A hotel nestled away from the busy shopping belt of Orchard Road? Here’s a full review of York Hotel and its amenities, including its famed White Rose Café!
You know, during the many times I’ve been mindlessly swiping through Agoda, I’ve always come across York Hotel. I don’t know why, but I’ve never really thought much about it, even though on paper, its prices were reasonable and the rooms look nice.
Perhaps, the location boggles me a little, because I’ve never really figured out where the hotel was situated, and why I’ve never seen it before despite visiting Orchard Road all my life. I’ve decided to take a leap of faith and visit York Hotel for staycation – since my travel bug was itching. Here’s my full York Hotel review!
Locating York Hotel
York Hotel is located at 21 Mount Elizabeth, which is right next to Mount Elizabeth Hospital and a short 5-minute walk from Paragon shopping mall. The hotel itself has a very unassuming facade because it’s tucked behind the main shopping belt of Orchard Road, together with the residential apartments that surround it.
I would put this as the main reason why I initially dismissed the hotel, which, in the reasons and pictures I would discuss later on, would turn out to be a huge mistake.
York Hotel: Lobby & Check-In Experience
The standard protocol exists when we were checking in; as soon as we got off the cab, we had to scan the QR code for SafeEntry check-in, as well as subsequent temperature taking. Once that’s out the way, we were greeted to a classic and luxurious take of a hotel lobby, which would soon be mirrored in its rooms and facilities.
It’s a very different atmosphere from the modern, minimalistic take of newer hotels like The Outpost Hotel Sentosa, whose clean and bold lines are very contemporary.
Speaking of which, the service was exemplary. We were greeted by our names as we were ushered to the front desk. Desmond Chan was the duty manager on the floor that Friday, and he offered to help us with our luggage and made small talk as we dealt with the check-in paperwork.
Rachel Seet was handling our check-in paperwork, who was not only friendly but also measured, because she was approachable when we had questions but she made sure not to clog up the process with unnecessary conversation. The check-in process was only 10 minutes, which was very fast and very easy for us.
While Rachel was handling our check-in paperwork and my friend was chatting with Desmond, I excused myself to take some photos of the hotel lobby. It’s neat and open, and I spotted the SG Clean certification by the National Environment Agency (NEA).
Once everything was settled, we headed to our room.
York Hotel: Cabanas Room
We were ushered to our Cabanas Room, which we were told, was at Basement 2. The Cabanas Room had a Sweet Romance staycation package which starts from S$220, which includes:
- Daily buffet breakfast for two at White Rose Café
- S$50 dining credit
- ‘Couples’ Manicure’ service at Namaste Beauty Nail Spa worth S$100
- Welcome fruit platter, drinks, and late check-out till 3pm
Desmond ushered us to our room; it wasn’t a very long walk, it was 5 minutes at most, and we could’ve easily handled our luggage ourselves. That being said, Desmond was very kind and insisted on helping us with our luggage.
The room is right next to the pool and the gym. With this being a period where COVID-19 still has its influence, the area was very quiet and spacious. We practically had the pool and gym area to ourselves!
When we stepped into our room, my jaw just dropped. It was HUGE! It’s easily bigger than my living room, and the interior was very reminiscent of classic indulgence.
It harkens me back to my tween days, where my extended family would have a huge staycation at York’s sister hotel, Goodwood Park Hotel, where myself and my ten other cousins would be splashing at the pool, or playing UNO and Monopoly in the room. The vibe is very similar, and I could easily imagine all of us doing the same things in the Cabanas Room, sans COVID-19 restrictions, of course.
We had 2 king size beds to ourselves, which was a good thing, because I’m a very active sleeper who will kick, flip and shuffle around during sleep, while my friend is more like a corpse. To prevent each other from getting interrupted in our sleep, we each took a bed.
There was a personalised welcome letter, a folder containing information and the extensive, six-page room service menu which served all kinds of cuisines, and the complimentary food platter that came along with booking the Cabanas Room.
There wasn’t much in the way of the minibar, except for some coffee, tea and water which was provided.
