Tag Archives: singapore

SEA 2014: Hotel Review Holiday Inn Express Clarke Quay

For our time in Singapore, we stayed at the Holiday Inn Express Clarke Quay. As a category 3 IHG property, it’s 20k points a night.

I don’t have much experience with IHG hotels (I guess I don’t have much experience with hotels generally), but this was the nicest and hippest Holiday Inn Express I’ve stayed at. I generally don’t think of “cool” when I think of Holiday Inn, but the interior was designed to be pretty funky.

Outside of hotel

Outside of hotel

Tons of rooms (the hallways are technically open air)

Tons of rooms (the hallways are technically open air)

The rooms were small, but functional. The outside-facing rooms have interesting slanted windows, and there were warning signs to close the shades if you were doing anything private.

Rooms are small, but it's Asia

Rooms are small, but it’s Asia

The bathroom has sliding components to open up to the rest of the room, so they’re not noise-insulating at all. I don’t really understand the not-quite-separate bathroom concept in hotels. I’ve never thought to myself, “gee, I really wish I could look at my bed when I’m taking a dump”.

Bathroom is also tiny and opens up into rest of room

Bathroom is also tiny and opens up into rest of room

The fitness center was on the roof, which was decently sized. But the best part of the roof was definitely the pool. No, it’s not the Marina Bay Sands, but you can see the Marina Bay Sands from the roof, and the pool was surprisingly uncrowded whenever we used it.

Fitness center

Fitness center

Pool

Pool

Good views

Good views

Breakfast every morning was fine. But really, we only ate enough to appease our stomachs long enough to get to the real eating of the day.

Breakfast

Breakfast

Food was fine, but you should be eating out instead of a hotel buffet

Food was fine, but you should be eating out instead of a hotel buffet

The service at the hotel is limited, since it’s a Holiday Inn Express and not a full-service hotel. The location is convenient to Clarke Quay (obvi), but it’s actually a decently long walk to the nearest MRT station, which was inconvenient. I would stay here again given the right price (i.e. if it ever goes on PointsBreak), but I would choose lodging closer to the MRT in the future since this hotel isn’t anything special.

SEA 2014: You’re Doing It Wrong at Tong Heng (Singapore)

My time in Singapore was characterized by eating, more eating, and then eating some more, to the point of a constant malaise/euphoria from being so full of delicious food.

One place that might be on your eating list is Tong Heng, which is known for their egg tarts (Gary from View From the Wing wrote about it in his recent Singapore food recap). But if you stop at the egg tarts, you’re doing it wrong.

Inside Tong Heng

Inside Tong Heng

The best thing I ate at Tong Heng was their kaya omelet toast aka fried deliciousness with kaya smothered on top aka kaya eggy orgasm in your mouth. It’s like kaya toast, but with an omelet on it, then deep fried. They make it to order, and it’s best consumed immediately.

Secret menu at the back (not really secret, just not well known)

Secret menu at the back (not really secret, just not well known)

To provide a little context, we stopped at this place after gorging ourselves at the nearby Maxwell Food Centre where we had chicken rice, porridge, dumplings, and drinks. We really didn’t have room to eat much more than half an egg tart each, but we finished the omelet anyway because it was that frickin’ delicious (so much delicious regret afterward).

The egg tart wishes it could be as tasty as the kaya toast omelet

The egg tart wishes it could be as tasty as the kaya toast omelet

Don’t get me wrong: the egg tart was good, but there are lots of places in the world to get good egg tarts (I also don’t think this place is worth a detour just for their egg tarts). But if you like fried food and dessert, I’m sure you’ll love the kaya toast omelet as much as we did.

If you want to go, it’s within walking distance of the Chinatown MRT, and it’s a block away from the Maxwell Food Centre.

