There are a lot of hotels on Sentosa island and many of them are of the resort type with large pools, lots of facilities and wonderfully appealing attractions for a great staycation. The W Singapore – Sentosa Cove is one of them and a great option for families or couples looking for a bit of fun. This article reviews the W Singapore – Sentosa Cove from one of my staycations.
Arrival and Check in at W Singapore – Sentosa Cove
Sentosa is located about 40min from Changi Airport or around 20min from the city center of Singapore. It is easily accessible by taxi but not very well connected by public transport. It is also important to note that motorbikes are not allowed on Sentosa, so cars are the only mode of transport. Here are some fun facts about Sentosa and a great neighbourhood guide of Sentosa if you’re interested in learning more about the area.
To get to the W Singapore – Sentosa Cove is even more difficult as the hotel is in the upscale residential area of Sentosa Cove, where some of Singapore’s most expensive and over the top residences and mansions are. You only need to take a short stroll along the gated area where all the large houses of the wealthy are to realise this is where the real money lives.
As I live in Singapore, I ordered a Grab and headed to Sentosa, a mere 15mins away from my house.
Access to Sentosa is gated and requires you to pay a toll but if you tell them that you have a hotel booking, the fee is waived. You will have to show the booking at the toll gate. Once you check in, you will get a pass to show when you head out to the city so your fee is waived again.
Once you arrive at the W Hotel in Sentosa, your taxi will drop you off at the entrance and you will take the elevator up to the second floor where the reception area is.
We checked in on a Saturday and there was quite a queue of people checking in and out and the lobby area was rather crowded with screaming children running around. This was not the hotel’s fault, but it did indicate, contrary to my expectations, that the W Singapore – Sentosa Cove is a real family hotel frequented by locals and residents as well as visitors, over the weekend as a resort getaway.
The check in was good. The lady at the reception was friendly and explained everything. We got a set of vouchers and flyers with all the offers at the spa, the cinema screening of a cartoon movie at night (family hotel friendliness clearly showing again), the free flow tequila and nachos, the afternoon tea offer and a discount voucher for the spa and all the F&B as part of my SPG membership.
One small detail I noticed and which I appreciated was the act that the lady at reception was the one who filled the check in form. As I had booked via Hotels.com, they did not have my details but as soon as I gave her my SPG number she copied the details from my profile onto the check in car so I did not have to do it, this was a small but nice gesture, in line with the $500 rate.
The rooms at the W Singapore
The W Singapore – Sentosa Cove has a few room types and they are quite hard to differentiate from their website so let me give you the low down.
There are nine room categories at the W Singapore – Sentosa Cove although for a few of the suites there are only one or two.
The entry level Wonderful Rooms are basically the most affordable because of a combination of the size, amenities and views. They are around 40 square meters and face the hotel’s entrance which is the only view that does not see the marina, the canals or the sea. They are also located on the lower floors so you are basically facing the roof of the dining options at Quayside Isle.
Spectacular Rooms are the same size and look the same inside but have better partial marina and island views and balconies. They are facing the marina and have outdoor spaces with a sofa to linger.
The next category up are the Fabulous Rooms which are the same size as the Wonderful and Spectacular rooms but have even better views as they are facing the pool, so they are fully facing the marina.
Where you can notice a difference is in the AWAY Rooms which are generally bigger (although some of them can also be just about the same size) but come with plunge pools and daybeds, as well as TVs in the bathroom.
Check in for the AWAY Rooms takes place at the AWAY Spa on the ground floor, as the rooms are adjacent. There are only eight AWAY Rooms all located on the ground floor and facing the lawn area. Privacy is guaranteed by the high bushes. However, bear in mind that these rooms have barely any sunlight so if you are planning to sunbathe in your own room by the plunge pool, this is not the place.
Also, the bushes that surround the room that is closest to Spa have some holes where passing guests can look it. Any of the guests in the higher floors above can also look down and see the plunge pools below. Some AWAY rooms are Spectacular AWAY and are a bit bigger in size.
The top category room in the AWAY range is the AWAY Suite, of which there is only one, and which is located at the corner with separate living room and bedroom areas and twice the size of a normal room. The pool here is larger and has quite a lot of sunlight. However, its rack rate is four times more than the regular AWAY Rooms.
Above AWAY rooms are the suites. The Marvelous Suites are large with separate bedroom and living room and corner location with magnificent views over the marina. They are colourful and large and provide a real feel for the yachting life below.
WOW Suites come with outdoor balconies and plunge pools and are the real indulgence. They are located on the top floor of the hotel and are almost 100 square meters so they really do wow. The living room is huge and has a separate dining area.
The top of the range accommodation at the W Singapore – Sentosa Cove is the Extreme WOW Suite which is faithful to its name. It is almost 200 square meters, come with a huge round metal jacuzzi bathtub, huge outdoor balconies and a full bar and kitchen. It is also decorated in darker tones and filled with art pieces. Think Michael Jackson by the sea. Velvet, designer pieces, a gold tiled plunge pool and expansive views. Very extreme indeed.