The cabinet contained an ironing board and an iron if your clothes needed some of that, while there were four pairs of hotel slippers and four bathrobes. The cabinets beside contained a shoe shining cloth, some laundry bags, and a safe.
York Hotel: Bathroom
The bathroom was a sumptuous affair. For the price you pay, you get a medium-sized bathroom that contains:
- a very strong shower
- a bathtub
- a mirror that extends down the width of the toilet,
- an in-built hair-dryer
- four glasses
- four pairs of toilet amenities
The star of the bathroom was easily the shower. It had very strong water flow to rival the monthly HDB water spraying, and I didn’t need to max out the heat to make my shower hot on cold mornings.
I just needed to nudge the lever a little bit to the left to make the water hot. Some hotels these days have showers that just aren’t hot enough, and despite some of them calling themselves 5-star hotels, they don’t even have a tub. The cheapest room in MBS is shaking (which must be added, the cheapest room in MBS is at least twice the price of York Hotel’s Cabana Room – but yes I get it, you’re paying for the infinity pool as well, among other things).
York Hotel: White Rose Café
White Rose Café is a strange moniker for what it serves, not just in terms of food, but also service. This should really be named to White Rose Restaurant because for decades they’ve been known for their highly-praised food, like the Treasured Flavours of Singapore ala carte buffet, and also their tri-yearly Penang Hawker Fare which has been paused due to COVID-19 (they can’t fly in the Penang chefs now).
Lunch Buffet: Treasured Flavours of Singapore
We opted into the Treasured Flavours of Singapore ala-carte buffet because the Penang Hawker Fare was not yet available, but the menu was sumptuous. It costs S$34.13 with service charge and GST included, while children below five years old dine for free. There were 25 Asian dishes, inclusive of four desserts.
|Treasured Flavours of Singapore Menu||Ordered?|
|Black Ink Sotong||✅|
|Crispy Curry Drumlette||✅|
|Fish Head Curry (Single order)||✅|
|Wok-fried Bean Sprouts with Salted Fish||✅|
|Sambal Kang Kong||✅|
|Stir-Fried Long Beans with Dried Shrimp||✅|
|Stir Fried Spicy Clams||✅|
|Kung Pow Chicken||✅|
|Deep Fried Ngoh Hiang with Pickles||✅|
|Bean Curd with Chye Poh||✅|
|Chye Poh Omelette||✅|
|Silver Fish Omelette||✅|
|Cheng Tng (Hot/Cold)||✅|
|Chin Chow with Palm Seeds||✅|
Even though we’re big eaters, we didn’t dare to order everything because the menu was really extensive and we might not be able to finish everything. The food was delicious, like an elevated tze char experience where not even one dish disappointed us. We were just “mm”-ing throughout lunch!
Among these dishes, there were also some standouts that we had to give honourable mention:
Black Ink Sotong: This dish was the one I was going to be the most critical about, because it’s my absolute favourite dish of all time, and I only trust my best friend and myself to cook it right. My criticisms were thrown out the window after the first bite, because the consistency, flavours and sotong (squid) texture was just right. The gravy was inky blacc, thicc, yet fluid, the flavours had the right amount of turmeric and the squid was peeled clean from its purple film and had no residue inside. My only complaint is that the flavour profile is sweet, rather than spicy, because I am a spice demon. That’s good thing, because then this is easily suitable for everyone’s taste profile.
Crispy Curry Drumlette: This is fried chicken done right – the batter was light, crispy and slightly spicy, but not oily. The chicken meat was tender and hot, that when you bite off the bone, the mist releases itself from the confines of the bones and into the air, creating that classic fried chicken advertisement moment. We had second rounds of this!
Chap Chye: All the vegetables we ordered were impeccable that it was so hard to choose between them, so we chose this chap chye because it had the edge of having different textures in one dish. The sweetness of the cabbage went very well with the savoury profile of the bean curd skin, while the vermicelli adds a springiness to the crunchy cabbage and chewy bean curd skin. Well-balanced.
Kung Pao Chicken: Most kung pao chicken dishes just end up being sweet. This is not the case with White Rose Cafe’s kung pao chicken, it had the very famed ‘Wok Hey’ smokiness to it, adding a great deal of depth. On first bite, it’s sweet, then as you chew and finish it, it leaves behind dried chilli and sweet tinge of smokiness that’s insanely addictive. Second-round-worthy again.
