It is not often that you have a park, albeit a small one next to a hotel in Singapore.
A park that sees citizens exercising in the morning and furry four-legged creatures prancing in high spirits together with their cheerful owners and kids is also a happy sight in the mornings as you sip your morning coffee and chow down freshly scrambled eggs from a buffet.
The park is flanked by both hotels and offers a sanctuary of peace and serenity amidst the urban landscape of Balestier. It is, for the lack of a better phase, an address in the city minus the frenzied energy of one.
Here at Balestier, or at least within the vicinity of ZhongShan Park, it is a peaceful haven.
While on the surface Balestier appears as any street in suburban Singapore, make no mistake that this long street is one that tells a tale of Singapore as it grew to be a modern capital city state as it is today.
This I learnt, and more during our Balestier Heritage Walk one fine afternoon.
But that is a story for another day.
First up, the hotels.
We checked in for our first night in Days Hotel on Zhongshan Park.
The hotel has a fresh, fun vibe with chic and colourful interior. The playfulness of the decor adds to the lighthearted ambiance.
We were famished, and the restaurant, Rajah on 21 was our first sight of Days Hotel.
The key thing to note about Rajah on 21 restaurant is that it is one of the very few halal certified hotel restaurants in Singapore.
It carries a Singapore Halal Certified by Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura (MUIS) outlet badge and therefore, no pork, lard or alcoholic beverages are served.
The Mediterranean spread (on Friday nights) is good, albeit limited in choices. However, what more do you need if you have a whole baby lamb, sashimi, scallops, long, fleshy crab legs and a whole baked fish? 🙂
There are a fair selection of hot food ranging from pasta to a variety of seafood and meat.
The standard various hot and cold appetisers, a salad bar, pasta, rice, soup and desserts are available as well. All in all, for the price of the buffet (SGD42++), there isn’t a reason to complain.
The room is small, carpeted and there are just enough space for 2 to move about.
Here are some pictures of my room in Days Hotel and Ramada Hotel.
Both rooms we got were corner units and of the same design and orientation though Ramada’s was slightly bigger.
Rates (standard room) for Days Hotel is about RM400++ while for Ramada Hotel is approximately RM500++ (rates differ daily so do check the reservation site for an accurate number for your travel period).
There is a see-through glass from the bath to the room and vice versa.
Ramada’s bathroom comes with a bathtub whereas for Days Hotel it is an attached bath that is separated by a glass, and the rest of the space is for the vanity basin and toilet.
Amenities are fair and complete considering that it covers the basics of shower gel, shampoo and a little bit extra.
Towels includes face, hand and bath towels.
Ramada has a rubberised floor mat but Days offer a fabric mat.
Amenities for both are of different brands but includes shampoo, shower gel, conditioner, lotion and a soap.
Cotton buds, dental set and shower cap are standard but at Ramada Hotel we got a shaver as well.
Bathrobes are available at Ramada but not Days. Slippers are included in both hotels.
Both provide coffee jug and sachets of tea and coffee though the number of sachets are more over at The Ramada. We got 2 small bottles of complimentary mineral water at each.
A hair dryer is provided at both hotels.
A safe, an extra pillow with blanket, slippers, iron and ironing board rounded up the in-room facilities.
Do note that the fridge doesn’t come preloaded with drinks and snacks at both hotels, which means plenty of space for you to buy and store your own!
At both hotels power sockets are aplenty, so there was no need to curse when both of us wanted to charge our devices. We have 2 laptops, 2 cameras, 2 phones, a WIFI modem and iPad between both of us and we could get them charged at one go.
Here is our room at Ramada Hotel Singapore for comparison.
Similarly to Days Hotel, there power sockets beside the bed, near the door and of course at the work desk area.
See-through glass between the room and the bathroom is such a trend now. I think almost every hotel that I’ve stayed in in the past 2 years has it.
But a good old bathtub never goes out of fashion. 🙂
Other amenities; coffee making, iron, additional pillows, etc.
Ramada Hotel’s swimming pool is beautifully landscaped so if you need a breather and a private space to collect your thoughts, the gardens and the poolside is definitely an ideal spot.
Not many hotels in the city can boast of such a long (30m ) pool, not to mention the nice touch of wide inground pool steps that enables the lounge chairs to be in the water.
It is also very nice to lie down and have the cool water gently lapping around as you bask in the sun.
It was so invigorating after a swim.
I can imagine that if I’m a businesswoman who had just returned to the hotel after a long day of meetings, the option of jumping in and allowing the zen of the water envelope you asa you float in the buoyancy of the water, feeling the tension in the muscle ebb away into languor is god-sent.
But of course if you’re of boundless energy like me the multi-steps on one side of the pool is perfect for yoga, sunbathing (cool water under you and the heat of the sun on your body – lovely!) or just for frolicking around.
I prefer to start my mornings pumping some iron so I made use of the gym.
Check-in at both hotels is swift and service is efficient.
After 3 days in both hotels and several stay-over visits at my friend’s humble abode in this area, I would recommend the Balestier area for those who wish to be at a comfortable distance to the city, yet not too far away that a journey to the hub of activity gets too tedious.
The shuttles from both hotels are frequent and convenient, but should you require a tax ride to Orchard out of the shuttle hours, the concierge gets a cab for you pretty quick.
We took the cab to Suntec and it cost us SGD6.50 each way.
Coming back after a quick walk at Orchard was SGD1.40 each way on the MRT, and a mere 4 stops away without having to change lines (Novena and Orchard is on the RED line).
Then take a 15 mins stroll via the clean and shady footpath from Novena Shopping Mall back to Zhongshan Park else you can hail another cab.
The gym is 24 hours and darn well equipped while the swimming pool is certainly a notch up from most business hotels.
I don’t care much for a pretty but small infinity pool, for it is useless for actual swimming or it just gets congested when there are other guests in the pool.
Rather a long pool with thoughtful landscaping like this gets my vote.
Stretch out the limbs with some laps, soak up the sun or just relax by the pool. The spacious space does wonders, for it evokes a sense of ease and zen.
The wifi for both hotels work as it should, speedy and reliable.
Thank you Days and Ramada Hotel for having us!
Last but not least, I’ll like to share a tip on getting good flights to SG.
I’ve been to flying to SG almost every month and from my experience, flights on Malindo Air is the cheapest even at the 11th hour (usually SGD50 ++ – RM150 or so each way).
Legroom is spacious, there is complimentary snack and entertainment on board plus the customer service is warm.
IF you are willing to top up your budget Malindo Air offers Business Class seats too!
BELOW: Business Class.
BELOW: Economy Class.