Here’s our staycation review of Ramada by Wyndham Singapore – a contemporary hotel in Balestier – and the famous in-house MICHELIN guide New Ubin restaurant!
If you’ve been on Agoda or Booking.com recently, you’ll probably have come across Ramada by Wyndham Singapore at Zhongshan Park on their listings. To be quite frank with you, I’m somebody who only knows my own residential area, town, and Changi Airport – so when the listing says it’s at Balestier, I didn’t think I could expect much because it’s not in one of those areas I know. What even is at Balestier anyway?
Best Singapore Staycation Guides:
#1: The Fullerton Hotel Singapore Review
#2: The Fullerton Hotel Singapore Presidential Suite
#3: York Hotel Review
#4: The Outpost Hotel Sentosa Review
#5: Ramada by Wyndham Singapore Review
#6: Dusit Thani Laguna Singapore Staycation Review
Oh how I was wrong. Turns out Balestier has a lot of merits, and Ramada by Wyndham Singapore took full advantage of it. Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised throughout my 2D1N hotel staycation, and here’s my full staycation review of Ramada by Wyndham Singapore at Zhongshan Park!
Locating Ramada by Wyndham Singapore at Zhongshan Park
Balestier is one of the prime residential areas located just outside of town, with many shophouses and historical sites in its vicinity. As a result of its status, the neighbourhood has buildings of pretty much every era – from the 1920s colonial-inspired shophouses, to the brutalist architecture of the 80s, to the minimalist architecture of present. It’s to the point where everywhere you turn, you get a different glimpse into the different eras, which is refreshing for some, but disconcerting at first for someone like me, who’s used to uniformity in my own neighbourhood.
Ramada by Wyndham Singapore’s architecture is on the minimalist side, and contrasts very nicely with the 1920s colonial-inspired shophouses opposite it. Located on 16 Ah Hood Road and as its name suggests, Ramada by Wyndham Singapore at Zhongshan Park overlooks the quaint, historical Zhongshan Park.
Ramada by Wyndham Singapore: Arrival, Lobby & Check-In Process
After turning through the bendy roads of Balestier, we arrived at Ramada by Wyndham Singapore in a daze, and was surprised to find a contemporary hotel nestled among a residential area. The check-in process was incredibly quick and painless – we verified two forms for our stay and health declaration – everything was done under a few minutes.
What added to the effortless feeling was my friends and I being ushered towards the neighbouring Heritage Bar & Lounge for a welcome drink, which was an interesting citrusy mojito infused with curry leaves. Yes, curry leaves! It wasn’t quite my idea of a morning beverage, but it was very refreshing and revitalising – truth be told, I really wanted a second round. Can’t drink all day if we don’t start in the morning, amirite?
During my drink I was able to enjoy the ambience of the lobby, which is more contemporary in feel but pays homage to the luxurious hotels of old. The main sofa lounges were cutely decorated with social distancing pandas that are available from IKEA, and the high ceiling lets me enjoy the vast airiness that makes me feel at ease whilst sipping on the drink.
Just as we were done sipping our welcome drinks, a bellboy offered to pick up our bags and usher it right to the room, which was a welcome treat.
Ramada by Wyndham Singapore: Room
The soft beep when I tap my keycard on the door, and the hushed click that comes along when I push on the heavily-damped and soundproofed door always gets me excited when entering a hotel room.
Upon entering, there’s a faint scent of lavender – very soft and calming, which relaxed my mind almost instantly. I loved it. The silence, serenity, and ambience of the room were exactly what we needed for the weekend.
Before checking in, we actually went over to the famous Loong Fatt Tau Sar Piah that’s a 5-minute walk from the hotel because we were told that it’s one of the famous Tau Sar Piah in Singapore and many would say it’s a Balestier icon.
If you don’t know what Tau Sar Piah is, it’s a Chinese pastry that’s made with sweet bean filling. The crispy outer layer is the one that gives it its salty flavour, while the sweet bean filling is… sweet. None of the flavour profiles overpower each other, rather they complement each other, leading it to become one of Singapore’s favourite tea time snacks.
Anyway, the staff prepared kueh lapis and sets of sanitiser care kits from Vitaminspa. How thoughtful! The kueh lapis was an additional treat for Wyndham Rewards members, while the sanitiser care kits were part of the staycation package.
If you were wondering, we actually had connecting rooms as part of the Fun-mily Staycation Package that’s priced at S$198 before taxes, which worked out to a total of S$233. The package includes:
- Connecting Family rooms (1 King & 1 Twin)
- 10% off F&B at New Ubin restaurant
- S$30 dining credit at New Ubin Restaurant
- Free Welcome Care Kit (hand sanitiser, mask & wet wipe)
- Free parking
I took a bite of the Tau Sar Piah while landing my bum on the bed – expecting to bounce, but instead, I sank by about two to three centimetres and then stopped there. That’s the level of dampening that the bed has, so I can be sure that its memory foam will contour to my body. I’m a side-sleeper with intermittent back aches (yeah, I’m getting old even though I’m only going on 26), so this is perfect for me.
