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Various Questions

London
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Various Questions

We will be visiting Singapore in August and staying at the Shangri-la and here are a few questions if anyone could help:

1) All the good reviews are from those who have stayed at the Garden or Valley Wings. We are staying at the Tower Wing, how does that compare to the others?

2) We'd like to go to the Long Bar at Raffles. Our children are 11 and 17, are they allowed in? I read that dress code is casual. Is that smart casual or casual casual,ie sleeveless top, shorts and sandals ok?

3) Is there a "going-rate" on gratuities? How much should we tip taxi-drivers, waiters and hotel staff?

4) My cousin suggests we go to the East Coast for seafood (we love steamed fish and shell fish). Any restaurant in particular?

5) We will be visiting Hong Kong as well and have read about Hui Lau Shan for dessert. Any equivalents in Singapore? My daughter loves mango pudding but has never tried durian.

Many thanks.

Alice

Singapore, Singapore
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1. Re: Various Questions

Hi Alice

Wonderful that you got the Hotel confirm.

1) All the good reviews are from those who have stayed at the Garden or Valley Wings. We are staying at the Tower Wing, how does that compare to the others?

The different for the Garden or valley Wings would be the room size & View, which would be great if U can get a upgrade to it, but if not (When u need to pay extra for it) , The Tower wing is equally good. Most important the service in Shangri-La is top notch.

2) We'd like to go to the Long Bar at Raffles. Our children are 11 and 17, are they allowed in? I read that dress code is casual. Is that smart casual or casual casual,ie sleeveless top, shorts and sandals ok?

Yes, Your children are allowed to go into the Long Bar. And You can wear sleeveless top, shorts and sandals to. (Confirm with the Hotel Operators).

Here's the website for Ur surfing pleasure ^__^.

www.raffleshotel.com/dining/longbar.php

3) Is there a "going-rate" on gratuities? How much should we tip taxi-drivers, waiters and hotel staff?

4) My cousin suggests we go to the East Coast for seafood (we love steamed fish and shell fish). Any restaurant in particular?

Singapore is prolly the only country in the world that is Tips Free ^___^. As most bills come with Service charges & Taxes (13%), so it not necessarily to add any tips, unless U feel that U had been serve exceptionally well and Or the Restaurant does not charge Service Charges. You can even refused to pay the bill if U got a bad service plus awful food ^___^. (Yes, even Singaporean are known to walk away without paying cos of the 2 reason).

5) We will be visiting Hong Kong as well and have read about Hui Lau Shan for dessert. Any equivalents in Singapore? My daughter loves mango pudding but has never tried durian.

There is a franchise Hui Lau Shan in Singapore but the price just does NOT justified the quality & Quantity. The best is still the one in Hong Kong (Lots of them around, U won;t miss it).

In Singapore we have others Desert (Ice Kachang & Chendol etc; which U can find in most food court. The best is the one in a Kopitiam Food court (The Desert Shop).

There is a Cystal Jade cafe at the basement of Scott Shopping Centre (Next to Marriot Hotel), where U can get really good Mangoes Desert. Check it out.

Have a great trip to Singapore.

Singapore
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2. Re: Various Questions

I need to point out certain gross misrepresentations made in Me^Only's reply.

1. There's a whole world of difference between the Garden and Valley Wing. Not only do they differ in room size and views, Valley is in a different building altogether offering a higher class of serivce!

Here's a simple list of the each category:

a. Tower Wing: 33sq m, small and dingy, no bathtub, hotel corridors resemble a rundown building, located in main building.

b. Garden Wing: low rise building, rooms bigger with separate bed and living area, furnishings resemble that of a dated resort in serious need of renovation. Bring in a designer please.

c. Valley Wing: 'latest' addition to hotel, fully renovated 2 yrs ago, ultra luxurious but typical boring shangrila look, personalised stationery, lcd tv, 'champagne lobby' with plenty of booze flowing whole day, usual haunt of visiting head of states. Certainly this is where you get the best service, which of course is relative to its rate.

In general, shangrila's service standards are typical those of a 5 star chain, efficient, courteous but nothing to write home about.

I'm not sure if you already prepaid your rooms, if not I seriously recommend the Oriental or Raffles Plaza (South tower) for the same or even lower level of pricing, with plenty more space and air. Shangrila is just way too stuffy. For something quirky, you may also want to try the New Majesty Hotel, a hip boutique establishment with top range amenities. Think Sanderson minus the attitude crap.

2. Yes Singapore is a gratuities (NOT TAX) free country, and Singaporeans do not walk away without paying, unless service standards are THAT atrocious which i've yet to hear about, much less come across.

For goodness sake, are you(Me^Only) even a Singaporean or living in Singapore? Our GST has gone up to 5% eons ago, no?

Hence, dining and accomodation taxes will be 16%: service charge 10% + GST 5% + government 1%. This is why you do not need to tip dining establishments, whichin fact our waiters are not even accustomed to receiving tips. But very often, hotel bell-hops and room attendants do get rewarded by kind guests like myself, so that's fine, any amount is acceptable. Taxi drivers will be more than pleased if you round off your fare to the nearest dollar, but its really up to you.

