Review: Grand Hyatt Singapore (Upgrade to a Duplex Suite) and Hotel Pickup #FAIL

Last year I stayed at the Grand Hyatt Singapore and really enjoyed it. If you want to be on Orchard Road it’s a great option. Singapore is a very tough hotel town, lots of good hotels but only a few that are close to great — and even the good ones can be pricey. So the ability to leverage elite benefits or points can be a strong benefit.

I booked a discounted paid rate and confirmed my upgrade in advance. Hyatt allows Diamonds to confirm upgrades to suites at time of booking (subject to availability) 4 times per year for up to 7 nights each time. And they allow all members to use just 6000 points to confirm an upgrade of up to 4 nights if paying the ‘Hyatt Daily Rate’.

The standard upgrade here is to a two-level “duplex suite.” Last year I was upgraded one category further, to a slightly smaller single level room that simply struck me as a bit more elegant. But the duplex suite is large if you don’t mind going up and down the stairs to the bedroom.

I had pre-arranged a hotel car for when I landed. It’s cheesy, perhaps, but the hotel advertises in-car wireless internet. And having flown for a day (incidentally, Singapore Airlines’ inflight internet wasn’t functioning on my aircraft) I liked the idea of catching up on my email on the drive to the hotel so I’d feel better-positioned to begin adjusting to the time and the city.

I arrived just a bit before noon and my habit on such arrivals is to allow myself a short nap, then push through to a late-ish dinner in order to set myself to the new time quickly. But if I haven’t been online for a day then I’m going to want to check my e-mail first, that can easily expand into doing a bit of work, and my plan is foiled.

Unfortunately the hotel representative wasn’t there when I cleared immigration and customs.

I looked around, I waited, and I rang the hotel. They confirmed the pickup was requested — and that they did not actually set it up. I suggested I would just take a taxi to the hotel rather than wait for them to come get me, and they confirmed that they would pay for the cab and also offered to comp my return transfer to the airport as well.

I was more annoyed than that though, but when the manager on duty called to apologize I had just laid down for that short nap and was woken and just wanted to get off of the phone so didn’t wish to discuss the matter further.

When I arrived at the hotel I was directed to check in at the desk in the lobby. I asked, “normally they want me to check in upstairs in the lounge here” and the staff member said, “well the person who was to assist you upstairs is busy with another guest.” Gee, that made me feel important, though I was perfectly fine checking in right where I was – that was easier, even.

Except that the woman checking me in let me know that my suite wasn’t ready, and wouldn’t I prefer to check in upstairs in the lounge since that would provide a more comfortable place to wait? She didn’t quite understand why I was trying to check in with her.

I told her that after failing to pick me up at the airport, and being unable to send me straight away to the lounge (a key card is required in the elevator) that surely instead of telling me now to go to the lounge and wait that she could find me another suite?

And so with a phone call and a few key strokes she did. She only warned that there might be someone in the room when we arrived changing out the amenity, as there was one in the room already for a different guest.

Well, no one was in the room changing out the amenity. There was no guest welcome letter. No note about club lounge offerings. Nothing of the sort (nor was one ever delivered). And no amenity choice was offered — amenity choice is new for Hyatt properties in Asia. I was also never asked choice of newspaper, and no paper was ever delivered.

Upstairs is the bedroom, dressing area, and master bath.

Downstairs is the living room, dining area, desk/work space, kitchen and a through the kitchen a small guest bath.

The lounge in the new tower (in which we stayed both last year and this) is a very nice space. Evening snacks are substantial, and breakfast offerings are good — continental offerings plus eggs made to order — although admittedly after day 2 the choices bored me.

Example of the evening spread:

And of breakfast:

The hotel has a nice pool area that’s been mostly deserted the times I’ve passed by.

Ultimately the service failure which began my stay colored my view of the hotel. Nonetheless, it will probably be my choice again the next time I’m in Singapore unless I need to be elsewhere in the city.

That’s largely because everything about the hotel is certainly fine — the upgrades, the club lounge, the property itself — and because it’s not obvious there’s any hotel that is going to be substantially better without also being at a materially higher price point. Which makes the Grand Hyatt Singapore still my go-to.

What’s your go-to hotel in Singapore?

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About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Thanks for the review Gary. I just posted questions about this hotel on your other thread so this is very timely.

    I’m wondering with all the snafus, if it is a smart choice for me since I’m arriving at 2a. Other Diamonds have reported being treated well, but you sure weren’t.

  2. We LOVE the Fullerton Hotel. It is around the corner, somewhat, from the Bay. It is on the river and they have a wonderful lounge, hotel and amenities. Although we did not use points, I used the purchase eraser from the Capital One cared I had when they matched our 100,000 with another credit card program. Best use of the points I had with Capital One.

  3. Very honest review Gary. I had some similar service let downs about a month ago. Failed pick-up & strange check-in and lengthy check-in experience which I did not appreciate arriving at the hotel after 2AM.

    I like the property but the staff and the management of the the hotel are utterly clueless.

