I have not included a single picture from my stay at the Singapore Sheraton, I think that should tell you just about all you need to know about the hotel.
Fresh from a wonderful SQ flight from CGK, I grabbed a cab and set off for the Sheraton. I had forgotten to look for an ATM after passing through customs, but luckily I had enough Singapore Dollars in my spy wallet from a previous trip to SIN to cover the taxi.
The lobby of the Sheraton isn’t terrible, so I was temporarily heartened at the prospect of getting a decent room for basically nothing. As a cost management measure, I had opted to avoid paying the $300+ that virtually every hotel in Singapore costs per night and had cashed in a mix of Starwood points and $ to secure a rate of about $60/night at the Sheraton.
The desk girl told me that as a result of my Gold Status with Starwood, I had been upgraded…then we actually got to the room. Apparently, this was one of their “recently” refurbished rooms. Unless their idea of “recent” is sometime in the mid 1990’s then whoever oversaw this refresh should be fired immediately. Moreover, if the room I was given was an “upgrade” from the standard room, then I shudder to think what an absolute piece of crap the standard room must be.
As an added bonus, the air conditioning didn’t work. I gave it close to an hour to confirm that it was in fact broken and not just taking a long time to cool the room down. After much arguing with the desk they agreed to move me. Mind you they didn’t upgrade me for my trouble (wasting of a large portion of my day), or even so much as offer me a drink ticket. They simply moved me to an identical room on another floor.
I resigned myself to two nights at the Sheraton and set off again on my futile quest for US size 13 running shoes. I came very close, finding a few places with size 12, but nothing quite large enough. This ordeal reinforced my view that Singapore is basically a large, sterile shopping mall complex masquerading as a city-state.
Don’t get me wrong, retail has its time and place, but I like a little more character in my travel destinations, and Singapore seems to have about as much genuine character as a manufactured political candidate.
Once I gave up on finding running shoes, I went back to the Sheraton and took a nap. I went first to meet up with a friend of a friend at Clarke Quay. She turned out to be an incredibly stunning Lithuanian model who was probably one of the most attractive girls I had seen in a while. Sadly, she had a call in the morning and couldn’t make a proper evening of it. I continued on and met up with other friends at Lantern, on the roof of the Fullerton Bay Hotel. They were with some sketchy old Moroccan businessmen who were buying them bottles of Dom and insisted on paying for all of my vodka drinks. I appreciated the hospitality, but it was a bit strange and I was still beat after an abbreviated night of sleep in Jakarta, so I excused myself early and went back to the Sheraton for some (mediocre) rest.
The next day, I decided to take one last stab at the shoe quandary. I went to the sprawling monstrosity that is the Marina Bay Sands complex to see if any of their shops might have shoes in the right size, since they largely cater to foreign tourists.
If you’re not familiar with Marina Bay Sands, it is like some real estate developer attempted to take Las Vegas and cram the entire experience in a few very tall towers with a fake park on the roof and shopping jammed below. There are nightclubs, restaurants, shows, casinos, shopping, etc…It’s a nightmare.
I once again failed to achieve my primary objective, but I was able to pop into Jaeger-LeCoultre and order a new leather strap for a watch I had messed up.
Still shoeless, I went to the Sheraton gym in my driving shoes and got in a brief workout. The gym at the hotel is on the pool deck and overlooks the pool. The locker rooms (which contain the steam rooms) are in a separate, nearby building and for some reason the sauna is located by itself along the exterior walkway between the gym hut and the changing room hut.
That evening, I met some of my crazier Singapore friends, who did their best to show me that Singapore can be a great time. I met them first at a place called “Tiananmen Square.” I was told I was meeting them at a karaoke bar. However, when I told the cab driver where I wanted to go, he intimated that it was a whore house and told me
“You betta watch you wallet, you lose all you money there!”
I assured him my friends said it was just a karaoke bar and he just laughed. It turned out to be a bit of a hybrid. They called it KTV. Apparently you sit in a room drinking and singing karaoke, then the “madame” parades in a lineup of girls. Patrons pick the ones they like and the girls then hang out, drink and sing. You have the option to pay to sleep with them, or you can just drink and sing karaoke. I guess it’s like a karaoke prostitution optional hostess bar.
Everyone was rather drunk when I arrived, as I joined the party late. This did not stop them from force feeding me large quantities of vodka. After a suitably uncomfortable chat with some of the Chinese possibly indentured sex workers, the group mercifully decided to leave and head to a normal bar.
We went to Royal Rooms where more bottles of champagne and vodka drinks appeared from nowhere. Apparently my Singapore friends go out a lot, and they seemed to know most of the crowd. When it was finally late enough, we adjourned to a club (forget the name) that was either next to or adjoining Royal Rooms and we were presented with a table overflowing with bottles of vodka and champagne all roughly the size of small infant.
I soldiered on for a bit, but I was still rather tired, and I had to fly to Hong Kong the next morning, so before the evening had truly wrapped up, I excused myself and went back to the hotel to ensure I would get a good night of rest. I would be happy to be done with the Sheraton.
Pros: Ability to use SPG Cash & Points deals to get a very cheap nightly rate, nice location, has a gym, pool and 24 hour room service.
Cons: Rooms are total crap.
Verdict: Would I stay at the Sheraton again? If I was hard up for cash, no other SPG or Hyatt property would let me redeem, no friend’s couch was available AND I couldn’t find a suitable boutique hotel or any other “big” hotel for up to $100-150 more/night than the Sheraton….then I guess so. Otherwise, not a chance.