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The Serangoon House, Singapore, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel [In-Depth Review]

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Ryan Smith

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Ryan completed his goal of visiting every country in the world in December of 2023 and now plans to let his wife choose their destinations. Over the years, he’s written about award travel for publicat...
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Singapore can be an expensive place to visit, and hotels in Singapore prove this point. You’ll find a wealth of options for high-priced lodging, but there are few options for using low-value free night awards obtained from loyalty programs or credit cards that offer free night certificates. That’s why we were so happy to find a new Marriott Bonvoy property that we could book for 3 nights with free night awards in Singapore: The Serangoon House, Singapore, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel.

This is one of the most unique hotels I’ve ever visited, harking back to British colonial days in India. The hotel has maintained this theme throughout, from decorations to food, and it fits well with its location in the Little India neighborhood.

But is this hotel more than just its quirky thematic options? And what’s with the bunk beds? Here’s what a 3-night stay in early October was like for my wife and I.

Booking

The Serangoon House is part of Marriott Bonvoy’s Tribute Portfolio. Marriott describes the Tribute Portfolio brand as a “family of independent boutique hotels bound by their indie spirit and heart for connecting people and places.” And since these are Marriott Bonvoy-participating properties, you can book them with cash, Marriott Bonvoy points, free night certificates, or a mix of the above.

During our stay, standard rooms cost 34,000 points per night. To book, we paid points from my account for the first night and used 2 free night certificates from my wife’s account for the next 2 nights. She obtained these free night certificates as cardmember anniversary benefits from holding the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card and Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card. Each free night award was worth up to 35,000 points, perfect for this stay.

The Serangoon House Singapore Tribute Portfolio points booking
Price for booking a standard room with points. Image Credit: Marriott

Cash rates for this same room were S$304 (~$223). That gave us a redemption rate of 0.66 cents per point, which is a bit below our valuation of Marriott Bonvoy points. Given the other cash costs we would have during this trip, though, we were happy to save over $660 for our 3-night stay.

The Serangoon House Singapore Tribute Portfolio cash price
Cash prices for a room. Image Credit: Marriott

However, the “Club lounge access” in the booking details was a bit of a misnomer. There was no lounge at this property, nor is there sufficient space to add one in the future.

Given that I hold Marriott Bonvoy Titanium Elite status and my wife only has Gold Elite status, the strategy of booking the first night in my name was to hope for an upgraded room. Hotels tend to offer this to me and let us keep the same room for the nights in my wife’s name. However, we always mention this at check-in to ensure there are no issues.

Hot Tip:

If you’re making split reservations, putting the first night in the name of the person with higher elite status tends to provide better perks. Many hotels will offer room upgrades and allow you to keep that room when you tell them you’re staying for more nights under a different person’s name. Communicate this clearly, though; no one likes surprises.

Location

The Serangoon House is on Serangoon Road in Singapore’s Little India neighborhood. Shops, cafes, restaurants, shopping malls, and temples surround it.

Google Maps location of Serangoon House in Singapore
Location of The Serangoon House in Singapore. Image Credit: Google Maps

While the hotel wasn’t near the most famous tourist sites on Singapore’s southern edge, it was conveniently located near bus and subway stops. And it was less than 2 blocks from the hop-on, hop-off Singapore Big Bus‘ Red Line, which we found extremely convenient for sightseeing.

Interestingly, there’s minimal signage for the property. Our taxi driver from the airport had never heard of it, and we passed it on the street when we arrived after dark. As seen from across the street during daylight, the hotel’s only sign is small and without lights at the top of the building.

The Serangoon House Singapore Tribute Portfolio
The hotel as seen from across the street.

And from the street level, you’d hardly know there’s a hotel here. It looked more like the entrance to an apartment building.

The Serangoon House Singapore Tribute Portfolio first floor exterior
From the sidewalk, it’s not obvious there’s a hotel here.

Checking In

Before arrival, we had a feeling this wouldn’t be an ordinary hotel stay. First, we noticed online that The Serangoon bills itself as the only hotel in Singapore that can fit 6 guests in every room. And that same claim greeted us from above the entrance on our arrival. After our stay, I can’t imagine cramming 6 people into our upgraded, larger room — let alone the standard rooms.

The Serangoon House Singapore Tribute Portfolio sign for 6 guests per room
This claim about 6 people in a room is an odd selling point.

We noted from the hotel’s website that it had a colonial India theme, which greeted us immediately upon entering the small lobby. The fabric on the seats and the 8-pointed marble tables made the design choices bold and immediate.

The Serangoon House Singapore Tribute Portfolio lobby seating
Seating in the lobby was unlike anything I’ve ever seen.

A small nook in the back corner of the hotel provided a great space for hanging out, meetings, or having a cup of chai while engrossing yourself in a book. The art on the walls echoed scenes of India from 150+ years ago.

