It could have been another hotel but pragmatism kicked in when I was looking through Booking.com for a hotel. With the devastation that happened in Tacloban, my conscience couldn’t accept being too extravagant even though it was the Yuletide season thus Hotel Ibis on Bencoolen Street looked like a good deal.

Hotel Ibis Bencoolen signage

Hotel Ibis Bencoolen signage

I wasn’t expecting anything out of the ordinary for an economy hotel but the simple and wide lobby was a welcome respite from the usually cramped lobbies of other such hotels. The in-house restaurant was a pleasant surprise too with its breakfast buffet at S$21++ per person that boasted a far cry from the run-of-the mill offerings of other hotels. Too bad though because they didn’t have my favourite breakfast food of waffle and pancake. Even housekeeping was a revelation – the courteous crew did a splendid job of replenishing toiletries and cleaning the room. Our (my mum and I) room on the ninth floor was spacious enough and everything was in working order until I tried the room phone. I couldn’t get an outside line. I asked the staff at reception why I couldn’t make a phone call and she said I am not permitted to make outside calls because I didn’t make a deposit. Never has the status of economy hotel guest been driven hard than the woman’s blasé explanation!

It was stated in my reservation (my gal pal made the reservation for me) that I would pay in cash, but I didn’t get word that I’d be bar from making a local phone call if I didn’t make a down payment. By then I had paid in full when I checked in and still no information was given about what I was entitled to in their hotel. My thoughts were: It wouldn’t hurt to let me know so I wouldn’t look foolish and I could have been spared the irksome experience. Moreover, they could charge me for the local call when I checked out. Odd, really.

Anyway, I let the incident slide like water off a duck’s tail because there are numerous pay phones around the city I could use. Funny though because, last I checked, cash has always been welcomed in Singapore and hotel guests are always informed about these little things. But I suppose that’s what I get for booking an economy hotel – even the little details are economised.


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