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Staying in the Shangri-La Hotel Singapore’s new Tower Wing

When you’re an Australian heading off on a long haul trip you can go one of two ways. There’s the ‘let’s knock this over in one 24 hour or more marathon’ approach, which has been my usual style over the years, and the ‘let’s break these crazy flights up with a short stopover’ concept which if time permits is a lovelier way to go.

My latest trip involved a bit of a flight marathon that would take me from Sydney to Singapore to Frankfurt to New York City to Charleston, South Carolina to be part of the very exciting delivery flight of the first Boeing Dreamliner 787-10.

I was doing the trip with Singapore Airlines to cover their new aircraft for Escape, and as excited as I was when I thought about how I might be feeling after all of those flights I decided it was a pretty good idea to break it up with a stay in Singapore on the way.

And to make it a special stopover, worthy of such a special trip, I decided to stay somewhere I never had before: The Shangri-La Hotel Singapore.

Arriving at the Shangri-La hotel Singapore always feels special

The World’s First Shangri-La Hotel

There are now around 100 properties owned or operated by Shangri-La around the world with hotels in London, New York, Sydney, Tokyo and dozens of other locations. There are 55 Shangri-Las in Mainland China alone.

But the Singapore Shangri-La is the one that started it all. It’s the first, or the grandmother as they say, of the whole brand.

Named after the mystical paradise in the novel Lost Horizon, this Shangri-La first opened as a single tower in 1971. The Garden Wing on the other side of the pool came next in 1978 followed by the Shangri-La’s Valley Wing in 1985.

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Even though it’s an easy walk of only 500 metres of so from the busy retail mecca of Singapore’s Orchard Road, the Shangri La feels like it’s in it’s own little secluded bubble. From my room I can see city buildings, but I never hear city sounds, and as I walk past the pool and through the gardens, looking up at the soft organic shapes of the whitewashed Garden Wing balconies with pops of bougainvillea colour it feels like I could be on an island somewhere. Or rather, a more secluded island than the one I’m on.

A stroll through the Valley Wing where President Obama had been a guest just a few days earlier gives me a taste of the hotel’s most opulent accommodations, the section where the champagne free flows any time of day and where there are secret elevators and a driveway that won’t appear on google maps.

Orchid lovers can also indulge in Singapore’s national flower with a visit to The Orchid, a 7-metre greenhouse sculpture filled with beautiful orchids, including a dendrobium named after the Shangri-La itself.

As one of Singapore’s great luxury hotels the Shangri-La is a real treat to stay in. You can check out any specials and the latest rates through the Shangri-La Hotel Singapore’s website and see how they compare to other hotels on your travels through Booking.com. 

The New Tower Wing at Singapore’s Shangri-La Hotel

Last year the original section of the Shangri-La hotel, The Tower Wing, went through an eight-month overhaul that led to a new look lobby and rooms.

Ryoichi Niwata and his team at Bond Design Studio won the best hotel renovation and restoration category at the 2018 AHEAD Asia Awards for their work, that includes a stunning lobby lounge that feels like an indoor garden.

A huge art installation of thousands of metallic leaves swirling overheard is first thing that catches my eye when I enter the lobby, followed by an infinity pool where sculptures of children play.

Shangri-La Hotel Singapore's new look Tower Wing reception

Over on the far side of the lobby 350 kilograms of basalt stones that were flown in from Australia make up Southeast Asia’s largest indoor natural feature wall. The wall was created by the two-time winner of the Chelsea Flower Show, Australian landscape designer Charlie Albone, who worked with a stonemason from Scotland, three botanists and six specialists to create an impressive hanging garden.

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When I enter my Tower Wing room the window shades are drawn and it’s quite dark, but when I put my room key into the power slot by the door the curtains come to life.

I can almost hear a Ta-dah! as the night curtain draws back, taking the room from darkened to light filled and I’m soon skipping across the room to look for the button that will open the day curtains too so I can see those Singapore views.

It proves to be a very short and easy hunt as all the buttons are conveniently found on both sides of the bed, along with the dual USB ports I wish every hotel room had.

After soaking up the view I start to explore the room. There are simple but lovely natural touches including the way the natural edges and knots have been kept on the piece of sustainable timber that creates a console underneath the television, and in the soft organic shapes of bowls and plant holders around the room.

A cute desk and high chair in one corner reveals itself to be a grooming station when lifting the lid reveals a mirror and hairdryer, while the safe is found in a drawer inside a small glass wardrobe.

And this stationery lover smiles when she realizes the large work desk overlooking the city has a drawer filled with stationery including scissors, a stapler, and paper clips along with Shangri-La notepaper and envelopes for sending letters to my future self home (yes, that’s a story for another day).

The Shangri-La Singapore’s Amazing Family Rooms in the Tower Wing 

The Shangri-La’s new Tower Wing also has a special new addition for families that is so cute I almost want to travel with children to try it out. Almost.

The ninth floor of the Tower Wing is all about families and has five themed family suites and 19 deluxe family rooms that are so popular they were booked months in advance before they’d even opened.

When I had a sneak peek at one of the suites I fell in love with the way they had a tiny door linking the parents room and the children’s room that the kids can come through, as well as an adult sized door for grown ups.