Thailand 2014: Singapore SilverKris Lounge at Bangkok Airport (BKK)

Introduction
Cathay Pacific Lounge San Francisco
Cathay Pacific First Class San Francisco to Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific Lounge The Pier Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific Business Class Hong Kong to Bangkok
Millennium Hilton Bangkok
Cooking with Poo
Overnight Train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai
Le Meridien Chiang Mai
Patara Elephant Farm
Bangkok Airways Economy Class Chiang Mai to Ko Samui
Conrad Koh Samui
Bangkok Airways Koh Samui to Bangkok
Thai Airways First Class Check-in and Lounge Bangkok
EVA Air Evergreen Lounge Bangkok
Louis’ Tavern First Class CIP Lounge Bangkok
Singapore SilverKris Lounge Bangkok
Thai Airways First Class Bangkok to Hong Kong
Singapore Airlines Lounge Hong Kong
Thai Airways Lounge Hong Kong
Asiana Business Class Hong Kong to Seoul
Asiana Airlines First Class Lounge Seoul
Asiana Airlines First Class Suites Seoul to New York
United Airlines Business Class PS Service New York to San Francisco


The last lounge on my lounge hopping tour of BKK was the Singapore SilverKris Lounge. This lounge is located near the A gates, and the windows of the lounge look out onto a small courtyard instead of the apron.

Entrance to the Singapore SilverKris Lounge at BKK

Entrance to the Singapore SilverKris Lounge at BKK

Windows overlooking a small courtyard

Windows overlooking a small courtyard

The lounge has lots of dividers in the room, which creates lots of semi-private seating areas. It feels a bit maze-like, and it’s a big contrast to the openness of the EVA Air lounge. When it’s not crowded, the increased privacy of the Singapore lounge is great, but it can feel claustrophobic when it gets busier.

Seating and dividers

Seating and dividers

Some say that the Singapore lounge has the best food of any of the Star Alliance business class lounges at BKK, but it didn’t seem that appetizing to me as there were flies buzzing around the food. There were a number of hot options, dim sum, and desserts (including Haagen Das ice cream, if that matters to you), and many people were very happily partaking.

Hot food

Hot food

Dessers

Desserts and pastries

More food

More food

Drinks 1

Drinks 1

Drinks 2

Drinks 2

Drinks 3

Drinks 3

Singapore Airlines wouldn’t be Singapore without its service, and even in the lounge, the service delivered. My camera was dying and I stupidly had checked my charger, but a lounge attendant was more than to help me find a spare charger.

Finally, some people fault this lounge because it lacks an in-lounge bathroom. I didn’t stay long enough for that to be a problem, but I can see how it’d be annoying if you were there for a longer stay.

Overall, this is a nice lounge, with some good food options and more private seating options. You can find typical Singapore service, which is always a plus, but it might not be the most convenient place to camp out given the lack of shower and bathroom facilities.

United.com No Longer Showing Singapore Award Space

I was searching for award space on SQ 2 from Hong Kong to San Francisco for a friend in economy class, and I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t even SEE the flight on United.com, especially since I found space on ANA’s website (which does show availability for economy space, just not for premium cabins on long-haul routes).

Well, I wasn’t going crazy, as UA Insider has posted on Flyertalk that they’re no longer going to display Singapore Airlines award inventory at all starting December 13th.

Hi everyone,

I wanted to give you an early heads up about an upcoming change to the Star partner award availability you see displayed online. Singapore Airlines and United have agreed to remove Singapore Airlines inventory from our award flight search results on united.com and on the United Mobile App. This will take effect starting tomorrow, December 13, You will still to be able to book and change award reservations involving Singapore Airlines by calling our reservations lines.

Please let me know if you have any clarifying questions, and I’ll do my best to answer them.

Aaron Goldberg
Sr. Manager – Customer Experience Planning
United Airlines

United is continuously making me glad that I decided to leave them for American.

Singapore Airlines Announces New First and Business Class Seats on Boeing 777-300ER

There are now photos online of Singapore’s new first class and business class seats for the Boeing 777-300ER. These will also be the seats on the A350 and Boeing 787-10 once those get delivered. The new seats are supposed to premier on the London route starting in September.

New first class suite

New first class suite

New business class seat

New business class seat

Check out Australian Business Traveller for more pics of the new first and business class seats!

How to Get 2 Award Seats in Singapore Suites

Singapore Suites on the A380 is one of the most aspirational redemptions out there. If the load is light in the suites cabin, they’ll even make a double bed for you to sleep.

