Last month we planned a 2-night ‘staycation’ in Singapore and we decided it was about time to check out the new Andaz hotel in Bugis. Having stayed at one of their properties before it’s been on our radar since opening late last year but remarkably we hadn’t even made it there for dinner or a drink, so it was certainly time to rectify that.
One of the Hyatt Group’s three ‘lifestyle’ brands (the others being Hyatt Centric and The Unbound Collection). It was launched in 2007 as Hyatt’s answer to the modern offerings of the SPG group’s ‘W Hotels’. First opening in London, they have now expanded to 18 upscale boutique lifestyle properties worldwide.
As we mentioned this is not our first encounter with the Andaz brand at Mainly Miles. We stayed at the Andaz Maui at Wailea back in 2016. We liked the eco-conscious, ultra-lux, minimalist themes and appreciated the modern decor without the gaudy attempts at modernity that the W Hotels brand sometimes strays into.
The Andaz Singapore was the brand’s first foray into the competitive South East Asian market. Opened in late 2017, it occupies the top floors of the newly opened iconic DUO skyscrapers at Bugis, on eastern fringe of the CBD, just 20 minutes drive from Changi airport. An underground walkway connects visitors directly to Bugis MRT station and parking is available in the DUO towers (approximately S$21 for 24 hours).
German architect Ole Scheeren designed the hexagon-clad skyscrapers and Andre Fu is responsible for the interior of the hotel itself.
- Opened: November 2017
- Rooms: 342
- Check-in: 3pm
- Check-out: 12pm
- Andaz Lounge Hour: 5pm to 7pm daily
- World of Hyatt Category: 6
In the days leading up to our stay, the hotel emailed to find out what time we would arrive. We requested 12pm and were advised that they would try their best to have the room ready but with no guarantee. Standard check-in time is 3pm, with check-out set at 12pm.
We called at 11:45am and happily enough our room was ready and awaiting our arrival.
Check-in desks on the 25th floor are laid out more like ‘podiums’ with laptops rather than the more traditional layout.
There are four primary room types offered at the Andaz Singapore.
- Standard/Accessible (38 sq/m)
- View (38-42 sq/m)
- Suites (76 sq/m)
- Premium Suites (114-152 sq/m)
The rooms are all accessed from corridors lining one of the impressive internal central atriums.
King View Room
Located on the corners of the building, the room begins with a foyer, a sizeable wardrobe/dressing area plus the mini-bar, which is well stocked. Non-alcoholic items are free of charge and topped up daily.
Through a set of colonial-style yellow wooden swing doors is the bedroom. Floor to ceiling windows line the length of the far wall and into the corner of the room, providing beautiful panoramic views.
Alongside the King-sized bed is a very helpful selection of switches and charging options including USB ports. Lighting, blinds and curtains are also controlled from here.
At the opposite end of the room is a very comfortable chaise lounge and a dining table which doubles as a desk if you have work to do.
Through into the bathroom are a separate rain shower and toilet cubicle with a single sink. Disappointingly, no bathtub – only suites in this hotel are equipped with them.
Quirky Singapore influenced options are available in a newspaper style hotel guide. You can order either via phone or via the app/website. Since our perennial favourite, the club sandwich, wasn’t offered (perhaps a little cliché for this modern brand), we opted for the Toasted Ham Jaffle.
It arrived promptly and was very tasty. Served with a small side salad. The little plant on the tray was a nice touch.
Quite unlike most upscale hotels, which tend to offer lounge access to the high-end room types and frequent travellers who hold appropriate status, the Andaz lounge is open to all guests.
The lounge (called the ‘sunroom’) serves refreshments throughout the day. Between 5pm and 7pm a choice of red and white wine plus Andaz’s own pale-ale, brewed especially by the local Red Dot Brewery, are on offer. Naturally, this offer of free beverages draws quite a crowd and means the lounge is rather oversubscribed. We wonder if perhaps offering this perk to all guests is a bit of a mistake but happily sampled some very pleasant (free!) wine nonetheless.
The sunroom is a lovely spot but not quite on a par with usual hotel lounges. There is an absence of food and cocktails on offer but you are free to order paid items from the menu to complement your drinks and snacks. We shared the smoked salmon small plate, which was excellent.
Bars and restaurants
Icehaus, Plancha’Lah!, Smoke & Pepper and The Green Oven are the main restaurants on the 25th floor, the lobby level.
Two bars, Bar Square (on the 25th floor – effectively a lobby bar) and Mr. Stork (on the 39th floor, a rooftop bar) are open to guests and the public.
Bar Square has a nice busy atmosphere. Plenty of city folk had turned up after work for their attractive happy hour, notably including a glass of Delamotte Brute N.V. for S$12.
