Saturday, November 1, 2008

Welcome to the Singapore Hotel Finder

If you're on a dark desert highway, you might find this app mildly useful.

Singapore Hotel Finder (US$0.99) helps you find a hotel in Singapore by rate or proximity to an MRT station. Currently, it has 133 hotels in its database.

You won't find mirrors on the ceiling, or pink champagne on ice in this very basic app. When you click on a hotel to get details, you get contact information, the hotel's address and the URL. Unfortunately, the URLs or the phone numbers are not clickable. Nor is there a link to a map to help you locate the hotel in question.

There are a number of interface quirks in this app. When you search for a hotel, you have to hunt for the button to send the data. There is no button labelled 'search' or 'go'. There are three bright blue buttons at the bottom of the screen but of the three, one button is a reset button, while the other two are search criteria ('by Rates' and 'by MRT Station'). The actual button you need to push is the grey button at the top left of the screen. The button says 'Singapore Hotels' and at first or even second glance, it looks like a title bar rather than a button.

Searching by rate allows you to search for a hotel within a S$30 band. You can pick a hotel between S$30 to S$60, S$60 to S$90, S$90 to S$120 etc. Seems somewhat narrow to me. Also, the app manages to put the Ritz Carlton Millenia in the same band as the YMCA Fort Canning Lodge. A quick check on the Internet reveals that it is actually the YWCA (not YMCA) and while it appears to be a nice hotel, I'm not sure it's in the same class as the Ritz Carlton).

And while 133 hotels sounds like a lot, there are notable omissions. It only lists two hotels near City Hall MRT station. Missing are the two hotels attached to Raffles City, the Fairmont Hotel and Swissotel the Stamford, as well as the nearby Raffles Hotel. Well known hotels missing from the list include the Raffles Hotel, the Goodwood Park Hotel, the Intercontinental, the Shangri-la, the Hilton and the Hyatt. Hotel 81, on the other hand, is well represented.

This is an app that shows promise but still needs work. With more hotels in the database, links to maps and a better interface, this can be a very useful app for tourists or couples looking to get away.

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