The author enjoys traveling the world and visiting educational attractions such as museums where he can learn more about the local culture.
Changi International Airport in Singapore easily tops the list of my favorite airports, boasting more retailers than many large American malls contain. Its four terminals are peppered with free foot massage machines, plenty of seating around large-screen TVs playing news and entertainment, gardens, play areas, high-tech demonstrations, and exhibits.
But even this masterpiece of what an airport should be wears thin when you arrive close to midnight and everything is closed. So, stopping in Singapore on our way back from Penang, Malaysia, to Los Angeles, we booked a room at the Aerotel Transit Hotel in Terminal 1. It’s part of a chain with accommodations in Asia and the Middle East. This facility, which is owned by Plaza Premium Group, is located airside, sparing us from having to go through Customs and Immigration.
I reserved the hotel online many months previously. Room options included a Solo room sized at 8 square meters (86.1 sq. ft.), a Double room at 18 sqm (193.7 sq. ft.), and a Double Plus room at 20 sqm (215.7 sq. ft.) Both the Solo and Double rooms shared baths but the Double Plus contained its own private en-suite.
Families can also book the Family Room sized at 40 sqm (430.5 sq. ft.), which sleeps up to four people in two bedrooms (one with a double bed and another with two singles). and has a private bath.
Reservations come with a free cooked-to-order meal per person, which you can order at any time.
Our Double Plus room cost about 115 in US dollar, including all fees and taxes. That amount covered the minimum six-hour stay but extended by one hour.
DISCLAIMER: My sister-in-law works for the hotel, so we extended our seven-hour stay by an extra hour-and-a-half for free and also received the largest room for the price of a Double Plus.
We took the escalator to the second floor where the lobby welcomed us. The tastefully decorated space sported a patterned brown, beige, and orange carpet, large TV screens showing departure times, a few comfortable armchairs and sofas, and high-top tables surrounded by high chairs.
Three people worked the minimalist check-in counter, making the short line move even more quickly. Still, the manager left his office to help us, even apologizing for the line. I’m not sure if he does that for everyone or because we knew one of the employees.
As is typical for Singapore, everything happened in English. I showed him my credit card and signed some paperwork before he gave us one keycard for the room. I also noticed a menu with names and pictures of meals but we elected to eat our meals at breakfast.
We went through a set of double doors behind the check-in counter into a hall that glowed with dramatic and edgy lighting. Our room #1 was the first single door on the left.
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The door led to a small entry area. To the left, a mirror reached from the floor to almost the ceiling. A line of round lights illuminated one side of the glass. To the right was the door to the bathroom. Sprawled out in front of us was one of the biggest hotel rooms we’d ever booked sprawled.
Two double beds occupied the right wall and an entertainment/work center stuck out from the wall on the left. In between, a vast expanse of gray carpet criss-crossed by green zig-zags could easily hold another set of double beds. The space looked to be twice the size of the regular Double Plus room.
The floating light wood desk to my left was topped by a wall-mounted 42-inch color flat-screen LG TV. Controlled by remote, the screen showed HBO, CNN, History Channel and Cartoon Network, among other cable channels. Below the desk stood a green wooden chair and a small black trash can.
Above the desk was a tray holding an electric coffee pot and two mugs as well as two free 600-ml bottles of mineral water, two one-serving packets of IndoCare Original Blend and Twining English Breakfast tea, packets of cream and sugar, and two metal spoons. The pot was plugged into one of three outlets that required Singapore-style plugs.
Next to the desk was a portable folding suitcase rack. Three coat hooks sprouted from the wall above the rack containing only two hangers. On the other side of the desk sat a gray high-backed easy chair with a woven textured upholstery. Next to it, a round side table with a two-foot diameter light wood top proved a handy place to store drinks.
The wall opposite the entry contained a six-foot-high window with wooden pocket doors for privacy. Through it, I could see jet bridge D41 connecting to a Singapore Airlines jet. Beyond that, a magnificent view of the tarmac with planes was studded with lights as planes glided by.
WiFi for the room and the hotel relied on the one supplied by the airport, which is fast enough for streaming video. I needed to download the iChangi app to get 24 hours for free. Otherwise, you only receive three hours. Passwords for the service were available either from the front desk of the hotel or from any of the information booths throughout the terminal.
Each of the two beds might have been as big as an American full-size but not quite as large as a queen. Each contained a white comforter and two pillows of medium hardness. The mattress felt just right: not too hard and not too soft. It delivered a good night’s sleep for me.
