Superb make-over transforms Singapore's Swissotel into a swish hotel

By David Flynn, July 17 2019

One of Singapore’s most recognisable hotels has emerged from an almost two-year makeover – but from the outside, the Swissotel looks little different to when the circular I.M. Pei-designed tower opened in 1986.

Then known as The Westin, it soared above the Raffles City block and was, for a time, the world's tallest hotel.

Singapore's Swissotel The Stamford is a landmark of the city skyline

Dressed in Pei’s modernist geometric style, it still catches the eye. And, due in part to an unmatched location, the Swissotel The Stamford – to give the hotel its full name, and differentiate it from the nearby Hotel Swissôtel Merchant Court at Clarke Quay – retains its place on the Singapore shortlist of many business travellers.

Location, location, location

The Swissotel stands above City Hall MRT station, a bustling junction for the city’s two metro backbones (the green East-West line and the red North-South line) and a short stroll from the Circle line’s Esplanade station.

It’s perched atop the Raffles City Convention Centre, and adjacent to the Suntec Convention Centre which is home to scores of conferences and trade shows.

A superbly central location helps make Singapore's Swissotel The Stamford a hit with travellers

A short taxi or Grab ride delivers you to the peaceful greens of Fort Canning Park; the bars, restaurants and nightlife of Boat Quay, Clarke Quay and Robertson Quay; the commercial and financial towers around Raffles Place; the colour and authenticity of Chinatown; and the downtown shopping of Orchard Road. 

Enjoy late-night cocktails with a view at Level 70's Skai bar

The inside story

That said, today’s Swissotel The Stamford is the next best thing to an all-new hotel compared to the Swissotel I often visited on so many trips to the Red Dot.

A fresh new look for Accor's Swissotel The Stamford, Singapore

“The whole building was pretty much been pulled back to its bare bones and redeveloped,” recounts Marcus Hanna, who serves as General Manager of both the Swissotel and the neighbouring Fairmont. “Guests that haven't stayed with us for a while are quite amazed by the difference in what the hotel looks like now compared to what it was previously.”

Before its renovation, the Swissotel's rooms were certainly showing their age

The bottom-to-top transformation not only modernised all of the 1,200-odd rooms and suites, it gave them a decidedly Asian feel while while still embracing the brand’s Swiss design roots.

Considered design brings together location and brand

That’s perhaps not as much of a stretch as it sounds, which you consider that both aesthetics embrace natural materials and a clean, uncluttered form.

Details of design at the renovated Swissotel The Stamford

There’s definitely more of a sense of being in Singapore, in Asia. The vibe is more local than generic.

Warm colours and materials are at the heart of the Swissotel's revamp

“It's always important to have some local flavour, and I think our designer have done that very well,” Hanna tells Executive Traveller. “We also did get a few Swiss brand elements in there, little accents and touches like the red crosses for hanging your towels.”

Faster check-in

The Swissotel’s lobby has also been opened up, allowing plenty of room for guests to come and go and circulate.

The Swissotel's lobby provides more room to move, plus space to sit and wait for visitors

Immediately noticeable is bank of ten automated iMac-based check-in stations on the ground floor, reducing the need for weary guests to stand in line when they've not long ago stepped off their flight.

The self-checkin stations make it quicker for guests to head to their room and relax

“Being a 1,250 room hotel, eight percent of the time we’d have a queue to check in or check out, but since we've implemented the automated check out and check in, that queue has vanished,” Hanna says.

The system was developed in Singapore by Accor in partnership with a Dubai-based technology company, with funding assistance from the Singaporean government, which is always keen to boost the city-state’s efficiency.

“One of the biggest challenges in Singapore is manpower, “ Hanna explains. “It's very hard to find Singaporeans for many operational roles in the hotel industry, and the government is very tech-savvy, very much believes in transformation (to reduce reliance on manpower) and definitely supports you in that area.”

Lounging around

Another transformation took place 65 storeys up, with an entire floor now given over to the hotel’s new executive lounge – which used to be on level 60 – and fitness centre.

Almost an entire floor is given over to the Swissotel's executive lounge

The new lounge is more than five times larger and incorporates three meeting rooms plus a seperate Crest lounge exclusively for guests in the 13 spacious suites.

The Crest lounge is dedicated to guests staying in the Swissotel The Stamford's 13 suites

Needless to say, the expansive floorplan and panoramic 360 degree views across the city are a delightful way to start the day at breakfast or finish in the evening with cocktails.

Breakfast comes with a stunning view at the Swissotel The Stamford's executive lounge

And while Singapore serves up a riot of places to eat and drink – the locals are, after all, among the world’s most enthusiastic foodies – the Swissotel’s new outlets are a convenient option for guests.

JAAN by Kirk Westaway provides an intimate 40-seat gourmet experience

The range from the Stamford Brasserie on the lobby level, the Clove buffet restaurant and the intimate Michelin starred JAAN restaurant; Skai is a contemporary grill, complemented by the Skai Bar cocktail bar, both on level 70; and one floor up, the pulsating Bar Rouge nightclub.

A refresh for the Fairmont

Following the Swissotel The Stamford’s magnificent make-over, Accor’s renovation plan – believed to cost several hundred million dollars – continues at the south tower of the neighbouring Fairmont hotel, which is being redone in its own unique and distinctly residential style.

