A Tale of Two Sofitels

(Hint: They are not equal.)

Introduction to the Sofitel Adventure

How Did I Even End Up in Sofitel?
I never planned for a staycation, or a “work from hotel” day. But this happened:

Conversation with Daniel, my insurance agent turned super foodie friend and buddy

In true Singapore kiasu spirit, I accepted the offer. After all I could always work from the hotel (always remember to use a VPN!)

Work From Hotel @ Sofitel City Centre

Sofitel City Centre was designed for the corporate traveller in mind. But do not let “corporate traveller” fool you; Tanjong Pagar is underrated as a tourist destination; it is rich with food and drink options no matter what price point you desire.

Sofitel City Centre’s location: Walking distance to Robinson Road/Anson Road/Shenton Way. 5 min walk from Tanjong Pagar Food Centre (bottom-left), 5 min walk from Maxwell Food Centre, right outside Tanjong Pagar MRT. Even if you are miserly with yourself, you have plenty of options.

The Office, Lounge, Bedroom and Soaking Corner

I could identify the hotel concept Sofitel City Centre aimed for. Thanks to Daniel’s Accor membership, Sofitel City Centre provided a complimentary upgrade to the Club Room, but note the basic room is largely similar. (Note: Due to COVID-19 season, some amenities are not displayed. Feel free to ask room service for them.)

Office space (with visitor chair that can be taken out when needed), lounging space with reading light, resting space facing the TV. Charging ports (240V AC and USB) available on bedside and beside work desk.

Form balances with function in the design of the room; every item here has a functional purpose that somehow blends into the overall theme. Classy.

Views you can get include the classic brick red roofs of the shophouse district.

Certainly not a beach resort, but this city hotel is blessed with good views.

This theme carries over to the bath, and gets nudged a notch up.

The elegance continues whilst maintaining function; look at the towel hook right outside the shower cubicle. Thoughtful.

And then we begin to get into the opulent displays. (ask room service for the bath tray)

Plastic glass, a book (please don’t steal the book) and bath salt. Tell your friends you are multi-tasking; soaking in the bath while sipping on wine and reading a chill book. That’s 1 way to live well!

Feel free to use the speakers provided to play some classical music and pretend to be wherever you are for as long as you like.

Elegance Extends Beyond the Room

While not an ostentatious resort, careful thought has been placed into its design to retain its upmarket character, whilst maintaining function.

The pool floor. It is not by any means the best pool, but you can do a few laps here and pretend to replicate the Infinity Pool experience.

The attentive staff (more on this later) were assisted by a few robotic servers. Watching them take lifts themselves to deliver amenities was a curious sight.

Say hi to Xavier and Sophie, the droid butlers. They say “Merci” while asking travellers to give way to them to take the lift!

Sofitel City Centre Shines Because of Staff

The staff elevated the already 5-star hotel beyond a sparkling experience. Daniel describes the first encounter as one of the factors that made him decide to renew his Accor membership.

Taken from Daniel’s Facebook post. This is accurate on every count.

The other episode was in 1864, the bar. Here, I wrote the following:

From my own Facebook post. I recommend 1864 as a bar. Trivia: they use the Raffles Hotel recipe for their Singapore sling, but make it fresh.

I enjoyed a welcome drink at 1864.

Star of Negroni. A negroni but somewhat stronger. 🙂

A little word on 1864: if you want a top-notch bartender:

Everyone likes a drink, but perhaps the secret to a personalised bar experience is… a champion bartender?

There are other little touches of excellent service such as personalised addressing of hotel guests (the pool receptionist remembered me while performing housekeeping duties on my floor).

Much time here was spent alternating between doing some laps in the pool and working from the room. For a corporate traveller this hotel hits the spot. For a staycation this should also offer an exquisite experience, even if not quite the usual type of hotel staycationers will go for.

