew brought me a nightcap of a hot chocolate.







I dozed for around 4 hours, appreciating the luxurious blanket (originally introduced on Qsuite-equipped aircraft) but not so much the soft pillow. QR only offer turndown service and mattress pads on ultra longhaul overnight flights in J. For sleeping, this seat is not as private as window seats in BA’s Club World cabins, but what it lacks in privacy it makes up for in personal and storage space. Seat comfort was good, without offering quite the same amount of support, width and length as BA First or even the Zodiac Cirrus business class product (found on AA’s 77Ws and CX’s 77Ws/A350s amongst others). I noticed that during the night, the crew laid out magazines and snacks in the entrance area by Doors 2, and at some point as I was sleeping had placed some Godiva chocolates by my seat.



Waking up a few hours later I requested the seasonal fresh fruit plate, which I enjoyed with a cappuccino. The crew laid the table with a table cloth, cutlery and serviette which was impressive with just a fruit plate to eat.



The crew on this sector were professional, efficient and thorough, to the point of requesting the menus back towards the end of the flight. I had quite a job convincing one of the crew to let me keep my copies, but eventually succeeded, doing a bargain with the return of the wine list (which is the same on all sectors in the month) for keeping the menu.

Landing on time into Doha as dawn broke, the crew closed the curtains to hold back the rear cabins as we drew into our gate, allowing the forward cabin to disembark through Door 2L down stairs to a dedicated Business Class bus. As buses go, this one was reasonably comfortable with each seat having an antimacassar. The advantage of arriving onto a remote stand at DOH is that the bus drops you close to transfer security, although on the flip side the speed of the journey can often be limited by aircraft movements as was the case this morning. This caused a few passengers to become increasingly agitated as they risked missing their connecting flights. Once in the terminal, I couldn’t easily locate the priority lane, but with none of the lanes particularly busy just joined the closest one and was soon emerging into the expansive departure hall.

Last edited by Genius1; Apr 16, 18 at 11:54 am
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Old Apr 15, 18, 10:23 am
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DOH-SIN

Heading upstairs to the Al Mourjan lounge, I made a beeline for the showers behind the café at the end of the lounge. With just a handful of shower suites, lengthy waits are quite common; today’s was up to 25 minutes, with no option of a buzzer to take away and return. With under 2 hours until boarding for my next flight, and forgetting at the time about the other set of showers at the other end of the lounge (which I’m sure would’ve been equally busy), I headed instead to the washrooms and used the lone changing room to freshen up. Although these lack showers and the full complement of Rituals amenities that go alongside them, they do offer a private space with a toilet and washbasin which is enough for a shave and change of shirt.





This lounge is in desperate need for more shower suites; it’s really not acceptable to have such long waits. I do wonder whether the showers in the First and Business Class lounges (for status passengers not travelling in F/J) would’ve been more readily available; perhaps something to explore on the next occasion this happens.

I emerged into the café for a light breakfast of bircher muesli, accompanied by some alarmingly concentrated orange juice; it seems that the fresh OJ has been enhanced away from the lounge in a nod to QR’s involvement with IAG/BA.



I’m slightly confused by the service concept in this area; waiters don’t appear to proactively approach you when you sit down, and there is both a buffet and a menu. I guess it operates like BA’s Galleries First lounges in London where the service is mainly self-led with plenty of flagging down required if you want a menu item. I noted that since my previous visit a couple of years ago, the plants that lined the high top tables in the café had been removed, although I gather this is temporary. I’ve yet to try out the more formal restaurant and tended bar on the mezzanine of the lounge, but will hopefully be doing so at the end of this month.







Also in the vicinity of the café, adjacent to the showers, are a number of semi-private quiet rest areas. These have to be reserved at the shower reception, although I made it through unchallenged (albeit briefly) to take a picture. These look to be the best option for a long layover in the lounge, with a comfortable chair and sofa, TV and storage space. There are dedicated family rooms and play/games areas on the opposite side of the café.



