American Express had been especially generous with the budget provided for this trip, and it certainly allowed me the option to dine very well during my time in Singapore. Fine dining was possible at every opportunity, however it is usually easy to find exceptional service in excellent restaurants, in fact, it is a prerequisite of the experience. Therefore it seemed sensible to mix up my dining experiences, include a few low-budget, fast service diners and even street food vendors, as this would provide a better sign of the service standards in Singapore.
That said I opted for room service for my first dining experience in the city, after all, who doesn’t love room service? After ordering, the wait wasn’t long, my meal was soon delivered but a pleasant young man who left my chosen food with a smile, and a sincere wish that I enjoyed my meal. However, it wasn’t the tastiest meal I had ever enjoyed, and was only warm, so no matter how efficient or pleasant the service, it failed to make an average meal more enjoyable.
One of the goals of the trip had been to get some recommendations from social media channels for places to dine, things to do, places to see, and ways to get around. I wasn’t surprised that there had been a number of recommendations to try the famous “Raffles” hotel, a true ‘must not miss’ Singapore experience.
It was busy when I walked in, but immediately a waiter greeted me. His greeting was pleasant enough, but when he asked if I was a resident, for some reason it grated on my nerves slightly. They seated me at the bar, and after inquiring was informed the Wi-Fi was for residents only, this was irritating, I was dining here, a customer, but denied a basic service. It’s also short-sighted, the Raffles Long Bar is one of Singapore’s most popular attractions, it can only be estimated how many selfies or pictures of friends would be shared if internet access was available.
I enjoyed some traditional fish and chips and of course it would have been rude not to try a Singapore Sling from the home of that particular cocktail. I dined at the bar, possibly because I wasn’t a resident, though being on my own, was probably another factor in not being given a table. The staff was efficient, and pleasant, smiling and informing me my meal would take a little longer than usual, but it didn’t feel especially personal, too busy for the bar staff to chat with their customers and make them really feel welcome.
There isn’t any doubt it’s a pretty cool place, the endless supply of monkey nuts, and the crunch of the discarded shells, which litter the floor give the place a special kind of atmosphere. I did manage to speak with the manager, and he graciously provided me with some complimentary internet, so I did feel pretty good about the place, just a shame it isn’t available to all.
The remainder of my dining experiences provided nothing of particular note. However this in itself is probably worthy of mention, despite dining at a couple of relatively well-known and expensive restaurants, the service while efficient did not leave me feeling especially great.
Dining, enjoying a cocktail or coffee at some of the small independent outlets, and even the street food vendors provided equally pleasing experiences. They were always friendly, often quite chatty, I often left them with a broader smile than the more high-end restaurants.
Spending large amounts of money, or visiting a high-class restaurant does not guarantee great service. Efficiency is expected, and a degree of pleasantness, but really excellent service requires a sincere welcome. Any hospitality service provider needs to make sure their customers feel like guests and that their custom is genuinely valued.
This seems a little too rare, and for me at least, marks the difference between good, efficient service and a truly memorable experience.
PS I did give the room service a second chance, unfortunately it still didn’t really produce. I’d also have appreciated if the menu gave the price I would actually pay, putting the cost before, and after service charges and tax.