We were excited to visit Mr. Stork but found it packed to bursting on arrival. Outside guests were being turned away. As in-house guests, we were offered standing room at the bar. Shortly afterwards we were seated but it took nearly 30 minutes to get a drink! We should note however that the Espresso Martinis they mixed were excellent.
It was clear that the staff were doing their best but with the number of guests – it was an impossible task. If this large area is to be open to everyone then the hotel must lay on more staff to assist with service.
A steakhouse situated on the 38th floor flanked with floor to ceiling glass windows exhibiting yet another stunning vista of the Singapore skyline.
The head chef, Josephine Loke a Singapore local has already worked for a number of our favourite restaurants: Tippling Club, Open Farm Community, Pollen and Odette, the latter boasting two Michelin stars.
We managed to get a booking with just one day notice, through the hotel concierge. Despite the restaurant showing full on Chope, some availability is clearly held back for hotel guests, which is a nice touch.
We had an excellent meal but by far the best dishes we enjoyed were some ‘off-menu’ creations cooked specially by Ms Loke, notably an excellent cod dish. We wish they would give this clearly extraordinarily talented chef more freedom with the menu to show her skills.
Served from 7am to 11am on weekends at Alley on 25. Spread across three “shophouses”, designed to reflect Singapore heritage.
Really it’s just three restaurants alongside each other serving cold cuts, fruit and bread plus a Western counter including an egg station then further on an Asian section with a noodle bar.
No shortage of choice here, these options ensured there was plenty to suit all tastes and the quality was good. The service was a little patchy but when offered was good. It seemed a little understaffed for the quantity of guests and size of the service area.
The swimming pool is located on the 25th floor and offers jaw-dropping infinity views of the Singapore skyline. There are only a small number of sun loungers and we found it very overcrowded on Friday afternoon and all day on Saturday.
Food and beverages can be ordered through the app or webpage straight to your table. Service was fast and efficient.
A decent sized gym is located on the 38th floor, commanding further stunning skyline views. It’s well equipped with a sizeable weights area.
Oddly for a hotel of this calibre, there is no in-house spa. Guests are instead directed to a nearby local salon.
Communications before our arrival were largely carried out by email, with just one phone call to help us with our 665°F restaurant booking. The Andaz team contacted us shortly before our arrival to ask if we’d like to upgrade our booking (as we had booked a basic King Room). The rates were favourable so we opted to top up just S$30 to the King View Deluxe.
The reception staff were well trained and helpful. Plenty of thought has been put into making sure overseas guests are well advised on nearby attractions and sightseeing in Singapore.
The hotel was clearly quite full and this showed in certain locations. The rooftop bar, Mr. Stork was chaotic, though we were staying on a Friday night and it is also open to the public. The pool was overcrowded and untidy due to the turnover of guests. Breakfast was also rather chaotic from a service perspective, despite us arriving towards the end of the service.
The main negative experience we encountered was after we checked out. We realised that an item had been left in the room. We contacted the Andaz immediately and after several frustrating phone calls, they established that housekeeping had not found the item. It was in a fairly obvious location and isn’t the sort of thing that would be considered disposable. Even speaking to management didn’t help – they didn’t even return our phone call despite promising to do so.
It would appear that despite best efforts they are still having some teething problems with staff training. This correlates with other guest experiences.
The Andaz ‘house style’ very much suits our tastes. Simple, understated luxury. We don’t need 30ft high chandeliers in the lobby or all-day food buffets in the lounge. We’d prefer that time and attention was spent on the smaller details making the guest experience seamless and relaxing. That has been well achieved here.
We’d received reports of poor customer service, which we put down to initial teething problems immediately after opening. From our experience however, these issues still remain. With such a great 5-star hard product, it’s disappointing to be let down by poor staff training, customer service and communication.
These issues could be easily and quickly fixed by appropriate management oversight. Mr. Stork needs to have limited seating capacity and more staff. The pool needs more sun loungers and more staff. The breakfast needs… you guessed it – more staff!
As for the communications issues after we left – training of staff should have a greater emphasis on service recovery. Not returning calls or being able to provide timely information is not acceptable.
If these issues were fixed we would probably give the Andaz a 4.5 star rating, but as it stands customer service is a significant factor for us and this hotel didn’t stand up to nearby competition in this regard.
|Summary:||A well finished luxury hotel with 5-star facilities and great views, let down by poor customer service.|
|Among luxury hotels:|
3.5 out of 5
Example non-refundable rates for a weekend stay in August 2018, including breakfast:
- 1 King or 2 Twin Beds from S$310 per night
- 1 King or 2 Twin Beds with View from S$330 per night
- 1 King View Deluxe from S$360 per night
- Andaz Large Suite King or Twin from S$1,110 per night
- Presidential Suite from S$1,710 per night
Stayed June 2018
(Cover Photo: MainlyMiles)