I especially enjoyed how neatly arranged the room was – the furniture, the placement of things where I expect to find, and the management of space. It makes the room look bigger than it really is, and I really, really liked that the mini fridge is integrated into the nightstand. I’m a cold water drinker, so those nights before I sleep and I end up feeling thirsty or wanting to swallow a couple of drowsy pills, the mini fridge next to the bed is really godsend.
I also like how the cushioned bench is attached next to the window, where the table is at my feet, and the mini fridge is just right next to it below. Everything is within arms’ reach; it’s perfect if I’m just feeling too lazy to get off my bum to get something.
The wardrobe itself is fairly well-equipped; there’s an extra set of blankets, two bathrobes, a safe, a couple of laundry bags, an ironing set, and a generous amount of hangers.
Ramada by Wyndham Singapore: Bathroom & Toiletries
The toilet is adequate but the devil is in the details. Ramada by Wyndham Singapore has the best toothbrushes and toothpaste I’ve tried so far – the brush bristles are incredibly soft and the toothpaste has the consistency of regular toothpaste. You know how some hotel toothpastes are too powdery, right? Ramada by Wyndham Singapore was having none of that.
I also enjoyed the strength of the shower; it was strong, and I could turn up the heat to boiling hot if I wanted. A really thoughtful detail is the addition of the retractable blind on the frosted glass – some hotels have the frosted glass for their toilets but if you stand too close to the glass you could catch a sneak peek at your partners’ bits, but the blind here easily remedies that problem.
Ramada by Wyndham Singapore: Balestier Heritage Trail
When you check into Ramada by Wyndham Singapore, the front desk will give you your keycard and a flyer called “The Balestier Insider”. This flyer contains a list of activities, and places to visit and eat, of which there are 27 in total. It’s really important that you choose which ones you want to visit if you’re travelling by foot, because we only managed to visit nine of the sites before the humid Singapore heat took its toll on us.
Of the nine sites that we visited, there were a two that stood out to us:
Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall: Dr Sun Yat Sen was the revolutionary that overthrew the Qing Dynasty in 1911 and made modern China what it is today, and that memorial hall was actually one of his residences. In his residence, there is lots of interesting information about his life, the pivotal moments during that period and even glimpse into his living quarters, where he decoded secret messages using a special code that he invented to communicate between his fellow revolutionaries.
Sasanaramsi Burmese Buddhist Temple: This temple has the largest marble Buddha outside of Myanmar, because it was said that a Burmese businessman had relocated his business here and was missing the temples back home. He was wealthy and incredibly religious, so he decided to commission the building of the temple and the Buddha in Singapore for him and other worshippers to commune.
Ramada by Wyndham Singapore: MICHELIN Bib Gourmand New Ubin Restaurant
All that walking is sure to work up an appetite; so we retreated back to the hotel’s in-house New Ubin restaurant for dinner. As its name implies, it serves up elevated versions of Singapore tze char cuisine – so elevated that New Ubin restaurant is the recipient of The Michelin Bib Gourmand title. You know we had to try it out!
New Ubin restaurant’s extensive menu is incredible and in addition to tze char favourites, there’s a variety of fusion dishes that are also their signature. Out of the many dishes they serve, we had the following:
Foie Gras Egg Special (S$10.50): I’ve never had foie gras in my entire life, and prior to trying it, my friends told me that it’s an either a love-it-or-hate-it kind of thing. To my surprise, I didn’t hate it; the foie gras had a very distinct, land-version (if that makes sense) of the umami sea flavour that you get in oysters. I definitely enjoyed it a lot more with the soft-boiled egg, and dare I say I might order it again!
Brinjal Delight (S$15): I love eggplants. This is closer in taste to the spicy tapioca chips, and that’s because it’s been marinated, dehydrated, and double-fried to perfection. It’s spicy, crispy, citrusy, and extremely addictive!
Hong Kong Kai Lan Special (S$15): I also love my veggies and I’m very sad that this could be my very last veggie dish because I’m going to have braces on right after this. It’s crunchy but not grassy, and the silverfish adds a nice bit of chewy, savoury texture to this otherwise simple dish.