Between the beds, a small table held three pairs of switches to control the lights in the room, including the two reading lamps above the table. Below the switches were two Singapore-style outlets.
The floor of the attached bathroom dropped an inch lower from the rest of the bedroom floor so w had to be careful entering and exiting. The walls were covered in subway tile colored green to match the accent color of the room.
Beneath the mirrored wall, a long counter could’ve easily held two sinks. Instead, it only contained one rectangular vessel sink. Two faucets controlled the hot and cold water to the curved spout. The counter also showed a black tissue box, two toothbrush packets with toothpaste, a shaving packet with a plastic razor and tube of shaving cream, and two water glasses. Attached to the wall were a hair dryer, a soap dispenser you had to squeeze to get soap, and two wall outlets at 110 and 220 volts, so no adapter was needed.
The shelf beneath the vanity hid two pairs of slippers, two large white bath towels, and a small black trash can. Two hand towels and a towel rug were hung around the room. A small drawer held an extra tray, extra toilet paper, a shower cap, and a make-up removal kit with a pad and Q-tips. This was the only drawer in the entire room.
A white toilet floated from the wall across from the door. Its flushing lever stuck out from the wall about two feet above.
Opposite the vanity was a large walk-in glass-walled shower that could be entered through a swinging door. The shower featured both a hand-held shower and a rain shower head. I eventually got the hang of the confusing knobs for controlling water flow and temperature. To use the hot water in the shower, I had to turn on a switch outside the bathroom. (The hot water in the sink did not depend on the switch.) The water pressure felt good pounding forcefully on my tired muscles.
The room suffered from only two minor issues:
- The room was well-insulated from noise coming from the hall, except when someone talked loudly near the door. However, we could hear the jets landing and taking off through the window. They sounded like distant thunder, which was not unpleasant. No earplugs were necessary.
- Although a thermostat was visible, the temperature was controlled entirely by the hotel, which kept the temperature at 20.5 degrees Celsius (68.9 degrees Fahrenheit). I thought the temperature felt fine although my hubby thought he would freeze to death if he didn’t sleep with his full sweats on.
The Aerotel Transit Hotel at Changi International proclaims that it is the only one in Asia that contains an outdoor swimming pool. And when we entered the watery rec area, we noticed the lights of the tarmac shining beyond one corner. The pool opens everyday from 6 AM to midnight so we didn’t use it. But lit from below, the kidney-shaped blue water that was held in by small blue tiles looked like a refreshing respite from Singapore humidity. A round multi-person Jacuzzi pool rose from the hump of the kidney.
Scattered around the pool and its tropical foliage, chaise lounge chairs invited relaxation under closed yellow umbrellas. Someone cleaned behind a covered bar that was also closed. Round tables with chairs were available for drinking or dining.
Behind a set of swinging double glass doors, lights shone on a small gym with gray carpet. The room contained an exercise bike, a treadmill, an adjustable weight bench, a rack of dumbbells, an exercise ball, and a folded mat or two. The exercise area overlooked the lounge below, which you could descend into using a flight of stairs.
The lounge was comfortably appointed and decorated in neutral gray colors with light green upholstery on the sofas and chairs. A wall covered in gray concrete herringbone blocks acted as a background for a large-screen TV playing English-speaking cable news. The wall opposite held shelves with magazines that were free for the taking.
We elected to have our included free meal for breakfast before our flight out. As we entered the lounge, we approached a server who handed as a laminated copy of the menu we’d already seen at check-in. A color-picture list of eight dishes, which is useful if you didn’t speak English. We made our selections, which were then cooked fresh, allowing us to look around the lounge while we waited.
My All Day Breakfast, which consisted of sausages, two slices of buttered toast, a sunny-side-up egg, ham, potatoes, and greens was hardly gourmet but acceptable.
My hubby is very particular about Hainan Chicken Rice, so it’s no surprise that his order disappointed him with the overcooked tough chicken and hard rise. His dish came with the chicken and some vegetables, rice topped with garlic chips, and the expected soup.
The Aerotel Transit Hotel at Singapore’s Changi Airport represents excellent value for the money, providing us with a comfortable, clean, and safe way to sleep. Particularly during high season, try to book as far ahead as possible because cancellations are free and the facility does book up. If a future flight demands that we spend overnight at the airport, we’ll stay at this hotel again.
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© 2019 Aurelio Locsin