In a previous post, I mourned the death of leisure travel. Call me pessimistic but I believe international trips are dead. It’s back to domestic holidaying and that is fine by me. So I went ahead and booked myself a weekend staycation at the Oasia Hotel in Tanjong Pagar.
A summary of my Oasia Hotel staycation
When I first mentioned to friends I was staycationing at the Oasia they asked, “why?”. Then they followed up with a, “no really, WHY?”. Oasia does not have a reputation for luxury. However, I’ve always been in awe of this monstrous red pillar, covered in sprouting greens, that grows like a Chernobyl planted beanstalk in the city centre. Plus I saw on their website they had a rooftop pool. And my aching back and flabby arms were in desperate need of a swim.
For a quick visual summary of my Oasia Hotel staycation you can watch the video recording below. Otherwise, read on!
I had an enjoyable staycation. The shower was amazing. The bed was plush. I watched some Home & Away on TV, and I managed to squeeze in a few laps of the pool. But I did not feel pampered. My entire staycation cost over $500.00 (with taxes). This included $283.64 for one night’s stay in the hotel and $251.85 for dinner at their OSO rooftop restaurant (no alcohol).
It began with a late check-in
The key to great hospitality is getting the details right. I worked in the industry for ten years and I know how tough it is. But that doesn’t make me more forgiving. Our Oasia Hotel staycation got off to a poor start when we experienced a late check-in.
The day before a staff member phoned me and said, “do not to arrive earlier than 2pm as the hotel is busy”. We made sure to arrive after 3pm. The hotel reception is located on level 12 and upon arrival, we were directed to have a seat while they sorted out the room. After sitting and taking selfies for about 30 minutes, I finally inquired, “how much longer will it be?”. Just as well I asked because they responded, “at least an hour!”
So we trudged downstairs in search of some entertainment. There is not too much to do in Tanjong Pagar – besides eating and drinking – so we ended up at the awesome Japan Rail Cafe. We snacked on karage and Hokkaido soft serve and drank matcha lattes. Eventually, at 5pm, our room was ready to check-in.
At least there were no kids at the swimming pool
My main mission was to enjoy the swimming pool. I hadn’t had a swim since the Singapore circuit breaker started back in April! The Oasia Hotel has two swimming pools for regular hotel guests, both located on level 27. They are rather small, however, this worked to my advantage.
The pools are long and narrow and intended for swimming laps. Consequently, the Oasia Hotel does not attract scores of families, and the pools were completely kid-free! I indulged in a relaxing swim all on my own. The water temperature was cool, but not cold, and it was a novel experience to float alongside the hotel’s signature green vines.
By the pool are countless seats – from sunbeds to swinging chairs to standard outdoor furniture. With abundant natural light plus a few shady corners, this area is also a tranquil nook to read a book or simply doze off in the sun.
Apparently there is ANOTHER POOL at the Oasia Hotel. But despite paying over $500 for a one night stay with dinner, I was not invited to this other pool.
Some Italian grub at the OSO restaurant
The other thing that attracted me to the Oasia Hotel was their award-winning Italian restaurant called OSO. It is owned and run by Italian duo Stephane Colleoni and Diego Chiarini, and famed for its cheese room. It’s supposed to be heaven on earth for any cheese lover.
Our dinner reservation was at 8pm and we were warmly greeted by the staff. The restaurant was very busy yet the service was impeccable. The waiters were so attentive, helping to recommend dishes, and they even offered me a pillow so I would be more comfortable.
The food was very good but not great. We started our meal with two pasta dishes. The plin, which are flat small ravioli, were delightful. Each ravioli was as small as a woman’s fingernail and filled with herbs, parmigiano and black pepper. The cheese really packed some punch and the dish was lightly garnished with extra melted parmigano and sprigs of rosemary.
The second pasta dish was lobster with fettuccine and tomato sauce. The fresh fettuccine was a small luxury, and the lobster was exquisitely succulent. Yet the overall dish was bought down by the blandness of the sauce. The sauce was bright red and tasted like a can of tomato puree from the supermarket. I couldn’t detect any further seasoning, salt, pepper or herbs, besides a leaf or two of basil. While I appreciate that lobster should not be overwhelmed by too many complex flavours, the sauce was plain beyond belief. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t special.
For the main course, we shared the beef tenderloin (medium) with black truffle puree. I almost never order tenderloin, and I am not a truffle fan, but my partner insisted. So, I was not surprised by the meat’s lack of tenderness. I will say the lightly steamed and peeled asparagus that came with it was a tasty treat.
We concluded our meal with an Italian cheese plate and decaf coffee. It was at that moment I suddenly remembered that Italian cheeses are not as good as French or British cheeses. It is not the restaurant’s fault. I should have ordered the tiramisu.
I’m a new woman after rooftop yoga
The true highlight of our staycation was the invigorating rooftop yoga session we had the next day. Oasia Hotel runs free yoga classes every Sunday at 8.30am for hotel guests on level 12.
The yoga instructor took it nice and easy with a class designed for beginners so everyone could participate. It felt marvellous to work on my trikonasana and triangle poses with nothing but the open blue sky above and the Singapore city breezes flowing through my hair.
A visit to neighbouring Tiong Bahru
Like I said earlier, there is not much to do near the hotel besides eating and drinking. It is the CBD after all and Oasia Hotel is intended for business travellers. After we checked out we went for a wander around neighbouring Tiong Bahru. We explored the local markets there and gazed at the famous mural of an old man with his newspaper and cat by YC.
We also indulged in some sumptuous custard tart – SERVED HOT!! – at Drips Bakery.
Conclusion of our Oasia Hotel staycation
We enjoyed our Oasia Hotel staycation. It was okay. The room was clean albeit small and the amenities were acceptable. Everything in a room had been sanitised prior to our arrival.
But, it wasn’t quite worth the $500 price tag. I do want to take a moment to acknowledge the importance of supporting local hospitality and business during these challenging COVID19 times. Throughout our stay, I couldn’t help but notice the staff were flustered and the service was not seamless. This could be due to the current situation. Pre-COVID19, the Shangri-La was the only hotel in Singapore that predominately hired local employees. With the impact of COVID19 on borders coupled with tighter immigration, many hotels have had to let go of foreign staff and hire and train new local staff. I’m sure this has caused a few things to slip through the cracks.
If I could do it all again I would prefer to spend my money on a relaxing spa day followed by a simple meal. But, I would definitely say yes to another rooftop yoga session at the Oasia Hotel if the opportunity presented itself!
100 Peck Seah Street