A Word on Food

I did not try the breakfast set, since it did not come complimentary with this package. However, I swung by Tanjong Pagar Food Centre to buy a takeaway, visit the market on the first level to buy some cheap fruit, and chill in your own room with a complimentary TWG tea. It is still a luxurious experience.

Slacking @ Sofitel Sentosa (no time to do everything!)

After an outstanding adventure at Sofitel City Centre, I was invited to try Sofitel Sentosa. Expectations were inflated for this one.

Sofitel Sentosa: Will it Live Up to its French Way?

Because of the Lunar New Year season, we were greeted with an impressive lantern display.

Opulent lanterns greet the Sofitel Sentosa visitor.

If Sofitel City Centre was designed to impress with elegant touches, Sofitel Sentosa tries to do so with grandeur. Did it succeed?

Expansive corridors greet the hotel guest. There will be space to roam down the hallways, taking in the resort atmosphere.
At night these hallways transform into a display of lights due to the festive season.

Clearly, this was a resort, unlike the corporate hotel in Tanjong Pagar.

The room feels different, and is somewhat less practical than Sofitel City Centre (even though the view is much more calming).

This time you see the work desk full of items, including the welcome drink I got.

Because there was no lounge chair, I tried to chill from the work chair. It was alright.

Chilling. Note: dark chocolate provided from my own home. Not available for purchase from hotel.

However, I noted an impracticality. While minor, it appears boiling water for tea was somewhat inconvenient.

The views outside during daytime look vast. From my room, I could see a sampling of the verdant green view.

Room view. I would then decide to slack in this same garden, but on the chair partially visible in this picture.

Taking a stroll on the resort grounds, I was greeted with more lush greenery.

Tried to chill in the hanging chair too. I learnt it was not the best of ideas; had to sweep away a few ants.

I took some TWG tea out and decided to enjoy the view early in the morning. Rather relaxing indeed.

My time was somewhat short, though, so I did not get to review the spa facilities, or the array of sporting facilities provided in the resort. However, I managed to find some views of the pool. Great views, but they need to clean the deck chairs and seats more frequently.

Great, deep pool view. But the beds and chairs by the poolside don’t look that well-maintained.
Early morning: hardly anyone here. Chill!

For those who prefer the beach, Sofitel Sentosa is located atop a hill, which gives it its exclusive resort feel. However, one could descend the hill to chill by Tanjong Beach (I didn’t do so).

I saw from another review that one should get a band for accessing Tanjong Beach due to beach population limits. Take note!

Bonus points visiting other resort residents too.

Hi peacocks and peahens!

So… are the Sofitels Five Stars?

It depends. Stars can be subjective, as per what Investopedia says:

There’s no question that the hotel star rating system can be vague, confusing, and downright arbitrary. However, with a little bit of research, it is possible to pinpoint the perfect hotel to suit your unique needs and your budget.

Investopedia, Navigating the Hotel Star System

Sofitel City Centre is in my opinion, easier to review. It is indeed 5-stars for service. I was personally impressed enough to write a complimentary letter for them:

Since I mentioned on “Very Clear Cut” to look out for the less fortunate sectors who were affected by COVID-19, complimenting those in hospitality is a good first start to reward those who have done well.

Sofitel Sentosa is harder to review, because my stay there was somewhat limited. Perhaps because I was spoiled by my experience at Sofitel City Centre, I went into Sofitel Sentosa with inflated expectations. As a resort property, it still commands an air of grandeur, and those who enjoy lazing on the hotel grounds itself would find Sofitel Sentosa a good day out. However, I found the finer touches at Sofitel City Centre much better than Sofitel Sentosa, to the point that I find it hard to rate them the same. Maybe the jewel in Sofitel Sentosa lies not so much in the hotel room itself, but in the other amenities such as the spa.

Final Remarks

COVID-19 has made us unable to travel, and especially in Singapore, domestic rediscovery of our tourism scene can feel a bit contrived, since our tiny island does not allow for the illusion of going faraway. However, there is often joy in rediscovering new ways to enjoy the Garden City.

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