Heard of the new Buds indoor playground at Shangri-La Singapore, mama? Read on for all the cool new family-friendly happenings at this beautiful hotel
The new Buds by Shangri-La indoor playground has mamas across Singapore (and our Facebook page) abuzz, but did you know that it’s just one part of a new family-friendly initiative at the beautiful Shangri-La Singapore?
My [very lucky] family and I were recently invited for an overnight staycation to try out all the fun new amenities, including spectacular new Family Suites. After unlimited play sessions at Buds (including its fantastic Pirate ship playground and splash pad) and plenty of family time by the pool, I’m not sure my 3.5-year-old has ever been so worn out after a 24-hour period (which is great when it only takes you five minutes to go home afterwards!).
The new emphasis on family fun follows a massive renovation of the hotel’s Tower Wing (and a similar initiative at the Shang’s sister hotel in Manila). The entire 9th floor is now a dedicated family floor, including both Themed Family Suites and Deluxe Family Rooms (which feature built-in beds for kids to save on space), along with an absolutely amazing, 24-hour family pantry and dedicated family concierge.
Your sense of fun is afoot the moment you exit the elevator on the 9th floor; you’ll find a wooden castle, rocket ship and tree model just asking kids to come play with them. Plus, outside every Themed Family Suite is a mailbox hinting at that room’s theme; Maggie was invited to open up the rocketship mailbox of our space-themed room to find our key inside. Anything that involves opening up boxes for a special surprise earns high marks in her book. Family Suites are available in five themes: Space, Castle, Safari, Treehouse and Underwater. Check out our gallery to see images of all five; these are seriously the bunk beds of children’s dreams!
At first glance, the Themed Family Suite looks like a standard hotel room; you see the King-size bed, the bathroom off to the left, and a seating area by the window. Take a closer look, though, and you notice that the seating area is actually a banquette dining table (we really enjoyed all sitting down to eat together). The hallway also includes family-friendly amenities like an induction heater, sink, large fridge and freezer.
The fun really begins, though, when kids notice the child-size fairy door (there’s also a normal door for grownups on the other side). Maggie opened hers up, dashed through, and found her space-themed kids’ bedroom replete with rocket-ship bunk bed, planetary wallpaper, and a cosmic rug. She immediately climbed up to the top of her bunk bed, then raced down again to play with the super cool switches and steering wheel at the front. “I’m the pilot and you’re the co-pilot!” she informed the hotel employee who’d brought us to our room. Check out our Instagram story for more deets on the super-cool bunk beds!
Family Suites actually feature two bedrooms and two bathrooms; the children’s ensuite features a toilet with a child-size seat and step-stool, plus a baby bathtub, child-size bathrobe and slippers, fun (and fluffy) hooded towels, and Mustela kids’ bath products. They also come with a variety of diapers; this came in handy when we got ready to go to the pool and I realized I’d forgotten a swimming diaper for the baby. I checked in the bathroom and voila! We were good to go.
Anything else you could possibly want is available in the Family Pantry, including diapers and wipes, plus loaner items like bottles (and bottle warmers and sterilisers), bath toys, training potties, bibs, thermometers, and an array of cool Stokke products like a stroller, baby carrier, bouncer, and the legendary Trip Trapp chair (our 6-month-old was such a fan). Walking in felt like being invited to go on a shopping spree at Motherswork, no joke. Families will also appreciate that the pantry has a washer and dryer – so key when you’re traveling with babies
Themed Family Suites are 72sqm/775sqf. There’s even a separate sleeping area for helpers with a decent-sized bed located off the children’s room.
Honestly we loved our suite so much we could have spent the whole time playing in there, but of course one of the major perks of the Family Suite is that it includes unlimited access to Buds. Maggie spent a couple hours there in both the afternoon and the morning of our stay (sadly it was raining so our pool time got cut short). It is an absolutely AMAZING spot for kids of all ages; highlights include a massive ball pit, tons of slides, trampolines, a “sand” area (with rice instead of sand – much cleaner!), and a baby and toddler soft play area (highlighted by motorized cars like the ones you see at the supermarket, except here you don’t have to pay!).