Given how great this cabin is, Singapore has done a good job of “protecting” it, so it’s traditionally been very hard to access. For a long time, you had to spend a million KrisFlyer miles if you wanted to redeem an award. Then they started allowing Saver award redemptions, which made a trip from Singapore to the US a more reasonable 91,375 KrisFlyer miles. And availability is great, which might largely be because not many people have large stashes of KrisFlyer miles sitting around (although I’m sure more people have large stashes of Amex Membership Rewards sitting around, and those can be transferred 1:1 into Singapore KrisFlyer).

But if you’re traveling with someone else and looking to redeem a Suites award to/from the US, they’ll only release one award seat (it has been reported that Singapore releases up to 2 award seats for flights to Sydney, Melbourne, London, Zurich, and Paris). So what to do if you’re traveling with someone else?

You could have them slum it in business (or coach), or you can book one flight as the direct flight, and the other as the individual segments.

For example, take the routing of Singapore to Tokyo to Los Angeles on SQ 12. It’s possible to have one person booked as the direct flight from Singapore to Los Angeles for 91,375 miles and roughly $390 in taxes, while the other person books Singapore to Tokyo for 51,000 miles and $155 in taxes and then books Tokyo to Los Angeles for 74,375 miles and $188 in taxes.

Screen Shot 2013-06-25 at 1.45.38 PM

No space on the direct flight from Singapore to Los Angeles because the one available award seat for the direct flight has already been booked

Screen Shot 2013-06-25 at 1.46.01 PM

But space still exists on the SIN to NRT leg

Screen Shot 2013-06-25 at 1.46.27 PM

And there’s still space on the NRT to LAX leg

This gives you two seats in Suites Class on SQ 12 from Singapore to Los Angeles through Tokyo by booking one on the direct flight and one on the two legs individually. Granted, the second seat costs an extra 34,000 miles because you’re booking the segments individually, but this is the most economical way I know of to get two Suites awards on routes to and from the US.

Around the World in 100 Hours: Singapore Business Class Singapore to Colombo

Introduction
United Club San Francisco, International Terminal
United Business Class San Francisco to Seoul
Asiana Airlines Business Class Lounge Seoul
Korean Air Lounge and Singapore SilverKris Lounge Seoul
Singapore Business Class Seoul to Singapore
Ambassador Transit Lounge Singapore
Singapore SilverKris Lounge Singapore
Changi Airport Free Singapore Tour
Singapore Business Class Singapore to Colombo
Transiting Colombo
Lotus and Araliya Lounges Colombo
Qatar Airways Business Class Colombo to Doha
Qatar Airways First Class Premium Terminal Doha
Qatar Airways First Class Doha to Dubai
Emirates First Class Lounge Dubai
Emirates First Class Dubai to London Heathrow
British Airways Concorde Room London Heathrow
British Airways Galleries First Lounge and Club World Lounge London Heathrow
British Airways First Class London Heathrow to San Francisco


Singapore 468
Singapore (SIN) to Colombo (CMB)
Sunday, May 26th, 2013
Depart: 11:05pm
Arrive: 12:15am (+1 day)
Duration: 3h 40m
Aircraft: A330-300
Seat: 16F

The flight ended up being delayed over an hour due to waiting for an inbound aircraft. When we entered the gate area, the gate agents were passing out printed letters apologizing for and explaining the delay. I don’t think you’d ever see that in the US!

One passenger was quite angry about the delay and managed to argue himself some compensation. While I wouldn’t recommend that strategy to everyone, and I felt quite sorry for the gate agent at the receiving end of his barrage, it was quite impressive to see him get compensation for something that he really shouldn’t have.

This flight was very similar to my flight from Seoul to Singapore, except that the load was considerably lighter on this flight, which made for an overall more pleasant experience. I was able to snag a seat which had an empty seat beside it.

My seat, 16F

My seat, 16F

Business class cabin

Business class cabin

I again had a special VGML meal on this flight, which was decent. In general, I find catering to be better when departing from an airline’s hub, but in this case, I thought that the food was slightly better on my Seoul to Singapore flight than on this one. Maybe this is just because I’m not a huge fan of fake meat, and that featured heavily in my entree this time.

