During a recent two-night trip to Singapore, the Crowne Plaza Changi Airport proved the perfect spot for a brief stay.
This striking building, with that looks like an eye in the exterior cladding, is adjacent to Changi's Terminal 3. The location also provides access to Singapore's MRT metro system, although with Singaporeean taxis being so clean, comfortable and inexpensive there's little reason for any business traveller to bother with the MRT!
Location & Impressions
Apart from the transit hotel inside the airport itself, the Crowne Plaza is the most convenient hotel in Singapore for a long layover or a super-brief business trip.
It's right next to the Skytrain inter-terminal shuttle people-mover at Terminal 1, with an air-conditioned walkway connecting to the terminal at the ground and first floors of the impressively designed wood and fabric hotel lobby.
After arriving by taxi I and was greeted by efficient and friendly door staff, who whisked my suitcase away and delivered it to my room. (If you're arriving by taxi, make sure that you keep an eye out for the "Airport Hotel" signs on the expressway -- during my stay, drivers missed the sign twice, meaning a walk around the airport or an inter-terminal Skytrain ride.)
Since I had access to the Crowne Plaza Club executive lounge, I checked in there (and was offered a blissfully cold drink), and was quickly shown to my room.
A curious aspect to the hotel's construction is that all the corridors are outside, so you go from the humid outdoors into the air-conditioned lobby, to a slightly less air-conditioned lift, to an outside corridor, to your air-conditioned room.
On balance, while it does bring a bit of tropical relaxation and "feels like a holiday" atmosphere (especially when walking past the palm trees and pool), the irritating fogging up of my glasses every time I left the air-conditioned areas was a bit of a pain!
The rooms at the Crowne Plaza are spacious, light-filled and modern, continuing the a natural theme that reflects through the hotel.
With muted browns and greens, plus large flower coverings on the glass bathroom wall, the rooms are very pleasant places to spend time.
The entranceway contains the wardrobe, minibar and luggage storage area, and leads past the bathroom into the main bedroom.
The beds are large and comfortable, with soft linen and a choice of pillows. Next to the bed is an iPod (but not iPhone) dock, and a very useful international power point that will take just about any plug you care to stick in it.
The bathroom was very high class, with a glass wall, fantastic shower with rain head and spray wand, a deep soaking tub and my favourite toiletries from The White Company. Two complimentary bottles of water and large, soft towels rounded out the offering.
I lucked out with the runway view room, which I was later told by the bar staff are the most popular in the hotel, which looked out over one of Changi's two runways.
I didn't find the noise loud at all -- a quiet rumble every so often when the larger and older planes land and throw on their thrust reversers -- but light sleepers might prefer a room facing in another direction.
The Crowne Plaza's desks are better than most to work in, with a comfortable office style chair, decent height desk, good task lighting and enough space to spread out papers and a laptop.
While the chair isn't quite good enough for a full day's work at the desk, you can always mix that up with some time in the Crowne Plaza Club lounge, which has workstations (and even meeting rooms if you need them).
The Internet was fast -- with around 4.5Mbps download and an astonishingly fast 20Mbps upload speed -- but is pay-per-use, at SG$29 (around A$22) a day. Business class hotels simply shouldn't be charging for Internet use these days.
On the plus side, 3G wireless Internet coverage is widely available in the hotel, so consider picking up a local SIM card and either turning your phone into a wireless hotspot or bringing along your own portable 3G wifi modem.
There are two excellent restaurants in the hotel. Azur is a 24-hour option, featuring eastern and western cuisine and a good lunch buffet.
A branch of the excellent Imperial Treasure Cantonese restaurant group is on the ground floor. I had dim sum there and it was absolutely excellent, with some of the best Shanghai xiao long bao dumplings I've had outside Shanghai.
Room service is good too, with the laksa particularly authentic and delicious.
The Club lounge also serves evening drinks and substantial canapés between 5.30pm and 7.30pm, which could suffice for a light dinner if you don't want to be weighed down by a full meal -- especially if you've got an early night ahead and an early start for an onwards flight the next day.
The room has a slightly odd pair of armchairs put together into a two-seater sofa, which is remarkably comfortable (and especially so if you swivel one round slightly as a footrest).
While the rooms are a pleasant enough place to spend some time, the excellent pool (with landscaped islands containing palm trees) and Club lounge are also very enjoyable. Downstairs in the lobby areas, spots for informal meetings abound, which is ideal if you've a number of colleagues to see.
The location can't be beat, the rooms are excellent and the facilities top-notch. The Australian Business Traveller team has stayed at many airport hotels around the world and this is easily one of the best.