The Serangoon House Singapore Tribute Portfolio lobby seating nook
The nook off the hotel’s lobby.

When we entered the lobby, a friendly employee at the desk greeted us and confirmed our suspicion that the hotel was new, opening less than 9 months ago — in early 2023. The employee confirmed our reservation for 1 night in my name and the following 2 nights in my wife’s name.

As the hotel had emailed me in advance to inquire about our arrival time, the employee knew our booking situation and said that the hotel would offer us breakfast throughout our stay (a benefit my wife normally wouldn’t receive) as a welcome gift option instead of points. We gladly accepted this and kept our upgraded room (they called it a suite, but more on that below) for all 3 nights. We were delighted with this arrangement.

After taking a security hold from my credit card and making copies of our passports, we were on our way to our room in just a few minutes. A small elevator in the corner continued the hotel’s theme with its interior design.

The Serangoon House Singapore Tribute Portfolio elevator interior
The hotel’s small but beautiful elevator.

Amenities

When arriving on the seventh floor, this imitation rotary phone harkened back to the days of the hotel’s overall theme. We thought it would make for a great picture, but it rang the front desk as soon as my wife picked it up. She hung up immediately.

The Serangoon House Singapore Tribute Portfolio phone in hall
The house phone in the hallway.

Beyond some interesting items here and there, The Serangoon House is rather short on amenities. Given how small it is, that didn’t surprise us. There was no on-site pool or gym and no lounge (despite saying “Club lounge access” in the description of our room type, it merely meant we had access to drinks at the bar in the evening).

Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi was consistent throughout the property, even if speeds could have been better. We got nearly 19 Mbps on average for downloads and average uploads above 23 Mbps.

The Serangoon House Singapore Tribute Portfolio speed test
Internet speeds weren’t great but were reliable. Image Credit: Speedtest by Ookla

Shared Amenities at Other Properties

Before arrival, the hotel emailed me a list of amenities shared with other Marriott Bonvoy properties nearby, as well as dress code policies for the restaurant (no ripped jeans, flip-flops, or dirty clothes):

I quickly noticed that none of the items in this email included access to a pool or fitness center. If you’re looking for those on your trip, you’ll need to book another property.

Royal Maharaja Suite

We received an upgrade to a Royal Maharaja Suite, which included 2 queen beds and a sitting area. While the hotel billed it as a suite, it technically needs a closing door to isolate the bedroom, which this room didn’t have. It’s better understood as a deluxe room.

The Serangoon House Singapore Tribute Portfolio beds
The 2 queen beds in our room.

Aside from the aesthetic, the biggest quirk at this hotel is that all rooms feature bunk beds. Having 2 queen beds stacked above each other is something I’ve never seen before. To access the top bed, a ladder was stored against the wall, which you could attach to the railings when ready to use.

The Serangoon House Singapore Tribute Portfolio ladder for bunk beds
The ladder for accessing the top bunk.

I assume the bunk beds are how the hotel claims you can fit 6 people in a room, but we didn’t have a fold-out sofa bed, so I’m not sure where the sixth person would go if you had 2 people on the bottom bed, 2 on the top bed, and 1 on the sofa.

Next to each side of the bed was a marble nightstand. The side closer to the entrance had a mock rotary phone, TV remote, lamp, and notepad.

The Serangoon House Singapore Tribute Portfolio night stand
The nightstand with notepad, phone, lamp, and remote control.

Since the phone didn’t have labels like “call 0 for this, call 9 for that,” the notepad had hand-written instructions to call 100 for assistance.

The Serangoon House Singapore Tribute Portfolio night stand note
The notepad explained how to call for assistance.

Each side of the bed had a 3-prong outlet (U.K.-style), a USB-A charging point, a switch to turn the outlets on and off, and 3 light switches. These controlled the overhead, entry, and night-light near the bathroom.

The Serangoon House Singapore Tribute Portfolio outlets and light switches
The panel of switches next to the bed.

Near the bathroom entrance was a makeup counter with a leopard-themed stool.

The Serangoon House Singapore Tribute Portfolio makeup stool and table
The seat and table at the makeup mirror.

And a leopard-themed luggage rack near the windows continued the theme. Interestingly, there were already signs of wear in the fabric despite the hotel being just months old.

The Serangoon House Singapore Tribute Portfolio worn fabric on suitcase stand
Signs of wear in the material, despite being a new hotel.

We had a large wooden desk and chair on the far side of the room.

The Serangoon House Singapore Tribute Portfolio desk and chair
The desk and chair in our room.

The desk had a lamp and multiple outlets featuring universal, U.K., USB-A, and USB-C ports.

The Serangoon House Singapore Tribute Portfolio outlets with adapters
We loved the multiple charging points.