Appetizer of vegetables and mushrooms

Appetizer of vegetables and mushrooms

Noodles with bok choy, carrots, and fake meat

Noodles with bok choy, carrots, and fake meat

Jelly dessert with litchi (?) inside

Jelly dessert with litchi inside

DSC01705

Regular menu for reference

DSC01707

Champagnes on offer

Given that it was a late-night flight, I tried to get some sleep. Again, I thought that the angled-flat seat was more than adequate.

Seat in fully reclined position

Seat in fully reclined position

Overall, I thought it was another great experience, and it far exceeded any sort of regional product I’ve flown in the US.

Around the World in 100 Hours: Changi Airport Free Singapore Tour

Introduction
United Club San Francisco, International Terminal
United Business Class San Francisco to Seoul
Asiana Airlines Business Class Lounge Seoul
Korean Air Lounge and Singapore SilverKris Lounge Seoul
Singapore Business Class Seoul to Singapore
Ambassador Transit Lounge Singapore
Singapore SilverKris Lounge Singapore
Changi Airport Free Singapore Tour
Singapore Business Class Singapore to Colombo
Transiting Colombo
Lotus and Araliya Lounges Colombo
Qatar Airways Business Class Colombo to Doha
Qatar Airways First Class Premium Terminal Doha
Qatar Airways First Class Doha to Dubai
Emirates First Class Lounge Dubai
Emirates First Class Dubai to London Heathrow
British Airways Concorde Room London Heathrow
British Airways Galleries First Lounge and Club World Lounge London Heathrow
British Airways First Class London Heathrow to San Francisco


If you have a layover of 5 hours or more at Changi Airport, you can partake in a free tour of Singapore. Since I had a layover of 8 hours and it was pouring rain when I arrived, I decided to sign up for the tour rather than brave the weather by myself.

They offer five tours per day, although the times are a little misleading since you’re supposed to be ready to go about an hour before the stated time. So although the tour I signed up for was supposed to be from 6:30pm to 8:30pm, I was told to be at the booth at 5:25pm.

Once at the booth, they handed out numbered stickers that we were supposed to wear, and then we headed off to Terminal 2, to pick up the other people signed up for the tour. Then, as a giant group, we made our way through immigration. Even though they had two immigration officers dedicated to the tour group, it was a very slow process.

After immigration, we boarded a bus for the tour. We were told that we weren’t allowed to take pictures in the bus, unless we were shooting things outside. I’m not sure why this was.

I was expecting more of a guided tour where we would go from touristy place to touristy place and our guide would tell us interesting facts. It was more like we drove directly from the airport to a singe drop-off location, got the chance to walk around for 15 minutes, and then drove directly back to the airport. And the tour guide was rather patronizing and full of propaganda. Lots of stories ended with statements like, “and that’s why Singapore is the best nation in the world”.

Marina Bay Sands

Marina Bay Sands

Merlion statue

Merlion statue

The tour did offer the chance to see the Singapore skyline and the merlion statue, but the free tour was a very sterile perspective of Singapore. It’s a cool idea in theory, but in practice, I think it would have been better to have skipped it and explored the city on my own.

Around the World in 100 Hours: Singapore SilverKris Lounge Singapore

Introduction
United Club San Francisco, International Terminal
United Business Class San Francisco to Seoul
Asiana Airlines Business Class Lounge Seoul
Korean Air Lounge and Singapore SilverKris Lounge Seoul
Singapore Business Class Seoul to Singapore
Ambassador Transit Lounge Singapore
Singapore SilverKris Lounge Singapore
Changi Airport Free Singapore Tour
Singapore Business Class Singapore to Colombo
Transiting Colombo
Lotus and Araliya Lounges Colombo
Qatar Airways Business Class Colombo to Doha
Qatar Airways First Class Premium Terminal Doha
Qatar Airways First Class Doha to Dubai
Emirates First Class Lounge Dubai
Emirates First Class Dubai to London Heathrow
British Airways Concorde Room London Heathrow
British Airways Galleries First Lounge and Club World Lounge London Heathrow
British Airways First Class London Heathrow to San Francisco


As I was connecting to a Singapore business flight, I had access to the SilverKris Lounge, although not the Private Room in the lounge which is reserved for first class passengers. Although this is Singapore’s business class lounge, people who are Star Alliance Gold don’t get access to the SilverKris Lounge; instead, they get access to the KrisFlyer Gold Lounge (why Gold is less exclusive than Silver is beyond me).