Moving back into the main lounge area, I was reminded that I’m not a huge fan of this lounge. The space, ten times that of an Olympic swimming pool, is undoubtedly impressive, but it lacks natural light, any view to speak of, and feels a little clinical with such high ceilings and regimented seating.











A quiet seating room with red armchairs off to one side of the main space is probably the most attractive area of the lounge, featuring its own small buffet and drinks station, the main business centre, a small secondary games room, and a quiet relaxation area adjacent to some windows offering a partially obscured view of the apron.







I wandered up to the end of the lounge below the mezzanine restaurant to find more regimented blue seating and a waft of something obnoxious from the nearby smoking room, so made a hasty retreat back to the centre of the lounge.







One final space to comment on is the small relaxation area to the right of reception, which appeared to be underused in comparison to the other relaxation area and individual quiet rooms.



Present throughout the lounge are self-service drinks stations, and there are plenty of roving waiters if you desire something you can’t easily locate.



Initially fairly busy, the lounge emptied significantly around 07:15, leaving me a good 20 minutes or so with plenty of space before I headed out for the long transit to the gate.

My flight to SIN was leaving from the E pier, or Gate E20 to be precise. I used the train to get there, and took the lift down to apron level as E20 is a remote gate. For a brand new airport, remote gate usage is surprisingly significant. There was a clear priority lane at the gate, with a small Special Services bus waiting to ferry J passengers to the aircraft. This was a definite upgrade over the previous bus journey, with just a dozen or so comfortable armchair-like seats upholstered in plush fabrics. I believe these buses used to be used to ferry First Class passengers from the Premium Terminal at the old Doha airport to their aircraft in the days when QR operated a far more extensive F route network. Nothing beats boarding an aircraft via stairs (provided the weather is amenable of course!); to see the majesty of the A350 up close as the morning sun shone over Doha was quite an experience.



The A350 entrance at Doors 2 feels even more spacious than the 787, thanks to the wider fuselage and the split J cabin with three rows aft and six rows forward of the entrance; I’ll have several full cabin overview shots on the return sector which will illustrate this better than I can describe here. Of course, the lack of overhead bins in J in the central section (common to the 787) also helps with the airy effect.

I was welcomed and escorted to 4K on this barely two year old A350-900, A7-ALM.









I opted for another mint and lime drink with a cold towel chosen this time to suit the local weather. As this wasn’t a night flight, the thick blanket of my previous flight wasn’t offered (neither were PJs/slippers), and instead the pillow on the seat was joined by a thinner blanket that was still more than adequate for a day flight.



A blue Bric’s amenity kit featuring the same contents as that on my previous flight (facial mist, moisturiser, lip balm, earplugs, socks and an eyeshade) was on the shelf beside the seat; the bag itself is very smart and I like the fact that the contents are colour coordinated to the colour of the bag, although the Castello Monte Vibiano fragrance isn’t to my taste (or smell, I guess).



In a welcome change to the seat design compared to the 787 product, the shelf beside the seat does away with the small privacy shield which annoyingly almost blocks one of the windows on the 787; this is where the water bottle is stored on the A350 (despite there also being space in the armrest alongside the headphones).





Aside from that detail, the seat is virtually identical to that on the 787, with a storage drawer in the back of the seat in front at low level, a large side bin, two side shelves at differing heights offering plenty of space, individual reading lights at high and low level (the latter being adjustable for direction and intensity) and, that most welcome of features, personal air vents (including in the washrooms!). Connectivity options are decent, with a power socket and USB port at each seat and wifi available. The seat controls are intuitively placed without the need to reach far.













The materials and finishes around the seat are both elegant and practical, and the whole cabin exudes understated luxury due in part to the ever-changing ambient mood lighting.



These finishes extend to the washrooms, which are positioned ahead of Doors 2 rather than aft of them as on the 787. Unfortunately, the washrooms are a little on the small side and lack a window, although the quality of the vanity unit is a step up from the 787. All of the same amenities from my previous sector were present here, and once again standards of cleanliness were high.