Regardless of the room you pick, you are sure to enjoy a wonderful space. The rooms are indeed the strongest part of the W Singapore – Sentosa Cove. They are spacious, even the entry level ones are well thought-out, filled with small details and sexy.
There are mood lights to change the color of the room, lots of small things here and there, a well stocked signature minibar that is common of the W brand, full of the snacks and drinks you may want and everything to whip yourself a cocktail.
The bathrooms are fabulous, with lots of mirrors and good lighting and a large bathtub to soak in. The showers have great pressure and the amenities used by the chain in all its properties are unique and great, one of the few amenities I actually take with me and use elsewhere because I love the lemon scent.
There was a handy charging station with all sorts of charging cables but sadly, this was outdated. There were all sorts of cables from phones we used 10 years ago and no USB C cable so neither me or my partner could use any of them because they were not the type for any of our electronics.
The room also comes with a great sound system and a huge TV but only three channels we could watch, the rest of the channels were either in other languages or showing paid movies which were costing S$16. This was also not what I expected. Nowadays, Apple TV and Netflix should be staples at luxury hotels.
Dining at the W Singapore – Sentosa Cove
The hotel is located on Quayside Isle, Sentosa Cove’s dining hub, and thus it is surrounded by various dining options including cafes, restaurants and supermarkets. The residents of the area fill the space in the weekend, while it is pretty calm during the week.
You could easily eat out every day and avoid the expensive hotel prices and would probably have great food too. I ate at the hotel for breakfast and have been there for dinner at the steak house Skirt before. We also enjoyed their Saturday night tequila and nachos DIY offer at the Woo Bar and tried, unsuccessfully, to have afternoon tea there too.
Breakfast at the W Singapore – Sentosa Cove is at The Kitchen Table and offers a very wide range of options. There are dishes from pretty much every cultural background of Singapore, from Chinese to Indian and Malay. The range of options is really vast and would make anyone happy.
However, I found the breakfast crowded, noisy and very chaotic, with traffic jams to get food and very loud conversation echoing the room. They had to use the adjacent Skirt restaurant tables for breakfast because the area was full. It was not a very pleasant or relaxing experience, despite the fact that we sat outside where it was far more peaceful.
I also found the quality of the food subpar for the hotel category and the prices charged. The pastries were soggy, including the croissants, the fruit juices were not fresh but from a tetra brik, there were only two types of fresh fruits, which did not look appealing at all (eg. white watermelon which was clearly not properly ripe).
The staff were also clearly stressed and service suffered. We ordered two coffees, only one came. We asked for the outdoor fan not to be turned on as it was blowing on our faces, two staff members turned it on despite telling them we wanted it off. A kid dropped milk on the floor and then 10 guests walked over it before it was cleaned, by the Manager no less. I asked what the various condiments for the laksa were and the person standing in the cooking station and making it had no idea what they were.
It did not feel like this was a 5 star hotel costing upwards of S$500 a night and charging S$55 for breakfast. All I wanted to do from the moment I sat down was leave to a more peaceful part of the hotel.
Skirt is a steakhouse serving premium cuts and sides. The meat is of high quality and so are the prices, well over the top. Here you really pay hotel premiums and I find this unnecessary given the many options right at the hotel’s doorstep on Quayside Isle.
Woo Bar serves bar nibbles and drinks and has a few running offers. There are cocktails and oysters on Friday, free flow of tequila or margaritas with DIY nachos on Saturday and other offers during the week. The ambience is relaxed and more appealing here and this is probably the only part of the hotel without children in the evening, so a good place to retire to as adults. The free flow of tequila and margaritas were great and the nachos with all the condiments were also good. For S$65++ per person this was good value in Singapore.
Woo Bar also serves afternoon tea in pretty bird cages, but this needs to be ordered a day ahead as I discovered. We attempted to go at 3,15pm, only 15 minutes into the service, and the staff indicated they had already ran out of tea sets. This was quite frustrating given that, she added, they had only requested 3 tea sets above the reservations. So basically, unless you call ahead and book, you will not have a chance. A shame as this would have been a great way to spend an afternoon relaxing.
Poolside, you can also order some drinks. Service was erratic and you basically had to get up and go order at the bar to get any attention. The pool is large and the staff are unable to see you. There is no system for you to call their attention other than simply walking over.
For drinks, you can also go to the swim up bar at one end of the pool where you can have your drinks by the water. There are plastic chairs to relax on as well if you prefer to be out of the water. Although I wanted to go and have a drink, the shallower water in this part means that it is popular with children and so it was not that appealing to be enjoying a drink surrounded by splashing children.
The facilities and activities at the W Singapore – Sentosa Cove
The W Singapore – Sentosa Cove is a resort complex with quite a few facilities, most notably a large swimming pool, a lawn and a spa.
