As an employee of Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG), I am very blessed with one of the most impactful employee benefits any wanderlusting individual they can have – employee rates for any IHG hotel around the world (provided, of course, that there are available rooms for employees during the intended stay period). The rates can be so competitive, it turns my friends green when I tell them about it. The funny thing then is that I hardly stay at IHG hotels. Please don’t stone me.
It is not because I don’t think the hotels are any good. In fact, I am more than assured of the quality, how intuitive the service can be and all the different hallmarks that makes each brand so special. But I am quite the explorer. The thing about being so intrigued by adventure, is that I prefer to explore. And when I say I prefer to explore, it means, I sometimes would rather take a risk with a brand I’ve never stayed at before, just for kicks, to see what’s out there on the other side… or maybe it’s a job hazard what I’d want to check out what the competitors are up to, what have they done differently and what works (and sometimes doesn’t) for them so that I can learn and really broaden my horizons. Now and then though, I’m really compelled to use my employee rates especially when I notice that a particular property really stands out in terms of design and has its own spin to the usual “formula”.
I’ve been thinking about doing a staycation at Holiday Inn Express Singapore Clarke Quay which opened earlier this year because it’s THE BABE of Holiday Inn Expresses. It’s new, it’s sleek and it’s really sexy. Plus I was super curious.
Photo Credit: Holiday Inn Express Singapore Clarke Quay
The Express brand is IHG’s limited-service hotel chain serving the price-conscious traveller. I personally found this concept really smart and I’m definitely part of the segment that would be drawn to a brand like Holiday Inn Express. I’m not the backpacking-and-hostels sort, but I’m a holidaymaker who likes the little things in my chosen accommodation such as reliable internet access, comfortable beds, and well designed room (and bathrooms). I definitely don’t like to be charged additional for things I consider essential, so the Express chain is completely my kind of hotel. The brand has been around since the early 1990s and has been rapidly growing, but the first Express opened in Singapore in July 2013. That was the Holiday Inn Express Singapore Orchard Road. Less than a year later, the Holiday Inn Express Singapore Clarke Quay opened its doors.
There are five things that really sets Holiday Inn Express apart from the competition in the limited-service segment, built on the concept of convenience and comfort allowing guests to “Stay Smart”.
- Breakfast is Included
Don’t worry about how you’ll fuel up at the start of the day. Breakfast is basic but has everything you’ll expect and that includes scrambled eggs, baked beans, sausages and warm pastries.
- Freshen Up
It’s limited-service but enjoyment of your daily showers are not going limited by low water pressure. Definitely no compromise on your shower experience! It’s going to be strong and steady water pressure all the time.
- Comfortable Bed
You still get quality sleep that will make you want to snooze in the morning thanks to cozy duvets, a choice of firm or soft pillows, and very lush, smooth linen.
- Stay Online with Free WiFi
Which savvy traveller these days would settle for paid WiFi? WiFi is not a pricey addition and instead is a standard. Yes, Holiday Inn Express provides free WiFi.
- IHG Rewards Club
Only frequent travellers will appreciate loyalty programmes and trust me, if you travel often, it’s time you took advantage of them. Sign up is free and you can earn precious points for every qualified stay in any of the 4,600 hotels worldwide which you can then use to redeem for room nights and more.
The opportunity came for me to check out Holiday Inn Express Singapore Clarke Quay with The F Man’s birthday this month. I decided (on whim and sudden inspiration) to just book a room as a surprise birthday getaway. I basically planned to not plan his birthday and it went really well. Firstly, it was a Sunday, a day we usually refrain from staycating on because work on Monday is just not awesome. Secondly, all the planning, if any came pretty late just days before his birthday surprise and The F Man didn’t even see it coming. Thirdly, I was a complete natural at behaving like a nervous wreck since I’m like that a lot of the time, so yes, no suspicions raised at all when I behaved a little jumpy while hiding the fact that a surprise was underway.
Credit also should rightfully go to Dan and his awesome team from Holiday Inn Express Clarke Quay for helping me store my bags a day before check-in so I wouldn’t raise any suspicions and allowing me to do an early check-in to set up the room. James in particular was so warm and welcoming. Thank you so much guys! I know that it’s not just because I’m a fellow IHG employee that they would go out of the way to make this surprise stay memorable. It’s just in them to be so service oriented and helpful.
