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Sunday, May 31, 2015

ibis Singapore on Bencoolen putting the ‘cool’ in Bencoolen


by traveloscopy.com editor, Roderick Eime, on location in Singapore

Of course it’s just ‘magnifique’ to stay at any of Accor’s top flight hotels like Sofitel and Pullman, but there is a lot to like about the sensible ibis brand which caters to budget-conscious travellers around the world.

Initially the reflex for self-important travel writers is to recoil at proletariat labels with pared-down offerings, but the closer you look at the ibis brands (there are three) you begin to appreciate how they fill an important niche in the complex global hotel marketplace.

With Accor currently stabling 18 different hotel brands, it can sometimes be a confusing business and when the ibis brand was revitalised a couple years ago, absorbing the mature budget brand Formula 1 in the process, it was then divided into three sub-brands: ibis (red pillow), ibis styles (green pillow) and ibis budget (blue pillow).

Funky 24 hr bar
On my recent gruelling rail trip through Europe, I reached Hannover after a week snatching cat naps in compartments and sleeping on couchettes with ironing board comfort. The ibis budget in Hannover was a palace - with a real shower and comfy bed. At 45 euro (7 euro more for breakfast) it was exactly what I needed and half the price of the reservation fee required by Eurail to secure a sleeper.

While the ibis budget in Hannover was a basic 'no frills' offering, the ibis Singapore on Bencoolen located near Bugis, certainly put the ‘cool’ in Bencoolen. Expansive, hip and comprehensive, Accor have exercised considerable modesty in only assigning three stars to this property. My room (807) is large enough to not feel cramped despite a big double bed, bar fridge, desk and wall cupboard. Heck, there’s even an iron and ironing board that would have doubled for a spare berth on my Bulgarian overnight express.

Double room
In order to manage costs and instill a sense of environmental responsibility in guests, Accor have initiated the Planet 21 program (Cert Sustainable ISO 14001) to address “production and consumption patterns with the goal of protecting our planet, its people and their environment.”

Greenwashing? Well, critics might think so, but I am impressed with the reusable and (free to refill) glass water bottle used to replace the awful disposable plastic ones used almost everywhere else. The program also encourages the usual ‘hang your towel’ and ‘leave my linen’ options which helps conserve water and resources as well as the hotel’s bottom line. I’m happy to help here. Need amenities like toothbrush or razor? You can buy them downstairs.

Restaurant, Taste, serves three meals daily
The breakfast array certainly exceeds any three star expectations and is available from 4am until noon (hot buffet 6-10) and the bar is everything it should be serving alcoholic drinks until 1am and everything else 24 hours.

So, if you just need a bed and shower, you could do a lot worse (and I have done) than any of the ibis hotels.

The writer stayed at ibis Singapore on Bencoolen as a guest of Accor Hotels




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