Our captain announced a flight time of 6h55 with a cruising altitude of 41,000ft; menus and wine lists were handed out at this time and orders taken as we pushed back. Note that the wine list was the same on all sectors on this trip. A passenger ahead of me across the aisle commented to the crew that she was surprised breakfast featured as the main meal service on this flight; with a departure time of 08:30 local (13:30 in Singapore) and a 7-hour flight ahead arriving into SIN in the evening, a more conventional lunch/dinner selection would be far more suitable.





















We took off from Runway 34; I put the A350’s external cameras to good use, cycling through the different views as we soared over the Persian Gulf.



Annoyingly all window shades were lowered automatically after takeoff, although after a brief pause they could be (and were partially, in my case) overridden by each passenger. I commenced proceedings with a drop of the Lanson Brut Rosé, served along with a ramekin of tepid nuts (not pictured here).



Firing up the IFE system, I settled down to watch Victoria and Abdul, not usually my first preference of movie genre but one that paid off in a well shot, charming and at times poignant story. The A350 version of the Oryx One system is more intuitive than that on the 787, and response times were better although still far from smooth. The headphones that QR use are unbranded, and although they offer decent sound quality, become quite tight after any length of time, even though they are adjustable. I would like to see QR offering Bose or similar premium headphones; this is perhaps the only area where AA beats QR!





Breakfast commenced with an individual selection of artisan breads and a strawberry and banana smoothie; the pastries were not quite to the same quality as I recall from my previous QR breakfast experience in 2016. In what was an otherwise flawless service experience, I noted the crew member who had laid my table had forgotten to place the butter and salt/pepper cellars on the table (but rather had left them on the bread plate); if that’s my only complaint, we’re doing well!



Next up was the beautifully presented seasonal fresh fruit, followed by bircher muesli (rolled oats mixed with yogurt, fruits, almonds and cinnamon) and my chosen main course of tomato omelette with grilled beef patty, served with Lyonnaise potatoes, grilled mushrooms and roasted tomato; this was superb, although the portion size was on the small side. As breakfast concluded, a hot towel was offered and I requested a cappuccino.















As Victoria and Abdul concluded, I tried out the wifi service. A paltry 10MB/15 minutes is offered to all passengers free of charge, although the speed (or lack thereof) rendered it pretty much useless. The excellent crew regularly stopped by to see if I needed anything, and drinks were free flowing. As we moved into the latter half of the flight, I watched the latest Murder on the Orient Express movie; as something of an Agatha Christie fan, this particular adaptation left me feeling slightly cold, but it was nevertheless a passable update of a previous adaptation that didn’t really need updating. I do wonder why more airlines don’t adopt HD screens in premium cabins; I tend to avoid watching major movies (such as Dunkirk) on flights for this reason, as the visual quality is generally iffy.

A little over three hours after the conclusion of breakfast, it was time for a snack; the grilled honey mustard chicken breast with mesclun leaves, bocconcini with pesto, sun dried tomato and roasted almond flakes was smaller and less interesting than I was expecting, but once I’d selected one of the three(!) oils and mixed this with the leaves, the salad was more than passable. Sadly the bread that accompanied the salad was uninteresting and a little stale.







I gave the pineapple punch a go alongside the salad, a refreshing concoction of pineapple, orange and lemon juice, soda water and a slice of lemon.



An Americano (to keep me awake) accompanied the selection of individual indulgent desserts; the menu wasn’t specific on what they were, but I believe they were some kind of pistachio layered cake and lemon éclair – whatever they were, they were delicious.



At the top of descent, a third round of hot towels was made as the sun set outside. Once on the ground, there was a short wait before we could park at our stand at Changi’s T3; dual airbridges had me thinking we would be exiting from the forward door, but it was the second airbridge that connected first and so we were bid farewell at Door 2L. After a short ride on the transit train, there was no queue at immigration and I was soon in a taxi on my way to the InterContinental.



Next: The Club InterContinental experience and four days in the Garden City.

