Nestled between centuries-old heritage on one side and flashy modernity on the other, the Grand Park City Hall is easy to miss. It is surrounded by shopping enclaves like Raffles City and Suntec City, and almost dwarfed by the glitz of a shiny new Funan Centre. Just a stone’s throw away lie historic colonial-era landmarks like the Armenian Church, St Andrew’s Cathedral, the National Gallery, the Central Fire Station, and Fort Canning Park.
Grand Park City Hall, situated in the middle of all this history, culture, and colour, is like the central gemstone in a ring setting. You may have to look beyond the surrounding glamour to notice its shine but once there, it holds your eye, as the kids and I found when we were invited to spend a night in one of the hotel’s new suites last month.
The new Grand Park City Hall
The hotel was recently refurbished, and now boasts an immaculately curated neo-classical interior that blends local Peranakan heritage with modern European elegance. The result is compelling stylish and luxuriously comfortable, kind of like being in your designer friend’s beautiful home.
Next door is the upcoming City Hall Square, a brand new three-storey mall. If you are as old as I am, you may remember a St Gregory Spa, as well as a wonderful Japanese ramen restaurant there. The new mall integrates the colonial-era shophouses with the hotel and is still a work in progress. It already looks gorgeous, doesn’t it?
The face-lift isn’t just surface-level. Grand Park City Hall is the first hotel in Singapore to offer guests a bespoke app. You can breeze though check in via the GPCH app (free from the iTunes App Store or Google Playstore), select rooms, and use the mobile key to enter. The catch? You need to be logged in to the hotel’s Wi-Fi network to use it and that was glitchy during our stay.
Its location is a winner
We’ve stayed in some incredibly accessible hotels like this one but the Grand Park City Hall isn’t simply close to transport networks. It’s also close to attractions, and the CBD, making it a great choice for tourists as well as for business travellers.
There is so much to do just minutes away! You can wander through an exhibition at the National Gallery Singapore, watch a movie at Golden Village cinema at Funan, take a stroll through history at Fort Canning Park, and explore culture at the Peranakan Museum — all are within walking distance of the hotel.
It offers quiet escape from the city
You’d expect a hotel smack in the centre of so much to be a noise gatherer but no, that’s not the case. Grand Park City Hall’s main entrance is on the relatively narrow Coleman Street, and once you enter the building you are enveloped in quiet elegance. Your taxi driver uncle may complain about having to make extra turns to get you to your destination though.
Those fabulous Family Suites
These six pairs of interconnecting rooms were designed with families in mind. The parents’ side is a normal premier room; it is the kids’ side that has us gasping in delight.
An arched window overlooks a house-frame pull-out bed. A mini bench with dragon-playground sides gives a playful nod to local heritage. An activity desk and a sizeable chalkboard offer plenty of opportunity for kids to express themselves. All in all, it is delightful and we’d stay inside all day if we could.
Baby amenities, from playpens to bottle sterilisers, step stools, and baby bathtubs, are available upon request, subject to availability. Baby sitting services (24-hour notice required) are also available, at $30 per hour per child.
And uber-stylish new suites
With its final phase of refurbishment complete, the hotel now has 11 room categories, including new suite types. Top of the line are the Park Suite and the Coleman Suite. These luxurious penthouse suites boast colonial-themed interiors as well as an outdoor garden with a private jacuzzi. There is also the Oasis Junior Suite, which has a private garden with a jacuzzi and direct pool access.
We stay in the Garden Junior Suite. The room is made of sections carved out of awkward angles that would give fengshui masters epic despair. However these angles allow the neat segregation of a lounge area and a bedroom area between the closet and the bathroom, giving each area a semblance of privacy. The kids immediately claim the lounge as their (somewhat) hangout.
The suite has a little verandah which overlooks Peninsula Plaza and if I stretch my imagination, it reminds me of the tiny balcony overlooking a narrow street in a European hotel I once stayed in. The space seems redundant as there is nothing in it to make it functional. This could be an oversight as pictures on the hotel website (above left) show a little table and two chairs that turn the area into a pleasant al fresco nook. You may want to confirm that these will be available when you make your booking.
Tech life in and out of rooms
Our Garden Junior Suite blends modern and traditional, with Peranakan floor tiles in the bathroom, leather-look luggage doubling up as tables, and built-in USB ports by the bedside. You can control the lights, air-conditioning, and TV channels using the mobile GPCH app, or via a touchscreen panel on the wall by the side of the bed. This ensures a clean bedside look, uncluttered by the usual panel of switches you see in most hotel rooms. It’s also a source of fun for the kids, who ‘test’ every single light, and television channel with it.
Suite Life at Crystal Club
Crystal Club gives you access to the executive club on 9th floor, day-long drinks and edibles, and pre-dinner alcoholic drinks. It’s also where the (always hungry) kids can fill up on snacks in-between meals, without having to go out of the hotel and back in again. There will be a main meal option like pasta, plus finger food, hors d’oeuvres, and bite-sized desserts to enjoy. At one end are two TV screens, one of which was showing an animated movie that kept the kids occupied for a bit.
During the evening cocktail hour you can pair your complimentary tipple with cheese and crackers, and wind down with the sunset at the picturesque outdoor verandah (exclusive to Crystal Club guests).
Chill out by the pool
The hotel’s pool and gym are on the fourth floor, accessible via a nondescript passageway. I thought we’d taken a wrong turn but all it took was a couple of steps up, and we’d discovered this peaceful rooftop hideaway!
The pool is just the right size for lazy laps. Flop onto one of the partially submerged deckchairs and lounge away the afternoon with a book. You won’t hear any of the hustle and bustle from the streets below. There’s also a tiny but well-equipped gym next to the pool, which looked spanking clean and new.
Breakfast at Tablescape
Crystal Club guests can have breakfast at the Club Lounge. But one of the best things about staying in a hotel is the breakfast buffet, isn’t it? Here at Grand Park City Hall, breakfast is at the modern European restaurant Tablescape. There’s the usual variety to satisfy every diet but what’s unique is that you can also order a main as well as a smoothie from the cook-to-order breakfast menu. I order the Grand Park City Hall Signature Omelette with Asparagus and Truffle Chicken Jus while the kids have pancakes.
Have a Staycation at the Grand Park City Hall soon!
You’ve probably never thought of the Grand Park City Hall as a staycation location. Neither had we. But if you’re looking for a place to enjoy the weekend with the fam in a gorgeously styled Family Suite, or a luxury accommodation with easy access to the CBD for a business associate, or even a place in the heart of Singapore’s heritage where your culture buff friend from abroad can stay while holidaying in Singapore, the Grand Park City Hall is an excellent choice. Want to know more? Ask us here, or visit www.parkhotelgroup.com/en/cityhall to find out!