USDA Black Angus Choice Ribeye Beef (S$119): Steak is one of my favourite things to eat. I have pretty high standards for steaks, no thanks to my best friend, whose husband is a chef at one of the high-end restaurants in Sydney, Australia. That man can turn a A$14 (~S$13.50) steak from Coles supermarket into a mouthwatering masterpiece, so when I saw the price tag, I raised my eyebrow. I’m happy to report that the price is indeed worth it – it’s cooked medium rare, it’s easy to bite and chew, and goes really well with the exquisite caramelised onions and sauces. The potato wedges are so soft and almost creamy on the inside, whilst maintaining its outer crispiness.
Heart Attack Fried Rice: Even this isn’t an individual menu option (it comes with the steak), it deserves a paragraph of its own. It’s got a very distinct wok hei flavour to it, and the beef fat it’s been cooked with is very present. It’s not to say that it’s greasy, but you’ll find that a small bowl of it is a very, very, very hearty serving!
Black Halibut Filet Cooked with Sambal Chincalok & Petai (S$32): I’m not a fan of fish. Every time my mother cooks fish at home, I groan and skip the meal for the day. I know, I’m a drama queen. When this arrived on the dinner table, I wasn’t too thrilled until my friends egged me to try it; they said that there was no fishy flavour or smell and that it’s relatively neutral. I was like, fine, just a bite. Then when I bit into it, I was like, “Mmhmm, gurl, okay, she’s not fishy, she’s fresh, she’s flaky, and so light!” The black halibut filet absorbed all the flavours of the sauce, it’s mildly spicy and so good. Call me a convert!
Garlic Baked Live Mud Crab (S$72): Okay first of all, let’s talk about the garlic. How did they even manage to do that? Peel off the skin and just eat it into it; it tastes nothing like garlic. It’s sweet, it’s buttery, and peppery. Hello? My reality has forever been changed. The crab itself is very fresh; the flesh is firm and easy to peel off from the hard shell. It also complements very well with the buttery and peppery garlic. Who is chilli crab again? I don’t know her!
Fresh Kaya and Butter on Toasted Baguette (S$8): I am a basic white girl at heart. If I’m having bread in the morning, I want butter on it, and nothing else. I’ve never really been a big fan of kaya spread but this homemade one turned me into a convert; the spread was a very fine balance between egg, coconut, and sugar. It was just right, and it went really well with the butter; I found myself going for third rounds.
Durian Pengat (S$8): I’m actually allergic to durian (my gums will get itchy and will bleed), but I’m pleased to report that there’s no pungency. My friends who taste tested it for me reported that it’s actually warm, and the initial punch of the durian flavours were rich but in no way overpowering. It’s also served with coconut milk, giving it its rich and palate-cleansing flavour.
Ramada by Wyndham Singapore: Breakfast in Room
In line with the COVID-19 regulations imposed by the Singapore Government, Ramada by Wyndham Singapore has decided to serve breakfast directly to the guests’ rooms. While it might seem like a downgrade from actually being in the restaurant itself, it actually has a few perks.
For one, I can be extremely comfortable in my bath robe, watching TV whilst having breakfast in my room and enjoying the view out the window. It’s totally room service vibes without paying the price for room service.
The breakfast selection is fairly simple but hearty, containing a continental breakfast with a fruit platter and pastries. Shoutout to the pastry chef who made them; they’re warm, sweet and just nice; it’s perfect to go along with the bitter sweetness of orange juice. The breakfast platter of scrambled eggs, grilled tomatoes, sausages, and hash browns were a perfect start to our mornings.
Ramada by Wyndham Singapore: Pool, Gym & Herb Garden
Let’s talk about Ramada by Wyndham Singapore’s pool and gym facilities on level three. The pool is a massive size, you could say that it’s about half the length of your neighbourhood swimming complex lap pool, complete with a shallow area with sun beds for anyone looking to have a tan, or just a relaxing afternoon.
The gym is easily the best-equipped out of any gym hotels I’ve been throughout this staycation series; it’s clear that the management who green-lighted these facilities have a priority on health. There are free weights, pull-up bars, strength machines, treadmill and cycling machines. Of course I won’t find a squat rack in a hotel gym, but this is more than enough for us to shed off the calories from New Ubin restaurant.
Ramada by Wyndham Singapore also has an easily accessible herb garden, which the chefs and bartenders use at New Ubin restaurant and Heritage Bar respectively. It contains many different Asian herbs that the chefs and bartenders use to create their delicious dishes and concoctions. Remember the addictive welcome drink? Its curry leaves were plucked from here. No wonder it was so fresh and rich!
Ramada by Wyndham Singapore? More like Relaxing by Ramada Singapore…
With a fairly simple itinerary, our staycation at Ramada by Wyndham Singapore was the most relaxing experience by far. The basics such as the room, the service, and amenities were done extremely well and it was a serene, fuss-free staycation overall. Not to mention the unique Balestier Heritage Trail that we embarked on was certainly an enriching experience too.
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