Last edited by Genius1; Apr 16, 18 at 11:54 am
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Old Apr 15, 18, 11:21 am
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Thank you for a great report! Last year I snagged a promotional J fare for $1800 return lax-doh-sin (!!) and will never forget it as the most amazing and memorable trip in a lifetime on QR.

No alcohol on the arn-doh flight?
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Old Apr 15, 18, 2:33 pm
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Also liked Viktoria and Abdul - unfortunately didn´t watch it at a plane
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Old Apr 17, 18, 3:18 am
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very nice pictures and report, flew a lot on Qatar last year when they great deals in J , but out of ATL, they are flying 777, so no suites yet...
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Old Apr 17, 18, 5:49 am
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Seems surreal for a 767 wide-body to have 7 abreast economy seating from front to back! Is there any other airlines that do this?

Looks like a great experience on QR though^.
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Old Apr 17, 18, 6:05 am
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Wonderfully detailed report. Glad you used the word apron and not tarmac lol.

thanks again
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Old Apr 21, 18, 4:37 am
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Thanks for all of the comments!

Originally Posted by enviroian View Post
No alcohol on the arn-doh flight?
I was planing to sleep for pretty much the whole sector, so no alcohol.

Originally Posted by fotographer View Post
but out of ATL, they are flying 777, so no suites yet...
Some of QR's 77W fleet has the Qsuite product, although they tend to place those aircraft on their flagship routes for now.

Originally Posted by DanielW View Post
Seems surreal for a 767 wide-body to have 7 abreast economy seating from front to back! Is there any other airlines that do this?
I'm not aware of any! There are two types of seating on each of BA's 767s; the front half is convertible to 2-2-2 configuration with 34" pitch for Club Europe, whilst the rear is fixed 2-3-2 with 31" pitch for Euro Traveller.
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Old Apr 21, 18, 4:38 am
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InterContinental Singapore and the Garden City

Arriving at the InterContinental Singapore felt like arriving home; quite some testament for a hotel I’ve only stayed at once before. Since that visit almost nine years ago, the property has been extensively and beautifully refurbished in a classically elegant style with plenty of modern touches, whilst remaining sympathetic to its locality.









Walking through the intimate reception lobby, I was welcomed at a free desk and promptly checked in with the minimum of fuss. I appreciated the agent noting my previous stay; remarkably my newspaper preference was also noted from that prior visit! As I was guided through the Club benefits, I was also handed the Ambassador gift of a rather dubiously tacky keyring which I ended up leaving in the room on check-out. Not an Ambassador benefit, but rather one of the IHG Elite benefits that ICs varyingly offer, I also had a choice of a complimentary drink at the bar or some token IHG Rewards points; I opted for the latter, as the former was included in the Club lounge in my rate in any case.









Declining an escort to the lift, I headed upstairs to the 13th floor in the modern tower building and my Club Deluxe room, a one category upgrade from my reserved Club Heritage room which would’ve been in the heritage low-rise wing of the building.





Spacious in size and offering an expansive view of the downtown Singapore skyline, my room was entered through a small lobby area with wardrobes, luggage space and a charming oriental-designed food and beverage cupboard. In the bedroom, I particularly liked how much detail had been thought through in implementing the wall panelling (including integrated television) on all sides, air conditioning cover, ceiling detailing and overall colour scheme. Sadly the sofa was more form than function; a pair of armchairs would’ve been both more practical and more comfortable.























The Ambassador mineral water and fruit plate were waiting for me on the table, alongside a handwritten ‘welcome back’ card. The mineral water wasn’t replenished each day, although the standard bottles of water were, as well as the fruit on some days. The minibar was well stocked and I was pleased to see a proper Nespresso machine and accompanying capsules as opposed to the ‘fake’ versions many properties try to get away with.