Bathroom

While small, space in the bathroom was maximized well. The wall’s black and green marble design complemented the tile floor well, accentuated by brass fixtures and a marble sink. On one side was a toilet with a small shelf in the wall above it.

The Serangoon House Singapore Tribute Portfolio bathroom toilet
The small bathroom in our room.

On the other side of the bathroom was a shower in a glass box. However, we had to close the door to access that side of the toilet.

The Serangoon House Singapore Tribute Portfolio bathroom sink and shower
The glass shower box next to the sink, behind the bathroom door.

While it looked small, the shower didn’t feel cramped. It had a rainfall showerhead in the center.

The Serangoon House Singapore Tribute Portfolio shower head
The shower didn’t feel cramped.

There was also a handheld option.

The Serangoon House Singapore Tribute Portfolio shower knobs
The brass knobs in the shower were unique.

Pump bottles on the wall provided body wash, shampoo, and conditioner. The products had a fantastic citrus smell that made us hungry every time we showered. No washcloths, loofahs, or body gloves were provided for the shower here.

The Serangoon House Singapore Tribute Portfolio pump bottles of toiletries
The shower had pump bottles of Balance Nutrient products.

In the middle of the bathroom, a sink was set in a marble basin with a mirror on the wall.

The Serangoon House Singapore Tribute Portfolio bathroom sink
The sink had minimal counter space.

There wasn’t much counter space around the sink, but we had 2 dental kits, a box of tissues, lotion (with a lemongrass scent), a bar of soap, and 2 drinking glasses.

The Serangoon House Singapore Tribute Portfolio bathroom toiletries
Toiletries on the small bit of counter space in our bathroom.

A shelf under the sink held a hair dryer, slippers, a bath mat, and a laundry bag.

The Serangoon House Singapore Tribute Portfolio bathroom under sink supplies
Hair dryer, slippers, and a bath mat on a shelf under the sink.

There was also an outlet for charging electric shavers next to the mirror.

The Serangoon House Singapore Tribute Portfolio bathroom shaver charger
The shaver charging point in the bathroom.

There were 2 hooks for towels on the back of the door. One was loose, looking like it was ready to fall off.

The Serangoon House Singapore Tribute Portfolio bathroom bent towel hook
1 of the 2 towel hooks on the door was coming off.

The slippers were nice, showing the hotel’s logo. It might also be the first time a hotel gave me black slippers (though they appear a bit blue in the lighting from this picture).

The Serangoon House Singapore Tribute Portfolio slippers
The black slippers were unique.

Closet

A closet with 3 doors was near the entrance. One side had space for hanging clothes, and we found 2 bath robes there.

The Serangoon House Singapore Tribute Portfolio closet robes
Our closet had robes and hangers.

The middle section had coffee pods and bottled water.

The Serangoon House Singapore Tribute Portfolio mini bar coffee supplies
Our coffee supplies and daily bottled water are inside the closet.

A shelf above this held coffee cups with brass-colored handles, continuing the hotel’s theme.

The Serangoon House Singapore Tribute Portfolio minibar cups
The coffee mugs continued the hotel’s colonial-era theme.

The door nearest the entrance had cubbies for holding our belongings.

The Serangoon House Singapore Tribute Portfolio closet shelves
Empty cubbies in our closet.

And drawers with glass fronts provided additional storage.

The Serangoon House Singapore Tribute Portfolio closet drawers
Drawers in our closet.

Sitting Area

On the far side of the room, there was a seating area. While this isn’t enough to qualify the room as a suite, it provided extra space for hanging out somewhere other than the bed. There were 2 armchairs, a marble coffee table, a TV, and a sofa. It did not fold out into a bed, which is why I question where the sixth person would sleep in this room if you put 1 here and 2 in each bed.

The Serangoon House Singapore Tribute Portfolio bedroom seating area
The sitting area in our room.

View

We had a view from our room into a courtyard behind the hotel. We also could see the logo of the Holiday Inn Express Singapore Serangoon on the building to the right.

The Serangoon House Singapore Tribute Portfolio view from bedroom
The view from our room, including the nearby Holiday Inn Express.

Food and Beverage

The sole option for food and drinks at The Serangoon House is the GupShup. Located in the basement, the colonial-era theme is on full display here — from the walls to the fabric on the chairs, the bathroom, and even the menu.

The Serangoon House Singapore Tribute Portfolio Gup Shup
The GupShup restaurant in the hotel’s lower level.

There were standard and high-top tables available for guests.

The Serangoon House Singapore Tribute Portfolio Gup Shup seating
“Unique” is an understatement for the GupShup’s theme.

And a bar area in the back served drinks in the evenings.

The Serangoon House Singapore Tribute Portfolio Gup Shup bar
The GupShup’s bar in the back room.

During our visit, breakfast was available from 7:30 to 10:30 a.m. Evening drinks and hors d’oeuvres were served from 4 to 7 p.m.

