I wasn’t quite ready to come down from the high of my Singapore Suites adventure upon stepping off the Airbus A380 and into the stylish halls of Singapore Changi Airport…
…and thankfully, I didn’t have to, because there was one more luxury experience awaiting me in the form of The Private Room by Singapore Airlines.
Technically, by the letter of the law, Singapore Airlines’s lounge access policy only allows access to the Private Room if you’re departing Singapore onboard a Singapore Airlines First Class or Suites Class flight. However, based on anecdotal evidence, passengers who fly into Singapore on either First Class or Suites Class have also been unofficially granted access to the Private Room as well.
Knowing this, I walked up to the agent stationed at the front of Singapore Airlines’s “lounge complex” in Terminal 3 of Changi Airport, presenting him with my inbound Suites Class boarding pass and my outbound boarding pass on Air China business class.
I asked, with a knowing smile, whether I’d be eligible to access to Private Room. After briefly examining my documents, the agent smiled back and said, “Follow me.”
Why do I call this place a lounge complex? Well, you see, the Private Room is best described as a “lounge-within-a-lounge-within-a-lounge”. Starting from the public airport terminal, you first enter the Singapore Airlines SilverKris Lounge, followed by the Singapore Airlines First Class Lounge, and then followed by the Private Room.
As you’d expect, the three lounges’ access policies grow more and more exclusive. Business class passengers get access to the SilverKris Lounge, while First Class passengers travelling on other airlines (like Lufthansa or Swiss), as well as Singapore’s PPS Solitaire Club members, can only use the First Class lounge and not the Private Room.
It’s only Singapore Airlines’s very own First Class and Suites Class customers that get access to the Private Room, nestled deep in the hallways of their flagship lounge complex. It all makes for short but satisfying walk to the entrance of the Private Room, with your very own personal escort accompanying you and checking you into the ultra-exclusive space.
A short hallway welcomes you to the Private Room, at the end of which you’ll find a newspaper rack, as well as a concierge desk to help you with any ticketing needs.
Turn the corner, and you’ll find yourself in the main seating area. The Private Room is a relatively small space that essentially consists of two rooms adjacent to each other: the seating area, and the dining area. As with the rest of Singapore’s lounges, the design palette definitely leans in the direction of classic rather than modern, and almost verges on feeling antiquated.
Most of the seating consists of private solo seats or two-person seating, maintaining the feeling of exclusivity here in the Private Room. I also suspect that there are relatively few First Class and Suites Class passengers travelling in groups of three or more, compared to solo and couple travellers.
I briefly took a seat in one of these chairs, before heading to the dining room soon after to enjoy some cooked-to-order dishes.
The triangle-shaped dining room consists of about a dozen tables, most of which had seating for two, but also a few for groups of four as well.
As soon as you take your seat, you’re greeted by your server for the evening, who hands you a menu and invites you to order anything you like, as much as you like.
Normally, I’d be thrilled to hear that, but after eating two full five-course meals onboard my earlier flight in Singapore Suites, I knew I had to exercise restraint here, or else I’d most certainly arrive back in Beijing and greet my my parents as an unrecognizable blob.
The menu had no shortage of mouthwatering items, though. Here’s the Dinner menu (note the listed preparation times for items which might take a while to cook, which I thought was a nice touch):
The next page contains the Vegetarian and Dessert menus:
The Drinks menu was equally impressive, with Dom Perignon Vintage 2009 and Johnnie Walker Blue Label among the star attractions. I ordered one last glass of Dom as the nightcap on my memorable Singapore Suites adventure.
Renowned Singaporean tea house TWG Tea provides guests with a comprehensive array of infusions.
Lastly, there’s the separate Quick Bites menu, which consists of a few smaller portions of the Private Room’s top-class cooking, in case you’re in a hurry.
Since I was exercising restraint, I probably should’ve ordered off the Quick Bites menu, but I couldn’t resist ordering some soup to start, as well as the baked Chilean sea bass papillote as my main course, from the Dinner menu. One day, I’ll learn to resist temptation in the face of First Class luxuries, one day…
The cream of sweet corn soup was a delightful appetizer, with just the right amount of sweetness and flavour.
Next, the Chilean sea bass papillote, which was executed to perfection. You can almost see the tenderness of the fish, which absorbed the lemon juice and olive oil vinaigrette beautifully. Best of all, the portion size was on the smaller side, which allowed me to fully appreciate every bite without feeling stuffed.
I should also note that there’s a tiny buffet spread in the corner of the dining room, which featured a limited variety of sweet and savoury bites. There’s really no reason to eat anything from the buffet, in my opinion – the world-class fine dining is what makes the Private Room what it is, so you’ll definitely want to save your stomach to sample as many delectable items off the menu as you can.
After the meal, I took my Dom Perignon and retreated to the main seating area. It was around 11:30pm by this time, so the lounge was starting to clear out, with only about a dozen passengers spread out in various parts of the lounge. Everyone seemed to be speaking in hushed tones to respect the peace and quiet around us, and the only ambient noise came from the two televisions playing CNN on soft volume.
Towards the back of the lounge, there were some more seats available, as well as a small set of workstations, one of which had a computer available to use.
There were also two individual rooms back here – private-rooms-within-a-Private-Room, if you will.
One room consisted of two chairs, a smaller set of kids’ chairs, and a sink and bassinet area. The room seemed ideally suited to a family with young children passing through the Private Room.
Meanwhile, the other room consists of a chair and ottoman, and seemed designed for guests to take a quick phone call, or to sit back and close their eyes for a while (but it’s not really suitable for getting any solid rest).
I took my seat in one of the chairs and got some work done for the next 30 minutes or so. The Private Room’s staff members roam around the lounge, asking guests if they’d like to enjoy any food or drink at their seat.
Having been wined and dined by Singapore Airlines like never before, I was fully satisfied in every earthly way at this point, so I just asked for some bottled water to sip on.
Before leaving to catch my flight, I also visited the restrooms, and noticed that there were shower facilities available to use as well. Unlike some other lounges, there’s no attendant who helps check you in or anything like that; instead, you simply help yourself to a shower room if it’s available.
The shower rooms seemed quite small. It looks serviceable for all your pre-flight grooming needs, but I definitely expected something a little nicer from the flagship First Class Lounge of one of the world’s leading airlines.
Soon after that, it was approaching boarding time for my Air China flight to Beijing. Knowing that Changi Airport requires passengers to clear security before every gate, I hurried back through the hallways of the Private Room, then the First Class Lounge, then the SilverKris Lounge, before briskly walking over to my departure gate.
Air China business class… talk about coming down to earth after an unforgettable Singapore Suites experience, eh? 😉
Singapore Airlines’s First Class ground experience is less focused on over-the-top luxury compared to some of its international rivals, such as Lufthansa’s First Class Terminal. Instead, with the Private Room nestled deep within their wider First Class Lounge, Singapore Airlines has chosen to gone for understated elegance and a feeling of privacy and exclusivity above all else, with the à la carte fine dining restaurant within the Private Room representing the crown jewel of the ground experience.
Nevertheless, I did feel as though Singapore Airlines could do so much more with the Private Room in order to cultivate something truly special for its most valued passengers. Things like private nap rooms, more spacious shower rooms, or an open bar would go a long way towards ramping up the luxury factor, while still maintaining the air of exclusivity of that the place is known for. I also felt that the lounge’s visual appearance was some way past its prime.
The good news? Clearly, Singapore knows this, because the Private Room, as well as the other lounges here in Terminal 3, will soon be undergoing a full revamp. I look forward to seeing what new things Singapore Airlines cooks up on my next visit.