Particularly thoughtful features in the room included the individual reading lights built in to the ceiling directly above each side of the bed, a complimentary smartphone for use throughout the stay, plenty of power and USB sockets in just the right locations, and the television remaining on the last channel watched. This latter point seems trivial, but the number of hotels that insist on re-setting through multiple menus at every switch on is frustratingly high. Unfortunately, the Apple TV connectivity didn’t work particularly well; I tried and failed to get my devices to sync properly for sound or to go full screen for video; I gave up after several attempts and reverted to my iPad to watch the latest episode of The Grand Tour.

The bathroom was nicely appointed and featured a separate walk-in shower and the same design touches as the bedroom. Amenities were, predictably, by Agraria, although the Peranakan-style soap dish is worthy of note for adding a pop of colour to the room. The shower, whilst powerful, fluctuated in temperature no matter what time of day I used it. The plush bath mat was replaced on the second day with a less plush version.











After an exceedingly comfortable night’s sleep I headed downstairs to the first floor Club InterContinental lounge, accessed via a stylish mezzanine walkway above the main lobby lounge and bar.











The lounge is sandwiched between the lobby on one side and a shopping mall on the other, so although it has windows there is no view to speak of. This is one of the few downsides to what is one of my favourite Club InterContinental lounges anywhere in the world. Superbly professional and discreet waiter-led service at all times of the day means guests are left wanting for nothing, and the lounge ambience is one of rarefied peace and tranquillity. The space is separated into two distinct halves; broadly speaking this is comfortable lounge-style seating on one, and dining tables and chairs on the other, although there are a limited number of mixed seating areas too. Sadly none of the ‘comfortable’ seating areas are actually that comfortable; another case of style over substance.



















At the reception end of the lounge, a private meeting room is available alongside a couple of workstations, whilst at the other end is the compact but by no means inadequate buffet with open serving hatch to the lounge’s kitchen. Washrooms are available in the lounge, featuring particularly notable basins.



The breakfast buffet was consistently well stocked with everything you would expect from an InterContinental, and perhaps just a few things you wouldn’t; bottles of concentrated apple juice amongst them. Thankfully the orange juice was fresh, although was also served in individual plastic bottles which did nothing for either the environment or my impressions. Both Western and Asian hot courses were available to order from a menu; for my first morning I opted for a tomato and mushroom omelette, which was served on beautiful bone china tableware.











After breakfast I took a detour to explore some more of the property.



















On the agenda for much of my first day in Singapore was a visit to the wonderful oasis that is Singapore Botanic Gardens, an easy few stops on the MRT away from the IC. As ever with the destination sections of my trip reports, I have selected just a few images from the many hundreds captured to give you a sense of the locality. I’ll let those images do most of the talking here.









I spent the best part of the whole day wandering through the gardens, including taking time to explore the National Orchid Garden, which must be one of the world’s most satisfying uses for barely GBP3.







Before heading back to the hotel to freshen up for a wonderful dinner that evening at National Kitchen by Violet Oon at the National Gallery, I just had time for a wander around Emerald Hill. These historic shophouse-lined streets off bustling Orchard Road provide an insight into an increasingly-fading part of the city’s history.


Last edited by Genius1; Apr 21, 18 at 11:00 am
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Old Apr 21, 18, 4:40 am
  #10  
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Breakfast on my second day in the Garden City took a near identical form to that of the first (I’ll let you imagine another image of a tomato and mushroom omelette here), changing pace from there on in with a walk through the colonial core to downtown Singapore. Passing St Andrew’s Cathedral, I caught a glimpse of a bride and her father ready to walk down the aisle; a reminder of the power of photography in capturing a moment in time.











A walk along the river led me to Chinatown, bustling with preparations for Chinese New Year the following weekend. Thian Hock Keng temple provided a moment of calm before the onslaught.









Fortuitously I arrived back at the IC in time for afternoon tea. Unlike many lounges, afternoon tea is a principally waiter-led service, with just a few small pastries and the like available on the buffet. The showpiece of the service is a three-tier stand featuring sandwiches, scones and sweets (the menu changes daily) delivered to your table with your drink of choice.