Each of the suites has a theme, and there are little on-theme letterboxes in the hallway where things can be left for the children.

Shangri-La Singapore Tower Wing Castle Room and Safari Room Family Suite, image courtesy Shangri-La hotel Singapore

The suite we visited was Space themed and when I saw the rocket style bunk beds complete with a control panel with lots of buttons for the kids to press I could only imagine how excited I would have been if I’d been lucky enough to stay there. At any age. And I pretty much lost it when I saw how freaking adorable the castle and safari bunk beds are.

And while I may not travel with children myself even I could appreciate what a welcome sight a pantry with washing machines and dryers, a microwave, steriliser, baby diapers, swimming diapers and more would be to a travelling parent.

Origin – The Shangri-La’s new bar and restaurant 

The Shangri-La’s rejuvenated Tower Wing also has a new bar and restaurant that is well worth checking out whether you’re staying at the hotel or not.

The Origin Grill & Bar has an old railway station vibe to it with art deco touches inspired by the romance of rail.

The Origin Bar & Grill at Shangri-La Hotel Singapore is a welcome new addition to the luxury hotel's new look Tower Wing

The cocktail menu is divided into five sections, each inspired by ingredients from five key districts in Singapore: Orchard, Chinatown, Little India, Boat Quay and Marina Bay.

The cocktails are inventive and intriguing. The Pearl in the Marina Bay section, for example, mixes tofu, elderflower, sea grapes, mugi shochu and black forest gin and comes in a large pearl in an oyster shell. I love the way it looks I can feel another cocktail calling my name and so I order the Million Dollar Fee in the Little India section, which combines saffron and coconut distillate with champagne.

Each district also has a 0% Proof mocktail on the list, including the Chewing Gum Mule, consisting of Longan, Raspberry, Mint, Lemon and Ginger and inspired by the chewing gum that was banned in Singapore in 1992.

Next door Australian chef Heidi Flanagan is making her Singapore mark in the Origin Grill restaurant. The night I was there the restaurant had been booked out for an event so there was no chance of getting a table, but I had a chance to have a chat to Heidi and loved her energy and outlook on life.

Heidi has worked across top restaurants in Sydney, Ibiza, and Bali and I can’t wait to go back another time and try some of her dishes. I’m fascinated by the idea of the Snow Aged Full Blood Wagyu that Origin is the only restaurant in Singapore to have and involves the Yukimuro method of using a snow covered room to age the meat while keeping it at more than 90% humidity. The snow covered room part of the process happening in Japan rather than Singapore, funnily enough.

And though Origin may have been full, I was lucky enough to be able to dine at one of the Shangri-La’s other restaurants, Shang Palace.

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This Chinese fine dining restaurant recently welcomed a new chef, and a star one at that. Actually, make that two stars.

Mok Kit Keung has been described as a celebrity by Michelin Guide inspectors, and his last restaurant, Shang Palace in Kowloon Shangri-La, Hong Kong, received two Michelin stars.

Chef Mok joined the Singapore restaurant last October and from our starter of pan fried fresh abalone with superior soy sauce on a crispy rice cracker I knew the meal was going to be one to remember. And not just because it’s the first time I’ve eaten a braised sea cucumber or shredded jellyfish.

By the time dinner was over I was so happy and full that I was grateful that I only had to hop into the elevator and zip up to my room and curl up in bed.

CHI Spa time at Shangri-La Hotel Singapore 

The next day was one of those perfect luxury hotel days. I woke slowly and gently in a super soft bed and had a couple cups of tea as I looked out over the view.

Then it was time to try the breakfast buffet at The Line, which is so extensive with 16 theatre kitchens and around 100 dishes to choose from that it took me a few laps before I even came up with a shortlist of the top things I wanted to eat (noodle soup, dim sum and red velvet waffles won out in the end).

Shangri-La Hotel Singapore pool

After a bit of exploring around the hotel grounds I pottered around in town for a bit before coming back for a very important appointment at the Shangri-La’s spa.

I was booked in for one of the CHI signature massages and after slipping into a robe in the change room and having a little tea in the relaxation lounge, my therapist Alicia came to find me.

After leading me into one of the spa’s nine treatment rooms Alicia sat me down and asked me to smell four different oils and tell me which one I was most drawn to. Rather than tell people what the different oils are good for, Alicia says she likes people to respond to their scent and then explain what they’ve chosen.

The signature treatments at Chi Spa at Shangri-La Singapore involve beautiful oils that you choose before your treatment, image Shangri-La Hotels

When I selected the sandalwood and vanilla combination Alicia explains it’s perfect for soothing and comforting, and then proceeds to give me the sort of massage I wish I could have every time. She worked my pressure points in such a way that the tension release felt sublime rather than painful and by the time she’d finished I felt so light and blissed out that I floated on out of there.

A perfect end to a beautiful stay.

Amanda Woods stayed as a guest of the Shangri-La Hotel Singapore but as usual all opinions remain her own.

This post contains some affiliate links, so if you click on a link and book something I will earn a small commission but don’t worry, it’s at no extra cost to you. Thank you.

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