Lovely motifs on walls
Beautifully designed open-air corridors
Rooms are designed in a cute structure which I found resembled little “cubby holes”
The design of Holiday Inn Express Singapore Clarke Quay is absolutely stand-out! It plays with natural light and is designed elements of a resort hotel with open air corridors and even a beautiful rooftop infinity pool which is kinda interesting. (I’ll come to that later.)
The thing is for this hotel, there really isn’t excessive space and it’s meant to be that way. It’s tight. It’s cozy. It’s a small city hotel for the travellers on budget but who don’t want to splash out on an expensive full-service hotel so they can spend a little more experiencing the city. I don’t see the small space as a downside, in fact it’s comfortable even with the limited space. The rooms are 19 square metres, and while it was quite snug and cozy, I didn’t feel claustrophobic and quite enjoyed the space. Maybe it was the full-length windows (which are one of the things I look out for in the hotels I stay in). I think that really helped make the room look even more spacious.
View from the Quayside Rooms
Comfortable bed with both soft and firm pillows
Totally enjoying the bed
The beds are also firm and rather comfortable and the option of firm and soft pillows is quite the godsend for picky sleepers. The F Man is a finicky sleeper and he doesn’t always sleep well at hotels. In fact, when we stayed at Oasia Hotel, he hardly slept a wink because he said he wasn’t used to it. I thought it was comfortable enough for me, but then again I’m a heavy sleeper. I can sleep through thunderstorms and probably even disasters. This time round though, he was a sleepy head and even KO’ed in the afternoon after we checked in until dinner. So I spent my time exploring the hotel and just relaxing while he was in La-La-Land.
iPhone dock music player and alarm clock
Flat screen TV with a good selection of movie and news channels
Already glued to the TV during his staycation surprise
Surprise a success!
Other cool things that are in the room is this smart iPhone docking station that doubles as an alarm clock and quite a variety of international and local telly channels which was what I spent a lot of my time watching as The F Man slept like a log on the comfy queen sized bed.
Small wardrobe area next to minibar and coffee making facilities
Bottled drinking water is compliments of the hotel
You get basic coffee making facilities, some tea and coffee sachets. Do note that the minibar is completely empty – which is awesome, because now I can put only my favourite drinks into the fridge to be chilled (e.g. Japanese Milk Tea from Liang Court). Bottled water is complimentary, so no worries about being charged for drinking water too!
Not a large desk, but good enough to work on for the business travellers or internet junkies
Even though the superior room isn’t extremely roomy, there’s still space for a decently sized desk – big enough for working on with a laptop. The swivel chair is also pretty comfortable as well. You’ll find that because there is no room service, the hotel has partnered with some nearby F&B outlets (including an #oldiebutgoodie Zouk-era fave, SPIZE) so you can order in food delivery. I thought that was quite smart, Stay Smart indeed!
Really outshining the competition with the marbled bathrooms here
Convenient dispensers for hand wash
Standing shower only in this compact bathroom BUT rain shower included
A 2-in-1 shampoo and body wash dispenser makes showering even more convenient
The bathroom is really compact but well designed so there’s still enough room to have a nice hot shower (with a rain shower as well as hand-held shower head and for both the pressure was amazing). You don’t get a bath tub with this sort of space, but the rain shower was definitely very welcome.
All soaps in the bathroom are also in these wall dispensers. In the shower stall, the soap doubles up as both shampoo and body wash. The hand wash next to the sink is also from a refillable wall dispenser. Definitely made it easier to shower. I actually love collecting the little toiletries just because they smell amazing and I’m just a hoarder like that, but I think using the toiletries in small bottles can be quite a hassle; You know trying to squeeze them out, banging the bottle against your hand and just trying to get the right amount of soap into your palms – not so convenient you see. So surprisingly the wall dispensers were a welcome change for me.
A hair dryer is available and there were enough towels, really. Holiday Inn Express Singapore Clarke Quay, not bad at all!