Stir-Fried Spicy Clams: These clams have a very Thai flavour profile, which was garlicky, basil-y and sweet. Most clams you end up ordering at tze char places have this distinct sea bitterness to it, but these clams have none of that, which means they have been boiled and cleaned properly.
Bean Curd with Chye Poh: This simple dish might not seem like much, but the flavours and texture is very much so. The fried bean curd skin complements well with soft and sour bean curd innards, while the chye poh, garlic, chilli, and soy sauce give a much welcome punch to the bean curd. Light, refreshing, and second round-worthy.
Silver Fish Omelette: This omelette is a Chinese-style omelette where it’s well-done, round, and packed with ingredients. It’s light, fluffy, and soft, with the silver fish adding saltiness to it.
Achar: The cucumbers were appropriately pickled – they weren’t limp, nor were they tough. There’s a distinct vinegar-y and lemon-y flavour to the cucumber, which went well with the sweet, spicy, and salty brine. This is further elevated by the peanuts adding a more complex and savoury flavour profile to it, which is amazing by itself.
Chendol: This was the star of the desserts because the coconut milk was milky, yet fluid, and the mixture played well with the gula melaka (palm sugar). The red beans added chewiness, while the green jelly added light springiness to complete this famed dessert. Second round-worthy!
Breakfast Buffet: Daily Ala-Carte
Breakfast is included if you book with the Sweet Romance package. Much like lunch, it’s also an ala carte buffet, where everything is freshly prepared upon order. York Hotel’s generous buffet breakfast runs from 7am to 10am daily.
|Breakfast Buffet Menu||Ordered?|
|Tropical Fruit Platter||✅|
|Assortment of Breads||✅|
|Spaghetti Aglio Olio||✅|
|Oriental Chicken Congee||✅|
|Dim Sum Selection||✅|
|Cheese and Sliced Smoked Duck Breast||✅|
Amongst the dishes we ordered, there were a few that were standouts:
American Pancake: I’ve never been a fan of pancakes in the morning; something about their plainness and diabetically-inducing maple syrup just doesn’t sit well with me. This pancake however, was light, fluffy, decidedly buttery and eggy. No, it wasn’t smeared with butter, the pancake batter itself is buttery and eggy. It’s so good, and added depth to this otherwise basic dish.
Nasi Lemak: I’m Malay, so nasi lemak in the morning is nothing foreign to me. Sadly most of Singapore’s nasi lemak leaves me wanting, because I find that the rice frankly sucks. They either substitute for cheaper evaporated milk, skimp on the coconut milk or just get the ratio between rice, coconut milk, and water wrong. York Hotel’s nasi lemak is just perfect; it’s very similar to the famed Nasi Lemak Antarabangsa in Kampung Baru, Kuala Lumpur, with firmer rice and a distinct coconut milk taste without it being smudgy or overpowering.
Dim Sum Selection: I was particularly impressed with the homemade lo mai gai and vegetable dumpling. The lo mai gai was wrapped in lotus leaves, and had chicken filling – the glutinous rice was sticky but not chewy, while the chicken was tender and brimming with flavours. The vegetable dumpling’s filling was chap chye, so it was an instant favourite because of the veggies’ multitude of textures, well-balanced flavours, and lightness.
Cheese & Sliced Smoked Duck Breast: I was pleasantly surprised that York Hotel offers a cheese platter, which is becoming a rarity these days. It’s one of the things that I always look out for when I’m at a hotel breakfast buffet, and I was not disappointed. Chef Ho Chan Fei has opted to ditch the usual assortment of cold cuts in favour of smoked duck breast, which not only balanced the parmesan cheese, but also added depth and texture to this dish.
White Rose Café’s Head Chef
The mastermind behind this menu and these excellent dishes is Singapore-born Chef Ho Chan Fei, or commonly addressed as ‘Chef Fei’. We had a quick chat with him and requested to take a photo of him at White Rose Café – we had to put a face to these amazing dishes.
