It’s been a long time since I’ve done a staycation in Singapore, so I was pretty stoked to be invited as one of the first few guests to check out YOTEL Singapore along Orchard Road, just 2 weeks after its opening in October 2017. The YOTEL brand has hotels in busy cities like Boston and New York City and has airport hotels including London and Amsterdam, but the Singapore branch is their first foray into Asia.
YOTEL brands itself as affordable luxury and catered to the modern urban traveller. I spent a weekend at the YOTEL Singapore for myself 2 weeks after it opened to the public, and here’s my review on what I liked about my stay and whether it’s right for you.
Location: Highly convenient and central
YOTEL Singapore’s biggest plus point is its great location right along Orchard Road. Specifically, it’s located in International Building, a rather nondescript building that’s next to the Thai embassy and overshadowed by the neighbouring Shaw Centre.
Google Maps currently will point you to an area that’s closer to Shaw Centre than YOTEL Singapore itself, which is a bit confusing if you are trying to arrange an Uber dropoff, but staff tell me they are working to amend this for future guests.
YOTEL is a convenient 5 minute walk away from Orchard Road MRT station, and you are right at the start of the shopping stretch so it’s always going to be quite busy and colourful here. You have just about everything you need right here – mainstream shopping malls galore down Orchard Road, nightlife is within walking distance, either towards the Orchard Towers/Hard Rock Cafe end of Orchard Road, or my preferred choice of Emerald Hill near Somerset MRT.
Welcome: Self-Service Reception
It seems to be the trend that instead of waiting to be served, you have the option of just getting it done on your own – great if you’re like me and happy to , less so if you’re old-school and like a personal service touch.
Unlike your standard hotel where you roll up to the reception, hand your passport and credit card to the staff and wait to get checked in, YOTEL encourages you to be a bit more self sufficient by directing you to its computerised self-check in counters stalls where you get to scan your ID details and credit card, and even create your own room key or two, which is a bit of a novelty.
You’re not left entirely on your own to flounder if you are not tech-savvy though – staff loiter nearby ready to give you a hand, and if you are having problems, a light above the booth lights up and someone from reception will come over to help you out.
Check out also follows a similar process, but if you have a bill to pay, you’ll need to head over to the manned reception counter to get that settled.
Room (‘Cabin’): Snug yet sufficient
YOTEL’s reception is on level 2, the amenities are on level 10, and the rooms are located on the higher floors. I was in Room 2322 in a Premium Queen View cabin.
YOTEL likes to call its room ‘cabins’, but while that makes me think of log cabins and woody surfaces, there is none of that in this very modern looking room. It’s a lot of white and purple, the YOTEL brand colours, and the standard room is quite snug, but they’ve done a pretty good job of maximising space in a small area.
The key feature is the bed, and this one can be adjusted to shift into a semi-couch like position with one half of the bed raised, so if you are someone like me who likes to sit on the bed and work, this is pretty perfect as you have some back support. There is a hidden fold out table right underneath the TV, but I would have liked a laptop table that you can use while sitting on the bed. The reclining function is also a space saver that allows more room between the wall and the foot of the bed. One does wonder whether the constant movement of the bed’s motors will last though.
The other thing of note in the cabin is how they’ve dealt with the toilet and the unusual placement of the toilet. The shower and toilet bowl are placed right next to the full length windows, with a frosted glass partition and door separating the toilet from the rest of the room.
This means that every time you want to use the toilet, you have to pull down the blinds – there’s an option of full black-out blinds or a slightly more translucent one that lets in a bit of light. I’m a little bit torn about this, because I’m a person who likes natural light and a good view. While the frosted glass means that the light isn’t blocked out, it is a bit awkward to be admiring the view through the toilet door.
The glass partition may feel a bit thin for those with shy bladders though – I had a friend drop by who opted to skip using the toilet as I was ‘just on the other side of the glass’ – I didn’t have a problem with it.
Also, the sink is actually outside the toilet and in the room. Again, I don’t have a problem with the placement because it means 2 people can be more efficient in the morning, but some people might feel a bit awkward about brushing their teeth and having a splash zone right next to the bed.