I headed out that evening for some evening and night photography, principally along the river with views across to Marina Bay Sands.





I returned to the hotel to relax with a Singapore Sling and canapés, which included a varying menu of hot items served table-side, in addition to a wide range of self-service options. Alarmingly champagne wasn’t available, being substituted with prosecco.





[



Just a short stroll north of the InterContinental, Little India was the focus of the morning of day three, including a sensuous trip through the Tekka Centre’s fresh meat, fish and vegetable markets.

















After a local hawker-style lunch with friends near Orchard Road, I returned to finish exploring the Botanic Gardens, specifically the Keppel Discovery Wetlands. A relatively new addition to the Gardens, the Wetlands opened just last year but have established themselves in seemingly no time at all to provide a unique experience that includes a treetop rainforest walk.





Returning to the IC that evening, it was disappointing to note that a couple of items I’d wanted ironing (complimentary to Club members) hadn’t been collected, but that old travellers’ trick of hanging them near the shower the next morning saved me from unnecessary manual labour. After some time in the lounge, I opted for a light room service dinner of chicken rice followed by a duo of desserts. Ignoring the crazy (bordering on visually offensive) table runner that reminded me of my bedroom curtains in a childhood home, this was pretty good.









I decided to mix things up a little for my final morning on the island, ordering the eggs benedict with salmon.



With just a short time that morning before I was due to catch up with friends for lunch, I departed the hotel early for a brisk walk, past the under-refurbishment Raffles, to Gardens by the Bay.









The Gardens met my expectations in every way; a poorly disguised man-made tourist destination, with very little merit. Sadly the Cloud Forest was closed for maintenance on my visit; the Flower Dome was unspectacular, although there were several decent vantage points from which to view the city from the walkways surrounding it.









No vantage point, however, was as spectacular as that from the top of Marina Bay Sands. Under construction on my previous visit to the city, I was curious to see the building up close. Whilst the architecture is undoubtedly stunning, from just a walk through the lobby it was clear the property is more tourist destination than luxury hotel, evidenced by significant queues at all reception desks. I decided to part with GBP12 to visit the Sands SkyPark Observation Deck; dedicated lifts take visitors directly to the top floor from where the near-360-degree view is indeed breath-taking.









After lunch, I headed back to freshen up in my room thanks to a late 16:00 check-out (another great Ambassador perk). It’s always nice when housekeeping freshen the room up on the last day with a late check-out, although I try to remember to ask for the bedsheets not to be changed as that would be somewhat wasteful. As 4pm approached, I checked out in the Club lounge and killed some time before leaving for the airport, relaxing over another excellent afternoon tea.

This was a great stay at one of my favourite InterContinental properties in one of my favourite global cities; I can’t wait to return.

Next: Returning home via the oneworld lounge tour at Changi, two more excellent Qatar Airways sectors, and a Norwegian soirée.

Last edited by Genius1; Apr 21, 18 at 11:00 am
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Old Apr 21, 18, 8:09 am
  #11  
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Great report and photos so far! I'd love to visit Singapore, and it looks like you had a really nice flight with Qatar Airways.

Looking forward to the next part!
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Old Apr 21, 18, 9:42 am
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Thank you for the great report. That Intercontinental looks amazing.

I went to SIN last year on QR as well (LAX-DOH-SIN) on their once in a lifetime promotional J fares ($1800 USD RETURN!!).

I stayed at the beautiful new JW Marriott downtown using points. What a clean and nice city. I would like to go back.
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Old Apr 21, 18, 3:52 pm
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Excellent trip report, very detailed.

Somewhat surprised that you didn't enjoy Gardens by the Bay. I thought the light show at night was spectacular (I notice you went in the morning) and the flowers in the Dome were stunning
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Old Apr 22, 18, 3:17 am
  #14  
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I like the flying gardens.....
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Old Apr 22, 18, 3:27 am
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Tanks for TR. Agree totally with your take on the Doha lounge. Left me a bit cold design wise, and found the food average, and no shower was available.
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