    My next trip to SIN is in December, hopefully the new Westin will be open by then. I’m going to give it a try.

  4. I always stay at the Marriott — I think its nearly across the street. The hotel is right over the MTR, and in the center of everything. Their exec lounge is good, although not the best I’ve visited (but certainly better than Ren. Seoul for example).

  5. @Meow,

    Since you arrived at the same time I’m arriving, do you mind clarifying a) how you got to the hotel at that hour; b) did they allow you to have a late checkout because of that AM arrival; and c) what was the rest of your stay like except for the lengthy check-in?


  6. I’ve stayed several times at the St. Regis & while the hotel is gorgeous there were some service blunders made by housekeeping & the spa. (My expectation was 5 star service but the reality was 4 star service……although I have been spoiled by Taj Palaces in India where excellent service on all levels is an art form/normal.)

    I’ve actually had some really good stays at the Changi Crowne Plaza but I had realistic expectations so I wasn’t disappointed.

  7. My favorites are the Fullerton and the Marina Bay Sands because of the pool. I have also had enjoyable stays in the Conrad.

  8. this was the same hotel featured in Anthony Bourdain’s Layover and No reservations. He actually rates the hotel breakfast as one of the only hotel breakfasts worth bothering with.

    Personally in SIN I prefer the Marriott (500 yards up the road) or even the Royal Scott opposite the road. I always get my dress shirts and suits made to order at the Far East Plaza which is next door to the Hyatt. I’m a little ‘heavier’ than I’d like and getting nice shirts that allow a tie with the right length sleeves is awesome. Shirts are a 1 day turn around at around $30-$40 with high end fabrics. Suits are $300+ and a day and a half. Both can be delivered to your hotel or shipped to you. I recommend ‘Dansen’s Boutique’ on the back wall on the 1st floor.

  9. @michael

    (a) We took a taxi to the hotel, we didn’t have any problems even with such a late arrival.

    (b) We didn’t require a late checkout since our stay in SIN was for multiple days before a mid-morning departure to MLE.

    (c) Everything else was fine, but nothing was great. I tend to lower my expectations in SIN when it comes to hotels.

  10. My preferred is the Mandarin, but also like the Conrad. You are right about it being a bit of a black hole for hotels, both in regards to price and service. Much prefer properties in Tokyo or HK.

  11. During my last two stays there, last one being last month, the lounge staff were rude and unhelpful. I actually find some of them incompetent. This is surprising given it is Singapore. Neither my wife or I will qualify for Diamond next year, so definitely would be trying out somewhere else.

  12. Hopefully you got your welcome amenity eventually. I thought the GH Singapore had one of the best when I stayed there (variety of salty and sweet snacks, plus a plate of fruit refreshed daily).

  13. Gary,

    Thanks for the review.

    I’ll be stopping in Singapore for 3 nights during my honeymoon next July en route from Bali to the Maldives. As SPG Platinum and no status w Hyatt, I’m wondering where I should stay (never been to Singapore). Would you recommend the Grand Hyatt, W, upcoming Westin, or St Regis? Which are in a preferred location? We are a youngish late 20s/early 30s couple, so prefer a younger more vibrant vibe (I read the SR Sin is a bit ‘antiqued’). Thanks in advance


  14. welcome to Singapore where customer service does not exist.Walk around and notice the people don’t smile and you will quickly see the byproduct of all the rules regulations lack of basic freedoms etc that make it a police state have taken a toll.Ask a taxi uncle how he feels about living in Singapore and you will be shocked.And pls be careful.Have had one US tourist knock over an item by owner demanded payment and tourist said it was an accident police was called he was taken to the station his passport was impounded and threatened with jail.And whatever you do don’t say anything bad about the govt you will regret it.

  15. We stayed at the hyatt Singapore in June of this year. Our flight came in at 5:30 am and was at the hotel by 6:30. They slowed us to check in surprisingly and upgraded us to a junior suite even though we’re only platinum. The shower in the room has ruined me for life as nothing will ever compare to it again and we’ve stayed at the tambo del inka which I thought was a great shower! Great location next to the mrt and a grocery store next door at the ground floor of the mall. I would stay here again in a second!

  16. My go to hotel in Singapore is an airline. Arrive in the morning, spend the day there and fly out at night. I’ve spent several days in Singapore and have yet to sleep there. No desire to.

  17. Gary, has anyone from Hyatt or any other company ever reached out to you after posting a bad experience like this one?

  18. @Ken – yes, such as when I wrote about my worst Lufthansa first class flight ever in 2010. Or when a negative review of the Hyatt Pier 66 got picked up in USA Today. It’s relatively rare but it happens.

  19. Gary – Good info. I know Singapore hotels well having lived there 19 years and now travelling there a few times a year. I like to stay near the Orchard/Scotts road intersection so know those hotels the best. Generally, I think the spaces at the hotels are nicely appointed but the service is lacking when compared to other countries. Anyway, Singapore Hyatt has a soft place in my heart since I’ve known the various GMs for decades and know the current one and will send your post to him under the heading of constructive criticism.

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