Buds also includes activity rooms (“Muddy” art studio, “Stage” with costumes and musical instruments, and “Bake” – self-explanatory) that offer organised activities kids can pay extra for. During the two times I’ve visited, “Stage” was unoccupied and Maggie and her friends had a ball singing karaoke at no extra cost. During our staycation my husband brought Maggie by the Muddy room and she had a great time painting (she even got to write her name on the wall – and see how cool it looked when they turned off the lights!).
Buds also has an outdoor area play area (about a five-minute walk away – be sure your kids use the potty beforehand because there’s nothing that close by in an emergency), which features a giant pirate ship with ropes, slides, and ladders, along with a splash pad (definitely bring your bathing suits along, but note that the swimming pool is for hotel guests only).
Throw in beautiful, sprawling grounds and the hotel feels much more like a palatial resort than a city hotel two minutes off Orchard Road.
Shangri-La offers tons of dining options; my husband and I enjoyed a grown-ups only dinner at Waterfall Ristorante Italiano. On Saturday morning we all splurged at the Shang’s super popular-buffet restaurant The Line; there is a truly impressive selection of foods (Maggie’s faves: they had two kinds of waffles, AND doughnuts!). Up to two kids under 6 dine free at buffet meals at The Line when accompanied by a paying adult; my only minor complaint is that the restaurant doesn’t open until 6pm (what can I say? We start our bedtime routine at 6:30pm). Because of this, we ordered in-room dining, which Maggie gobbled up.
Speaking of food, this would be one area where I think the family-friendly initiative could be improved. For one thing, when we ordered in-room dining, a little bottle of milk cost a whopping $11! I have friends who went for a staycation the week after we did who were dismayed to discover baby food was charged at an additional price.
The suites are truly fantastic, but for what they cost, and given their audience, it would be great if these items could be included in the family pantry (or at least every suite came with a couple individual servings of milk to start out, along with the option for pouches or baby food).
Secondly, while another perk of the family suites is that they come with access to the Horizon Club Lounge (which serves complimentary buffet breakfast, afternoon tea, and evening cocktails), the vibe isn’t very child-friendly. My friends, for instance, were told they needed to leave because their 3-year-old was wearing flip-flops, which weren’t dress code-compliant. I completely understand that the lounge is geared toward a business clientele; perhaps the hotel could look into creating a more family-friendly version on the 9th floor or elsewhere.
Themed Family Suites aren’t cheap – they start at $900 per night – but this is about on par (or even less) than what you’d pay for a 2-bedroom suite at any 5-star hotel in Singapore, and I’m fairly sure these are the only suites in town that are so kid-friendly.
Plus there’s the staycation factor: with multiple restaurants, a beautiful pool, sprawling grounds, and a world-class spa, a stay at the Shangri-La isn’t much different from visiting a resort elsewhere in Southeast Asia – you’re just saving on the airfare. And I must say, it was amazing to pile into our car after checkout and just drive home without the hassle of an airport or planes (especially since all Staycation guests get free parking; just snag a parking coupon from the concierge or bell desk). So next time you could use a bit of a break, mama, or your fam is looking to have some fun, definitely give the Shangri-La Singapore a look!
-Complimentary and unlimited access to Themed Family Suite and Deluxe Family Room hotel guests.
-For all other hotel and restaurant/spa guests, entry is $28 per child inclusive of 1 adult.
-For non-hotel guests, off-peak entry is $48 per child (ages 4+) and $28 for children under 4. Peak charges are $58 and $36, respectively.
-A multi-play pass (good for 10 sessions) is $430 for kids 4+ (including 5 additional activities), and $220 for kids under 4.
-Additional adult is $10.
-Standard entry is for 3 hours.
-Parking is FREE for Buds visitors; just grab a parking coupon from Buds reception on your way out.
–See website for more details.
Shangri-La Singapore, 22 Orange Grove Road, Singapore 258350, Tel: (+65) 6737 3644, www.shangri-la.com/singapore