Entrance to the SilverKris Lounge in Terminal 3

Entrance to the SilverKris Lounge in Terminal 3

The SilverKris Lounge is quite large, with a variety of different seating areas. There are computers to use, a small conference room for business, a sizable dining area, and lots of seats for lounging. Given its size, it never felt crowded, even during the busy times.

Seats with a terrific view of the... smoking area?

Seats with a terrific view of the… smoking area?

iMac work stations (they also had PCs)

iMac work stations (they also had PCs)

Lots of space (but not that many electrical outlets?)

Lots of space (but not that many electrical outlets?)

If there’s one fault that I could see, it’s that there weren’t many electrical outlets, except at the seats along the edge of the lounge, so most people seemed to congregate along the edge.

There were extensive food options served buffet style. Things seemed to be replaced often, and there were lots of signs saying what was vegetarian, which I greatly appreciated.

Dining area

Dining area

Food options

Food options: sushi and noodles

DSC01676

Desserts

Hot food options

Hot food options

A sampling of the food

A sampling of the (vegetarian) food

Drink selection

Drink selection

The shower facilities were decent, although I couldn’t get the water to be as hot as I wanted. It was a rather lukewarm shower.

Toiletries in the shower rooms

Toiletries in the shower rooms

Shower room

Shower room

I also had the chance to visit the SilverKris Lounge in Terminal 2, and I found it to be slightly worse than the Terminal 3 lounge. The Terminal 3 lounge is larger, has better and more food options, and also has couches, which is important if you’re trying to take a nap as there are no nap rooms in either lounge. It’s just a short tram ride between the terminals, so I’d probably take the time to head to Terminal 3 if I had a long enough layover and was departing out of Terminal 2.

Around the World in 100 Hours: Ambassador Transit Lounge Singapore

Introduction
United Club San Francisco, International Terminal
United Business Class San Francisco to Seoul
Asiana Airlines Business Class Lounge Seoul
Korean Air Lounge and Singapore SilverKris Lounge Seoul
Singapore Business Class Seoul to Singapore
Ambassador Transit Lounge Singapore
Singapore SilverKris Lounge Singapore
Changi Airport Free Singapore Tour
Singapore Business Class Singapore to Colombo
Transiting Colombo
Lotus and Araliya Lounges Colombo
Qatar Airways Business Class Colombo to Doha
Qatar Airways First Class Premium Terminal Doha
Qatar Airways First Class Doha to Dubai
Emirates First Class Lounge Dubai
Emirates First Class Dubai to London Heathrow
British Airways Concorde Room London Heathrow
British Airways Galleries First Lounge and Club World Lounge London Heathrow
British Airways First Class London Heathrow to San Francisco


The first lounge I stopped in at Singapore was the Ambassador Transit Lounge in Terminal 3. You can access this lounge using Priority Pass.

The Ambassador Transit Lounge has many services typical of international airport lounges (e.g. shower rooms, nap rooms), but most of these services beyond wifi and food are pay-per-use. This can be great for a traveler without lounge access who just wants to take a shower or a quiet place to take a nap, but it’s a little less appealing for those of us who get our lounge access through programs like Priority Pass.

When I visited, the lounge only had one other person in it. While it wasn’t a very large lounge, there were plenty of places to sit, including one room where all the chairs were facing the same wall.

Is everyone supposed to look at the painting?

Is everyone supposed to look at the painting?

The food options didn’t look incredibly appetizing to me, but I did have some steamed buns that I really enjoyed.

I'm a sucker for steamed buns

I’m a sucker for (steamed) buns

More food options

More food options

Overall, the lounge seemed like a fine place to spend a couple of hours, but I’m not sure I would have paid for access just for the food and wifi since Changi offers free wifi and the food wasn’t great. But if you’re looking to grab a shower or a private room for a nap, it’s one of the only places you can go.

Empty lounge

Empty lounge

Computer stations

Computer stations

It’s also worth noting that the Ambassador Transit Lounge in Terminal 2 has a gym, and I did see a couple of people using it to work out.