The open-air gym at the roof
The rooftop infinity pool and gardens
Swimming in an infinity pool that looks like a fish tank
Deckchairs for maximum chill out time
Comfy sofa seats also available at the rooftop
The splendid view of Clarke Quay from the roof
What really helped me “stay refreshed” though was the rooftop pool and open-air (FYI: it’s still sheltered) fitness centre. While I didn’t have time to fully use both facilities, I was able to enjoy myself just taking a stroll around the landscaped garden areas and admiring the view from the pool deck. The pool is quite interesting because it resembles a fish tank. It’s an infinity pool version of a fish tank! Also, the view is awesome. On each side there is a totally different view: facing the main Clarke Quay area from the Quayside lift and at the pool, facing the public housing flats. This is how you get a taste of the real Singapore and go totally local!
Vending machine for snacks and essentials you can stock up your empty minibar with
Condoms, munchies and drinks are all available
Oh yeah, I need to draw your attention to this machine… We were very tickled by this vending machine which sells everything that usually is available in the minibar and loads of sundries. There’s condoms, there’s chips, there’s chocolate, there’s biscuits, there’s bottled drinks, there’s breakfast bars and there’s even deodorant sprays. Goodness, this is THE vending machine. Well, can’t beat the ones in Japan, but still it’s so interesting to look at. So yep, here’s where you can get your minibar (and sexy time) supplies.
Seating area at the bar
The al fresco dining and lounge area of the Great Room
Bigger groups can enjoy dining together in these dining area with plush sofa seating
Checking out the newspapers at the Lobby
Yes, we’ve just taken a look at a vending machine, but even though Holiday Inn Express technically isn’t full service, there is still a bar where you can grab a quick beer, take advantage of some really cheap booze promos and still enjoy fantastic hotel ambience.
Okay, one last thing. The thing about staying at a Holiday Inn Express Clarke Quay is that breakfast is free and when I say free, I mean it’s automatically included. It’s not an opt out because it’s just seriously just complimentary. The smart thing to do in the morning is to kick start your day by grabbing a breakfast and we all know it is true. If I don’t eat breakfast, I’m an absolute grump and I may even feel miserable, so no way is a grey kind of day smart in any way!
Some Asian Carbohydrates for you?
Protein in the form of scrambled eggs and cheesy chicken sausages
Or perhaps some cereal and milk (quite a variety too)
Get really buzzed with your choice of coffee from the coffee machine
More delightful carbs are available if you prefer bakery items
Fresh and yummy pastries if you’re not up for an Asian brekkie
Yoghurt too? Boy am I spoilt for choice.
Okay this is not like Breakfast for a King type meal or anything of that sort. It’s far from luxurious, but trust me when I say this is more than value for money. Looking at the price of a one night stay in Holiday Inn Express Singapore Clarke Quay and then taking a look at what breakfast includes, which while limited, still offers a very decent variety of Asian and Western brekkie items… Hey, it’s really a good spread. There are plenty of carb options from Western-style breakfast pastries and croissants to Asian fried bee noon and fried rice. There’s also the standard scrambled eggs (boiled eggs also available) and sausages (comes with a cheesy squirty centre). You can find cereal, even yoghurt and toasters for toasting bread. I really cannot complain!
I mean, I’ve read the reviews before coming as well and heard that some people thought it wasn’t all that great like the rest of the hosted reviews. But frankly, while I paid an employee rate, even taking into consideration a full-priced stay. This is a great product. It’s a fantastic and very visually stunning hotel backed by staff who are actually warm and friendly. The rooms are good and comfortable and the breakfast is better than I expected for something that’s FREE.
Anyhow, I’m so stoked that The F Man loved his birthday surprise and that I managed to pull it off even though I can be a little of a bimbo with surprises. I’m also really satisfied that I picked Holiday Inn Express Clarke Quay because it really is so spanking new and it helped that the location is so near food (and Liang Court – because The F Man and I are still having a Japan Hangover and we can’t get over the fact that the food in Singapore will never match up to Japan so we still try).
All in all, the staycation was good and I really didn’t want to leave for work on Monday morning. Why did it have to be a Monday?!
Holiday Inn Express Singapore Clarke Quay
2 Magazine Road, Singapore 059573
Disclaimer: The views expressed on this website are my personal views and do not necessarily reflect views of my employer. The posts and opinions expressed on this blog are solely my own. They do not represent (nor are they intended to represent) the positions, opinions or policies of my employer or any other company or person. The comments on this site are moderated, but even so the opinions expressed in those comments are not necessarily shared by me.