The Serangoon House Singapore Tribute Portfolio Gup Shup hours
Hours for breakfast and cocktails at the GupShup.

The breakfast menu served mostly Indian fare, as well as a few Western offerings. The ordering process was simple: Choose 2 mains, a side, and a drink.

The Serangoon House Singapore Tribute Portfolio Gup Shup breakfast menu
Breakfast menu at GupShup.

That turned out to be quite a lot of food. I had the masala dosa and fruits each morning, plus juice, hash browns, and tea.

The Serangoon House Singapore Tribute Portfolio breakfast food
Breakfast included a lot of food!

While the breakfast menu indicated non-dairy options for soy, almond, and oat milk, these weren’t available at all during our stay. Staff mentioned that these had been “out of stock” for several days before our arrival, as well.

There were also restrooms adjacent to the restaurant.

The Serangoon House Singapore Tribute Portfolio Gup Shup bathrooms
Bathroom entrances next to the GupShup.

The marble fixtures and artwork here were beautiful.

The Serangoon House Singapore Tribute Portfolio Gup Shup bathroom sink
The men’s restroom is near the basement restaurant.

In the afternoons and evenings, GupShup also served light bites — chaat — from a small nook to the right of the hotel’s main entrance.

The Serangoon House Singapore Tribute Portfolio Gup Shup exterior
GupShup also offered snacks outdoors.

There were a handful of tables and chairs for enjoying these savory snacks.

The Serangoon House Singapore Tribute Portfolio Gup Shup exterior seating
Seating for lunch and dinner at the GupShup’s outdoor service.

Service

While service was generally good, there were a few areas for improvement. Let’s look at some examples.

Highlights included the excellent communication via email before our arrival and the paperwork being organized for our separate stays on arrival, stapled together to make the process very simple. However, the employee forgot to return our passports and was confident he’d returned them to us when I said he hadn’t returned them. After I asked him to please check the copy machine, he found our passports. However, he was very friendly and efficient other than this minor blip.

Staff always smiled and greeted us by name whenever we passed through the lobby, and employees at breakfast were consistently friendly. However, after we’d eaten, the staff disappeared at breakfast on the first morning. It took more than 10 minutes of actively hunting for an employee to inquire about signing for our breakfast. Once the employee said we didn’t have to sign anything, we left and were glad we didn’t have to repeat this when employees disappeared after serving our food on the remaining 2 mornings.

On arrival, our shampoo pump bottle was nearly empty and ran out during our showers. When we went out the next day, we asked the staff to refill it. However, housekeeping didn’t refill the shampoo, and we had to call the desk to ask for it after our return.

It also annoyed us that the breakfast menu touted 3 non-dairy options for milk but was out of all 3 throughout our stay. It seems like sending an employee to a nearby supermarket could provide an easy fix, but the various staff said the non-dairy options had run out at the hotel before our arrival. Why advertise products you don’t have? And not providing non-dairy options in a major metropolis in 2023 is a bit strange.

So, while employees were very friendly whenever we talked to them, they could be hit-or-miss between conversations.

Final Thoughts

I always judge a hotel most by “Would I stay here again?” for the overall impression, and I would stay at The Serangoon House, Singapore, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel again. The location was excellent, and the hotel offered the essentials. It didn’t wow us with extras, but we were able to use Marriott free night awards in a city that tends to have high-priced hotels; we got free breakfast beyond our guaranteed benefits, the bed was comfortable, and the staff was friendly. They could use a bit more attention to detail, but we had a positive overall experience.

Would I try to jam 6 people into a room like the hotel says you can? No way. But we had a fair amount of space for 2 adults. Those looking for a resort experience or pampering won’t like this property, but this is a good location for 2 people who are independent travelers.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What amenities are at The Serangoon House in Singapore?

You won’t find a pool, gym, or spa here. However, you will find a bar and a restaurant serving both Indian and Western food.

Where is The Serangoon House in Singapore?

The Serangoon House is on Serangoon Road. It’s located in the Little India neighborhood of Singapore.

What reward program is Tribute Portfolio?

The Tribute Portfolio is part of Marriott Bonvoy. Thus, you can book these properties with Marriott Bonvoy points and free night awards. You also can earn credit toward Marriott Bonvoy elite status by staying at these properties.

Does The Serangoon House Singapore have a breakfast buffet?

No, it doesn’t. While there is breakfast at GupShup on the lower level of the hotel, there is no buffet. You will order from a menu.

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About Ryan Smith

Ryan completed his goal of visiting every country in the world in December of 2023 and now plans to let his wife choose their destinations. Over the years, he’s written about award travel for publications including AwardWallet, The Points Guy, USA Today Blueprint, CNBC Select, Tripadvisor, and Forbes Advisor.

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