We found out that Chef Fei has over 26 years of culinary experience and kitchen management experience in high-end hotels and restaurants in Singapore. In addition to local cuisines, he also specialises in classic French fare. Chef Fei also has got a wealth of experience with banquet and off-site catering events, including the annual Formula One Singapore Grand Prix, and Istana events with his culinary brigade of over 80 chefs.
York Hotel: Hotel Staff & White Rose Café Service
This deserves a paragraph on its own because the service is really exemplary. From front desk to White Rose Café, the service was nothing short of friendly, accommodating, and prompt. As mentioned earlier, Desmond and Rachel were good at making our check-in process as smooth as possible, while Jennifer Lim, Jennifer Long, Tow Siok Luan and Steven Lim made sure we were attended to promptly when we were dining at White Rose Café.
It must be said that when we were heading to White Rose Cafe for breakfast, we were in a morning daze and we forgot our masks. We only realised this when my friend reached the entrance of White Rose Café and mentioned it, and I was like, “This is what happens when I don’t get my morning coffee.”
Without skipping a heartbeat, Jennifer Long said “I will get the masks for you from the front desk!” We were just in shock and in awe that she would do this for us. For lunch, she and Jennifer Lim handed us a clear plastic bag for us to put our masks in so that it wouldn’t get dirty, almost like a synchronised dance.
There was also this conversation between Jennifer Long and another older gentleman during breakfast, that we couldn’t help to eavesdrop on because the table was behind us. The gentleman asked for Jennifer’s name, and if she would be working the day after and subsequent days, to which she said yes. The gentleman said “Oh good, I hope to see you then!”, and to which Jennifer replied “Okay, I will remember your order.”
If this isn’t commitment to excellent service, I don’t know what is, because it’s not just us that were treated like royalty, it’s others as well.
Such exemplary service is built up over the years, because we learnt that many of York Hotel’s staff have actually worked there for over 20 to 30 years. While architecture and decor might change, service does not, where the staff know what it takes to treat their guests like they are taken care of.
The exemplary service is the main reason why people go back to a hotel or an establishment, and York Hotel exceeds in that regard.
York Hotel: Facilites, Gym & Pool
York Hotel does not have much in the way of facilities, with most people accessing the pool and gym.
There’s a kids’ pool and an adult’s pool, whose depths go to 0.5m and 1.4m respectively. The beauty of it is the isolation, most likely you’ll be able to have the pool to yourselves because of COVID-19 restrictions.
Speaking of which, you have to book the pool and gym if you wish to use it. The pool is limited to 12 people between the kids’ and adult pool, while the gym is limited to six. It should be noted that if you want to use the pool and gym consecutively, you have to check-in and out at the front desk. That means you have to make two round trips to the front desk.
The gym is decidedly basic as well. You can find some free weights, a socially distanced treadmill, an elliptical trainer, a cycling machine, and some machines. It’s not much, but it’s especially handy to burn off the calories that we gained during the lunch and breakfast buffet.
If you got the Sweet Romance package, you also get a Couples’ Manicure service at the Namaste Nail Salon worth S$100. I did want to get my nails done, but my friend was like “ehh.” Only girls, or people who have been through a manicure can understand how relaxing and posh it is to get your nails done. It’s a whole vibe, sis…
York Hotel: Superior & Deluxe Room Types
We were also fortunate enough to be able to see the other room types that York Hotel offers. We got to get a glimpse of the Superior and Deluxe Rooms, which are bigger than most hotels in Singapore.
Will We Return to York Hotel?
Don’t let the four-star hotel rating fool you – that only applies to the facilities that the hotel has. For everything else, especially the food and service, is five stars. If you’re into classic indulgence and good Asian food with affordable prices, give York Hotel a shot. The staff will make sure your relaxing stay is a comfortable and well-attended one.
If you’re looking for some extra perks (yes, we spoil our YouTroopers like that!), you can enjoy an additional 7% discount if you book York Hotel on Agoda with your YouTrip card. This is a stackable discount to whatever promotion Agoda has for York Hotel.
If you still haven’t gotten your free YouTrip card yet, use promo code <BLOG5> to sign up and receive a free S$5 in your account. 😎