All retail prices are NETT with GST already factored in, unlike Canada.

3. The Singapore franchise of Hui Lau Shan has CLOSED. Try Hong kong.

On your question about seafood which Me^only did not answer:

There are quite a few seafood outlets at East Coast, which are still very popular among the locals, so get your concierge to make a reservation. Recommended ones are Long Beach, Tung Lok seafood gallery, No signboard, red house etc. There's also a No Signboard chain at the Esplanade, which is my personal favourite.

4. If you find handling the durian fruit a hastle, I suggest you drop by Marriot at Orchard or The Goodwood Park hotel, scotts road, 10min from Marriott and try their durian puffs. heavenly.

5. Lastly, I personally feel its a 'touristy thing' but the Long bar/Tiffin room is seriously overrated. Raffles Hotel is huge and most of it is open to visitors. If you want to visit, take a walk at the Arcade, which houses plenty of big name boutiques, or even grab a drink at verandah.

If you want a great night out to remember, I suggest drinks at City Space, part of the Equinox Complex at Swissotel the stamford, part of the Raffles city complex, adjacent to Raffles hotel. Its a classy modern lounge with live jazz, perched high up on level 70 offering fantastic night views. City Space is NOT New Asia Bar(one level up).

Dress code is smart casual. http://www.equinoxcomplex.com/

6. Finally a recommendation on one of the top chinese restaurants in singapore. Its called 'Chef Chan's Restaurant', located on ground floor of Odeon Towers, visible from exterior, north bridge road, facing Raffles Hotel. It consistently serves up the most exquisite chinese cuisine. Reservations a must. There's also a modern al fresco lounge 'loof' upstairs at the roof top, currently one the latest night spots in town where the beautiful hang out.

Welcome to uniquely Singapore!

Singapore
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3. Re: Various Questions

hey t_phuck, good info on the tax part, but sorry you can't just add 10%+5%+1%=16% for total tax and service charges. they are percentages on different amount. It 16.55% nett total in fact. Anyway its close enough to consider correct...

Cincinnati, Ohio
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4. Re: Various Questions

one thing I have to point out about Shangri La Tower rooms, they had been renovated so it is not dingy by any means. And in the tower wing, they have club floor rooms that have DVD players which to some guests, is not a must.

Shang's design is not the posh swanky feel like the Raffles Plaza or Oriental. It has always been a floral resort feel (except for their Valley Wing which is new modern contemporary) to it. It is not my choice for decor personally but it is tastefully done to enhance that resort feeling.

Alice, u will be fine in the Tower rooms, it is also by no means a small room ! Some other nice hotels in town is less than 30 square meters !!!

The Long Bar is at the Raffles Shopping Arcade area so u can be as casual as u like.

As for tips, it is up to you really. I normally tip the ladies that clean our room, cabbies I just round up the amount on the meter with a couple of extra dollars, servers I normally tip a little with cash on the table.

Seafood ? hmmm... there is just so many choices in town ! The East Coast Seafood Center has quite a few restaurants to choose from and they are all pretty good, the one I go to (only coz they been in existence for a long time and is still very popular ) is Long Beach. There are other places in town u can try good seafood, No sign is definitely another good choice.

There is another kind of local seafood that u have to try which is the BBQ way. It is really tasty esp. if u like spicy food. The BBQ ray and chili clams or sambal squid is just awesome ! One of the local favorite place for this is Chomp Chomp.

As for desserts, i think everyone else had covered it :) u should try local sweet delights (tu tu, sour sop, mangosteen though this is regional, etc)

Have a wonderful trip.

London
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5. Re: Various Questions

Thank you all for the advice. We've already booked and pre-paid for the Shangri-la through Singapore Airlines and they might not be able to change it for us. Our first choice was the Ritz-Carlton but it was not available at the stopover package rate. The agent at Singapore Airlines suggested the Oriental but the children chose the Shang... Anyone it's our first visit to Singapore and we shall enjoy it.

I think I should tip the concierge and room maids on arrival, rather than departure. I have made a list of the restaurants that you and others have recommended so we shall have lunch, dinner and midnight feast at various places. We (the 11 year old in particular) like spicy food and will also try the famous Hainan chicken rice.

Alice

Singapore, Singapore
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6. Re: Various Questions

Alice

No worries about Shangri-La, I have been there every fortnightly for official business and had been receiving excellent service. Like De had mentioned, Tower Wings room been refurbished.

Trust your daughter, she choose an excellent choice. You will like it.

Singapore, Singapore
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7. Re: Various Questions

I second Phuck's choice of City Space at the Equinox. Really nice place to chill out and have a good wine or two ... but leave the children out on this one. You'll enjoy it better without the kids (not sure if they'll even be allowed into the premise in the first place?)

Cincinnati, Ohio
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8. Re: Various Questions

tipping first rather than departure is definitely a good thing coz I always find that after the first night after my tipping, the rooms are cleaner than ever and they put in extra towels and toiletries :) (though some hotels dont coz I think even the toiletries may be on the inventory list) but u definitely get extra towels and pillows, amazing sparkling clean bathrooms !