The living room of the Swissotel The Stamford's opulent Presidential Suite

Lighter carpets and woods have moved to a darker, richer and calmer palette, “It’s totally different to what it was,” Hanna says of the design’s “homely residential feel.”

“In some of the rooms we have a ‘floating bed’ to capitalise on the views. We've also made sure that if you're working at your desk there’s still a view instead of you looking at a wall.”

The updating of both properties also has an eye towards the environment, as driven by Accor’s Planet 21 sustainable development initiative.

Skai-high dining atop Singapore's Swissotel The Stamford

“We are putting filtered water taps with still, sparkling and hot water in the (Fairmont) rooms, as part of the mini-bar – we won't have any plastic bottles in those rooms, as we are trying to eradicate as much plastic as we can.”

“In the Swissotel bathrooms there are no small amenities in plastic bottles anymore, we've gone to pump bottles, and that's also to ensure that we're doing our part for the environment.”

David Flynn stayed as a guest of Swissotel The Stamford

David

David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

Aidan

Aidan

05 Dec 2018

Total posts 117

The renovations look lovely. Filtered water on tap in the room is a fantastic idea.

Anna80

Anna80

09 Mar 2015

Total posts 20

This is my hotel of choice for business trips to Singapore, absolutely perfect location, and the renovations have made such a difference. It was pretty tired before, with old design and decor, and all a bit worn out. Checked into the Swissotel last month and wow, what a difference! The rooms are superb and the new lounge is fantastic, especially for meetings.

AsiaBizTraveller

AsiaBizTraveller

20 Nov 2015

Total posts 59

The Swissotel is a great hotel, if you stay there or at the Fairmont, here's a tip for finding great meals. There's a pretty good selection of eateries down on the ground floor of the Raffles City shopping mall below the hotels but all the hotel staff and the workers at the office block go up to the third floor above the hotels, which has a great local food court, freshly made noodles etc at top prices.

Sparksy

Sparksy

09 Aug 2015

Total posts 13

Brilliant hotel, I much prefer to be here than in the busy downtown area of Orchard Road and Scotts Road, especially of a weekend. The Esplanade station has really made this so much better because of easy access to the Circle line.

fiscal

fiscal

29 Jan 2016

Total posts 21

One major change has been the removal of baths from the majority of rooms. Showers only now. The look and feel has all changed, and for the better, but some will miss not being able to lounge in a soothing bath at the end of a day.

Ourmanin

Ourmanin

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

08 Jun 2018

Total posts 64

Have a soft spot for this hotel as it was my first ever stay in Singapore, looks like a great refurb and as others have said its location is superb. Would definitely be my recommended hotel for Singapore.

Fionap1

Fionap1

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

24 Oct 2018

Total posts 1

When I stayed the pool area had no where to sit as it's shared with The Fairmont. Every chair was taken by the afternoon. The cocktails the Executive lounge promise are just a few bottles of spirits and mixers. They need to stop using that description. Great for New Year if you pay for a room facing the harbour

QFP1

QFP1

05 Mar 2015

Total posts 52

Very much agree, the Swissotel is great and the location is an absolute winner. It's also the hotel for a lot of airline crews including Qantas!

desafinado74

desafinado74

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

02 Dec 2016

Total posts 23

I was planning to stay at the next door Fairmont. But i may change my mind after seeing the new Swissotel. Do people here generally prefer the Fairmont or the Swissotel ? Are there many differences between them ?

AsiaBizTraveller

AsiaBizTraveller

20 Nov 2015

Total posts 59

The Fairmont has always been the more upmarket and classier of the two, you can tell just from the moment you walk into the lobby of the Fairmont. I've stayed in both, but only at the Swissotel before it was renovated. I preferred the Fairmont rooms but the new Swissotel ones look fantastic. If you can get a new Fairmont south tower room I'd be tempted to go for that, otherwise you might decide to spend the same amount of money on a larger Swissotel room or one with lounge access. In terms of location they are the same.

Cholly66

Cholly66

22 Sep 2018

Total posts 1

Stayed at the Fairmont a week ago in a newly updated room within the south tower which had a modern standalone bath alongside the open shower. The room was spacious and comfortable. Unfortunately refurbishment works had overrun meaning the Gold Lounge and some of the restaurants were closed especially the Italian Prego. This resulted in breakfast being served in the Swissôtel but was certainly no hardship. Save for a bit of a queue in the morning the food was great with a wide variety of cuisines on offer. I can also confirm that the Swissôtel exec lounge on floor 65 is fab. Pretty good food on offer from 17.30 as well as the open bar until 19.30. All the staff I encountered in both hotels were uber friendly and efficient.

desafinado74

desafinado74

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

02 Dec 2016

Total posts 23

Which hotel is better ? Swissotel or the next door Fairmont ?

AsiaBizTraveller

AsiaBizTraveller

20 Nov 2015

Total posts 59

The Fairmont is definitely more 'upmarket', but now that the Swissotel has been upgraded I guess it would depend on which of the two Fairmont towers you are staying in, if you get a room in the south tower that's been renovated it could be better again, but older rooms and north tower rooms could suffer by comparison. I'd want to compare rooms for size and amenities, eg do you get a bath if that's important to you, as well as pricing.

Hi Guest, join in the discussion on Superb make-over transforms Singapore's Swissotel into a swish hotel