The pool used to be popular with Sunday pool parties where DJs would play music and the beautiful and sexy crowd of Singapore would flock to the island to see and be seen. This is no longer the case and now, the resort is filled with families instead.
The pool is surrounded by sun loungers, although most of them are in the shade or under umbrellas so it was quite hard to find one that was in the sun. There are lots of floaties, inflatable balls and other toys to play in the water, something which no doubt attracts families. I saw the staff inflating more toys for the smaller kids to play on. Even adults were playing with the balls, throwing them and splashing around. All this made the entire area noisy.
Because of the resort’s location on Sentosa, most guests come here to relax by the pool and make the most of the hotel rather than go out to explore Singapore, so the pool area gets pretty crowded on weekends.
Aside from the pool, there is a large lawn area where early morning yoga is offered a few days a week.
The gym faces this lawn and is remarkably well equipped for a hotel gym. There were enough machines for a proper workout if the weights were on the smaller size, as is common at hotel gyms. The gym instructor was quite nice and helpful and I saw him aiding a few other guests, spotting the more professional gym goers.
The spa is a destination in itself and has a wide array of services, if incredibly pricey. There are couple massages and treatments for extra indulgence and all sorts of options. I did not try the spa but I did use the gym and it was a pleasant surprise.
As per the activities, the hotel offers free shuttle service to Resorts World, about 15min away by car. Aside from that, you are a bit isolated as the only way in and out of the resort is by taxi and they can be hard to come by or charge extreme supplements as we discovered on Saturday night when the rate quoted was over S$40 for the trip which would usually cost S$12. If you want to explore Singapore, the W Singapore – Sentosa Cove is not a good option.
While there were no other activities available at the resort you could also rent a segway from the entrance of the hotel and go on a self-guided tour of Sentosa Cove. And of course, Sentosa and Singapore are at your doorstep for any other activities you may like. Here is a great list of 100+ things to do in Singapore if you need any ideas.
If you are into yachting, One15 Marina is right in front of the hotel and is the destination for sailing and other water activities. You can also rent yachts and go on afternoon cruises to nearby Lazarus Island.
Service at the W Singapore – Sentosa Cove
This was the weakest link of the entire stay. Normally, at a hotel of this category and experience I would expect service to be top notch. W Hotels pride themselves in providing Insiders that can tell you all the events happening in the destination, and a Whatever Whenever attitude where you can ask for help with anything you may wish for. I would have contented with the very basics working fine, let alone any extraordinary help.
Check in and the gym were the only good experiences we had, from then on everything was a struggle. The concierge at Whatever Whenever was completely lost and utterly useless. The service at breakfast was also erratic, as mentioned before. There was practically no service at the pool. Even after fiddling with the umbrella for a couple of minutes trying to bring it down we had to walk over to the bar to get some help, and we were standing by the bar.
And it didn’t end when we left the hotel. I forgot my make-up bag in the room and called the hotel two days later when I realised. I would have expected them to call me straight away after finding it, after all, they know I live a few minutes away. But even just an adequate process for situations like this which must happen on a daily basis would have been enough.
Instead I was faced with frustration and just lack of interest. Not only did they not find my item and call me, but they also were incredibly rude and unhelpful when I called with answers like “Nothing” to my question “what do you do when something like this happens” and a clear willingness to ending the call as soon as possible. In these are the situations is when a hotel shows its focus on service or the lack thereof and I know which side W Singapore – Sentosa Cove falls on.
W Singapore – Sentosa Cove – The verdict
It is rare for me to be disappointed at a luxury hotel, but it does happen and I always write honest reviews so here I am telling you the highs and the lows of my stay at the W Singapore – Sentosa Cove.
I am well versed in the W brand, I have stayed at a few of its hotels in Barcelona and Bangkok, my partner stayed at the one in the Maldives, and it is a brand I appreciate, enjoy and used to identify with. After all we were the clear target audience for the brand: young, wealthy and ready to have a good time. I was looking forward to a fun-filled, adult and indulgent weekend staycation but ended up with a very disappointing experience.
The rooms were fantastic and even the entry level category was a great place to spend time in. The suites and higher categories, with amazing views and outdoor balconies must be fabulous. But from the moment we left the room everything was a let down.
The fact that the hotel was so chaotic, crowded and noisy did not help, but the service was really the lowest point for us, especially because of the rates. It felt as if the staff had just been hired and the hotel had just opened. If it had been S$300 I could give in on some of the service flaws, but at S$500 and above, I thought the value for money was not there for me. I can’t imagine how I would feel if I had paid for the higher room categories and then been met with such poor service standards.
There are other great luxury hotels in Singapore where you can have a more relaxing stay for the same price or less. For staycations in Sentosa, families will enjoy both the Sofitel So Sentosa, the Shangri-la La Rasa, as well as the options at Resorts World. Couples are certainly better off at The Capella, which offers seclusion and elegance minus the running and screaming children.