The YOTEL Singapore room is one I’d be quite happy to come back to at the end of a long day out because it’s comfortable enough and everything you need is in the room. But the snug size of the standard room and the layout wouldn’t encourage me to want to spend an entire day in here just lounging – I’d prefer a much larger room with a proper panoramic view and additional lounging chairs for that.
But then again, if you are like the people who were going at it for at least an hour before lunch time – I could hear the rhythmic thumping of the bed non-stop either in the room above or next to me as I was trying to catch a nap before check out – maybe size doesn’t really matter.
Small things I liked
- Exposed clothes rack – personally I hate keeping my stuff away in cupboards (residual paranoia I’ll leave something behind if I don’t see it), and this is a space saver as well
- Fixed toiletries – I like the idea of less wastage, so having refillable shampoo, conditioner and soap makes me feel better than all those tiny little bottles
- Hidden panel cupboards – hidden in the walls of the room near the door, you can find an ironing board, umbrella, foldable director’s chair, more clothes hooks and even an extra outlet plug along with the fold-out table.
Facilities: Built for the millennial
Grains and Hops
The in-house restaurant Grains and Hops is located on level 10, and also where you enjoy the small but decent breakfast buffet in the morning. Lunch and dinner sees the restaurant serve up its signature 1-dish rice bowls with skewers, inspired by the whole poke bowl millennial trend.
I visited twice to try 2 signature dishes – the roasted kurabuto pork collar and the grilled Angus beef, which were skewers served with a choice of healthy colourful rice and salad. Both were great, but I liked the beef better as it was really tender. Also awesome was the peanut butter milkshake (the chocolate one is alcoholic!) and the super decadent rice krispy dessert which was a whole lot bigger than I expected.
They had a happy hour drinks promotion where you would get a % discount based on the number rolled on a large dice – I rolled myself 50% off my milkshake and 20% off my craft beer. Very good service overall, though I think some of the staff are pretty new and still settling in when I was there.
The swimming pool & gym
There is a nice longish pool where you can take a dip on the 10th floor running alongside the restaurant. It’s great for a dip on a hot sweaty day – I’d spent most of my afternoon working up a sweat hunting down street art around Chinatown, but I had a bit of a cloudy windy late afternoon and it got cold after awhile, so I managed a quick dip and spent the rest of the time lounging around and reading by the pool.
Also on Level 10, some nice co-working facilities and cosy nooks where all the location-independent / digital-nomad sorts can get some work done away from the enticing bed in the room, or maybe even hold a cosy meeting or two if you need.
Price: Affordable by Singaporean hotel standards
I compared the rates of a Fri-Sun long weekend stay. Standard rates of the Premium Queen View room that sleeps 2-pax go at S$244/night, and opening prices are a very nice S$160 so now’s a great time to book a stay.
The Premium Queen room has a slightly slower standard rate at S$229/night for 2-pax, but the most value per pax would be the Premium Queen with 1-bunk that sleeps 3-pax with an additional loft bed, and costs S$254/night or S$85/pax/night.
Singapore’s accommodation options tend to be more pricey than other Asian countries, but relatively speaking especially for its location, this is quite a decent price to pay for those who aren’t into cheaper hostel dormitories yet can’t afford the premium hotel prices. YOTEL Singapore is probably the cheapest hotel option in a prime location on Orchard Road where you’re surrounded by high-end chains like Four Seasons, Marriott, Hyatt and Hilton where rooms go for at least $250/night and up.
I liked my stay at YOTEL Singapore and I appreciate how it caters to a more modern self-sufficient type of crowd who value efficiency over personal service, and where location is of utmost priority for a hotel room over abundant space – things that speak to me as a traveller. For that location on Orchard Road, it’s a more affordable option for solo travellers, but especially if you have a group of 2 or 3.
This is the first YOTEL branch in Singapore and Asia – 2018 sees Yotel opening its 2nd Singapore branch at the fancy new Jewel Changi Airport, which will probably be something quite special. Maybe we will finally get to see the famous YOBOT, a luggage storing robot that can be found in other YOTELs.
Drop a note in the comments if you have something to say about your own stay at YOTEL Singapore, or if you are planning to stay there, I’ll try and help you out as best as I can.
This 2-night stay and one of my meals was sponsored by YOTEL Singapore. This review and opinions here are my own.
Check out my other articles on more interesting things to do in Singapore, as well as other hotels you can consider for your next trip to Singapore.