The Singapore establishment formerly known as the Landmark Village Hotel (and before that, the Golden Landmark Hotel) was recently renamed to harmonize branding with the other business-class hotels in the Far East Organization's portfolio. But the name change seems like a waste, as the word "landmark" really does fit the Village Hotel Bugis.
Located at a busy corner of the Kampong Glam ethnic enclave, the Village Hotel stands tall over the confluence of Singapore's Indian, Malay, and Arab roots. The Malay Heritage Centre and the Sultan Mosque can be reached momentarily on foot. The area's many shopping stops - from Bussorah Street to Hajji Lane to Bugis Junction - aren't much further away, and visitors planning a trip to more far-flung areas can walk to the Bugis MRT Station or wait for a bus at a nearby bus stop.
The hotel itself shares the character and the idiosyncrasies of its neighborhood. Arab and Malay architecture work itself into the design of the hotel interior, though a somewhat irregular (and ongoing) renovation effort has left parts of the hotel brand spanking new, while fraying at the edges in other parts. The rooms, thankfully, shine with new fixtures and finishes, though one wishes the TV access and the bathroom en suite were better. More on that in a minute.
The Village Hotel Bugis' Deluxe Room
The Village Hotel Bugis has 393 guestrooms, ranging from basic superior rooms at 32 square meters in size to executive club suites at 64 square meters in size. The hotel was fortunately built in the 1980s, when room space was not yet at a premium; guests get plenty of leeway even in the cheapest superior rooms.
Your guide got a 32 sqm deluxe room at the 7th floor, immediately next to the elevators and across the hall from the fitness center. (I sprained my ankle on the day I checked in - the universe's way of giving me the middle finger.)
Awesome: The 7th floor rooms had recently undergone a refit: the guestroom was practically brand new, with a pristine recliner, a king-size bed, a fresh red rug on the floor between the TV and the bed, and a warm kind of lighting that was perfectly easy on the eyes. The room got the usual amenities: coffee/tea makers, air conditioning, complimentary bottled water, wardrobe with bathrobes and slippers, and ironing facilities.
The ample size made the room great, the large window made it better: while the window cannot be opened, I still got an eyeful of the open space immediately across Victoria Street.
Not so awesome: the flat-screen TV only had access to a few channels, mainly local stations, and the feed was snowy and irregular. The bathroom en suite was practically the size of a closet, with just enough space for a sink, a toilet, and a shower stall. The latter is hidden from view when the bathroom door is open: this caused me to panic momentarily when I looked inside for the first time ("Where the hell am I going to take a bath?!").
The Village Hotel Bugis' Facilities
Away from the rooms, the rest of the hotel strikes one as having a sort of faded glamor. The common interiors are somewhat dated, what with a huge glass chandelier hanging in the second-storey lobby, shops in the same level that look as if they hadn't changed since the 90s, and old elevators with finicky buttons. That may yet change; an ongoing renovation effort may soon revise the lobby for the better.
Check-in and check-out can be done at the second-floor lobby, which can be reached from the first-floor entrance via a long escalator. The lobby is cavernous, and also houses the Mooi Chin Restaurant, one of three dining establishments on the premises. Service could have been better: the front desk lost my baggage claim stub and made me wait an hour before finding my luggage in the storeroom and bringing it up to the 7th floor.
Dining: Your guide had breakfast at the Mooi Chin Place on the second-floor lobby, which served an adequate breakfast with both Asian and continental selections. The breakfast buffet seemed halal to my untrained eye; no bacon in sight. After 11am, Mooi Chin serves Hainanese Chinese cuisine: the Hainanese pork chop and Hainanese rice come highly recommended.
Guests can have an alternative, Indian-style breakfast at the Riverwalk Tandoor restaurant (www.riverwalktandoor.com.sg) on the 5th level; from 11:30am onward, the restaurant serves Indian delicacies like Tandoori Prawns and Murgh Malai Kebab. A poolside bar and grill/al fresco dining spot on the same level, Shades, is open from 11:30am onward, and operates on the outdoor deck beside the swimming pool.
Gym and swimming pool: The fifth-level outdoor podium houses both Shades restaurant and a spacious swimming pool, which, when not entertaining swimmers in the day, provides an excellent backdrop for parties or events after dark.
The seventh-floor gym requires key card access, but provides completely modern fitness facilities in a newly-renovated space.
Check out the neighborhood the Village Hotel Bugis inhabits, with more information on the next page.
The Village Hotel Bugis stands on a city block bounded by Victoria Street, Ophir Road, North Bridge Road, and Arab Street. Many sites of interest can be reached in a few minutes' walk down or across any of these streets.
The attached shopping complex has definitely seen better days, and is of little interest unless you're in the market for rugs, jewelry or antiques. Better shopping opportunities can be found elsewhere, not too far from the hotel: Bussorah Street, Arab Street, and Haji Lane provide shopping of both the traditional and modern kind - from Malay crafts to textiles to street fashion and jewelry.
Kampong Glam is also well-known for its delicious Muslim-friendly food - the place has everything from traditional biryani, murtabak and teh tarik, to hip cafes and ice cream bars. (Read our article on Dining in Kampong Glam for more details.)
About ten minutes' walk down Victoria Street stands Bugis Junction (www.bugisjunction-mall.com.sg), a modern shopping center with everything you expect in a contemporary mall: bookstores, a department store, moviehouses, and plenty of restaurants.
As Singapore's main Malay cultural center, Kampong Glam really comes to life during Ramadan - the streets around the hotel will suddenly bloom with street bazaars, pasar malam (night markets) and cultural events. Come Eid'ul Fitri (Hari Raya Puasa), the nearby Malay Heritage Center and the Sultan Mosque will be filled with families in their finest Eid wear.
Bus and MRT access: The nearest MRT station -Bugis - is quite close by, accessible either through the Bugis Junction mall or near the Raffles Hospital. Bus stations can be found at accessible points around the hotel. More information in our guide to Singapore Transportation.
The Village Hotel Bugis, Singapore at a Glance
Location: 390 Victoria Street, Singapore. Location of the Village Hotel Bugis (Google Maps). 20 minutes' drive from Changi Airport.
Facilities: 19 storeys, 393 guestrooms, including superior rooms, deluxe rooms, and executive club suites. 24-hour room service, pool, fitness center, Mooi Chin Place (Hainanese), Riverwalk Tandoor (Indian) and Shades (al fresco restaurant). Tour desk at lobby level. Free WiFi available throughout the premises.
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